Use of Family Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment
In the United States substance abuse disorders are growing in epidemic proportions today. Treatment options used to be on an individual case rather than focusing on everyone involved, which would include family members. Family counseling is coming to the forefront to help everyone involved in substance abuse cases with the hope that drug use can be reduced or that they will sustain got the long haul. When individual counseling for substance abuse switches to an emphasis on family, professionals need to heed caution with ethical principles.
Whittinghill (2002), states that “many substance abusing individuals are homeless. Professionals need to heed caution to ethical principles because many times they are not in contact with living family members, are single, or their only next of kind has passed away. With this being said, professionals are at a greater risk for violating ethical ...view middle of the document...
As a result ethical issues are likely to arise.
While family members need to be taught that they are also affected by addiction too by enabling or by being counterproductive to the substance abuser. When counseling is strictly limited to the disease model without respect to family issues it could have the potential to not work as effectively or backfire. Families dealing with alcohol issues have seen results with the disease model. Beneficent family therapists must be aware that more than one substance abuse crisis may arise. The most good can be seen in helping client’s first to deal with the many crises that inevitably pop up prior to providing counseling in dealing with their disease.
Another ethical concern is nonmaleficience which can be seen through a family counseling professional not providing harm to a client. Avoidance in identifying harmful counseling is encouraged. Whittington (2002) states that “studies empirically demonstrate family therapy reduces drug-using behaviors of the addict,” but they can also cause potential harm to family members. The risks and benefits of therapy need to be provided not only to substance abusers but also to all of their family members as well.
As you can see caution must be exhibited when dealing with treatment for substance abuse when involving a client’s family, especially when dealing with the many ethical issues that can arise through family counseling substance abuse clients and their families. I feel that if a client and their significant other, family members and spouses all join forces that their loved one’s addiction could greatly improve. It is a personal choice to quit, although if everyone in a client’s family is equipped with the right tools in their toolbox to help, support and encourage their loved one’s addiction it could help the substance abuser to stopping altogether. As the saying goes, it takes a village to fix the problem. Family therapist must be very careful in how they approach and treat everyone involved.
Whittinghill, D. (2002). Ethical Considerations for the Use of Family Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment. The Family Journal, 10(1), 75-78.