Is it Ethical for Professionals to Send Vulnerable Patients to Treatment and/or AA

If you’ve read my blog posts, you likely know by now that a family doctor was involved in convincing me to go to treatment and AA and focusing on my drinking rather than the sexual assault and attempted murder that I experienced in 2005. The reason why he thought that I should focus on drinking was part of victim blaming. I was drinking at the time of the assault, and I reported on the rape kit that I had about two bottles of wine a week. This doctor made a big deal about this and convinced my parents to talk to me about my drinking, which they happily did because they always discouraged me from drinking. This doctor, then, gave them a free pass to try to convince me to stop.

I’d seen this particular family doctor since I was a kid. He was about my parents age, and they were friends with him. But, during the time that he became concerned about my drinking, he actually was not my primary doctor. His female nurse practitioner was, and she had been for a number of years by that point. Her focus with me was addressing PTSD and the recent trauma, and she was not worried about my drinking. Even so, my primary from when I was a kid overrode her treatment of me and went over her head when it came to my treatment.

I suspect that this doctor may have just been overprotective since he had known me for so long. Still, I consider the fact that he dismissed a female coworker’s treatment and opinions and basically took over very unethical and an example of male privilege/dominance. I also believe that the fact that he pushed me to focus on alcohol rather than the recent trauma was also extremely unethical and unprofessional, as was the fact that he encouraged me to go to both treatment and AA when I was highly vulnerable.

This brings up the question as to whether professionals really understand that AA and even treatment centers can be really unsafe and unhealthy, especially for someone who is recently traumatized, struggling with mental health issues, has a developmental disability, or is vulnerable for any other reasons. Because of the high rates of referrals that professionals make to these places, it seems likely that they themselves are very influenced by society’s bias that places like this are safe and a good place for anyone to be. But the problem is that this just isn’t true, and professional’s either lack of knowledge or brainwashing when it comes to AA and treatment programs can lead to the unethical behavior of referring someone like me (someone who is vulnerable) to places that are not just filled with predators but revolve around victim blaming, fear, and shame and blame.

When I look back, I wish that I would have been encouraged to go to counseling to address all of the issues that I was struggling with at the time. I believe that this would have benefited me quite a bit in the long run, and I probably would not have experienced all of the terrible things that I did during my time in AA. I suspect that if this would have happened that I would likely be working right now in a way that utilizes my Master’s Degree. But instead, because of unethical professionals (the CDPs that I worked with also persuaded me to focus on alcohol use and look at trauma later) I am currently disabled and have been for some time.

Hopefully we can find a way to provide information to professionals, including counselors and psychologists, about the truth concerning AA and the treatment industry. We could create curriculum around this for any type of medical professional and/or create continuing education credits around it. And, professionals in the treatment industry really need to break their biases surrounding 12 step programs.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below.

2 thoughts on “Is it Ethical for Professionals to Send Vulnerable Patients to Treatment and/or AA

  1. This is so my story. It’s always been about the substance abuse & not dealing with the trauma that underlies it. My family specifically ignores it & blames whatever “bad” that happened to me in my life on drugs & alcohol.


  2. Yep. Demonize drugs and alcohol rather than putting the blame onto people or just life itself. It’s a defense mechanism and it keeps people from actually dealing with the realities of life.


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