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Competency 6: Legal Issues

Issues Related to Professional Values and Ethics

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Keeping up-to-date on State and Federal laws related to disabilities and substance abuse treatment is important. Laws change as administrations and legislators change. The addiction professional would be wise to find resources on new legislation, such as the local law library or the FindLaw Exit Disclaimer Graphic  Web site.

The addiction professional may face some challenging situations dealing with pregnant women or clients with an FASD. It is important to maintain a nonjudgmental attitude and to carefully assess each situation. Being aware of one’s legal obligations, such as reporting alcohol use during pregnancy, can help. If no obligation exists, other options might be more effective in encouraging treatment compliance and ongoing recovery. Protecting children is important but rushing to judgment may do more harm than good.

It is also important to maintain a nonjudgmental attitude when dealing with clients with an FASD. They should not be seen as hopeless and doomed to spend time in jail or to cycle through the justice system. Keeping an open mind and working with court personnel, such as attorneys and social workers, can help the client with an FASD remain sober and achieve a healthy outcome, free of legal problems.

Finally, the addiction professional needs to be mindful of laws that protect persons with disabilities. Persons with an FASD can be challenging clients, but they cannot be turned away from treatment on the basis of their disability. If a facility cannot meet their needs, the addiction professional needs to work diligently to find alternatives and make appropriate referrals.

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