MacArthur pushes for involuntary drug addiction treatment in NJ
If a drug addict opts to avoid treatment, maybe there shouldn't be a choice about it. That's the message to Governor Chris Christie and leaders of the state Senate and Assembly from Representative Tom MacArthur (R-3).
The shore Republican is urging them to create legislation for involuntary admission into treatment programs for those who can't, or won't, take the step.
His idea is not a groundbreaker, MacArthur noted in a letter to the Governor, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) and Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr.(R-21), and Assembly Speaker Vin Prieto (D-32) and Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21).
Governor Christie has adopted the struggle against opiate abuse as the cornerstone of his final year in office, and heads a nationwide task force on the matter for President Donald Trump.
In line with his mission, on April 10, the former Mid-State Correctional Facility in Burlington County reopened as a treatment center for addicted prison inmates.
"More than thirty states have laws" that allow it, MacArthur noted, adding that each carries provisions to safeguard against abuse of the statute, such as time limits, multiple medical approvals, and appeal processes.
The co-chair of the House Bipartisan Heroin Task Force reminded the lawmakers that his message stemmed from a conversation with a Burlington County couple whose late daughter couldn't assess the depth of her own drug problem.
Sabrina Vandegrift's overdose death at age 20 drove her parents, Lisa and Bill, to MacArthur, in search of solutions.
MacArthur cited estimates of 52,000 drug overdose deaths per year in the United States, and 128,000 cases of addiction in New Jersey, in asking the legislators to prioritize the creation of an applicable law, and offering his support and advice.