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Albert Morgan Case Study: Practice With Abusers of Alcohol and Other Substances Teaching Module


Albert Morgan—a 60-year-old, African American, single male from an abusive childhood with a family history of addiction—experienced 40 active years of alcohol and drug abuse. In recovery for 2.5 years, he volunteers with a service organization and recovery groups; he also lectures to teens. Unsuccessful with Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, he utilized counseling and “Recovery Readiness,” a harm reduction program, as well as developing a new relationship with a personally directed spirituality. Although he experienced many difficult life experiences related to racism, arrests, homelessness, and failed relationships, it was not the losses he experienced over the years, but the acknowledgment of increased issues related to ill health and aging that led to sobriety.

Teaching Guide Overview

Addresses the following: biopsychosocial contributors to addiction: violence, racism, trauma, heredity, abuse, family history, self-medication, relapse, denial, oppression, mental illness, stigma, ego integrity, multiple medical illnesses, importance of different types of recovery programs, and role of spirituality in recovery process.

Classroom Activities and Assignments

Include group discussions, assessment tools, exploration of resources, role playing, ethnic considerations in interventions, researching prevalence of substance abuse and co-occurring problems in older adults of different racial and ethnic groups, identification of risk factors, abuse initiation and relapse,  and exploration of risk factors and biopsychosocial theories of addiction and recovery.

Competencies for Albert Morgan Case Study:

  1. Understand and direct the ways one’s own values and biases regarding aging impact professional practice and ethical work with older persons with substance abuse/misuse concerns, their families, and the provision of aging health and mental health services.
  2. Integrate into the practice of social work an understanding of the life experiences and unique needs of older persons with substance abuse/misuse concerns who belong to specific racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups; of men and women; and of those with different sexual orientations.
  3. Incorporate into treatment and service planning the relationship of race, ethnicity, and culture on health status, health belief, help-seeking behaviors, health practice (i.e., traditional medicine), and health outcomes. Include knowledge of (a) immigration and (b) acculturation/assimilation.
  4. Develop strategies to change policies and regulations to improve the well-being of older persons with substance abuse/misuse concerns and their caregivers, particularly historically underserved groups.
  5. Conduct a comprehensive geriatric assessment of psychosocial factors that affect physical and mental well-being of older persons with substance abuse/misuse concerns.
  6. Understand the effects and interactions of multiple chronic conditions, medication, nutrition, and sudden or ongoing causes of changes in cognitive states and functional capacity.
  7. Assure appropriate access, utilization, continuity, coordination, and monitoring of the continuum of public resources for older persons with substance abuse/misuse concerns including community-based care, residential care, nursing home, and health/mental health services.
  8. Assess and address impacts of social and health care policies on practice with historically disadvantaged populations.
  9. Develop strategies to address service gaps, fragmentation, discrimination, and barriers that impact older persons with substance abuse/misuse concerns, including intergenerational approaches.
  10. Understand differential assessment and intervention strategies associated with early-onset and late-onset substance abuse.