Ethical Decision Making for Licensed SUD Counselors

  • Melissa A. Milliken Grand Canyon University, Phoenix Arizona
  • Jim Reynolds Argosy University, Sarasota Florida
  • Michael D. Richardson
Keywords: ethics, SUD counselor, dual relationships, substance use disorders counseling, boundaries, licensed mental health counselors


This qualitative study considered how six licensed SUD counselors in recovery from alcohol and/or drugs negotiate boundaries while adhering to Alcoholics Anonymous values and traditions.  Themes that emerged included the use of both professional codes and 12 step values in ethical decision making, pride in recovery status, and a purposeful distance between themselves and their recovery program.  Implications for counselors include the need to create healthy and safe boundaries while maintaining their own personal recovery and professional ethical standards.