State Looks To Reform Handling Of Involuntary Commitments For Substance Abuse

The Massachusetts response to the state’s heroin and opioid addiction crisis centers around making more treatment available.

For some, that treatment is not voluntary. A process known as “Section 35” allows relatives or other concerned parties to put someone into confinement for court-ordered treatment.

Plymouth District Court Judge Rosemary Minehan, a member of Gov. Charlie Baker’s opioid task force, says Section 35 requests to her court have gone from about 5,800 four years ago to 7,500 in the past year.

“The volume is extremely high,” Minehan said. “Just this week we had seven on Monday and five on Tuesday. Those are high numbers. We never used to see that many numbers coming in in this court.”

Those increasing requests come from people like Annemarie Whilton, of Cohasset. Whilton says she has run out of options in her two-year struggle to help her 19-year-old daughter overcome addiction.

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