Compulsory Treatment

Can you make someone get assessed or treated for their substance use?

In February 2018 the New Zealand Government passed the Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment & Treatment) Act into law.

The act is designed to align the assessment and treatment of substance addictions more with the treatment of Mental Health issues which already allows for compulsory assessment and treatment options (PPP & R) where a patient’s safety would otherwise be compromised.

The first thing we need to note is that this legislation applies only to Substance Addiction; it does not apply to what was often referred to as the process addictions, such as gambling, accessing pornography and other compulsive sexual behaviours etc.

For obvious reasons however, the process is rigorous to protect the rights of the person being referred. People have the right to make dumb decisions!

However, subject to strict guidelines someone, most likely a close whanau/family member, may apply for an order to get a loved one assessed and if all other criteria are met, then subjected to a compulsory treatment order.

The most authoritative guides on this legislation are offered by the Ministry of Health and can be found here.

Compulsory treatment orders would require a patient (yes once under a compulsory order they cease to be clients/tangata whaiora and are formally referred to as patients) to be treated in a designated residential treatment facility; currently there is only one and that is in Christchurch.

But, we know that no amount of treatment, compulsory or otherwise, can change a person; change is something that has to come from them.

Contact me today if you would like to explore this further!