Drug abuse gets sharp look

February 6, 2014
by Senate President Therese Murray
Wicked Local Plymouth

We face an urgent health and public safety concern that cannot go ignored, and that is the reality of our drug addiction problem in Massachusetts. While we are all lucky to live in a state that offers so much support for its residents, we are always finding the need to improve our services to ensure their effectiveness. According to a report by Trust for America’s Health, Massachusetts has seen a sharp increase of 47 percent in drug overdoses since 1999. Recognizing this urgency, the Senate has made it one of its priorities to carefully examine how we are managing this growing problem in the commonwealth.

Section 35 of Chapter 123 of the General Laws of Massachusetts allows the courts to commit an individual whose alcohol or drug addiction puts themselves or others at risk to inpatient substance abuse treatment for a period of up to 90 days. The individual is first evaluated and given a detoxification sentence. Upon completion of the program, they are encouraged to take the initiative to seek out supportive services. Most people are able to leave after 30 days, but then quickly fall back into their dangerous habits. While it has good intentions, Section 35 has become a revolving door for drug addicts, with many of them never grasping the tools and supportive services they need to break the cycle of addiction.

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