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Learn about treatment under Section 35 petitions

Find out what treatment and treatment facilities are like for someone who's been committed under a Section 35 petition.

Table of Contents

Where does the respondent go for treatment?

If the judge decides to commit the respondent, the court will hold them until the Sheriff’s Department moves them to the treatment facility. The court can't commit someone to a private facility, and they can’t force an insurance company to pay for treatment. The petitioner and the respondent can’t choose where the respondent receives treatment. There are several public detoxification/treatment facilities in Massachusetts where the court can commit someone under Section 35. The treatment facilities are run by either the Department of Public Health (DPH) or the Department of Correction (DOC). Although the law allows for someone to be committed for up to 90 days, the commitment period is usually much shorter.

What if the respondent is too sick to go to a detoxification program?

Some people may have complicated medical conditions that can't be appropriately treated in a standard detoxification unit. They may need what's called “Level 4” treatment, which would take place in a hospital setting, if they have conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular disorders that need to be monitored
  • Acute liver disease
  • Biomedical problems that need to be stabilized and need 24-hour medical management, observation, or evaluation
  • Infectious open sores
  • Major head trauma or loss of consciousness that need to be monitored
  • Medical conditions that require a higher level of medication

What are the facility’s policies and procedures?

Each facility has different rules about:

  • Schedules and treatment programs
  • Visits
  • Transportation (to court appearances, interviews for halfway houses, or an identified residential setting or home)
  • Number of roommates
  • Items that may be dropped off
  • Smoking
  • Phone use
  • Maximum amount of money that the respondent can have with them, how it can be used, and what happens to the unused portion when they’re discharged
  • Canteen

The respondent must sign a release before the treatment facility can talk to family members about the respondent’s treatment. This includes being notified when they’re discharged or transferred to another facility.

Once a petitioner finds out where the respondent will be sent for treatment, they can ask for information about the facility’s policies and procedures from the facility.

Can a facility transfer a respondent to another facility if a bed opens?

Respondents admitted to a facility will typically complete the commitment at that facility. Under certain circumstances, Section 35 programs may transfer respondents to other facilities based on their medical or psychiatric needs.

What happens after the commitment is completed and the respondent is discharged?

Aftercare recommendations and referrals are made by the respective facilities. The court has no influence on whether or not the individual agrees to participate in aftercare treatment after commitment.

Can I go back to court if the respondent drinks or uses substances again?

Yes, you can file a new petition. However, the court won’t automatically commit the respondent just because they’ve been committed before.