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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, you cannot be forced to take medication. If you are offered medication, you usually have the right to refuse it and ask for an alternative treatment.
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:
- admitted to hospital under some sections of the Mental Health Act. This is sometimes called being sectioned
- discharged from hospital under certain sections of the Mental Health Act, and you are being treated on a community treatment order (CTO)
- assessed under the Mental Capacity Act as not having capacity to consent to treatment. You may be given medical treatment if it is assessed to be in your best interests.
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.
This information was published in March 2021. We will revise it in 2024.
References and bibliography available on request.
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