One solution to Maine’s drug problem: involuntary commitment into treatment when drug use poses substantial risk of harm. This will save lives, spare suffering and improve quality of life for all Mainers.

I am proud to be a recovering addict. Alcohol and drugs took me to the darkest depths of depression and despair. Having suffered an overdose and a suicide attempt, today I owe my life and my ongoing recovery, in part, to Massachusetts’ Section 35 law (which allows courts to involuntarily commit someone whose alcohol or drug use puts themselves or others at risk).

Some time ago, a Massachusetts judge ordered me to complete a treatment program in Bridgewater State Prison. It wasn’t exactly the Four Seasons, but it was free, and I couldn’t have begun my recovery without the state’s help. Mainers going through similar struggles deserve a similar treatment option, and so do their communities.

During that month I spent in Bravo Pod, shuffling to and from the canteen for chow and the yard for recreation, something amazing happened: I regained the will to live and to do good in this world. I was discharged to a sober house in Portland, and my growth as a person ever since has been nothing short of miraculous.

Today, I’m a productive member of society and a positive force in others’ lives. I’m a health professional on the front lines of Portland’s battle with this scourge, and every day I see people, in the streets and in crisis, killing themselves with drugs, most often alcohol and opiates. Why? Why is this happening? Maine cannot stand idly by while her people die and suffer.

Jails, institutions and death await the addict who is not afforded treatment, and blight and misery await their society. A life second to none awaits the addict in recovery, and untold splendors await their society.

Jesse Harvey

Portland