The influence of legal coercion on dropout from substance abuse treatment: Results from a national survey


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Legal coercion is frequently used to leverage substance abuse treatment upon persons who would otherwise not seek it voluntarily. Various methodological and conceptual problems of the existing research have prevented a clear understanding of its effectiveness. The influence of legal coercion on retention in substance abuse treatment was examined using a national survey of programs in the public sector of care and three different treatment modalities including short-term residential (), long-term residential (), and outpatient treatment (). Legal coercion was found to reduce the risk of dropout across all three treatment modalities. The greatest effect was among persons in short-term residential treatment. The smallest effect was observed in outpatient treatment. This study shows that legal coercion significantly reduces the risk of dropout in substance abuse treatment. However, the differential effects across treatment conditions must be carefully considered when using coercion to involve individuals in treatment.

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