Lesson 1: Self-Recognition of Ones Own Attitudes and Beliefs About Substance Use and Substance Use Disorders

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This first lesson leads you through a self-examination of your personal and professional values, attitudes, and beliefs towards substance use and people with substance use disorders. In the learning activities, you are encouraged to consider your current practice wisdom, which has been developed over time and through diverse sources. Your attitudes and values inform your practice, which is an integration of orthodox knowledge (derived from empirical, scientific knowledge that has been rationally deduced and deemed objective), tacit or intuitive knowledge (assimilated over time and difficult to articulate), and experiential knowledge or practice wisdom (derived from personal experiences that have been integrated into orthodox knowledge) (Ruch, 2002). Having an informed understanding of “the self” and its role in practice is critical to reflective practice.

We start by looking at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) competencies. Two activities are associated with this topic area. Reviewing this document will assist you in identifying your current competency strengths and areas to continue to develop, and assist you with the completion of Assignment 1. We will revisit these competencies in Lesson 5 and Lesson 12, as well as in subsequent courses.

Activities 1 and 2 focus on increasing your awareness of the competencies associated with the Canadian Substance Use Workforce and your strengths and areas for growth. Activities 3 and 4 increase your tacit understanding of evidence-based practice. Activity 5 considers the issue of stigma and asks you to self-reflect on how public stigma can be internalized in people who use substances and also in ourselves as clinicians. We will then consider how stigma can affect help-seeking behaviour. These activities will assist you in the completion of the assignments.


Lesson 1 addresses the following three topics:

  • Competency and the Substance Use Workforce
  • Introduction to Evidence-Based Practice
  • Stigma and Substance Use

Learning Outcomes

After you complete this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Examine the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse Competency Standards
  • Analyze a job description for relevance to CCSA Competencies
  • Respond to behavioural questions related to CCSA competencies
  • Assess your own position on the merits and challenges of doing evidence-based practice
  • Conceptualize the role of public stigma in help-seeking behaviour
  • Evaluate your own biases/judgments in maintaining service users self-stigma


Following are the resources that you need for this lesson.


Carroll, K., & Miller, W. (2006). Defining and addressing the problem. In W. Miller & K. Carroll (Eds.), Rethinking substance abuse: What the science shows, and what we should do about it (pp. 3–7). New York, NY: Guildford Press.

Bickel, W., & Potenza, M. (2006). The forest and the trees: Addiction as a complex self-organizing system. In W. Miller & K. Carroll (Eds.), Rethinking substance abuse: What the science shows, and what we should do about it (pp. 8–24). New York, NY: Guildford Press.


Perry, S., & Reist, D. (2006). Words, values and Canadians: A report on the dialogue at the national symposium on language. Victoria, BC: Centre for Addictions Research of BC.

Web Links

Workforce competencies on the CCSA website and review the documents available at: http://www.ccsa.ca/Eng/topics/Workforce-Development/Workforce-Competencies/Pages/default.aspx

CAMH Webinar on Stigma (part of the Mental Health and Addiction 101 Series) available at: http://www.camhx.ca/education/online_courses_webinars/mha101/stigma/Stigma_.htm

Available Through TRU Library

Bathje, G., & Pryor, J. (2011). The relationships of public and self-stigma to seeking mental health services. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 33(2), 161–176.

Gitterman, A., & Knight, C. (2013). Evidence-guided practice: Integrating the science and art of social work. Families in society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 94(2), 70–78.

Miller, W., Zweben, J., & Johnson, W. (2005). Evidence-based treatment: Why, what, where, when, and how? Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 29, 267–276.

Wakeman, S. (2013). Language and addiction: Choosing words wisely. American Journal of Public Health, 103(4), 1–2.

Activity Checklist

Following is a checklist of the learning activities you will be completing in Lesson 1. You may find it useful for planning your work.

✔ Activity

☐ Activity 1: Analyzing a job description

☐ Activity 2: Preparing for CCSA competency job interviews

☐ Activity 3: What are addictions? Why are they so difficult to treat?

☐ Activity 4: Introduction to evidence-based practice (EBP)

☐ Activity 5: Self-recognition (awareness) of attitudes and beliefs towards substance use and substance use disorders