What are legal and ethical considerations specific to addiction counseling?




Addiction Counseling

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3. Can you tell me tests and assessments are utilized specifically to addiction counseling?

Counseling of alcohol and other substance abuse begins with assessments and tests. The primary purpose of these tests and examinations is for the determination of whether an individual has an addiction or not. Any information received by the counseling professionals should be kept confidential and used for offering assistance regarding better treatment and counseling only. Assessment can take the form of physical examinations and questionnaires. The questionnaires are standardized and ask questions concerning the current alcohol and substance use, behavior patterns, addiction effects, symptoms, health history and treatment history. The assessor typically takes notes, however, as mentioned earlier, such information is strictly confidential between the reviewer and the victim.

Psychological screening, urine tests, blood tests, hair sample tests among others are some of the criteria used for addiction counseling. Psychologists administer psychological testing on patients and ask questions about the victim’s drug use. Based on the responses, the counselor can analyze the honesty of the patient. Blood tests identify a commonly used drug in the bloodstream for advanced users. Mostly used to detect alcoholic addiction. Urine tests, on the other hand, is also used but it does not discriminate habitual users from occasional users. Therapists also utilize hair sample tests in their assessments. Metabolites of commonly abused substances are left in the victim’s hair, and this is helpful to the assessors.

5. How do you assess for symptoms of psychoactive substance toxicity, intoxication, and withdrawal?

The intoxication, withdrawal and toxicity symptoms of psychoactive substances are evaluated by checking on the conscious levels that change from drowsiness to stupors and finally to a comma. Additional signs are the respiratory rate that is depressed, and pinpoint pupils. Some cases report morbidity that is as a result of heroin overdose. Cyanosis, bradycardia, hypothermia, and hypotension are also symptoms arising from toxicity, intoxication, and withdrawal.

6. What treatment strategies do you offer clients in reducing the persisting adverse effects of substance use, abuse, dependence, and addictive disorders?

The treatment of substance abuse tends to be the most cost-effective method of improving drug abusers’ health, reduction of addiction and relieve of the ever-disturbing burden of costs related to healthcare. Treatment helps the users quit drugs and become productive individuals in the society. Drugs and other substance addiction are likened to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension among others because for its treatment to be successful, permanent behavior change is required. The primary treatment strategies used to reduce substance abuse and dependence include family-based treatment, this lowers the chances of intergenerational substance abuse cycle. Rehabilitation is also another standard approach used for alcohol addiction. Recovery involves week to week drug testing, group sessions and counseling that helps in educating the victims about substance use.

7. Can you describe the roles and settings of addiction counselors?

Just from the implication of the name, addiction counselors are obliged with the role of helping substance users overcome dependency and addiction to drugs. Addiction counselors get involved right from intake settings or intervention. It is at this point that they determine the severity of addiction including additional detraction circumstances to improve the recovery process. The counselors educate individuals on ways to change their behaviors in an attempt to make a full recovery. They develop plans of action to specific victims according to different situations. Other roles include meeting clients for evaluation of substance and health problems, identification of issues and plans of treatment, provision of progress and any update reports, meeting other members of the family of victims to provide support and guidance.

8. Is there any potential for addictive and substance use disorders to mimic and co-occur with a variety of medical and psychological disorders?

The likelihood of substance use and addictive disorders co-occurring with multiple psychological and medical disorders is way high. Such co-occurring disorders are also referred to as dual diagnosis, and by the year 2014, approximately eight million adults were experiencing co-occurrence of disorders in the United States. The intricated symptoms and their variety in severity make it difficult for the diagnosis of these co-occurring disorders.

14. Can you describe any cultural factors relevant to addiction and addictive behavior?

In as much as addictive and, addiction behaviors can be linked to physiological factors, multiple social and cultural factors result in the cultivation of addiction in many people. These factors include the bonding experience more so among the youth in an attempt to relate to colleague peers. Some individuals view the substance abuse lifestyle as appealing and glamorous. Some cultures also have a perception that drug use relieves one from stress. This encourages people to overindulge with the sense of reducing the daily life stresses leading to addiction.

16. What are legal and ethical considerations specific to addiction counseling?

The ethical and legal issues involved in counseling of particular addiction include competence, informed consent, confidentiality, responsibility to the clients, multicultural issues, values, and counselor-client relationship that is potentially detrimental. Competence is associated with the credentials diagnosis skills of the counselor. Counselors are required to acquire appropriate supervision or refer in case of lack of adequate skills. Under the informed consent issue, the patients will need to be treated when under the influence of drugs or they don’t think clearly. Clients should be allowed to make their own choices and take full responsibility.


Co-occurring Disorders | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Samhsa.gov. Retrieved 2 October 2017, from https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/co-occurring

NIDA – Publications – An Individual Drug Counseling Approach to Treat Cocaine Addiction. (2017). Archives.drugabuse.gov. Retrieved 2 October 2017, from https://archives.drugabuse.gov/TXManuals/IDCA/IDCA7.html

Screening, Assessment, and Drug Testing Resources. (2017). Drugabuse.gov. Retrieved 2 October 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed-medical-health-professionals/tool-resources-your-practice/additional-screening-resources

Treatment and Recovery. (2017). Drugabuse.gov. Retrieved 2 October 2017, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery