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Sen. Keenan Studying Law That Allows Forced Addiction Treatment

The senator, whose district covers Braintree, will serve on the Special Senate Committee on Addiction Treatment.

Sen. John F. Keenan at Fore River Bridge ceremony. File photo.
Sen. John F. Keenan at Fore River Bridge ceremony. File photo.
Sen. John F. Keenan, D-Quincy, will serve on a special committee to study a law that allows people to be committed for up to 90 days for detox and treatment of drug and alcohol addition.

Keenan, whose district includes Braintree, is the chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, and sponsor of a 2012 law aimed at limiting prescription drug abuse.

Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth, appointed Keenan for the committee, one that she established following a 47 percent increase in overdose deaths over the last decade and a half.

“I’ve sat in the drug courts in my own district and it just tears your heart out to see families coming and pleading with judges to put their children away - adult children, not just small children," Murray said in a press release.

Under the detox hold law, a spouse, blood relative, guardian, police officer, physician or court official and petition the local court to commit a person, according to the release. 

The commitment order is issued if there is a medical diagnosis of alcoholism or substance abuse, and there is a likelihood of serious harm to the person or others as a result of the substance abuse.

In 2012, Quincy District Court issued 464 civil commitment orders, Keenan said, more than any other court in Massachusetts. Second highest Brockton District Court issued 186.

“Given the need and the number of civil commitments ordered,” Keenan said, “we have an obligation to analyze the law, review the detox and treatment programs, and survey the facilities where the programs are offered.

“People come to the courts and Section 35 for help for a loved one when there is nowhere else to go. We will question whether the Section 35 process is the best way to get them the help they need, and if so, will work to make sure the programs and facilities efficiently and effectively put people on the path to recovery.”

The committee plans to give a report to the Senate by May.

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