Other States Should Adopt MA Section 35: Forced Rehab

If you live in Massachusetts and have a loved one who is suffering from addiction and they will not seek help, you can force them into a rehab facility, per Section 35. This law allows spouses, relatives and guardians of addicts, as well as physicians and court officials to do the same by requesting a court order. This has saved many lives.

Those who live in states that have not adopted similar measures have no legal support and are often forced to use “tough love.” One family, who lived just ten miles outside of Massachusetts, was faced with this heartbreak when after multiple attempts to get their 18 year old son to get clean and all were unsuccessful, they made him move out until he would agree to seek help.

Just six weeks later, the 18 year old died of an overdose. His sister, Kailynd Biggar, started a petition last week calling for Granite State legislation modeled after the Massachusetts policy. Under that state's law, a person can be committed to a licensed treatment facility or, if none is available, to a separate unit at the state's correctional facilities.

Since it was posted online — at change.org — more than 3,500 people from across the nation have signed Biggar's petition, many choosing to comment with stories of their loved ones who overdosed. Each time someone adds their virtual signature, an email is sent to the New Hampshire Statehouse, State Senate and the office of U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Doug Griffin, a Newton, New Hampshire man who lost his 20-year-old daughter Courtney to heroin two years ago, believes that if Naloxone, also known by the brand-name Narcan, is administered, it should require a rehabilitation stay. "We need to get them off the street and give them a chance to detox and think about where they're going," he said. "If you can save one life, it's effective."

Similarly, Phil Lahey of Methuen — whose involvement with the Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project stems from his own daughter's overdose several years ago — wholeheartedly supports the efforts of Biggar and her mom. "You have to consider this a disease," he said. "When someone has a medical problem, there's always space. If you call this an epidemic, treat it like it. There are no more excuses. I pray that New Hampshire adopts this type of thing. They may not want to be there, but something may click. No matter how you get them in there, it's worth a shot because there's a chance it could work."

  • 4 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I hope that every state can adopt this policy. People who have the disease of addiction sometimes need help like this. I am all for involuntary commitment.

    what are your thoughts?
  • As the father of a son who has struggled with addiction, I have mixed feelings about this. 

    On one hand, I think giving parents, spouses, and loved ones a way to force the person with addiction into treatment is a good thing. Lord knows getting an adult addict to go to treatment voluntarily can be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. So having this as an option would make things easier for those who care about their loved one.

    But on the other hand, my experience over the years has shown me that forcing someone to go to treatment usually doesn't have the effect people are hoping for. If someone isn't ready to accept help for their addiction, forcing them into rehab likely won't change their mind. In fact, I think it might end up alienating them and causing more problems.

    Another concern I have about this program is cost. Who's going to pay for the treatment? If parents force their addicted child into treatment, but their child isn't an agreeable participant, who is going to bear the cost of the treatment that didn't work? Also, I worry about people who are forced into treatment but don't really want to be there taking up precious beds that could be used for people who do want to get help.

    It's a slippery slope, for sure. 
  • I think everybody should response on this. Most of the addicted people seeking such kind of help as far I know. So this will help them.
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