Coerced treatment works

Judge using his gavel by IXQUICK

Findings from a British researcher’s paper:

Two arguments are often put forward on this issue. One is that drug users who face on any form of legal coercion will be unmotivated to change and are therefore unlikely to succeed in treatment. The second is that coercion can supplement initial motivation by keeping drug users in treatment for longer and therefore increase the chances of the treatment succeeding. On balance, the available research supports neither of these arguments. Rather it suggests that QCT can be as effective as treatment that is entered voluntarily, but is not generally more or less effective than such voluntary treatment.

The author also has an unusually positive (And, apparently, evidence-based.) view of the motivation of coerced patients.

One reason why QCT seems to have similarly positive results to voluntary treatment is because, when ethically carried out, it is not necessarily damaging to the patient’s motivation to change. Many drug dependent offenders want the opportunity to change their lives and to stop harming themselves and others. In our study of QCT in Europe, we found similar levels of motivation to change among legally coerced and voluntary patients [16].

This reflects our experience but is not commonly represented in writing about addiction. It’s worth noting that the author is a criminal justice research rather than an addictions, psychology or social work researcher.

2 thoughts on “Coerced treatment works

  1. Exhibit A, here – court ordered into treatment and haven’t touched a drug or a drink since, thankyouverymuch Ohio criminal justice system.

    1. We see stories like yours every day. It’s a good things when courts focus not just on punishment and public safety, but also on helping people get well so that they don’t offend again.

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