Yes, I was surprised to learn that it’s a thing too. I suppose it had always made sense that medicating someone without their consent in order to restrain them was dubious, but sometimes necessary to prevent them from causing further harm to themselves and others. But I hadn’t really thought of the implications of drugs that might restrict participation generally. I’ll give an example.
Imagine that an adult has regular seizures. And now imagine that they’re given a drug that minimises those seizures. The only problem is that it makes them sleep for 23 hours a day. Pretty restrictive, huh?
Now imagine that this person may have needed assistance from a carer many times a day, and that before they were medicated for seizures, they complained loudly and displayed constant echolalia. Well, that doesn’t happen any more, does it?
My questions are many. Is this the least restrictive drug for this person? What are they losing by taking it? Does anyone except the person taking the drugs stand to gain something that may set off alarm bells? Is there a ‘least restrictive’ alternative that would aid with seizures. Has the person participated in this decision, or just the GP and carer?
Chemical restriction isn’t just about padded rooms. It’s about participating as fully as possible in daily life, and the constant revision of medication to ensure that this is possible.
Image: people participating.