Families seek involuntary commitment laws as key tool in saving opioid addicts

WASHINGTON — Five years ago, Lauren Davis was in “a living hell on earth” as she tried desperately to push her best friend into treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction.“He was in repeated crisis, repeated overdose, repeated suicide attempts,” Davis recalled of her friend, Ricky Garcia. A Seattle resident, Davis sought help everywhere, from social workers to doctors, with the same response at each turn: “I’m sorry, he’s dying and there’s nothing you can do.” watch more..

Even though Garcia was clearly a danger to himself, he had to agree to treatment voluntarily. The law in their home state of Washington did not allow for involuntary commitment for individuals with substance abuse disorders.Today, Garcia is alive and sober — and Washington state’s law is about to change. Next spring, the state will open its first locked treatment facility and begin accepting petitions to compel addicts into substance abuse care.Across the country, other addiction advocates and terrified parents are similarly pushing policymakers to expand the use of involuntary commitment laws as a tool to combat the opioid epidemic. It’s a controversial tactic, with logistical and constitutional implications.

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