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Psychiatric medication

Explains what psychiatric drugs are, what to know before taking them, and information on side effects and coming off medication.

When might I be forced to take medication?

There are some circumstances in which it might be legal to give you medication, even if you haven’t agreed to take it. These include if you have been:

See our pages on consent to treatment for more information about this, including what steps you can take to challenge decisions.

Planning for a crisis

Some of us may worry about being forced to take medication if we become very unwell in the future. Remember: it is not common to be forced to take medication.

But if you are concerned about this, it may help to plan for a future crisis while you are feeling well. This can help healthcare professionals know your wishes in advance, in case you lose capacity to make decisions about your own treatment.

There are several ways in which to outline your future wishes, including:

  • An advanced decision about any treatments you wish to refuse in future. This is a legally binding statement of instructions for healthcare professionals.
  • An advance statement to outline your general wishes for future treatment. Advance statements are not legally binding. But they can still help healthcare professionals know your preferences for how you wish to be treated.

See our pages on planning for a crisis and advance decisions for more information.

This information was published in March 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

References and bibliography available on request.

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