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For a long period of time, chemical dependency counseling is regarded as one of the most difficult still rewarding jobs in the world (Perkinson, 2002). It helps to overcome the challenges of addiction on various drugs like cocaine or heroin that may ruin human lives within several days.
The point is that those people who suffer from chemical addiction are not always ready to cope with anxiety, passion, and weaknesses caused by the required cessation of using drugs, and the main task of a chemical dependency counsellor is not only to treat and help to overcome numerous challenges but also support and explain clearly why it is important to prevent any kind of addiction to drugs.
In this paper, several hints on how a chemical dependency counsellor should deal with different ethical situations like evaluation of false conclusions or attention to personal intuition will be offered taking into consideration the responsibilities set by society and the principles defined by the NAADAC Code of Ethics.
Addiction counsellors play an important role in the life of a person who suffers from chemical dependency and have a number of responsibilities to their patients, employers, other professional counsellors, and the chosen field of work.
This is why it is very important to take the right steps from the very beginning and be confident in the chosen activities and ideas. Ethical behaviour of an addiction counsellor seems to be a significant area of medical and psychological practice (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2008), and there are some special guidelines which should be followed.
In case the ethical situation takes place, it is crucially important for a counsellor to do everything possible to solve misunderstandings soon and try to calm down the patient within the shortest period of time. The following ideas should be rather helpful:
- Analysis of patient’s needs ( a professional counsellor should recognize the patient’s needs of different nature: emotional, psychological, or even physical and be ready to overcome the difficulties which are caused by addiction);
- Attention to human rights (the position taken by a counsellor should not create some boundaries, and a patient should feel comfortable during the conversations and be eager to share personal troubles, doubts, and ideas);
- Awareness of the patient about the methods and purposes of the activities chosen for treatment: addiction is a disease (Levin et al., 2001), and the patient should understand why some measures are taken and how they may influence human life, this is why it is necessary for a counsellor to explain why some activity takes place and what is expected;
- Evaluation of the mistake to make conclusions regarding the events which took place in the past (some counsellors find it appropriate to make some fast decisions taking in account the activities made by a patient in the past, still, it is not quite right, and it is necessary to rely on current events, thoughts, and attempts).
- The boundary in the counsellor-patient relations is important (a professional counsellor should realize that any kind of relations have their own characteristics and standards, this is why it is necessary to remember that any kind of sexual relations or even friendship are not ethical for chemical dependency counseling).
The above-mentioned guidelines may be properly aligned with the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse standards with the help of which professional chemical dependency counsellors may work. The Code of Ethics (NAADAC, 2008) makes the counsellors pay attention to a number of ethical principles which should be followed to provide addicted individual with the required portion of care.
There are nine main principles of the code, and each of them is a unique idea that help a person to understand what is expected as a result of successful counselling practice: trustworthiness, duty of care, dual relations, non-discrimination, and so on.
The standards of NAADAC help to comprehend that the role of ethics is integral in chemical dependency counseling. There are not many professionals who are ready to consider their positions and rights and provide patients with the effective help. This is why each ethical situation should be evaluated in regard to the standards set and supported by society so that the patient knows what to expect from care.
Chemical dependency is the disease that has to be treated by means of the most effective methods, and the standards and guidelines defined in this paper will help to make ethically correct decisions in accordance with the law.
Capuzzi, D. & Stauffer, M.D. (2008). Foundations of Addictions Counseling. Boston, MA: Pearson. ISBN-13: 978-0205483129.
Levin, J.D., Culkin, J., & Perrotto, R.S. (2001). Introduction to Chemical Dependency Counseling. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. ISBN: 9780765702890.
NAADAC Code of Ethics. (2008). NAADAC: The Association for Addiction Professionals. Retrieved from <https://www.naadac.org/>.
Perkinson, R.R. (2002). Chemical Dependency Counseling: A Practical Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. ISBN: 9780761923886.