Socially Sanctioned Coercion Mechanisms for Addiction Treatment


New York State Psychiatric Institute 1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 120, New York, NY, 10032.


Coercion as a strategy for treatment of addiction is an effective but often negatively perceived approach. The authors review current policies for involuntary commitments and explore coercive dimensions of treating alcohol and drug dependence in the workplace, sports, and through professional licensure. Gender-specific issues in coercion are considered, including evidence for improved treatment retention among pregnant and parenting women coerced via the criminal justice system. Social security disability benefits represent an area where an opportunity for constructive coercion was missed in the treatment of primary or comorbid substance use disorders. The availability of third-party funding for the voluntary treatment of individuals with substance use disorders has decreased. This unmet need, coupled with the evidence for positive clinical outcomes, highlights the call for implementing socially sanctioned mechanisms of coercion.