January 19, 2018 – Addiction is a family disease because it affects everyone. Many times, the individual struggling with addiction won’t voluntary seek treatment on their own. Finding a way to convince a loved one to seek treatment is a difficult task. One addiction psychiatrist offers insight into successful plans.
Carl Erik Fisher wrote in Slate on the need for more research into various coercion techniques to encourage those struggling with addiction into treatment. Should we “force” loved ones into treatment? Should we allow the individual to make the decisions? Should the court system determine when a person should seek treatment? The answers are unclear, but the writer examines those and many more questions.
Here at Malvern Institute, we know the recovery process can sometimes be difficult. More importantly, we know the recovery process is always worth it.
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Our society is enamored with “law and order” approaches to social problems. We generally overvalue formal legal coercion through mechanisms like drug courts and compulsory treatment, and undervalue softer, less extreme forms of coercion from employers, friends, and family. One unfortunate consequence of this attitude is, even though informal coercion is much more common, its research base is weak. We need more studies outside of the all-or-nothing, confrontational approach to formal legal coercion. And pragmatically, we are probably too quick to resort to extreme measures and too tentative about navigating the middle ground, such as applying some constructive and kind pressure without being absolute or punitive. People can use informal coercion in a way that still preserves a sense of choice and agency—in which coercion isn’t a threat but simply a hard choice. Most people believe that kind of informal pressure to be wishy-washy, but there is good evidence to suggest it is more effective than stricter policies. The key is to look at people with addiction as active decision-makers and foster their own sense of engagement and motivation. We should be taking that approach with everyone, including (and especially) those who have been formally mandated into treatment. Aside from being more humane, it simply works better.
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Read the full story on Slate.