106th Annual Spring Leadership and Networking Conference
Pre-Conference Ethics Workshop
Monday, March 25th, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

"Ethical Dilemmas and Substance Use Disorders:  What Do You Do?"

Erin Pickney, LCSW
Associate Director of Medical Case Management and Financial Stability
Nashville CARES

Sponsored by NASW Tennessee
3 CEU’s
in Ethics Approved for Social Workers by NASW TN

Have you ever had a client who has been using illicit drugs and wondered “what do I do?”  Well, you’re not alone.  Working with clients in substance abuse treatment presents dilemmas relating to personal beliefs, judgments, and values. The history of how society views persons with addictions is fraught with emotion, misperceptions, and biases that have affected the care of drug abusers. Overwhelmingly, patients and clients who are misusing both legal and illegal drugs carry the stigma of being labeled a drug abuser which can negatively impact the quality of care they receive.

Because of the highly charged emotional nature of the substance abuse treatment field, providers should possess the tools to explore ethical dilemmas objectively. By doing so, and by examining their own reactions to the situation, providers can proceed with the most ethical course of action.

This workshop will provide the participants with an overview of Substance Use Disorders, using real language rather than textbook definitions.  It will explore why the disease itself creates ethical dilemmas; everything from legitimacy of signed documents/consents to the ability for clients to make personal choices when their brain is hijacked by substances.  Through small group discussions and activities, this workshop will review tips for identifying potential SUD with clients and ways to address treatments without judgement.  It will review resources, treatment modalities, and ethical referral-making.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will improve their understanding of Substance Use Disorders.

  2. Participants will be challenged to identify ethical dilemmas inherent in working with Substance Use Disorders

  3. Participants will develop skills to resolve dilemmas while ensuring the client retains their right to self-determination.

Erin Pickney, LCSW

A Nashville native, Erin Pickney moved to Ohio after high school to attend the University of Dayton.  After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2005, she began working at AIDSCARE, Inc., a residential facility for families and individuals living with HIV.  In her position as a Families and Youth Case Manager, she was instrumental in creating the social services and children's programs, providing clients and their children with supportive services and access to treatments.

Erin returned to Nashville in 2007 and began working at Nashville CARES as a Women's Services case manager.  Through her work at CARES she began to develop a bit of a specialty in working with clients struggling with addiction issues.  Erin went on to attend graduate school at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work where she received her Master’s degree in 2012.  Her graduate internships at The Next Door and Renewal House were focused on substance abuse recovery and treatment.

After completing her MSW, Erin began working at Renewal House where she expanded the Children's Program.  Through a grant from The Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families, Erin developed and oversaw a demonstration project for Family Residential Treatment. The project was research based and created to demonstrate the effectiveness of FRTs.

Currently, Erin has returned Nashville CARES in 2017 as the Associate Director of Medical Case Management and Financial Stability.  Her work at CARES includes oversight and direct supervision of case management staff, specifically the Older Adults and Women’s Services Teams.  She is also responsible for program management of direct assistance grants that provide clients with direct financial assistance for rent and utilities.  Erin also develops and conducts staff training and professional development activities designed to enhance the skills and knowledge of the case management staff to better serve CARES’ clients.

Erin began a part-time private practice in 2017 providing psychotherapy and clinical interventions to parents (parent coaching) and adults with substance abuse issues, mood disorders, and communication issues.  Erin has been a substance abuse services consultant since 2015 and currently provides training for the Child Protective Services Academy.