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New Boston law to end rehab in prison for women addicts
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, women who need treatment for addiction will no longer be sent to state correctional facility in Framingham. For, a new bill, H 3956, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts aims at ending the practice of civilly committing women to a correctional facility in Framingham.
The new law, signed by Governor Charlie Baker in January 2016, will refer women from Massachusetts requiring substance abuse treatment to one of the 60 new state hospital beds scheduled to open this year.
When a judge decides that a person is a threat to himself or others due to alcohol or drug use, a civil commitment is used. According to the old law, addicts were confined for up to 90 days in cells, wherein men were sent to Bridgewater State Hospital and women to the state prison in Framingham. Experts are now focusing on the real cause and treating opioid addiction as a disease rather than a crime.
After signing the law, Baker said, “By signing this legislation today, I can now say that the commonwealth of Massachusetts will no longer be sending women to prison who need treatment.”
Although there is still more to be done around substance abuse, the signing of the bill represented a change in direction as well as the understanding of addiction. In July 2015, the Massachusetts Governor had allotted $5.8 million in a supplemental budget to move women civilly committed for substance abuse to a hospital. These women will have access to addiction treatment services at Shattuck and Taunton state hospitals.
Efforts to combat substance abuse
Considering the enormity of addiction problem, the authorities feel the change in the law should have happened earlier. According to the Department of Public Health, opioid overdose deaths in the state had reached 1,173 in 2014.
In the wake of the growing number of overdose deaths, Baker and lawmakers have come up with numerous strategies to combat drug abuse. Last year, Baker had signed a bill that limits doctors to prescribe opioid to an addict for only 72 hours. His campaign in 2015 – #StateWithoutStigMA – had called upon the residents to do their bit to check addiction. It was designed to impact the negative stereotype of drug misuse, asserting that addiction is not a choice, but an illness.
To address the problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come up with certain guidelines for the states. It says that the states must regulate prescription drugs’ availability and control; make treatment more readily available, expand access to naloxone, remove stigma and spread awareness about the possible dangers. Drug addiction being a public health emergency, these little steps by authorities will help people in the United States at large.
Even though an addict is educated and aware of the adverse effects of drugs, he is unlikely to reach out for help or get enrolled to a de-addiction program on his own. If you or your loved one is trying to get rid of an addiction, call the Boston Drug Treatment and Rehab Center at 857-254-1818 to find out more about certified medical interventions and services.