Drug Treatment: Massachusetts Senate Ponders "Secure Treatment Centers"

Faced with rising drug overdose deaths and high rates of opiate addiction, Massachusetts lawmakers this week began discussing a $5 million plan to fund two "secure treatment centers" for arrested drug users. Under the initiative, drug users busted for small-time offenses who currently face jail would be given the option of seeking drug treatment for up to 90 days.

According to the state Department of Public Health, the number of opiate-related deaths in the Bay State increased from 363 in 2000 to 637 in 2006. The number of non-fatal drug overdoses has also increased dramatically, from 8,000 in 1996 to more than 18,000 in 2005.

"This is an epidemic," state Sen. Steven Tolman (D-Boston), who is pushing the plan, told the Associated Press. "We have all these kids and young adults who get hooked on the OxyContin and heroin, but the treatment infrastructure we have is mostly for alcohol."

Under Tolman's plan, which is included in the Senate version of the state budget, the $5 million would create two 60-bed secure treatment centers. The budget also includes language establishing a special commission to investigate and study the impact of OxyContin and heroin and make additional recommendations.

The plan was set to be discussed this week in the state Senate as part of the appropriations process.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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