Legislature Refers Opioid ‘Involuntary Hold’ Provision To A Study

Vowing to keep the pressure on, Senator Nick Collins expressed disappointment in the last-minute decision by legislative leaders to further study this provision that would force law enforcement, hospitals and courts to be more aggressive in the intervention process. He added that, “Our efforts have caused all stakeholders to acknowledge that reviving a victim of an overdose only saves them in the moment and without a process for an immediate intervention, stabilization and treatment option, it may simply delay the inevitable – another overdose and possibly death.”

In the week leading up to the July 31 end of the 2018 formal legislative session, the House of Representatives flat out rejected Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to involuntarily hold people addicted to opioids for up to 72 hours to introduce them to treatment, but the Senate on Thursday took a small step toward the governor by voting to allow addicts to be held overnight or over a weekend until a judge can review their case.


The State House News Service reported that the amendment, initially offered by Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and reworked with the help of Sen. Nick Collins, was the subject of intense debate among senators Thursday, who retreated from the senator floor to private offices for hours to hash over the details. The compromise amendment would allow an officer of the court, if the courts were closed, to issue a temporary order to hold someone who had presented in a hospital or elsewhere with signs of substance abuse disorder in a treatment facility certified by the Department of Public Health.


The order would only be valid until the courts reopened the next day or after the weekend, and a judge could proceed with a Section 35 civil commitment hearing. If a judge could not hear the case within 72 hours, the person would have to be released. Collins, the South Boston Democrat who worked on the final version of the amendment with Tarr, said the amendment would save lives. It passed 33-4, with Democratic Sens. Julian Cyr, Jamie Eldridge, Michael Moore and Patricia Jehlen voting against. Other amendments offered during the course of the debate that more closely resembled the governor’s involuntary hold provision were defeated.