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Eur Addict Res. 2012;18(6):302-21. doi: 10.1159/000341716. Epub 2012 Sep 5.

Compulsory commitment to care of substance misusers: international trends during 25 Years.

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Department of Social Work, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden.



The study explores international trends in law on compulsory commitment to care of substance misusers (CCC), and two subtypes - civil CCC and CCC within criminal justice legislation - as well as maximum length and amount of applications of such care.


The time period covers more than 25 years, and a total of 104 countries and territories. The study is based on available data in three times of observation (1986, 1999 and 2009). Applications of CCC in number of cases are studied on European level for the years 2002-2006. Trends are analyzed using nonparametric tests and general linear models for repeated measures. Findings are discussed from contextual analysis.


There is a trend towards decrease in the number of countries worldwide having civil CCC legislation after the millennium, while CCC under criminal law has increased since the mid-1980s, resulting in some total net decrease. The shift results in longer mean duration of CCC and an increase in the number of cases sentenced.


There is a risk that the shift from civil CCC to penal CCC implies more focus on young out-acting males in compulsory treatment and that the societal responsibility for more vulnerable persons might be neglected.

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