Forcing heroin detox?

We’ve been reading a lot about the nation’s heroin epidemic lately, and ran across an intriguing discussion in the New York Times about whether it makes sense to force addicts into treatment programs where they can be detoxed and helped.

Said Sally Satel, a Washington psychiatrist, “There is little question that civil commitment saves lives of severely addicted people in the short term by abruptly interrupting cycles of extreme self-destruction. … While everyone prefers that patients voluntarily get help instead of being forced into it, the rate of drop-out from voluntary commitment after several weeks is a common problem. Drop out almost always means relapse. Civil commitment — with patients’ legal right to challenge, of course — provides the leverage to remain in care. But can treatment work if it is compelled? Yes. There is ample evidence that it is at least as effective, and sometimes more effective, than voluntary care.”

Hmm. Your thoughts? Email rrollins@coxohio.com.

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