Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Scientific and conceptual flaws of coercive treatment models in addiction
  1. Susanne Uusitalo1,
  2. Yvette van der Eijk2
  1. 1Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  2. 2Centre for Biomedical Ethics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Susanne Uusitalo, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Philosophy, University of Turku, Turku 20014, Finland; susuus{at}, susanne.uusitalo{at}


In conceptual debates on addiction, neurobiological research has been used to support the idea that addicted drug users lack control over their addiction-related actions. In some interpretations, this has led to coercive treatment models, in which, the purpose is to ‘restore’ control. However, neurobiological studies that go beyond what is typically presented in conceptual debates paint a different story. In particular, they indicate that though addiction has neurobiological manifestations that make the addictive behaviour difficult to control, it is possible for individuals to reverse these manifestations through their own efforts. Thus, addicted individuals should not be considered incapable of making choices voluntarily, simply on the basis that addiction has neurobiological manifestations, and coercive treatment models of addiction should be reconsidered in this respect.

  • Substance Abusers/Users of Controlled Substances
  • Autonomy
  • Coercion
  • Competence/incompetence
  • Decision-making

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.