Heroin Addicts Asking For Involuntary Commitment To Receive Help

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Heroin Addicts Asking For Involuntary Commitment To Receive Help

Getting treatment for heroin and opioid dependence can be a challenge. In fact, its become so difficult that some users are asking judges to lock them up in a facility – just to get help. It’s sort of a voluntary, involuntary commitment, if that makes any sense at all.

For example, in Massachusetts there’s an old law on the books that was created for families who sought to commit substance-abusing loved ones if deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. And Massachusetts is just one of 38 states that have such a law permitting civil commitment for substance abuse.

However, as addiction continues to increase and more people are requesting incarceration, some wonder if “voluntary” court-ordered commitment for the treatment of substance abuse is really a good thing.

Under many laws, people do not officially ask for their own commitment. Rather, someone else, such as a close relative or probation officer petitions the course on the patient’s behalf. If the persons doesn’t oppose the petition, it’s likely to be approved.

Most users hope to be given beds in privately run treatment centers, but that’s not always what happens. If there isn’t room, some may end up in a program at the state prison. But if someone can’t find or afford treatment otherwise, it may be the only way. And sometimes the user wants to know where they will likely end up before they agree to commitment.

But those beds are paid for by the state when insurance does not. In addition, the length of stay is sometimes longer than what insurance would cover. Some consider this fact to be an abuse of the system and unnecessary cost, but others advocate that this is precisely what the system should be used for.

In the end, the growing trend of asking for commitment really shows how desperate people are to get treatment before they kill themselves or hurt someone else. It’s sad, because there are so many in need who just cannot find or afford care.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology

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