Curriculum for Addiction Professionals > Competency 5: Continuing Care of Families Affected by FASD > 9. Issues Related to Professional Values and Ethics
Competence 5: Continuing Care of Families Affected by FASD
Issues Related to Professional Values and Ethics
Addiction professionals have a unique
opportunity to identify, educate, and counsel clients with an FASD or possible
FASD, children with an FASD or possible FASD, and families affected by FASD. Prevention, early
identification and intervention can significantly limit adverse consequences
of alcohol abuse. To identify, educate, and counsel effectively,
addiction professionals need to recognize the differences in risk factors,
presentation, and treatment relevant to these targeted populations. Treatment
plans must be tailored to the client’s needs and provide comprehensive
plans to address the multifaceted issues presented. Prevention tools should be available and used by treatment practitioners as an important part of their practice.
Working with clients with an FASD can
be challenging and frustrating. The addiction professional may be tempted
to end contact as soon as possible and let the family and aftercare providers
take over. However, continued involvement can help in the transition to aftercare
and ongoing recovery. The addiction professional can help the family and
client through the transition by referring them to resources and assisting
in accessing services.
Maintaining a supportive attitude will
help the family deal with the many issues they will face as the client moves
from treatment to the community and ongoing recovery. The addiction professional
needs to strive for a nonjudgmental attitude toward clients and families
affected by FASD. He or she should not assume that FASD is hopeless and services
are not worth the time, expense, or effort. The addiction professional needs
to treat clients and families affected by FASD in a respectful manner and
refer them to community resources that can provide support. NOFAS maintains
can be used to identify support groups and other resources.
FASD is difficult for individuals and
families. The condition carries a stigma and some clients and families
may deny that the client has an FASD. Parents might feel guilty or ashamed
that their child has an FASD. The client might find her condition embarrassing
and frustrating. The addiction professional needs to treat the client and
family with sensitivity and help them address these issues. Incorporating
aspects of the client’s culture and spirituality may ease some of the
difficulty. For example, using storytelling or spiritual metaphors may help
with clients and families whose cultures frown on sharing personal information.
It is important to share information
on the dangers of alcohol use during pregnancy with clients with an FASD
and their families. The addiction professional needs to handle this issue
sensitively. It is important to convey that FASD is serious without appearing
to judge the client harshly. Sympathy toward the client’s difficulties
living with an FASD can help in sharing the message that an alcohol-free
pregnancy is best for the child. It is also important to frame any discussions
about birth control within the context of the client’s culture and
spiritual beliefs so that the client and her family are comfortable with
Compassion is especially important
in arranging continuing care for clients with an FASD. To the extent possible,
the addiction professional needs to educate service providers about FASD.
Family members often have to teach service providers about FASD and support
from the addiction professional can relieve the family’s stress and
allow them to focus more on the services their family member needs.
FASD raises many difficult issues.
Honesty and integrity are important. Being open with the client about problems
stemming from his or her FASD is important. It is also important to share
any troubling incidents or issues with the family so that they can assist
in developing strategies to address them. These issues also need to be dealt
with as part of continuing care arrangements. It does not help the client
to withhold concerns that may arise later. Sharing any concerns with service
providers and working out strategies is important in setting the stage for
a supportive transition to aftercare and ongoing recovery.