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Applied Ethics in Mental Health CareAn Interdisciplinary Reader$
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Dominic A. Sisti, Arthur L. Caplan, and Hila Rimon-Greenspan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019682

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019682.001.0001

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Ethical Considerations in Caring for People Living with Addictions

Ethical Considerations in Caring for People Living with Addictions

(p.223) 15 Ethical Considerations in Caring for People Living with Addictions
Applied Ethics in Mental Health Care

Laura Weiss Roberts

Kim Bullock

The MIT Press

The care of people living with addiction is ethically complex work. Addiction is stigmatized in our society and clinical services for addiction-related conditions are underdeveloped, raising many ethical issues related to respect, confidentiality, and justice. Addictions of all kinds are associated, by definition, with a lack of personal control over the addictive behavior and are often linked with intermittent or enduring cognitive deficits, creating concerns about affected individuals’ capacities for autonomy and shared decision-making with caregivers. Some addictions are associated with risky and/or illegal activities, introducing very difficult considerations related to dangerousness, self-neglect, or self-injury and potential harm toward others. Moreover, the history of treatment for addiction has been riddled with approaches that emphasize punitive consequences, raising issues pertaining to beneficence, nonmaleficence, and medical professionalism. Finally, addiction often co-occurs with other health conditions, which may be difficult to recognize and burdensome to treat because of the addiction, raising ethical issues related to clinical competence. For these reasons, every aspect of clinical care for addictive disorders should be viewed as having important ethical meaning and implications.

Keywords:   Addiction, Ethics, Respect for Persons, Autonomy, Beneficence, Professionalism

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