There is a lack of evidence that mandatory methamphetamine treatment facilities help to fight addiction, according to a new study.
University of Western Australia researchers scoured 41 treatment regimes and found despite government promises to enforce compulsory addiction rehabilitation, research on its success is limited.
Study leader UWA addiction psychiatrist Mathew Coleman says the government should be focusing on voluntary recovery options, such as court or diversion treatment.
“To our knowledge, no studies have been published regarding efficacy of civil commitment regimes in methamphetamine use disorders,” Prof Coleman said.
“Perhaps they should just focus on the legal, the criminal justice system coercion programs, and the current voluntary programs that are available but not terribly well available to people with methamphetamine problems.”
In 2017, Premier Mark McGowan promised to introduce mandatory treatment for methamphetamine users, but to date, no treatment is fundamentally voluntary.
In 2019, when queried on the issue in Parliament, McGowan said mandatory treatment “would be worth trialing”.
The Quenda put questions to the West Australian Health Department, but the department did not respond.
Alongside $174m worth of prevention initiatives, a community advisory group was created in 2020 to explore treatment options for methamphetamine users. It made 57 recommendations, but did not advise the use of mandatory treatment in WA.
“In any scientific approach you’d like to have studies that show randomised control trials,” Prof Coleman says.
“Unfortunately there are very few randomised control trials of these mandatory treatment regimes.”
“Of the studies that do evaluate the regime unfortunately there’s a reasonable amount of bias in the study, but even then the findings were fairly minimal and most were related to coercive treatment regimes rather than civil commitment regimes.”
Ultimately, Prof Coleman suggested that the Australian Government invest more into voluntary facilities as studies suggest they produce quality results.