Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Related to Alcohol and Drug Research

José R. Goldim; Márcia S. Fernandes; Flávio Pechansky


Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2011;24(3):181-185. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Purpose of review To present some highlights and comments about ethical, legal and social issues related to alcohol and drug research.
Recent findings Alcohol and drug research has a lack of scientific production related to ethical, legal and social issues. Many papers simply describe summarily the informed consent process and other related issues.
Summary Informed consent process is one of the most important issues in research ethics. Obtaining a valid consent from a prospective research participant is always a challenge. We present many different ways to reach ethical, legal and social adequacy related to the informed consent process.


One of the main challenges in setting up any research project is to look for an appropriate connection between all aspects involved. Bioethics allows a comprehensive approach to research ethics. Ethical, legal, social and methodological issues should be evaluated in an integrated perspective. It is important to recognize all the different aspects that are linked when every human action is performed. From the most rational ones – such as methodological alternatives and their consequences, environment evidences, theoretical framework and associated casuistry – to nonrational components – such as affective bonds, desires, beliefs systems and interests – all aspects must be considered when performing research on humans. Bioethics is a meeting ground where interactions between different fields of knowledge are made.[1]

One of the most important issues in research ethics is the informed consent process. Alcohol and drug research added several factors on how valid consent could be obtained in different settings. Data collected from alcohol or drug users, using direct interaction or by telephone, from people who are receiving medical care or in police settings, required further thinking on how to adapt the informed consent process.[2]


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