Can Forced Treatment Really Work? Don’t You Have to WANT to Quit?
Despite the popular belief that you must hit rock bottom before you can start to get better, people forced into treatment programs have similar outcomes to people who enter into treatment for other reasons.
For example: A California study on methamphetamine users found that both people coerced into treatment by the criminal justice system and people entering into treatment of their own accord had similar rates of methamphetamine use post treatment, similar rates of total abstinence post treatment and similar overall recovery rates at 24 months post treatment.
Interestingly, one factor that affected the success rates of both the coerced and voluntary treatment seekers was duration of treatment. Universally, people who stayed in treatment for longer periods had better outcomes than people who finished with treatment more quickly.3
Why Does Coerced Treatment Work Just as Well?
It seems like you’d have to want treatment to have any hope of benefiting from it – after all, though the courts can make you listen, they can’t force you to really change your thinking. So why does it work then?
No one knows for sure, but a common explanation is that though you might not want treatment at the beginning, you might also change your tune as you progress through the program, learn more, make gains and feel better and start to see that a life of recovery is not only possible – it’s desirable.
Sometimes it’s just hard to see the possibility of a better future through the foggy thinking of drug or alcohol addiction.
In any case, one thing you can be sure of is that addiction treatment works a whole lot better than prison to reduce drug and alcohol use. Compared to non treated offenders, criminal justice clients who completed a drug court imposed sentence: