Drug Policies and Ethics

Response 1: Theories of Life-Span Development


·      Respond to at least two colleagues who addressed theories that are different from the theory you addressed.
·      State whether you might apply the theories your colleagues evaluated to your social work practice. Provide support for your position.

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Be sure to support your responses with specific references to the resources. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references.




Colleague 1: Brooke


‪The Motivational Theory of Life Span Development (MTD) asserts that humans live their happiest, most productive lives when pursuing appropriate goals at appropriate times in their lives (Heckhausen, Wrosch and Schulz, 2010).  It further supports that the established goals are pursued with direct efforts and these efforts are discontinued when the goal is either achieved or logically deemed unattainable (Heckhausen, Wrosch and Schulz, 2010).  The understanding here is that people’s lives consistently take different turns depending on their current set of circumstances, and not being able to readjust accordingly results in unsatisfying, ineffective experiences.  In other words, flexibility is a foundational component of this theory, as is being in touch with your own individual, ever-changing needs.  When opportunities and possibility are presented to the individual, a goal can be established and efforts put forth to achieve said goal.



‪This theory certainly has merit in that it considers the individualized set of circumstances surrounding each person, and gives credence to the fact that life experiences and available opportunities differ from person to person (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2016). During clinical sessions, application of this theory could potentially educate the client regarding the very realistic and attainable goals available to them.  For example, a newly single mother may be seeking counseling services for support and guidance.  The application of the Motivational Life Span Development Theory could help identify what her potential next steps may be, by labeling her current situation.  Perhaps she has familial support, so childcare is available.  This may help encourage her to pursue the degree she had always considered.


‪On the contrary, this theory may appear limiting to individuals in dire situations, specifically because it encourages the assessment of the reality of a situation.  For example, for a homeless man living on the streets, perhaps pursuing a college degree should not be the immediate plan, regardless of his previous plans.  The goal, according to this theory, would be taking systematic, sequential steps to achieve what is currently attainable, and adjusting accordingly as goals are met.  This process, therefore, can seem disheartening to an individual who wants to envision a better future for himself.


‪This theory can be applied during social work practice by initially assessing a client’s current situation, considering both the positive and negative aspects of their circumstances.  From this assessment, the first goal can be established and methods of goal achievement can be discussed.  The client sits in the proverbial “driver’s seat,” weighing the importance of goals and the reality of attainment.  Subsequent sessions would focus on evaluating the effectiveness and making necessary changes throughout the process,.


Colleague 2: Shaneika


Interacting with clients of all age grow will call for constant and continued evaluations of how they develop and function throughout their lives; as social workers we need to guide our practice with a number of researches and evidence that addresses the population we serve. Erik Erikson (1950, 1963) does not talk about psychosexual stages, he discusses psychosocial stages which he states the ego develops as it successfully resolves crises that are distinctly social in nature. These involve establishing a sense of trust in others, developing a sense of identity in society, and helping the next generation prepare for the future. Erikson proposed a lifespan model of development, taking in five stages up to the age of 18 years and three further stages beyond, well into adulthood. Erikson suggests that there is still plenty of room for continued growth and development throughout one’s life. Erikson puts a great deal of emphasis on the adolescent period, feeling it was a crucial stage for developing a person’s identity (Simply Psychology, 2013).


Erikson’s life span developmental theory has many merits as it gives a detailed account of what happen in the social diaspora of individual’s development throughout their lives. This is gives a vivid description of what should be happening to individuals as they go through each phase which makes it much easier for professionals like social workers who interact with clients to understand where they are at socially on the developmental ladder and so provides them with a basis on how to engage their clients and understand why they act the way they do. Learning Theories (2005-2016) states this psychosocial theory of development considers the impact of external factors, parents and society personality development from childhood to adulthood. These stages include what happens and the outcome: basic stage one  from birth to 18 months (Trust vs. Mistrust – Hope), stage two 18 months to 3 years old (Autonomy vs. Shame – Will), stage three from 3 years to 5 years (Initiative vs. Guilt – Purpose), stage four ages 6 to 12 (Industry vs. Inferiority –Competence), stage five from 12 to 18 years old (Identity vs. Role Confusion – Fidelity), stage six from ages 18 to 35 (Intimacy and Solidarity vs. Isolation – Love), stage seven from ages 35 to 55 or 65 (Generativity vs. Self-absorption or Stagnation – Care), and stage eight from ages  55 or 65 to death (Integrity vs. Despair – Wisdom). Putting into perspective the psychosocial aspect of development in the strength of this theory because it gives a detail account of what is expected to happen and the stages it should unfold in; this will help social workers to identify where their clients are on the psychosocial level which is important in the assessment they will carry out.


I believe the biggest weakness of this theory is the fact that it doesn’t tie in the psychosexual development of individuals which seems to have merit in the way individuals interact with their environment. This theory doesn’t take into consideration individuals who develop slower that the average person or provide a logical explanation of how they fit in the psychosocial development as Erikson describes. As social worker we need to be able to link both the social and physical component of development to our clients so a study that provides this frame work would be beneficial to our practice.


I would definitely apply Erikson’s theory of development to my social work practice in the initial assessment process because it will help me to see where my clients are developmentally and I can continue to use it through our interaction of the case to chart their development if any is made. Overall, this theory will give me an overview as to what I need to do in order to help my clients achieve their desired outcome on a psychosocial level if it’s possible.














