NH Lawmaker to Propose Involuntary Commitments for Drug Addicts

A New Hampshire lawmaker is proposing a bill that would allow families to involuntarily commit loved ones who are battling drug addiction.

Senator Jeb Bradley says he was inspired to draft the bill by a family who lost their 18-year-old son.

"We said to him, 'If you don't go with us now, you're going to die,'" recalled Sheryl Mercier of Pelham.

Two weeks after his parents tried an intervention, 18-year-old Bubba Carter died of an overdose.

"Our son loved Christmas so much and to not have him here is devastating," said Bubba's dad, Jack Carter.

Bubba had refused to go to treatment and under New Hampshire State Law, his parents couldn't force him.

"I don't want to see any other families go through that," Carter said.

So Carter reached out to Bradley, who is now drafting a bill that would make "involuntary commitment" legal for those battling drug addiction. It's an amendment to a law that only addresses mental illness.

"Our statute doesn't allow it for drugs, it allows it in a mental health situation where somebody can do bodily harm to themselves," Bradley explained.

He's still finalizing the proposal and realizes it could infringe on privacy rights.

"I think if we can save a life ... it's worth any privacy concerns people might have," Bradley said in an interview Tuesday.

There are also questions about implementation. Right now in New Hampshire, there are wait lists at hospitals and recovery centers for people who want help, so how would the state accommodate the influx of people who are forced into treatment? Bradley says increasing resources is the only answer.

“We are in the middle of a crisis, we've done a lot of good work, but there is still a lot of work to do," Bradley said.

Bubba's parents are convinced this bill is a step in the right direction, giving families the power to do something before it's too late.

"People say you can't force treatment," Mercier said. "Well, the other side of that is they're going to die."

Bradley thinks his bill will go before the Senate in February.

The proposal isn't unique. Involuntary commitment for those battling addiction has been legal in Massachusetts for years.

To find out more about Bubba, his family, and how you can help, click here.

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