May 12, 2022 –

To the Editor:

Maia Szalavitz claims that forced treatment for addiction doesn’t work. In our family’s tragic experience, neither does the friendly persuasion that she advocates. We tried several times to get the courts to mandate treatment for our drug-abusing and mentally ill son. When psychiatrists were finally given enough time to diagnosis him, bureaucracy prevented mandating treatment. Instead, he swung month to month between being a model patient and behaving dangerously out of control. We believe that if the courts hadn’t failed him, he’d be alive today.

Drug addiction and mental illness are complex problems. We’re far from one magic pill that cures this spectrum of disorders. One thing’s for sure: Mandatory long-term inpatient care for the mentally ill is essential.

To the Editor:

Maia Szalavitz wrote an entire opinion piece about recovery from addiction without mentioning the proven success of 12-step programs. Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous as well as other 12-step groups for various compulsive behaviors have provided the tools for an addict to recover, one day at a time, from their addictions.

Recovery does not end when a person completes a behavior modification program at a therapeutic community of the sort that Ms. Szalavitz describes in her piece. It is only then that it begins.


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