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Bill Proposes Involuntary Psychiatric Commitment for Severe Addiction

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A bill in the New Hampshire legislature could make it legal to hospitalize someone against their will because of a drug addiction. The bill would amend the state law that allows authorities to involuntarily commit people suffering from a serious mental illness who pose a threat to themselves.

Republic Senator Jeb Bradley says he proposed the bill after he spoke with the family of someone who died of an overdose.

"I would argue that addiction to heroin - especially in this day and age when fentanyl is part of it and it's so strong - that involuntary commitment for a known user by a family is something that we ought to at least consider," says Bradley.

Bradley says the bill has a narrow focus that aims to balance personal privacy with a family's desire to help a loved one who's in danger of dying of an overdose. It's unclear what effect these types of commitments could have on the state psychiatric hospital, which already has a backlog of patients waiting in emergency rooms around the state. 

Before joining NHPR in August 2014, Jack was a freelance writer and radio reporter. His work aired on NPR, BBC, Marketplace and 99% Invisible, and he wrote for the Christian Science Monitor and Northern Woodlands.

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