Social control and coercion in addiction treatment: towards evidence-based policy and practice
Article first published online: 18 NOV 2005
Volume 101, Issue 1, pages 40–49, January 2006
How to Cite
Wild, T. C. (2006), Social control and coercion in addiction treatment: towards evidence-based policy and practice. Addiction, 101: 40–49. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2005.01268.x
- Issue published online: 18 NOV 2005
- Article first published online: 18 NOV 2005
- Submitted 7 January 2005; initial review completed 1 February 2005; final version accepted 23 May 2005
- health services;
- research assumptions;
Background Social pressures are often an integral part of the process of seeking addiction treatment. However, scientists have not developed conclusive evidence on the processes, benefits and limitations of using legal, formal and informal social control tactics to inform policy makers, service providers and the public. This paper characterizes barriers to a robust interdisciplinary analysis of social control and coercion in addiction treatment and provides directions for future research.
Approach Conceptual analysis and review of key studies and trends in the area are used to describe eight implicit assumptions underlying policy, practice and scholarship on this topic.
Findings Many policies, programmes and researchers are guided by a simplistic behaviourist and health-service perspective on social controls that (a) overemphasizes the use of criminal justice systems to compel individuals into treatment and (b) fails to take into account provider, patient and public views.
Conclusions Policies and programmes that expand addiction treatment options deserve support. However, drawing a firm distinction between social controls (objective use of social pressure) and coercion (client perceptions and decision-making processes) supports a parallel position that rejects treatment policies, programmes, and associated practices that create client perceptions of coercion.