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Tips on Developing a Recovery Responsive Code of Conduct

A Code of Professional Conduct presents the underlying principles of organizational operations and expectations for employee behavior. A clearly written and enforced Code of Professional Conduct can be an effective tool for the prevention of substance misuse. It defines a set of behaviors that are unacceptable and subject to disciplinary action. To take things further, companies can add in a Retention-Oriented policy to their existing

Code of Conduct to add to or enhance their existing policies. Codes of Professional Conduct are often grounded in several key principles. Violation of any of these principles may prompt disciplinary action and/or intervention.


The underlying principles include:

  • Non-discrimination

  • Client welfare and Employee Welfare

  • Client and professional relationships

  • Compliance with rules and laws

  • Preventing harm

  • Duty of care

  • Substance misuse

  • Retention strategies

  • Employee wellness Recovery Responsive strategies to support employees overall health and well-being

Policy in Practice

A Code of Professional Conduct clearly prohibits any behavior that compromises an employee’s ability to accomplish his or her job responsibilities or the reputation of the agency. This prohibition necessarily includes substance misuse. Many of the behaviors prohibited by the code could be warning signs of substance misuse. Some of these behaviors are discussed in more detail in “Red Flags That Staff May Be Misusing Substances.” Because the Code of Professional Conduct covers a range of behaviors, it should prompt a range of managerial responses, including increased monitoring, drug testing, an EAP referral or Recovery Employment Coach support, and disciplinary action up to and including termination.


A Code of Professional Conduct need not be limited to on-the-job behavior. It also allows the agency to be concerned with off-duty behavior when the behavior jeopardizes the agency’s mission or reputation and employee performance. Off-duty inappropriate behavior, including substance misuse and related behavior that occurs during off-duty hours (as it often does),may open the door for intervention. To learn more or for assistance developing a recovery responsive code of conduct, click here.