This paper reports preliminary data derived from a standardized interview scoring procedure for detecting and characterizing coercive and noncoercive pressures to enter substance abuse treatment. Coercive and noncoercive pressures stemming from multiple psychosocial domains are operationalized through recourse to established behavioral principles. Inter-rater reliability for the scoring procedure was exceptional over numerous rater trials. Substantive analyses indicate that, among clients in outpatient cocaine treatment, 'coercion' is operative in multiple psychosocial domains, and that subjects perceive legal pressures as exerting substantially less influence over their decisions to enter treatment than informal psychosocial pressures. Implications for drug treatment planning, legal and ethical issues, and directions for future research are proposed.