An Extreme Approach to Battling Virginia's Opioid Epidemic

Sep 20, 2018

Democratic Delegate Patrick Hope of Alexandria.
Credit Creative Commons

The opioid crisis continues to claim hundreds of lives in Virginia every year, and lawmakers are still trying to figure out how to get a handle on the problem.

Involuntary commitment. That’s what Democratic Delegate Patrick Hope of Arlington says cops and courts should consider when confronted by people who are addicted to opioids.

“You know eventually what happens is people end up dying. And so we need to look at ourselves to find out is our law enforcement, is our judicial system working in the best possible way to identify those in crisis and give them the services and the resources they need so they can recover.”

Hold on a second, says Claire Guthrie Gastanaga at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The government can’t just grab people up and take away their liberty without following appropriate due process procedures, and I would argue that involuntarily committing somebody in forced treatment is a fundamental violation of our liberty.”

House Speaker Kirk Cox recently named Delegate Hope to the Virginia Substance Abuse Services Council, and he says he plans on using that setting to raise the issue of involuntary commitment as one potential tool in the war on opioid abuse.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.