State’s opioid crisis needs a public health approach
Our executive director Carol Rose teamed up with Cheryl Zoll, CEO at Tapestry Health, to respond to Governor Baker's proposal for dealing with opioid use. From their perspectives on both civil liberties and public health, they offer their advice in a piece published in the Boston Globe, called State’s opioid crisis needs a public health approach.
As they argue:
[P]roposals to end the crisis need to go beyond old ways of thinking of substance abuse as a crime. For more than 40 years, America has been trying to arrest and coerce its way to decreased substance abuse and addiction. Today’s epidemic proves the futility of that approach. The Drug War has failed. Proposals to fight addiction that simply repackage those tactics also will fail.
If Massachusetts is serious about ending the opioid crisis, we need a new approach, one that invests in public health rather than prisons. An effective plan would include treatment on demand and social services that do not take place in correctional settings and do not depend on coercion and imprisonment.
Then the Globe followed with an editorial of their own, Baker’s opioid plan needs careful review. The Globe zeroed in on one of our main areas of concern too: a provision that allows people to be held against their will for 72 hours. The Editorial Board wrote:
Sidestepping the courts to empower medical professionals to commit addicts involuntarily is fraught with complications and could have serious unintended consequences, damaging the doctor-patient relationship if addicts fear seeking medical treatment, and pushing more people into a system that is already beyond capacity.
As shown in the photo above, Carol Rose and our staff attorney Jessie Rossman testified on the proposal yesterday before the state legislature's Mental Health & Substance Abuse Committee. We hope to see changes that reflect the concerns that we and many others have raised.