General Question

College_girl's avatar

Ethical concerns for treating teens that use alcohol and/or drugs?

Asked by College_girl (917points) April 23rd, 2015

What are some potential ethical concerns for treating, managing or intervening with teens who use alcohol and/or drugs?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

6 Answers

gorillapaws's avatar

Well if a teen confesses illegal behavior to you, and you’re not protected by doctor-patient confidentiality you could be put in a situation where you were legally obligated to betray their trust.

College_girl's avatar

You mean if a teen confesses THEY are not protected by the confidentiality and I would be put in a situation where I had to betray their trust? (I’m just clarifying to make sure I’m understanding correctly)

gorillapaws's avatar

If you confess illegal behavior to someone that isn’t a Doctor/Lawyer then that person can be compelled to testify against you in court. So reversing that, if you’re the person that a kid confesses illegal behavior to and a prosecutor issues you a summons to appear in court to testify against that kid, you will be forced to do so, or face contempt of court charges. I’m not a lawyer, so there could be inaccuracies with this, but I’m pretty confident this is accurate.

gorillapaws's avatar

I meant subpoena not summons. Also the laws about doctor-patient confidentiality are determined by the states.

whitenoise's avatar

I think that you need to steer far away from anything that might taint the lives of these kids forever.

For instance as soon as punitive legislation comes to play, the kid you’re helping may end up registered and tainted for life.

Even after their potentially short experiment with drugs and alcohol would be over.

In short .. Make sure your help benefits them.

Also be respectful of people’s right to shape their own destiny even though as teens they may not yet be equipped with the experience and wisdom to do that shaping in a way that they will not regret later.

geeky_mama's avatar

Teens, that is minors under the age of 18, need their parents to know if they are taking non-prescribed medication / drugs or alcohol.
In the U.S. there are certain confidentiality and patient rights granted to teens that are age 16 and up, but most practitioners make all patients (at intake) sign a form permitting them to tell parents / spouse / etc. if the person is hurting themselves or in imminent danger (self-harm, suicidal, etc.).

So, this is generally (ethically) dealt with at intake. There are certain areas where therapists and physicians are required reporters. For example, if they suspect abuse. They are legally required to report this – as are teachers, social workers, etc. This is part of their training.

Finally, often teenagers that are using alcohol or drugs are “self-medicating” – and frequently they need an intervention of sorts (seeking the root cause of why they are using) – and notifying the parents and getting the teen into a program that specializes in teen substance abuse is the typical protocol.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther