New bill could force opioid users into treatment

The measure would expand the current Involuntary Treatment Act by including heroin and opioid users under "gravely disabled"


Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. — People struggling with heroin addiction and other opioids could be hospitalized against their will under a bill proposed by a Washington state lawmaker.

The measure would expand the current Involuntary Treatment Act by including heroin and opioid users under "gravely disabled," which means they are at risk of physical harm due to an inability to care for their immediate needs of health and safety.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Steve O'Ban, R-University Place, told The Associated Press after a public hearing Monday his bill most likely won't advance this session due to budget constraints, but said the point of it was to start a discussion.

Under Senate Bill 5811, a person could be detained if, within a 12-month period, they've had three or more arrests connected to substance abuse, had one or more hospitalizations related to drug abuse or if they have three or more visible track marks indicating intravenous heroin use.

According to the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, 37 states and the District of Columbia have statutes in place allowing for the involuntary commitment of individuals suffering from substance use disorder, alcoholism, or both.

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