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    Categories: Treatment

One Addict’s Experience: Involuntary Commitment for Substance Abuse

Involuntary commitment for substance abuse treatment is being made to do something that you do not want to do. Having to go to a rehab when you don’t want to go, having to go to a center where you don’t want to be. Having to stay somewhere you don’t want to be for an extended period. Involuntary commitment for substance abuse is what every struggling addict fears the most. It is a fear so great that it has created a negative stigma abounding addiction in our society. When we think of “rehab,” we often think of an almost prison-style setting, a looney bin of sorts, where addicts are treated more like mental health patients than intelligent human beings who merely struggle with a substance abuse problem.

But of course, the stigma would not exist if there was not at least some truth to it somewhere. In the past, there have been incidences of “forced drug rehab” where individuals were physically and emotionally forced to attend treatment at a rehab center “or else.” In Indiana, Adam Winn tells an incredible story on the topic of, “Can you commit someone to rehab?”

Adam Winn and an Indiana Opiate Epidemic

In 2016, there were almost eighty-five prescriptions for opioid drugs written for every one hundred Indiana residents. In 2015, heroin killed two hundred and thirty-nine people in Indiana. Two hundred and seventy-four people died from opioid prescription pain relievers in Indiana in that same year. From 2014 to 2015, the death rates from opiates in general (both heroin and opioid prescription pain relievers) increased by seven percent in Indiana in just that one year’s time. In 2016, there was more prescribing for opiate pills done in Indiana than in almost all other states. Nationally though, opiate addiction costs fifty-five billion dollars every year. Five billion in criminal justice costs, twenty-six billion in lost workplace productivity, and another twenty-six billion on healthcare costs.

People who are addicted to pain pills are also forty times more likely to pick up heroin than someone who does not take pain pills. In 2015, the average age of people who did die from heroin was nineteen, showing that this is more of a problem for young adults than any other demographic in this state. All of these statistics were arrived at by the Richard M Fairbanks Foundation, a non-profit group working to advance health and the quality of living of Indianapolis residents.

For a look at a real, live example of the above, Adam Winn, Indiana resident, had been addicted to heroin for two years. He ruined everything in that two year period. He lost his home, lost his family, and lost his job. His life had taken a turn for the worse that is so typical of heroin addiction.

Adam had started with a prescription for OxyContin and Percocet after snapping his collarbone in a car accident. He never fully recovered his range of motion, even after three surgeries. From the crash and the operations, Adam had been in need of a lot of pain pills, all of which he was legally prescribed. After his doctor tapered him off the pain pills, cravings for opiates set in, and before Adam knew it, he was trying heroin, even though he’d promised himself he wouldn’t.

Adam now lives and works in a transitional recovery home, after having gone to three different addiction treatment centers over the course of his time as a heroin and pill addict. “I probably wouldn’t even be here,” he said. “I’d probably be dead.” Those are his sentiments on the direction his life was going in if he didn’t get help for his addiction and soon too. Thankfully, though it took some effort, he was able to find recovery and abstinence from both heroin and pills.

Adam has seen a definite change occur in the way that addiction is addressed in Indiana. For example, he was transitioning out of addiction rehab and into a sober living community and his new job as a treatment center counselor when Indiana passed a law allowing for involuntary commitment for substance abuse into rehab centers for law-breaking drug and alcohol addicts.

Can You Be Forced to Go to Rehab?

Can you be forced to go to rehab? Well, in Indiana it would appear that you can. A new law passed last year is a three-year pilot plan, utilizing three rehab centers, located in Marion, Tippecanoe, and Wayne counties that are all uniquely set up to accept addicts who are being committed to them, not those who are voluntarily coming to rehab.

Adam observed this change happening around him, both in the treatment center he was working in, and he even felt the changes in his sober living community of clean and recovered individuals. His first response was that it sure did make things tense for everyone because the involuntary commitment for substance abuse was that one thing that was what currently struggling addicts feared the most, and it was that one thing that was to a degree “taboo” and “not discussed” within the addiction and recovery circles. Ultimately though, Adam assumed the position that the pros far outweighed the cons, and here’s why:

There are so many people that need help, and there are so many people that need to be shown that there are people who care about them, that they don’t have to live like that anymore,” Adam said. “Because my biggest fear is this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better. The cemetery and the jail will always be here. And if you don’t get off heroin, if you don’t get off your drugs, your only designation is to die or to be locked up, unless you can free yourself from it,” he said.

These are his words on the importance of rehab, and the reasoning as to why he and so many others see the new laws in Indiana as being good (whether they personally experienced those laws or not).

Why Involuntary Commitment for Substance Abuse is Helpful

Perhaps the first thing that people need to understand about these new laws in Indiana is that they only apply to people who have been arrested for a drug or alcohol violation, and who are facing jail time at a county jail or possibly even a prison term at a federal detention center. But Adam’s story and the story of hundreds of other people prompted the rationale behind a new law that gave both public safety officials and health professionals in the above three counties in Indiana the freedom to grant lawbreakers a forced alternative. Rather than sending such individuals to jail, Marion, Tippecanoe, and Wayne County officials could instead use the same criminal and civil proceedings to transfer lawbreakers into inpatient addiction treatment centers instead of a jail cell.

Of course, lawbreakers who committed a serious felony were not included in this ruling. But misdemeanor criminals and some felony crimes (such as possession or possession with intent to distribute) are now going to land many Indiana addicts in rehab, not jail. At the end of the day, involuntary commitment for substance abuse offers a workable solution and a way to help these people learn how to beat addiction instead of sitting in a jail cell.

So the question is, Can you be forced to go to rehab? Hopefully, it wouldn’t come to that. For more information on the power of rehabilitation and what it can do for people, call Best Drug Rehabilitation today.

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