Civil Commitment For Addiction Treatment Led To Loved One's Suicide, Family Says

The lack of treatment for men who are involuntarily committed for drug and alcohol treatment in Massachusetts is outrageous. We recommend this news story from WBUR: “Civil Commitment For Addiction Treatment Led To Loved One's Suicide, Family Says.” The article follows the sad story of Sean Wallace, one of many Massachusetts men who was involuntarily committed to treatment for substance abuse. Family members seek treatment through involuntary commitments, not realizing that Massachusetts uses treatment facilities that are like prisons as well as actual prisons to hold their loved ones. Sean Wallace’s story highlights several reasons why this is harmful. The prisons do not provide methadone or other addiction medications that have been proven to be effective, even if someone has been taking these prescribed medications regularly. Civilly committed men often live in the same units as people serving prison sentences and have reported being harassed by guards and threatened by prisoners.

A pending lawsuit filed by Prisoners’ Legal Services is seeking to change the way involuntary commitment works. People who need drug treatment do not belong in prisons. Massachusetts needs treatment centers that can meet the medical and therapeutic needs of people who are struggling with addiction.

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