Code of Ethics


ISSUP’s Values and Code of Ethics are to be followed and respected by all Members in all aspects of their professional conduct. By following ISSUP's Code of Ethics, ISSUP Members demonstrate their willingness and commitment to adhere to the values and principles that define professionalism and ethical conduct.

Any ISSUP member found to be in conflict with our Values and Code of Ethics will be informed and potentially removed as a member.

ISSUP membership is NOT evidence of ethical practice. Membership is open to all; the merit of individual workers is not assessed by ISSUP. It is recommended to refer to National licensing requirements to ensure the professionalism of individuals.

It is important that the research, policy, and practice that is undertaken in the field of substance use prevention, treatment and recovery support should be undertaken within an international framework of ethical code of conduct to guide all aspects of the work.

ISSUP Member Values 

  • Respect
  • Inclusiveness
  • Public Safety
  • Competency
  • Continued Development
  • Diversity
  • Equality
  • Transparency
  • Acceptance
  • Selfcare
  • Unity

ISSUP Ethical Principles

The following principles have been issued by ISSUP for its members to adhere to:

Principle 1 - Compliance with Human Rights

ISSUP members are dedicated to upholding and promoting the principles and standards of human rights in their work. They respect the inherent rights, dignity, and worth of all individuals, regardless of their background, identity, race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Compliance with human rights involves ensuring non-discrimination, equal treatment, privacy, autonomy, informed consent, and the right to access appropriate care and support for individuals affected by substance use.

Principle 2 - Commitment to High-Quality Evidence

ISSUP members prioritise the use of reliable, valid, and up-to-date evidence in their decision-making, research, and practice. They recognise the importance of basing their actions, recommendations, and interventions on the best available evidence from scientific research, scholarly literature, and relevant empirical data. Commitment to high-quality evidence promotes the use of evidence-based approaches, interventions, and strategies.

Principle 3 -  Preventing Harm

ISSUP members are committed to prioritising the well-being, safety, and protection of the individuals and communities they work with. They recognise and address the potential risks and negative consequences associated with substance use and any practice or policy that does not minimize and prevent harm. ISSUP members strive to create environments that promote health, well-being, and resilience while minimizing the negative impact of substance use on individuals and communities. They also recognise the harm that some practice, research, and policy can cause and therefore ensure their activities are evidence-based and cause no harm.

Principle 4 - Non-discrimination

ISSUP members are committed to treating all individuals with fairness, respect, and equality, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, or any other characteristic. Non-discrimination ensures that services, interventions, and interactions are provided without bias, stigma, or prejudice, promoting inclusivity and equal access to care and support.

Principle 5 - Trustworthiness

ISSUP members prioritise building and maintaining trust with target audience, stakeholders, clients, colleagues, and the community. This involves demonstrating honesty, integrity, and reliability in all professional activities; being transparent about qualifications, expertise, and limitations; and adhering to professional ethics and standards. Trustworthiness fosters strong professional relationships and enhances the effectiveness of substance use interventions.

Principle 6 - Professional Responsibilities and Workplace Standards

ISSUP members recognise their professional responsibilities and commit to upholding workplace standards that promote ethical conduct, accountability, and quality service provision. ISSUP members maintain appropriate professional boundaries, ensuring that relationships with clients are based on trust, respect, and therapeutic goals. They avoid conflicts of interest and refrain from engaging in dual relationships that may compromise the welfare or objectivity of the client. ISSUP members are committed to fostering a harassment-free environment. Harassment is defined as any form of unwanted and unwelcome behaviour posing emotional or physical violence. It can manifest in various forms, including verbal, physical, or visual actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for the person experiencing it. ISSUP members adhere to workplace policies, procedures, and guidelines established by their organisation. They comply with legal and regulatory requirements, ensuring their practice aligns with organisational standards.

Principle 7 - Legal Requirements

ISSUP members comply with applicable laws and regulations, ensuring that their practices and interventions meet legal standards and obligations in their country

Principle 8 - Confidentiality

ISSUP members safeguard the privacy and confidentiality of those they are working with by maintaining strict confidentiality policies and procedures. They respect people’s rights to confidentiality, seeking informed consent for disclosure of information and sharing data only when legally and ethically permissible.

Principle 9 - Data Protection

ISSUP members take necessary measures to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and security of individuals’ data and information, ensuring compliance with relevant data protection regulations and guidelines and observing best practices where regulation is not in place.

Principle 10 - Inclusivity

ISSUP members embrace diversity and inclusivity in their practice, recognising and respecting the cultural, social, and individual differences of clients. They strive to create an environment that is welcoming, non-judgmental, and sensitive to the needs of diverse populations, promoting equal access to services and addressing barriers to care.

Principle 11 - Stakeholder Inclusion

ISSUP members engage relevant stakeholders, including clients, target audiences, communities, and other professionals, in the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies, programmes, and interventions. This collaborative approach ensures that interventions are tailored to meet the specific needs, preferences, and contexts of the individuals and communities being served.

Principle 12 - Professional Competence

ISSUP members commit to maintaining and enhancing their professional competence through ongoing education, training, and development. They stay updated with the latest research, evidence-based practices, standards /guidelines and ethical considerations and advancements in the field of substance use; continuously improving their knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide effective and quality services.

Principle 13 - Informed Consent 

ISSUP members prioritise obtaining informed consent from clients before any assessment, intervention, or research-related activities. They provide clear, comprehensive, and understandable information to the target audience of the activity, ensuring that they have the capacity to make informed decisions about their care, treatment, and participation in research while respecting their autonomy and right to self-determination.

Additional References:

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