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Massachusetts Gov Pushes Bill That Would Force Opioid Addicts Into Rehab

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter

The Massachusetts governor called on state lawmakers to approve a bill that would allow drug addicts to be held against their will for potential treatment.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker proposed a law aimed at trying to fix the state’s growing opioid addiction problem, reports NECN. One part of the bill allows doctors and law enforcement officers to place drug addicts in a treatment center for a three day period, regardless if the person gave their express permission or not.

“The bill also permits medical professionals or police officers to authorize the transport of a patient to a substance use treatment facility for emergency assessment and treatment when the patient presents a risk of serious harm due to addiction and the patient will not agree to voluntary treatment,” the bill reads. “A treatment facility receiving a patient transported under this provision would then be required to attempt to engage the patient in voluntary treatment for a period of up to 72 hours.”

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Massachusetts has struggled with an opioid crisis since 2000, seeing about 13,000 deaths related to the crisis. Other parts of the bill call for setting standards for the credentials recovery coaches might need in helping people over come their addictions, as well as allowing people to use naloxone, a drug that reverses drug overdoses.

Some people have taken issue with the involuntary hold, saying it poses due process concerns.

“For over 40 years, America has been trying to arrest and coerce its way to decreased substance abuse,” said Matt Segal, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Massachusetts. “If Massachusetts is serious about ending the opioid crisis, we need to invest in treatment on demand and social services that do not take place in correctional settings, as opposed to coercion and imprisonment.”

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