Since 1999 the state has seen a 47 percent increase in overdose deaths.(1)
Shortage of treatment beds is also an issue, sometimes forcing judges to call emergency rooms to take detox patients because there are no other beds. Many people are being released in less than 30 days. The result is less than acceptable when patients are cleaned up and back on the streets trying to support a disease that leads them back to robbery and misconduct. Massachusetts is not facing this problem alone. Many states across the country are combating overwhelming alcohol and substance abuse issues. States do not have the funding or resources to properly treat and integrate patients back into a healthy community.
Just like Massachusetts, local police, emergency response teams and fireman and serving double duty to help those battling drug and alcohol abuse. Going above and beyond the call of duty, they often dedicate countless hours and transport those in need to the closest drug detox center with vacancies.
The Massachusetts Senate will have to perform a careful analysis and weigh the benefits of budget versus community needs. Many decisions need to be made if courts will be empowered to commit people to treatment without breaking the budget.
The ultimate goal is to get people into detox, get them rehabilitated and teach them how to successfully fight the disease of addiction. Going to jail is not always the answer.