Coercive Treatment for Alcohol Misuse: An Interactive and Relational Analysis

Published 13/03/2013
Type Article
Author(s) Dr Jo Ashby, Professor Christine Horrocks
Corresponding Authors Dr Jo Ashby, University of Bradford

Alcohol misuse has become central for policy makers with approaches to addressing and providing solutions a persistent challenge. Alcohol Treatment Requirements (ATRs) were introduced through the legislation of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, making available to the courts an ATR as one of the possible requirements of a community order for offenders who have committed an alcohol-related offence. This form of ‘coercive treatment’ is delivered collaboratively with the criminal justice system and the National Health Service (NHS) working in partnership. Those sentenced to the ATR are predominantly young male, persistent offenders presenting with severe alcohol problems. As part of a research project funded by the NHS, qualitative participant observations were undertaken during treatment delivery on the ATR. This paper presents an analysis of the interactions observed between male offenders and female alcohol workers. Explored is the nature of coercive treatment and how young men sentenced to treatment engage with the process. The analysis utilises positioning theory to show how control and compliance operate within a complex, relational and interactive encounter that while focussed on alcohol consumption and behaviour change are impacted upon by wider cultural and social issues.