ADDICTION COUNSELLING DILEMMAS
Dilemmas plus emotional conflicts are native to the condition of humans and to life itself. The relationship between professionals (like physicians, counselors, and therapists) and those that they are serving have always been viewed as having particular importance and meaning. In all cases, there is a difference of power, and the person with lesser power assumes that the professional will act in their best interest (American Counseling Association, 2014). Unfortunately, in most cases, this has been found to be untrue. Majority of the dilemmas faced by addiction counselors revolve around ethical issues.
The NAADAC Code of Ethics stipulates that professional alcoholism & drug abuse counselors need to adhere and comply with the ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence and justice (National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, 2011).
Confidentiality between a counselor and the patient is vital towards the success of the counseling relationship. The patient’s beliefs regarding confidentially shall determine the degree & the type of the information revealed during the counseling session. Addiction counselors are mostly faced with unique ethical circumstances regarding confidentiality because the identified client is usually more than one person. The alcoholism and drug abuse counselor are required to embrace the duty of safeguarding the privacy of the patient and should not disclose confidential information acquired, in teaching, practice, or investigation. However, the counselors are faced with the dilemma of whether to reveal or not to reveal certain information to 3rd parties when there is clear and imminent danger in the life on the patient. A case in point is when the patient is taken to court.
The alcoholism and drug abuse counselors are required by their professional code of conduct not to discriminate their patients based on their ethnicity, religion, gender, or economic condition. However, there are those professionals who are unable to act professionally. This especially applies to those counselors who have a negative perception towards drug addicts. As a result of this, they may be forced to decline to offer their services to such kind of patients.
Informed consent is another important ethical dilemma facing drug addicts’ counselors. Counselors are required to seek the consent of the patient before releasing their information to 3rd parties. Informed consent & confidentiality complement each other. However, there are those instances whereby the consent of the patient is not sought after and which go against the ethics or the principle of Informed Consent plus it violates the rights of the patient (Scott, 2010). A case in point when a counselor is asked to appear before the court to give their verdict or provide information regarding the health status of the patient. Such a situation brings about a dilemma to the work of the counselor.
The alcoholism and drug abuse counselor are not required to enter into a professional relationship with their patients since by doing so; they may be jeopardized by the dual relationship plus it is unprofessional. The dilemma faced by the counselor is that being humans with feelings, they might be tempted or forced to start relationships with their patients. During the counseling session, the patient reveals a lot of private information to the counselor, and it is from this that they begin to know the patient better .In such a situation the counselor may find it hard not to become friends with the patient and which slowly grows into a relationship.
American Counseling Association. (2014). ACA code of ethics. Retrieved from
National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. (2011). Ethical standards:
Specific principles. Retrieved from http://www.naadac.org/assets/1959/naadac_code_of_ethics_brochure.pdf
Scott, C. G. (2010). Ethical issues in addiction counseling. Rehabilitation Counseling
Bulletin, 43(4), 209-214. Doi: 10.1177/003435520004300405