An overview of research trends and issues in the area of compulsory substance abuse treatment is presented, using a sample of 170 English-language articles obtained from a search of 4 databases (Medline, PubMed, Embase, PsychINFO, supplemented by a manual search). About half (51%) of these articles were non-empirical (i.e. literature reviews, policy proposals, legal and ethical commentaries on compulsory treatment). A subsample of empirical studies published since 1988 (n = 71) was coded to summarize research trends in relation to 3 key issues: (1) how compulsory treatment was studied (country of origin; type of compulsory treatment; treatment population), (2) the evidence base for judging effectiveness of compulsory treatment (research design; sampling; type, timing and results of outcome measures), and (3) the relationship between compulsory treatment and coercion (measurement strategies). Directions for future research are discussed.

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