Psychology/Psychiatry

Isn't It a Shame the Less Well-to-Do Can't Afford to Have Their Relatives Kidnapped By the State Over Their Consumption Choices?

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A horrible Ohio law that allows family members to send adults against their will into "substance treatment" gets written up in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, which focuses on the sad, sad plight of those who can't afford to have their relatives kidnapped for "treatment":

An Ohio law that allows families to force a loved one into addiction treatment has been used only once since it went into effect in March.

Though the law is new, it has created debate about whether involuntary treatment will work and if the law is unfair because it is only available to families who can afford to foot the bill….

The law roughly mirrors a similar measure passed in Kentucky eight years ago after 23-year-oldMatthew "Casey" Wethington died of a heroin overdose…..Ohio's law differs from the one passed in Kentucky. Ohio's law requires family members to sign an up-front agreement that they will pay the total bill for treatment and give the court a deposit for half of the amount.

…the conversation often ends once the costs, often thousands of dollars, are explained….

Oh, the costs of having a "loved one" kidnapped! They can be onerous. But might there be any…other issues worth thinking about with this law?

Another debate is giving a court the authority to force a person to get treatment they may not want, which could be challenged as a civil rights violation.  

Sounds like that debate was already settled in Ohio and Kentucky: it's cool!

In Ohio, a probate judge or magistrate is supposed to decide whether a person is a danger, with the opinion of a doctor or treatment professional, when possible.

But the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities chose not to support the law because of concerns about how those decisions would be made and whether they impinged upon civil liberties.

Denihan, whose agency is required to provide the probate court with a list of local agencies that have agreed to treat people committed by the court, said the law also runs counter to a central tenet of addiction recovery -- that it be voluntary.

"Locking up and forcing people to be treated is challenging," he said, noting that most treatment facilities are not secure. "They have to want to be there."

Language from the law itself:

Requires the probate court, upon receipt of a petition and the payment of the appropriate filing fee, if any, to examine the petitioner under oath as to the contents of the petition and requires the court to take certain specified actions if, after reviewing the allegations contained in the petition and examining the petitioner under oath, it appears to the probate court that there is probable cause to believe the respondent may reasonably benefit from treatment, including scheduling and conducting a hearing to determine if there is clear and convincing evidence that the respondent may reasonably benefit from treatment for alcohol and other drug abuse.

Provides that if the probate court finds by clear and convincing evidence upon completion of the hearing that the respondent may reasonably benefit from treatment, the court may order the treatment after considering the qualified health professional's recommendations for treatment that have been submitted to the court. Requires the court, if it orders the treatment, to order the treatment be provided through a certified alcohol and drug addiction program or by certain licensed individuals.

That's right--a "certified alcohol and drug addiction program or…licensed individuals." Only they are qualified to be the keepers against-their-will of an adult whose choices have bedeviled their families, so there's really nothing to be worried about. As Thomas Szasz once wrote, and I paraphrase, the so-called problems of those the state wants to lock up for psychiatric issues are sometimes only a problem to other people--they are often a solution to the person making the choices others disapprove of.