The place afforded substance use in social work education has been a concern for many in the ﬁeld for over 30 years. It’s difﬁcult to believe that despite efforts of such distinguished academics as Collins (1990) and Harrison (1992) social work education continues to struggle with providing an appropriate and coherent framework for providing knowledge and skills for working with alcohol and other drugs (AOD). The need for such input is supported by ample evidence that social workers in the ﬁeld are encountering increasing numbers of service users and their families who are experiencing difﬁculties with AOD problems, if not as the primary reason for referral then often as a related difﬁculty. This special edition is particularly welcomed because it brings these issues from the peripheral of social work education to centre stage. It seems that despite the obvious need for this shift social work education has been at best inconsistent about adopting this ‘new’dimension in substantive curricula developments.