What’s Up with Civil Commitments for Substance Abusers?

There are times when we cannot act in our own best interests and others need to intervene. When people are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others a judge can order treatment. Most people are aware of involuntary commitments to psychiatric care especially in the case of suicide or homicide. But civil commitments to substance abuse treatment is less frequently ordered. The opioid crisis has led to a surge in petitions for civil commitments. Too many people have died of opioid overdoses and families are desperate for help to keep their loved one alive. Listen in to this opiate support recovery group discuss their experiences with civil commitments.

Discussion Guide:

Have you ever been involuntarily committed to treatment because you were thought to be a danger to yourself or others? What was the process?

Do you believe that involuntary commitments are helpful? Can it keep people safe?

Are involuntary commitments appropriate for opiate dependent people to ensure they don't die of overdose?

Not all counties offer civil commitments for substance abusers. Does your town have a commitment process for substance abusers?

If you were involuntarily committed to treatment in your town, are there programs in your area that are skilled, accessible and affordable? Do you trust a judge's opinion on where they may send you?

What could go wrong with involuntary commitments?

Supplemental Reading:

Maria Cramer, Worse Than Jail: Addicts Civilly Committed Say DOC Abused Them and Failed to Treat Them, https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2017/07/14/worse-than-jail-addicts-civilly-committed-say-doc-abused-them-and-failed-to-treat-them