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New Jersey Bill Redefines Addiction as Mental Illness

New Jersey Bill Redefines Addiction as Mental Illness

A bill has been proposed that would allow a judge to court-order people to participate in outpatient treatment if their drug addiction “puts their lives or the lives of others in danger” (Livio, 2014). 


New Jersey Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson) drafted the bill—that would expand the involuntary outpatient commitment law’s definition of mental illness to include addiction—after meeting with Alba Herrera, mother of a twenty-four-year old Nick Rohdes who died of a heroin overdose, and other grieving parents (Livio, 2014). 


Mukherji noted that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders included “substance use disorders” under the definition of “mental illness.” Mukherji commented, “We need to approach addictions the same way we do any other disease or illness. We’ve heard of far too many parents grieving the loss of a child because there was only so much they could do for them within our existing laws” (Livio, 2014).  


In addition to this bill, the committee also approved a related law titled “Nick Rohdes’ Law,” which would require sober living facility managers to contact a resident’s spouse, parent, guardian, designated next-of-kin or other emergency contact upon the patient’s release from treatment (Livio, 2014). 


Livio, S. K. (2014). Bill defining drug addiction as mental illness passes NJ Assembly committee. Retrieved from http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/09/bill_defining_addiction_as_a_mental_illness_to_mandate_treatment_passes_assembly_committee.html