Opinion

Commentary: It's okay to demand involuntary treatment for street drunks

A police officer takes a man into custody for being drunk in public.
A police officer takes a man into custody for being drunk in public. L. Todd Spencer / Virginian Pilot / MCT

At first blush, it may sound heavy-handed, and possibly even pointless: Anchorage will try to reduce the number of chronic street drunks by forcing them into detoxification and treatment.

Skeptics will naturally wonder: Doesn't that infringe on their personal freedom? And what good is it to "force" someone into treatment for an addiction, anyway?

There are good answers to both questions.

First, the personal-freedom part. Existing Alaska law allows what's known as "involuntary commitment" if the person is a threat to himself or others. That decision is handled in court by a judge, allowing a neutral third party to balance the individual's rights against the community's interest in protecting people from harm.

To read the complete editorial, visit adn.com.

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