The role of social work in responding to problem substance use is the main theme of the 2018 Drug & Alcohol Research Centre conference. Against the background of current changes to social work structures and approaches, the conference will help participants to take stock of our engagement as a profession so far and to think about preparing for future challenges. Participants will have the opportunity to update on some current research findings and to reflect on how they might build on these to develop good practice with service users and carers who are experiencing alcohol and drug related problems. In particular, the conference will focus on key areas where needs may be less well understood and catered for; for instance, contributions from carers, Black and Minority Ethnic groups, LGBT populations. It will provide an opportunity to learn more about screening and assessment tools and procedures and to hear about the results of cutting edge research. The conference will consist of plenary sessions and six workshops for participants to choose from, which will be led by practitioners, service users and researchers.