Advocates Criticize Newsom Over Measure Aimed at Substance Use Disorder

California Gov. Gavin Newsom this week signed the bill into law His administration has said it will create “a paradigm shift in providing people with severe mental health and substance use disorders with the care and services they need to be healthy.”

But drug reform advocates cry foulsaid the measure was a massive government overreach.

Newsom signed into law Wednesday what is known as the Community Support, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Act.

The Democratic governor welcomed the bill’s bipartisan support, and his office said the new law “allows family members, clinicians, first responders, and others to refer individuals, while preempting guardianship.” , to provide support upstream, outside the institutional walls.” Suffering from a schizophrenia spectrum or psychotic disorder. ”

“With overwhelming support from the state legislature and California stakeholders, CARE Courts are now a reality in our state, helping thousands of struggling Californians,” Newsom said in a statement. provide hope and new avenues, empowering them to help their loved ones. We look forward to working together to implement it.”

Newsom’s office provided more detailed information about what the CARE court will do. These include short-term stabilizers, health and recovery supports, social services and housing. Services are provided to individuals while living in the community. Plans can be set for 12-24 months. In addition to a full clinical team, our client-centered approach also includes volunteer advocates and attorneys who help individuals make voluntary care decisions. ”

Drug Policy Alliance voiced firm opposition The measure would “create a civil court system in every county that would force people experiencing substance use disorders and other mental health problems into an involuntary court process and treatment plan.” It deprives people of their basic rights.” Making its own decisions and enforcing court-mandated treatment programs has been shown to exacerbate existing health disparities and exacerbate the overrepresentation of people of color in the criminal justice system, while often exacerbating harm. It has been. ”

The Alliance said the new law “fails to meet the urgent needs of our community and is effective for Californians who are not incarcerated, are suffering from a substance use disorder, or are experiencing other mental disorders.” It would not be able to provide an avenue for evidence-based treatment, recovery, and other health services.” health problem. The group said despite overwhelming support for the bill in the California legislature, “the proposal was opposed by a wide range of supporters who feel it was a big step in the wrong direction.” .

Janet Zanipatin, state director of California’s Drug Policy Alliance, said the CARE Act “will have dire consequences for people who use drugs and marginalized communities in California.” Said. People are alive. ”

Zanipatin said Newsom’s signature on the bill “was his false accusation against an inhumane and coercive program with solid evidence of how unproductive and harmful to both mental health and substance use disorders.” It shows that they support the idea,” he said.

“We need carefully thought out, evidence-based public health solutions to address the crises facing people, including housing, food, vocational training and voluntary access to health services.” said Zanipatin.

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