The goal of this assignment is to encourage you to think critically about situations that you may face as a professional in the field of substance abuse.


The goal of this assignment is to encourage you to think critically about situations that you may face as a professional in the field of substance abuse.  This assignment will challenge you to explore your personal values, examine ethical decision making, and how to utilize a code of ethics to help in decision making.


Read the prompt carefully and determine how you would approach the case utilizing the questions as a guide.


Jennifer is a 25-year-old female who presents to the emergency room by ambulance. She is currently unresponsive but stable at the time she is transferred to the emergency department.  The first responders are not exactly sure what is going on; however, they report witnessing drug paraphernalia close by. They are unsure of who called 911 because no one else was on the scene when they arrived. As part of her work up, you order a drug test, and since Jennifer is in childbearing years, a pregnancy test is also requested.  When the lab results return, they indicate that Jennifer has opiates, alcohol, and nicotine in her system.  They also reveal that she is pregnant, so a subsequent ultrasound is performed, which confirms that Jennifer is 16-weeks, gestational age. As the treating practitioner, the decision on how to proceed is up to you. However, a colleague states that you must call the Department of Child and Families (DCF), and notify law enforcement, since Jennifer is committing a crime by harming her unborn child.

1. What would be your initial reaction to this case? Reflect on your personal values, and how this would impact your initial thoughts.

1. What are reactions to your co-worker’s thoughts on contacting DCF?

Additional Case Information: 

After treating her for dehydration and possible opiate overdose, Jennifer becomes alert and responsive.  When asked if she was aware she was pregnant, she states that she has known for about a month.  She reports that she has not received any prenatal care, and that she has not been taking prenatal vitamins.  Jennifer explains that she was afraid to go to the doctor because they would find out about her current drug use. Jennifer adds that she has two other children, who are currently in foster care, due to her inability to care for them. Jennifer admits to using opiates and nicotine daily, and she reports drinking alcohol at least twice a week.  She advises that the father of the pregnancy is also an addict, and she describes being unsure of his whereabouts. Jennifer discloses, however, that she knows he does not want this child. Jennifer expresses a desire to quit using because she is pregnant, but she acknowledges that all of her attempts to stop using have failed, resulting in relapse.  Since finding out she was pregnant, Jennifer reports that she was able to go as long three days without using, but she explains that after three days, she becomes too ill to manage, and ends up using.  She has a five-year history of heavy substance use, is currently homeless, and has no financial resources.

  1. Read and consult the professional code of ethics for certified addictions professionals. Utilize this as a guide to discuss the most ethical manner to approach this case.  Be specific regarding how the code of ethics guides your decision-making, referencing which parts you feel apply to this situation.
  2. Describe how a professional code of ethics assists clinicians in professional practice.
  3. Research and describe your findings on how in utero opiate and alcohol use can impact the fetus. (Make sure to site your references utilizing APA style.).
  4. Based on all of the information gathered from the assessment, what would be your recommendation for Jennifer? Be specific regarding your course of action, and make sure to provide rationale for your decisions.


The Ethics Case Study should be submitted in APA style (e.g., Times New Roman, 12-point font, double-spaced, with appropriate headings). References should also be cited utilizing APA style.

Students response are clearly written, follow APA guidelines when utilizing references, and response to each question is at least 150 words.

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