Human services is a broad field that includes many types of agencies and organizations that deal with many aspects of human needs; ethics and ethical management are important in the success of providing services for every provider. These items guide services including elder care, child abuse, unemployment, social security, disability, welfare, food stamp benefits, domestic abuse, mental health treatment, and many more. Regardless of the subdivision within the field of human services, ethics and ethical management will be tested. While dealing with individuals recovering from the use and abuse of substances including alcohol and other drugs, ethics and ethical leaderships are especially important. In the case of working with clients who have previously been addicted to substances, it will be likely that morals and values have not guided many of their decisions, but that is not to say that they do not have any. Almost everyone is guided by some set of principles; some may just not understand how to apply them to certain areas of their lives.
Drug addicts and alcoholics will need to learn that their behavior is no longer only affecting them but that it is affecting many others around them including friends, family members and even coworkers. Being an ethical manager and assisting a client in this area will contribute to the success of the organization. While having a moral responsibility to a client, it will be crucial to understand one’s own morals and values before engaging with him or her and then to learn and respect those of the client. It will be beneficial to dig into a client’s mind and help bring some of his or her morals and values that have been buried up to the surface. A helper must set an example for the client to begin following. He or she must be committed to the client’s interest above all in addition to society, and legal obligations, encourage a client’s self-determination which is the right to make his or her own decisions provided the he or she is in no imminent danger, practice within boundaries of competence based on his or her own education and training, recognize diversity and the function of society, avoid conflicts of interest such as the inability to be discrete and exploiting clients, respect privacy and confidentiality, avoid physical contact that could cause psychological damage, and refrain from sexual relationships under any circumstances. Moral responsibilities extend beyond serving the client.
A leader has a responsibility to colleagues, the practice setting, as a professional, to the profession, and to broader society (Susan Schissler Manning, 2003). The ability to help requires a vision, which is an emotional view of the future. This vision will guide the process towards achieving a goal (Peter M. Kettner, 2002) like a road map. This vision would include one’s own values, morals, and ethical beliefs. Organizations and agencies in the human services field usually have a mission statement. According to The National Network of Social Work Managers (1994), a mission statement includes six factors: beliefs, mission, vision, culture, goals, and products (Peter M. Kettner, 2002). An appropriate mission statement including vision for guiding individuals towards recovery could be, “Through strengthening social support and intense therapy, we will aid addicts in achieving a drug free lifestyle that will ensure the safety of themselves and the people around them.” A human service worker has great responsibility to him or herself, to the client, and to society. Each of these responsibilities is as important as the next. The responsibility to oneself allows the feeling of gratification.
If a worker does not function according to personal beliefs or limitations, he or she might put him or herself in undesirable situations and battle those personal beliefs. If one knows him or herself, a career can be chosen accordingly and personal gratification resulting from the success of helping others will be ample. This will also allow the helping of the client to flow more smoothly. Helping clients recover from alcohol and drug use has a low success rate. As few as one person in a group of thirty might actually recover and several may stay sober for a period of time only to experience relapse; between 50% and 90% of clients not involved in aftercare (post-residential treatment) may relapse. These figures vary depending on the drug and severity of the addiction (Caron Treatment Centers, 2011) Being the best counselor or therapist one can be in this field is necessary to a client’s success.
A client remaining in recovery fulfills the obligation to create a safer environment for all of society. My personal involvement in this area of human services has inspired me. I believe that substance use and abuse in many forms contributes to a lot of society’s problems. I think that many other services are now being offered to active users and abusers whose addictions have not been brought into the light. A couple of examples could be a young single mother on welfare who has found herself stuck and become depressed and turned to the use of drugs to “escape” or a man that has lost his job, begun collecting unemployment, and fills his free time up with drinking alcohol. I often consider the idea of cracking down on America’s drug use, because I believe that it would relieve financial strain on other services. Regardless of any personal beliefs one may have, the emphasis must be placed on the process and that must be guided my certain principles.
The transactional approach to leadership will work best here. Focus in this approach is given to the means rather than and end result (Susan Schissler Manning, 2003). In this situation, a client can never be forced into recovery; it simply will not work. Staff meetings discussing individual clients within the boundaries of confidentiality laws will allow the means to be tailored and increase the chance for success. While following ethical guidelines the client stands a much better chance in recovery and with each individual entering recovery, society improves. Focus on the process in a transactional form of leadership while obeying ethical principles will achieve the best possible outcome.
Caron Treatment Centers. (2011). Current Statistics: Facts on Relapse and Recovery. Retrieved August 6, 2011 from http://www.caron.org/current-statistics.html. Kettner, Peter M. (2002). Achieving Excellence in the Management of Human Services Organizations: Understanding the Organization from a Systems Perspective. Pearson Education, Inc. Manning, Susan Schissler. (2003) Ethical Leadership in Human Services: A Multi-Dimensional Approach: Appendix C; NASW Code of Ethics. Pearson Education, Inc. Manning, Susan Schissler. (2003) Ethical Leadership in Human Services: A Multi-Dimensional Approach: Ethical Leadership Through Transformation. Pearson Education, Inc.