Mandatory Addiction Treatment for People who use Drugs: global health and human rights analysis (June 2016)

This analysis was published by the BMJ in June 2016. The analysis demonstrates that mandatory treatment for people who use drugs often conflict with their human rights and that it is not an effective way of rehabilitating them. This is exemplified by cases from various countries. 

In Russia, the lack of access to opioid substitution therapy coupled with the increasing trend of incarcerating people carrying needles put people who use drugs at an unprecedented risk for contracting HIV or hepatitis C. Studies in Russia also show that 90% of "opioid dependent people" that have participated in mandatory drug treatment over a period of one year have relapsed. 

Furthermore, the analysis provides examples of various countries in Asia and their approaches to mandatory drug rehabilitation treatment. People who use drugs are often, against their will, put in rehabilitation centres that double as work camps. In these camps patients face treatment without any form of medical support to treat withdrawal, as well as a range of human rights abuses ranging from torture to sexual abuse. Studies show that the majority of people who use drugs that are placed in mandatory rehabilitation centres relapse after they have been released. 

Conclusively the analysis points to the fact that the WHO state that people who are convicted of a drug offence should be offered treatment for opioid dependence as an alternative to imprisonment, as well as stressing the right for a person to choose freely whether they would like to participate in any form of drug treatment, granted they have sufficient mental capacity and are not a danger to themselves or others.

Citation: Karsten Lunze, Bulat Idrisov, Mikhail Golichenko, Adeeba Kamarulzaman, 'Mandatory addiction treatment for people who use drugs: global health and human rights analysis' (2016), BMJ 2016;353:i2943