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The NASW Code of Ethics and Challenges Faced by Social Workers in Addressing Drug Abuse

The NASW Code of Ethics and Challenges Faced by Social Workers in Addressing Drug Abuse

The NASW Code of Ethics comprises a set of standards that dictate how social workers should execute their mandate. It sets the values, standards, and principles that guide social workers’ behavior. Worth noting, the NASW code of ethics applies to all relevant practicing social workers and students irrespective of the populations they serve, professional functions, and settings they serve. One of modern society’s most common social problems has to do with drug abuse. Drug abuse affects people of all ages in society however, young people tend to be more affected than other populations (Karch, 2019). Some of the most obvious effects of drug abuse include ill health and untimely death.

While working with people battling drug abuse, social workers should possess the core values of empathy and active listening to help address the problem. Without a doubt, successful social workers should be empathetic towards their clients to help them solve the problem. An empathetical social worker will easily identify with their clients’ situation (Barsky, 2017). They should be in a position to put themselves in their client’s shoes for a better understanding of what they are experiencing. A good social worker is not quick to judge their client, but rather they should try and understand their client’s point of view so that they can come up with the best strategy for treatment. Active listening is also a critical value that social workers should possess. In order for the worker to understand the extent of the problem and help identify a remedy, they should listen actively to their clients. They should speak less and give their clients ample time to speak and listen attentively for important detail so as to retain as much information as possible. This way, they will be best placed to figure out how best to help their clients overcome their addiction problems.

The ethical standards from the NASW code of ethics that are likely to pose a challenge in addressing the problem of drug abuse are competence and maintaining the dignity or worth of a person. In addressing drug abuse in society, competence can become an ethical issue when the social worker handling the client is not qualified. It is a requirement that all social workers must hold graduate or undergraduate degrees in social work. They should also have fair training and knowledge from experience. This is critical in avoiding misrepresentation of skills and incompetence. However, if, for one reason or another, the social worker is untrained and lacks enough experience in dealing with drug abusers, it might result in an ethical case because of incompetence. Additionally, the social worker must be mindful of cultural diversity and treat their clients with the respect and dignity they deserve. Social workers should know they have a duty to their clients and help them solve their problems. The social worker should strive to eliminate all factors that threaten the dignity of their clients. Competence and not respecting the clients’ dignity are most likely to be the ethical challenges in this case as they are likely to interfere with the recovery process and can lead to possible termination of the relationship.

An ethical gray area is an obscure situation or dilemma that cannot be resolved easily by applying ethical standards. In most cases, gray areas are not usually adequately addressed by the ethical provisions of a given organization (Lang-Anttila, 2017). An example of a gray area in incompetence is if the social worker is practicing without the necessary training and educational background. This can be a gray area, especially if they have the necessary documentation to back their educational background, yet they did not attend college in the real sense. In some cases, people obtain fraudulent degrees making it impossible to successfully practice social work. This can get in the way of a client getting better. To successfully handle such a matter, institutions should conduct thorough background research and criticize all documentation for ensuring that only qualified professionals practice social science. An example of a gray area in regard to maintaining a client’s dignity and worth is when a social worker is forced to disclose that a certain patient is having a drug problem. This can be to their client’s supervisor or colleague. This would be an ethical violation as it would interfere with the image and diminish their client’s image. According to the NASW code of ethics, dignity is key and such details should only be given when requested by the court. To address this issue, the social worker should abide by the rules of social work and only disclose such details when mandated by the courts.

My ethical values are relatively similar to the NASW code of ethics. As a human being, I believe that human beings should serve each other and what they can to make the world a better place. Like with the NASW code of ethics, I highly value integrity, competence, and social justice. I also believe that honesty is a key foundation of all human relationships, as is with the social work profession. Similarly, I believe that in all we do, we must strive to treat every person with the dignity and worth they deserve because, afterall, we are all equals.

In Texas, there is a possession law for controlled substances such as cocaine, marijuana, or ecstasy. Under Texas statutes, any drug possession convictions lead to a 6-month driver’s license suspension. Worth noting, depending on the amount of drug in one’s possession, the penalty often ranges from first-degree felony to third degree. The gravest penalty for drug possession is 99 years in prison or life or up to a fine of $250,000. Worth noting, the Texas social work license board database does not include information on recommendations arising from the ethical dilemmas in the NASW code of ethics.

References

Barsky, A. (2017). Ethics alive! The 2017 NASW code of ethics. What’s new. Retrieved June 13, 2018.

Karch, S. B. (Ed.). (2019). Drug abuse handbook. CRC press.

Lang-Anttila, M. (2017). Ethical Dilemmas for Social Workers Utilizing NASW Code of Ethics in Rural K-12 Public Schools.

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