Informed consent to undergo treatment for substance abuse: A recommended approach

Robert Walker, T. K. Logan, James J. Clark, Carl Leukefeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


With more than 3 million persons receiving substance abuse treatment per year in the United States and with increasing interest in treatment outcomes, there is a need for closer attention to all aspects of the treatment process. However, minimal attention has been given to informed consent as a way of enlisting client engagement and active participation in treatment. Although there is some literature on informed consent in substance abuse research, the literature on informed consent to undergo substance abuse treatment is very limited. Incorporating informed consent into substance abuse treatment is recommended as part of motivational interviewing. Standard treatment consent issues include (1) the clinical characteristics of the problem, including diagnosis; (2) treatment recommendations; (3) the risks and benefits of treatment; (4) the financial costs of the intervention; (5) alternative services or interventions should a client refuse the recommended form of care; and (6) freedom to choose or refuse treatment. This article provides a background for informed consent procedures to facilitate client engagement in substance abuse treatment and suggests needs for future research on informed consent to undergo substance abuse treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Informed consent
  • Substance abuse
  • Treatment consent
  • Treatment ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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