LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Response to Reitan
Version of Record online: 18 FEB 2013
© 2013 The Authors, Addiction © 2013 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 108, Issue 3, pages 650–651, March 2013
How to Cite
Hall, W., Babor, T., Laranjeira, R., Marsden, J., Miller, P., Obot, I., Petry, N., Thamarangsi, T. and West, R. (2013), Response to Reitan. Addiction, 108: 650–651. doi: 10.1111/add.12085
- Issue online: 18 FEB 2013
- Version of Record online: 18 FEB 2013
Therese Reitan  misinterprets us  if she thinks we claimed that the Swedish model of compulsory addiction treatment violates human rights in the same way as compulsory detention programmes for addicted individuals in countries such as China and Vietnam. Our editorial said very clearly that what occurs in the latter ‘cannot be dignified by the term of “compulsory treatment” ’. She seems to share our reservations about compulsory detention that involves the imprisonment of addicted people in the absence of judicial oversight, and the provision of ‘treatment’ that consists of enforced detoxification, forced labour and physical and psychological abuse of detainees.
We mentioned Sweden's compulsory treatment programme in our editorial for two reasons. First, advocates of compulsory detention cite the Swedish and other similar models in defending their practices. Secondly, we also have concerns about compulsory addiction treatment even when it includes civil judicial review and addiction treatment is provided by health professionals, as it is in Sweden. Advocates of this type of compulsory addiction treatment have failed to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of imposing treatment on addicted individuals without their consent, even when this is conducted supposedly in the person's best interests .
We stand by our assertion that compulsory addiction treatment under civil law has declined and often fallen into disuse in countries that still permit it (such as Australia). Israelson & Gernder  report a decline in the number of countries that permit such treatment, declines in the permitted duration of compulsory treatment and a probable decline in the numbers of people treated in this way in the 14 countries that supplied statistics on use of this type of compulsory treatment over time . The small scale of compulsory treatment in countries that still permit it is one of the reasons why their evaluations (including that in Sweden) consist largely of uncontrolled observations of small numbers of patients .
Israelson & Gerdner  reported an increased use of the criminal law to coerce addicted offenders into treatment instead of imprisonment. There is reasonable quasi-experimental evidence for the effectiveness of this form of coerced addiction treatment [5, 6]. We do not accept Reitan's assertion that coerced addiction treatment is an undeclared form of compulsory addiction treatment. Fewer ethical and human rights issues are raised by legally coerced addiction treatment because it is often provided in the community, under the judicial oversight of the criminal justice system  and with the important difference that addicted offenders have the option of declining treatment, something that they do not have under compulsory forms of addiction treatment such as that in Sweden.
Declarations of interest
As provided in the editorial available via this link http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.03888.x/pdf
- 3The Effectiveness of Compulsory, Residential Treatment of Chronic Alcohol or Drug Addiction in Non-offenders: A Systematic Review of the Literature. University of Canterbury: Health Services Assessment Collaboration (HSAC); 2008., ,
- 5Washington State Institute for Public Policy. Evidence-Based Public Policy Options to Reduce Future Prison Construction, Criminal Justice Costs, and Crime Rates. Olympia, WA: Washington State Institute for Public Policy; 2006., , ,
- 6Legally coerced treatment for drug using offenders: ethical and policy issues. Crime Justice Bull 2010; 144: 1–12.,