Social workers operate and provide their services in complex situations and environments. The established codes of ethics and principles guide their decisions and action plans whenever helping their clients. However, some ethical dilemmas tend to occur in practice, thereby compelling them to apply the most appropriate strategies to uphold the dignity and rights of the people they service. The selected ethical dilemma associated with social work is the power of self-determination when beneficiaries decide to continue taking addictive substances. This paper describes the best approach to help the affected individuals to lead high-quality lives.
Margaret is a social worker in a community characterized by many citizens belonging to the African American racial group. She has been in this profession for the past decade, an experience that has equipped her with the relevant competencies for dealing with persons with diverse backgrounds. The current situation within this population of interest is the fact that majority of the clients receiving social support tend to record increasing cases of relapse (Shdaimah & Strier, 2020). This occurrence amounts to an ethical dilemma since majority of the beneficiaries at a time when Margaret and her colleagues expect them to avoid alcohol and other drugs to re-pattern their lives. The social worker has an obligation to maintain the highest level of professionalism and consider the outlined code of ethics.
This ethical dilemma presents a number of ethical principles that Margaret needs to consider when working with most of these individuals. The first one is that of respect whereby a social worker is expected to uphold the dignity of the targeted client by all means (Shdaimah & Strier, 2020). The second one is the principle of doing no harm (Shdaimah & Strier, 2020). Margaret should engage in actions and make appropriate decisions that have the potential to empower the targeted citizens. The third principle at play in this scenario is the need for professionals in this field to uphold and protect the rights of all individuals. The issue of social justice emerges as a critical ethical principle aimed at promoting the best relationship between beneficiaries and the demands or values of the wider society.
Ethical Decision-Making Framework
The recorded level of relapse is worrisome and amounts to a major ethical dilemma since the social worker is finding it hard to record positive outcomes. She remains committed to provide the most appropriate support and ensure that more African Americans in the selected community overcome the challenges of alcoholism and drug abuse (Cootes et al., 2022). Based on the identified problem affecting most of the targeted beneficiaries, a powerful ethical decision-making approach is essential to ensure that timely results are recorded. The Duty Framework has featured prominently in many case studies and scenarios to meet the demands of the clients and the professionals.
Margaret and the involved team will begin by focusing on their roles and obligations to analyze and address the ethical dilemma. They will appreciate that there are unique principles and values guiding their actions. Based on the model, Margaret would only be expected to do what is acceptable and right only. The move to perform such an action is what will deliver desirable results (Martindale et al., 2017). Under this framework, it remains critical that the professional needs to act ethically without necessarily having to think of the outcomes.
The concept of duty would guide Margaret and her team to engage individuals who have higher chances of relapse. Who have began using addictive substances even after receiving the necessary social and psychological counseling will receive additional insights. The social worker will rely on her powerful sense of obligation while allowing the individuals to make their final choices (Cootes et al., 2022). What stands out from this framework is that the professional will be pursuing the intended goals as a moral rule. These attributes explain why the Duty Framework has become a common approach for helping more people in need of social support and empowerment.
Courses of Action
The identified ethical dilemma could arise when individuals receiving social work support relapse or record increased cases of rebound. Such a reality could emerge even when the social worker remains involved and provides the necessary support. However, the expert cannot force or compel the individual to stop taking drugs or alcohol. This decision is necessary since the final determination and autonomy rests upon the targeted client (Martindale et al., 2017). With this understanding, the recorded ethical dilemma could only be addressed through the application of appropriate courses of action. While maintaining justice and client autonomy, such initiatives are only pursued in accordance with the Duty Framework outlined above.
The first course of action to deal with relapse, while permitting the client to make his or her final decision, is the use of a multidisciplinary team. Margaret would begin by identifying health professionals, counselors, and human service experts to collaborate and offer proper guidelines to the individuals affected by addiction. The team could form groups comprised of members of the selected population and provide timely counseling. They can rely on the power of group therapy since it allows more beneficiaries to be involved and keen to deliver timely results (Cootes et al., 2022). Margaret would then consider the best approach to established person-centered strategies to help every beneficiary deal with reduced self-esteem, anxiety, stress, and shame associated with dependency (Cootes et al., 2022). Relapse needs to be acceptable throughout the process since it is commonly observed when dealing with victims of addiction. Increased collaboration would be, however, appropriate to understand the reasons for relapse and provide personalized support. While pursuing such goals, the multidisciplinary team should ensure that informed consent, client autonomy, and self-determination are upheld.
The second course of action seeks to augment the first one and ensure that timely results are eventually recorded. Margaret would need to pinpoint individuals who are rebounding in the selected community and connect them to some of the available resources in the neighborhood. Some of them will include drug therapy centers and human services agencies (Shdaimah & Strier, 2020). She will also collaborate with different organizations to ensure that more African Americans get job opportunities. This approach is essential since more employers or companies are today willing to hire and help people who have a history of substance abuse. They would also continue to be engaged in the lives of these clients until they eventually make desirable choices.
The list of ethics-related issues remains endless when it comes to the area of social work. The selected community for this analysis includes African Americans affected by the problems of alcoholism and drug abuse. Professionals working with members of this society will encounter numerous issues as it continues to evolve (Martindale et al., 2017). The first one is that most of the workers will have to tackle the ethical question of discrimination. With majority of African Americans being aware of their past experiences in the country, any malpractice or dishonesty could be linked directly to discrimination in the future (Gómez-García et al., 2022). The second issue that social workers need to take seriously in the near future is that of therapeutic boundaries. In advanced cases, individuals affected by drug abuse would only benefit or record positive outcomes from the use of therapy. However, the decision to propose such a solution could amount to an ethical dilemma.
The third issue future professionals working with African Americans need to be aware of is that of confidentiality. Social workers would be required to maintain the highest level of privacy and ensure that they do not share clients’ information with some of the existing resources (Gómez-García et al., 2022). The fourth one would revolve around the need to allocate scarce resources and ensure that they are available to meet the changing demands of most of the targeted beneficiaries. The final issue would revolve around the need to strike a balance between the primary needs of those who might become homeless and the provision of social support to overcome addiction.
The above discussion has identified relapse as a common problem many social workers encounters when dealing with people affected by addiction. This process of rebounding could amount to an ethical dilemma when social workers realize that their clients have made the decision to continue drinking or taking drugs. The adoption of the Duty Framework and the proposed action plans will help more people overcome these problems and eventually e-pattern their lives. Social workers should also be prepared to address the projected dilemmas as the selected society continues to evolve.
Cootes, H., Heinsch, M., & Brosnan, C. (2022). ‘Jack of all trades and master of none’? Exploring social work’s epistemic contribution to team-based health care. The British Journal of Social Work, 52(1), 256-273.
Gómez-García, R., Lucas-García, J., & Bayón-Calvo, S. (2022). Social workers’ approaches to ethical dilemmas. Journal of Social Work, 22(3), 804-823.
Martindale, D., Olate, R., & Anderson, K. A. (2017). Practicing professional values: Factors influencing involvement in social work student organizations. International Journal of Higher Education, 6(4), 1-10.
Shdaimah, C. & Strier, R. (2020). Ethical conflicts in social work practice: Challenges and opportunities. Ethics and Social Welfare, 14(1), 1-5.