The Ethics and Effectiveness of Coerced Treatment of People Who Use Drugs

Human Rights and Drugs, Volume 2, No. 1, 2012

10 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2014

See all articles by Alex Stevens

Alex Stevens

University of Kent - Canterbury Campus

Date Written: January 01, 2012

Abstract

In the context of international debates about ways to reduce the harms related to the use of illicit drugs and their control, this article explores the specific issue of coerced treatment of people who use drugs. It uses established standards of human rights and medical ethics to judge whether it is ethical to apply either of two types of coerced treatment (compulsory treatment and quasi-compulsory treatment, or QCT) to any of three groups of drug users (non-problematic users, dependent drug users and drug dependent offenders). It argues that compulsory treatment is not ethical for any group, as it breaches the standard of informed consent. Quasi-compulsory treatment (i.e. treatment that is offered as an alternative to a punishment that is itself ethically justified) may be ethical (under specified conditions) for drug dependent offenders who are facing a more restrictive penal sanction, but is not ethical for other people who use drugs. The article also briefly reviews evidence which suggests that QCT may be as effective as voluntary treatment.

Keywords: harm reduction, human rights, drug policy, coerced treatment, compulsory treatment, quasi-compulsory treatment

Suggested Citation

Stevens, Alex, The Ethics and Effectiveness of Coerced Treatment of People Who Use Drugs (January 01, 2012). Human Rights and Drugs, Volume 2, No. 1, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2425124

Alex Stevens (Contact Author)

University of Kent - Canterbury Campus

School of Politics and International Relations
Rutherford College
Canterbury, CT2 7NX

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
109
Abstract Views
765
rank
266,931
PlumX Metrics