23 May 2016

Compulsory drug treatment bill under fire

1:21 pm on 23 May 2016

Underqualified professionals could force a patient to have treatment for drug or alcohol addiction under a proposed law change, says a specialist in addiction medicine.

A glass of alcohol and a syringe.

Photo: 123RF

Under existing legislation, courts can enforce compulsory drug and alcohol treatment.

The law change would put that power in the hands of special assessors appointed by the Director General of Health.

Addiction medicine specialist Roger Brooking said that could mean the decision was left to people who did not have the right qualifications.

"That could be an alcohol and drug councillor who's just been three years out of training, so I'm quite concerned that this is not defined in the act, in my opinion these assessments should only be done by addiction psychiatrists."

Dr Brooking said the law could result in the wrong people being forced into treatment.

The Substance Addiction Compulsory Assessment and Treatment Bill is currently before a parliamentary select committee.

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