Response 2Drug Policies and Ethics


·      Respond to at least two colleagues with a critique of the gaps in service they identified for Joe.
·      Then, describe a substance abuse or drug policy that you believe is unjust or disproportionately affects a certain group or population.

·      Finally, describe the ethical obligations of social workers to make changes to substance abuse policies.


Support your response with specific references to the resources. Be sure to provide full APA citations for your references.



Colleague 1: Janet


Having a background in Psychology, when I hear of a person suffering from substance abuse, I think of a mental or other kind of disorder or disease that is afflicting this person, and perhaps causing them to self-medicate. I believe this to be the case of Joe, who is a 34 year old caucasian male who was heavily dependent on marijuana.


Joe was a heavy marijuana user in his college years, and also started distributing and selling marijuana. Joe was then caught and was sentenced to three years of prison. Joe is in dire need of medicaid coverage to continue to receive help for his chemical dependence and also for his mental disorder, major depressive disorder. However, due to his background and drug conviction he is unable to qualify for these services. Also, because of his condition and his stint in prison he is unable to acquire or keep employment to be able to get insurance through an employer or pay for the services through his wages. (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014)

Obviously Joe did not make the right decision by selling and distributing drugs, however, it seems that the root of the problem was an undiagnosed disorder, which is now under control and being treated with medication. Joe seems to be a victim of the system, where he was unable to be rehabilitated while in prison and he was unable to get work skills and help with obtaining a job after getting released. He is now dependent on receiving help from other private programs, as he does not qualify for services other than food stamps. What he really needs help with is for a mean to be able to stay in the treatment program that he is receiving and while the social worker was unable to provide him with the help he requested they just recommended for Joe and his counselor to look into alternatives at the program. To me more could have been done for Joe.


The fact that Joe is not able to qualify for Medicaid to help him treat not only his chemical dependence but his mental illness is a fault with the policy.  If the policy for Medicaid qualification would extend to help people with a chemical and mental disorder more money would be saved overall. For example, we learn that “[t]he annual cost of untreated mental illness in lost earnings alone is estimated to be $193.2 billion. Overall direct and indirect costs are over $300 billion. The effects in terms of emergency health care, crime, domestic violence, and propertery damage would further increase the cost to society of not treating mental disorders.” (Popple & Leighninger, 2015, p. 165).


While changing the policy to help Joe be eligible for Medicaid will take many years, perhaps finding a program that will fund his treatment and allow him to learn a trade and to be able to become rehabilitated and empowered to become independent and not dependent on government assistance. It seems that Joe is a victim of the negative feelings that drug use/abuse come with. Gold and Slaby (as cited in Popple & Leighninger, 2015, p. 184) explain that the resulting failure to recognize and effectively treat dually diagnosed clients, especially younger ones, has led to ‘enduring patterns of maladaptive coping styles’ among these clients, repeated and lengthy hospitalizations, and increased health care costs.” If policy changes were to be done for people like Joe and work with the community to get rid of the stigma that mental health and drug abuse have it would be a start.


Colleague 2: Daneilia


Drug Policies Affect Joe’s Circumstances

Drug policies have affected Joe’s circumstances in the manner that it has limited Joe obtaining employment as well as health insurance.  Due to Joe’s intent to distribute Controlled Dangerous Substance, it has left Joe with a criminal record that will not allow him to gain employment to pay for his bills and health necessities.  The General Assistance program, which would allow Joe to obtain health insurance and housing, has labeled Joe ineligible due to his conviction (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014).

Gaps in Service

The gaps in service that I found in Joe’s case as a result of drug policies would be from the time he was released from prison and the time he has entered into the Mentally Ill Chemical Abuser treatment program.  However, it is discussed that “…his housing situation has been unstable and sporadic for the past 10 years” (Plummer, Makris, & Brocksen, 2014).  Therefore, Joe’s housing situation did not only occur after he had been imprisoned but what seems to be a period of time.  Since Joe had been incarcerated for his conviction he had no access to health insurance and housing because of drug policies.  Due to the fact that the Mentally Ill Chemical Abuser treatment program is requiring Joe to obtain health insurance or pay for out of pocket he is now seeking assistance.  Also, because of the drug policies it has left Joe without a job since being imprisoned.  In addition, his criminal record will not allow Joe to gain a job necessary to pay for his necessities in life.

Strategy to Address Making Changes to Policies that Affect Joe

A strategy to address making changes to policies that affect Joe would be to allow the individual to gain access to health insurance, if and only if said person remains in a treatment program; and/or makes the effort to gain employment.  Or another option would be to require the individual to do volunteer work for organizations approved by the state/government.  The volunteer work might allow for the opportunity to gain some experience and knowledge in the work realm with the possibility of gaining paid employment.  Also similarly discussed in the textbook would be to drug test, exactly how employers do for employees in the workplace.  Booth (as cited in Popple & Leighninger, 2015) states, “Those failing the test would be denied medical services. The new policy was in part an attempt to control costs, in part an effort to promote ‘personal responsibility’ on the part of people receiving public aid” (p. 181).  Therefore individuals have the opportunity to gain assistance while still being active and self-sufficient.