Forcible Medication

This entry discusses the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication, which continues to be one of the most controversial issues in mental health law. Whether mental patients in hospital, the community, jail, prison, or the judicial process may refuse psychotropic medication that the government would like to administer raises complex legal, clinical, moral, and social issues. Psychotropic medication is by far the leading treatment technique for patients diagnosed with mental illness. Although demonstrably helpful for many patients, it often imposes serious direct, often debilitating, and unwanted side effects that are beyond the patient's ability to resist and that may be long lasting. As a result, involuntary administration of these drugs raises serious constitutional questions.

Most states now have statutory and administrative restrictions on involuntary treatment. The limits ...

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