Matthew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, released the following statement in response to Governor Baker's bill proposing involuntary detention of substance users:

“Mandating 72-hour detention and treatment for individuals suffering from serious addiction is medically dangerous, raises serious due process concerns, and wastes scarce resources that should be invested more effective approaches to combatting substance use disorder. We should instead be empowering people to obtain community-based treatment on demand.

“We don’t doubt that advocates of involuntary commitment want to help people who are struggling with addiction. But what they are proposing is not, in fact, helpful. Coerced detoxification can greatly increase the risk of a fatal overdose. The Commonwealth’s own data show that people who undergo involuntary treatment in Massachusetts are twice as likely to die as people who undergo treatment voluntarily. So, expanding involuntary commitment can be worse than doing nothing at all.

“For over 40 years, America has been trying to arrest and coerce its way to decreased substance abuse and addiction. Today’s opioid epidemic is the result of that approach. If Massachusetts is serious about ending the opioid crisis, we need to invest in treatment on demand and social services that do not take place in correctional settings, as opposed to coercion and imprisonment.”

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