How Can I Tell Which Are The Ethical Drug Rehab Programs?

woman struggling with food addiction

Finding Ethical Drug Rehab Programs in addiction treatment and recovery often prove to be complicated and multifaceted.

What makes matters even more complicated is that it may or may not be acknowledged in law and professional ethics codes, rendering the issue a controversial one.

If you or a loved one is thinking about entering rehab, it is essential to evaluate the ethics a rehab center enforces.

A quality addiction rehab will be dedicated to providing a service that respects the ethical rights of the client. This is not only because of their moral and legal obligations but also because it increases the effectiveness of such treatment [1].

If the individual is not a willing participant in their recovery from addiction they will not be likely to benefit from their time in rehab [1].

Importance of ethics in treatment

Ethics are a critical aspect of treatment. It is what protects the interests of the recovering addict. Codes of ethical practice facilitate the education and awareness of professionals regarding the necessity and dynamics of ethical behavior.

They may provide an efficient directive for a minimal functioning standard of practice, though not necessarily the highly desirable and best standards.

Older woman struggling with finding ethical drug rehab programsIt is vital for the staff at rehabilitation centers to keep in mind at all times that addiction is primarily a disease and in no way does it make a patient “bad” or less worthy than everyone else.

Stereotypes, such as homelessness, being uneducated or being criminal, associated with drug users are no longer the norm.

Today, a lot of addicts seeking treatment are retired veterans, housewives, and teenage students.

The bottom line is, addicts are people too, with families, careers, values, and dreams.

This reality precisely is what the essence of ethics in rehab illustrates: when it comes to rights, recovering addicts must be treated like everyone else, regardless of the severity of their addiction.

Moral principles form the basis of social work’s professional code of ethics [2]:

• autonomy (including client self-determination),
• non-malfeasance (avoiding harm),
• beneficence (promoting good for others),
• justice (fair and equitable treatment to all),
• fidelity (honoring commitments)
• veracity (truthfulness). [1]

The right to be helped and not hurt

Greater importance is associated with beneficence, justice, and nonmaleficence in rehab. Individuals in early recovery are inclined to be particularly vulnerable to exploits including sexual abuse and bullying.

Hence, there is almost an absolute reliance on the professionals at treatment facilities to help the struggling patients adjust to their new life and cope with disconcerting withdrawals.

Such trust is expected to be reciprocated by these experts in terms of them always working in the best interest of the client and cause no intentional harm. It is also expected that each client will be treated fairly.[1]

Client Confidentiality in Rehab

Empirical studies have repeatedly expressed concern regarding how a lack of confidentiality may discourage individuals from seeking addiction treatment they desperately need.

Addicts have a right to their privacy just like any other patient and person. Any leaked personal information can lead to a great deal of embarrassment or create legal or personal problems for the individual.

Woman sitting, struggling with sexual addictionHence, individuals entering rehab will expect their confidentiality to be respected by the rehab under both legal and ethical obligation.

For children and adolescents, confidentiality of information from legal guardians cannot be promised.

Absolute confidentiality may not be guaranteed in case of medical emergencies, state child abuse reporting laws, contacting criminal justice authorities if a client threatens to commit or commits a crime against the treatment center, and compliance with court orders. In any case of limitations on confidentiality, the patients need to be informed by the rehab center in advance.[2]

Treatment with respect

Past poor decisions of patients or their backgrounds should in no way influence their right to be treated respectfully. Treating people with dignity during treatment must include:
• not making jokes at their expense,
• calling them by a name they prefer,
• respecting their right to privacy,
• refraining from violating every patient’s individual body space,
• avoiding any sort of racism, homophobic or discriminatory behaviors,
• maintaining polite interaction at all times
• avoiding topics that may make them feel uncomfortable.[2]

Client self-determination

There exists a certain amount of controversy regarding the autonomy available to recovering addicts in a rehabilitation facility due to the fact that addicts can have poor judgment, they may have tendencies to self-harm and harm others because of substances of abuse clouding their sense of rationality.

Concern for client self-determination is a practical as well as an ethical issue. Differences in cultural backgrounds, worldviews, and gender variation need to be taken into consideration to maintain compliance and motivation on the patient’s behalf.

People have an ethical right to be involved in decisions that are going to affect them. The only time this right can be withheld is when the patient is declared incapable of making rational choices.

Evidence suggests that informed consent is crucial so that people get the most from their time in rehab.

Ethical Drug Rehab Programs

Millenial laying in the leavesA quality and ethical addiction rehab program will be dedicated to the provision of services that completely respect the ethical rights of its clients.

This is not just the moral and legal obligation of the rehab facility but also helps enhance the effectiveness of treatment.

If the patient does not feel secure in any way and is not a willing participant in their recovery from addiction, they will most likely not benefit from their time in rehab.

Such desirable addiction treatment centers will ensure the clients’ ethical rights are acknowledged, respected, and remembered under all circumstances. Recovering addicts want to be heard and respected during their tumultuous time in recovery.

Empowering them in decision-making and respecting them represents the confidence and support they desperately need for a new, better life.[3]

Sana Ahmed photoAbout the Author:

A journalist and social media savvy content writer with wide research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana Ahmed has previously worked as staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute focusing on mental health and addiction recovery, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.

Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. The art of using words to educate, stir emotions, create change and provoke action is at the core of her career, as she strives to develop content and deliver news that matters.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on March 7, 2018
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 7, 2018.
Published on

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.