UM-Flint Substance Abuse Treatment Minor Prepares Students for Real-Life Scenarios


UM-Flint social work senior with SAT minor, Charles Banks

University of Michigan-Flint social work student Charles Banks finds reward in helping people who enter the Hurley Medical Center Emergency Department in Flint and are struggling with substance abuse, sometimes in crisis situations.

Completing a 15-credit minor in substance abuse treatment (SAT) through the UM-Flint social work department prepared him for his internship at Hurley where he assists patients who need reassurance, psychological assessments, and referrals for additional services.

Pursuing a major in social work at UM-Flint, and a minor in substance abuse treatment, just seemed like the right fit for Charles. Prior to college, he worked in a day treatment program helping high school youth affected by substance abuse.

The coursework in UM-Flint social work department’s SAT minor examines various types of substance use and covers problems with substance abuse, theory and treatment, special populations, intervention strategies, and social prevention.

“In class you learn interventions, and how important a person’s support system is to impact their success in sobriety,” Charles said. “You identify their strengths too.”

The Adolescent Screening, Brief Intervention & Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) grant awarded to the social work department last fall has provided additional social work course improvements, including real-world scenarios and videos of social workers in the field.

“We watched videos from people working in the field, and we got a deeper understanding of substance abuse and prescription medications than what you hear on the news,” Charles said.

Charles looks forward to graduating from UM-Flint in May with his bachelor degree in social work. After continuing on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Michigan, he hopes to become more directly involved in treatment while working in a hospital setting.

Currently serving as a student representative on the National Association of Social Workers-Michigan (NASW) board of directors, Charles also recognizes problems with substance abuse issues from a policy standpoint – a point discussed in his SAT classes. “There are not enough treatment options and resources available to people,” he said.