Psychiatric medication

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

Could I ever be forced to take medication?

In most cases: no. If you're offered medication, you usually have the right to refuse it and to ask for an alternative treatment.  

What are the exceptions?

There are some special circumstances in which it might be lawful to give you medication even if you haven’t agreed to take it. These are: 

  • If you have been admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act (sometimes called being sectioned).

  • If you have been discharged from hospital under certain sections of the Mental Health Act, and are being treated on a community treatment order (CTO).

  • If you’ve been assessed under the Mental Capacity Act as not having capacity to consent to treatment and are given medical treatment in your best interests, even though you are objecting.

If you are in a situation like this, you can look at our legal pages on consent to treatment for more guidance on your legal rights regarding treatment, and what steps you can take to challenge decisions. 

How can I prepare for a crisis?

If you are worried that you might be forced to take medication if you become very unwell in the future, you might want to take some time while you're feeling well to write a crisis plan or advance statement. 

What's a crisis plan?

In a crisis plan, you can explain:

  • which drugs have and haven’t helped you in the past
  • what you would like to happen, or not to happen, if you become very unwell.

In some cases, these documents can be legally binding. See our pages on planning for a crisis and advance decisions for more information. 


This information was published in 2016. We will revise it in 2018.


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