People living with addiction endure many hardships, and this may be especially true for women who face distinct clinical and significant psychologic and socioeconomic repercussions of addictive disorders and their companion stresses. Clinicians who work with women with addictions are confronted by many challenges, particularly in the care of pregnant and parenting women. The dilemmas faced by patients with addictions and their providers often arise directly from tensions among core ethical principles, from inconsistencies in the way these principles are applied, and from the pervasive effects of stigma. Although difficult issues are to be expected in the arena of substance abuse treatment, consideration of principles of voluntarism, beneficence, respect for persons and justice, confidentiality and truth-telling, and informed consent are invaluable in shaping clinical ethical decision making. Furthermore, proactive steps can be taken to enhance the ethical caliber of care. These steps involve policy-level and systemic actions, such as the development and expansion of programs serving women's unique needs, empiric research into the most effective treatments for women with various disorders, and reexamination of legal and societal stances toward pregnant and parenting women who have addictions. In addition, local and individual steps are needed, including addressing gaps or inherent biases in programs, training counselors and clinicians in effective strategies or counseling styles, and developing awareness of one's own attitudes when dealing with difficult patients and challenging disorders. Such efforts will help ensure that women who have addictions will be cared for in a manner that is respectful, beneficent, compassionate, honest, and just.
View details for DOI 10.1016/S0889-8545(03)00071-8
View details for Web of Science ID 000186719500009
View details for PubMedID 14664327