The management of alcohol dependence syndrome: autonomy, compulsion and Ulysses contracts


  • Dr Joanne Gordon

    Lancaster University

Project summary

I will explore whether people with Alcohol Dependence Syndrome (ADS, sometimes called 'alcoholism') are capable of making voluntary decisions, especially with regards to their own medical treatment. I will examine the ethical issue of when, if ever, compulsory treatment or detention of people with ADS is justified.

In particular, I will particularly look into the use (and enforcement) of Ulysses Contracts and ask whether it isthese are preferable to the main alternatives. Ulysses Contracts contain advance instructions to a third party (eg an addiction service) to force (or prevent) someone from doing something in future, even in the face of anticipated resistance (ie resistance from the person issuing the advance instruction). 

This will help both individual doctors and health policy makers to make better (or at least better-informed) judgements about how to treat people with ADS.