Mandated Treatment

Email this ArticlePrint This Page


  • Although some believe that an addicted person must want to get treated in order for recovery to begin, this is not true.
  • Forced, or mandated, treatment has been proved effective; in fact, most people in treatment were forced into it by various circumstances, such as being charged with a crime.
  • Treatment of offenders in correctional facilities has also been shown to work.

It's not true that a person must voluntarily seek treatment in order to recover from addiction.

"In my clinical practice, I'd say that I haven't had one patient that came in because they woke up one day out of the clear blue and said, 'I'm an addict. And I need to get clean,'" says treatment expert Dr. Kathleen Brady at the Medical University of South Carolina. "Generally, everybody has their arm twisted behind their back by something. They're either in trouble at work, their wife insists they come in, their kids have confronted them. It's the job of the treatment professionals to really hook them into treatment then."

One of the most compelling reasons people seek treatment is when they've been charged with a crime. Through the regular court system, or in an alternative system called drug court, they've been given the option of undergoing treatment as a means of eliminating or reducing their criminal sentence. This mandated treatment can help addicted people get better.

"Drug court at first was just getting in the way of my using," one man said in a Boston drug court. "But I think without drug court, I probably would never have went to Gaven House, got me a program, got me in line for getting sober. I didn't want to be here, but at the same time now that it's almost over, I'm kind of grateful for it, because I probably never would have stopped or even wanted to. You know? So I'm grateful for drug court."

Similarly, for those offenders that are sentenced to a correctional facility, treatment within the corrections system has also been shown to be effective, particularly when combined with an aftercare program upon release.