Why Forced Addiction Treatment Fails

It is legal in 37 states for concerned citizens, police officers, and parents to petition the courts to force individuals to undergo addiction treatment. The judge must determine that the person is a danger to himself or others. Then, he or she can order the person to be civilly committed.

Very recently, several states expanded upon or passed new laws of this type between 2015 and 2018, and apparently, this is just the beginning. For example, Massachusetts just increased its budget for its civil commitment program by $23 million. Also, California’s Governor Newsom introduced a new “CARE Courts” program that will expand the civil commitment program to include homeless individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and substance use disorders as well.


If the CARE program is passed, Dr. Daniel Ciccarone doesn’t believe that it will fix the problem. He states that the research does not demonstrate that coercive substance use treatment works. He would rather see a program offering homeless shelter and substance use treatment. In addition, this population needs mental health services and case management to keep them from falling back into drug use again.

The initiatives described above were enacted by well-meaning people, but they are very likely to fail. That is because when people enter substance treatment voluntarily, the outcomes are better than the outcomes of those who were forced to get into a treatment program. They are also less likely to be hurt by being forced into treatment against their will.

States criminalized drug use and created programs to combat these new crimes, but the programs have been described as fraudulent, understaffed, underfunded, of inferior quality, and harsh. Those in the legal system do not have to pay for these programs and offer these people immediate treatment, so the programs continue.

The answer to this problem is to expand evidence-based treatment. According to research, the best type of treatment is not coercive; it is caring and welcoming. Therefore, the last thing that society should be doing is forcing people to obtain treatment for their substance addictions.

Although researchers believe that forcing people into drug treatment centers does not help them remain sober over the long term, many states chose to expand their coercive drug programs. In addition to that, the increase in coercive treatment has not decreased the number of drug treatment rehabilitation centers in the country, but they are increasing.

Does Court-Ordered Treatment Work?

The facts described above do not point to the success of forced drug treatment, and the research doesn’t deny that it works either. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health conducted a study in 2016. In its report, it stated that if their subjects were committed involuntarily to a drug treatment program, they were more than two times as likely to die of an opioid-related drug overdose than those who entered a drug treatment program of their own free will.

addiction treatment

Also, in 2016, the International Journal of Drug Policy published a study. Researchers learned that the evidence did not support the belief that coercive drug treatment succeeds in helping people become sober and it doesn’t keep them from returning to jail.

Dr. Dan Werb, a policy analyst and epidemiologist at the University of California at San Diego, stated that the evidence supporting the idea that compulsory treatment helps people with substance use disorders is just as plentiful as evidence demonstrating that compulsory commitment to treatment programs is not helpful.

Which Treatment Is Most Effective for Treating Addiction?

In the case of opioid addiction, pharmacological treatments have proven to work the best. Dr. Werb stated that ample evidence from several decades of research determined that methadone is one opioid-based medication that helps people manage their addictions to opioids. Buprenorphine and naltrexone are options as well.

If you believe that your loved one has a substance use disorder, you must contact a medical professional. The intervention that will work the best will be based on evidence and supported by research.

Inpatient treatment is an option, but it doesn’t have to be the only one for you or your loved one. According to a study performed in 2014, researchers discovered that outpatient treatment for substance use could be equally as effective as inpatient treatment.

What Is the Success Rate for Treatment?

Recovery from drug use means that the person returns to being a productive member of a family, a job, and the community. The research shows that most people who obtain treatment for a substance use disorder stop their drug use if they remain in treatment over the long term. They don’t engage in criminal behavior and become successful members of society. As a matter of fact, the methadone treatment that was mentioned earlier helped people continue to attend their behavioral therapy sessions.

The relapse rates for people with substance use disorders are comparable to those with medical illnesses. Substance use disorders are chronic disorders like diabetes or heart disease, and people are very likely to relapse. Relapse, however, does not mean that treatment failed. Treatment for substance use requires that medical professionals evaluate each person’s condition on an ongoing basis so that they can modify their clients’ treatments as necessary.

What Is the Percentage of Relapse?

Approximately 40% to 60% of those who obtain treatment for substance use disorders relapse, but this is the same rate of relapse that occurs for people with hypertension or asthma when they fail to take their medications.

Simply stated, addiction rewires your brain. When your brain is healthy, it releases chemicals that cause you to experience pleasure after you have done something positive. When you take drugs, they also cause your brain to release these chemicals. Addiction causes you to need to increase the amount of the drug that you are taking to continue to experience the same feelings, and if you stop using the substance, you will begin to feel worse.

After you are addicted to a substance, the changes in your brain cause you to lack the ability to control yourself and exercise good judgment. This makes it more difficult for you to stick to your treatment program, so relapses occur.

getting help

What Are Three Reasons that People Do Not Seek Treatment?

1. They Do Not Believe that They Need Treatment.

Most people with undiagnosed substance use disorders did not seek treatment because they didn’t believe they needed it. These people were experiencing serious negative consequences, such as damage to their finances and emotional relationships, but they failed to see that their drug use was the cause. They often do not believe that their lives may be in danger because of an addiction and that the situation is very dire.

2. They Do Not Want to Stop Using Their Drugs of Choice.

Some people are aware that they need help for their addictions, but they refuse to get that help. They know that obtaining treatment would mean that they would be required to stop using their drugs of choice, and these people are not ready to do that. Obtaining and using their substances of choice became their first priority, so they are not willing to discuss drug treatment with anyone. These people need outside help from friends and family to be able to see that drug treatment is necessary.

3. They Don’t Know How to Get Help.

When people are in the middle of a substance use disorder, it is a difficult time to begin searching for help for the problem. They may even begin to think that no one can or is willing to help them, and they don’t feel capable of researching the many drug treatment centers that exist.

If this is the case, you can significantly help your friend or family member. We can place your loved one in our medical detox program at Allure Detox. During the process, the substances will be removed from your loved one’s body so that we can prepare him or her to enter our residential program.

As was mentioned above, many people are not considering treatment for a substance use disorder for several reasons. You can convince your loved one that entering into a treatment program would be the right idea if you stage an intervention. An intervention is an event that you plan with your loved one’s other family members, and friends, and an interventionist will direct the event for you.

During the intervention, you and the others will gather in a comfortable location where you will confront your loved one about the consequences of his or her addiction. The main point will be to ask your loved one to accept treatment for the substance use disorder. You will have the opportunity to introduce your loved one to the possibility of entering Allure Detox.

Contact us at Allure Detox today if you are ready to get help for your loved one’s substance use disorder.


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