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Involuntary Treatment Act for Substance Use Disorders in Washington State: First Preliminary Report

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Elizabeth Drake, Anthony Ellis, Marna Miller - December 2020

Before 2016, two separate systems existed for involuntary commitment of individuals in crisis due to mental health or substance use disorders. The 2016 Legislature passed E3SHB 1713—called Ricky's Law—to integrate both conditions into a statewide behavioral health system within Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA). WSIPP is required to “evaluate the effect of the integration of the involuntary treatment systems for substance use disorders and mental health.”

In this initial report, we examine the broad changes to Washington’s ITA for substance use disorders that resulted from Ricky’s Law. We provide background on Washington’s behavioral health context and examine the main components of Ricky’s Law. Then, we outline our basic research strategy to examine the effectiveness of this multi-component law.

Our second and third reports are due in June 2021 and 2023. We will examine the impact of Ricky's Law on (1) client outcomes (e.g., substance use, overdose, death, employment, housing, and mental health services); (2) system outcomes; and (3) cost-effectiveness and efficiency of the integrated involuntary behavioral health treatment system.

Report ID: 20-12-3401

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