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Nov 2, 2016 5:47 PM

After loss of son, NH family wants to legalize mandated drug treatment


PELHAM — The parents of a teenager who died of a drug overdose in July are urging lawmakers to make it legal for a person to be put into drug treatment, even if they're unwilling.

"Maybe if he got into rehab it would have been a different outcome," said Jack Carter.

His son "Bubba" Carter went to rehab twice before he began using heroin about a year ago. Two weeks before Bubba died at age 18, and his family told him he couldn't stay with them unless he got clean.

His mother, Sheryl Mercier, is a detective at the Lowell Massachusetts Police Department. In Massachusetts, section 35 allows the court system to "involuntarily commit someone who's alcohol or drug abuse puts themselves or others at risk."

Mercier says it's proven helpful during cases, and she's seen it help families she knows.

No such law exists in New Hampshire unless the person has a mental illness.

Mercier enlisted the help of family, friends, and police to hold an intervention, but because her son didn't exhibit signs of being mentally ill, there was little the officers could do.
"They wanted to help, but they said there's nothing we can do, he says all the right things, he's not suicidal, so he doesn't fall under mental illness," Mercier said.

Family friend Thomas Kenney is worried about his son, who has been revived by Narcan seven times, he said.

"He's so close to death. It's so scary. That's why I'm involved with this," Kenney said.

Kenney said his son was brought to a Manchester fire department to take advantage of the Safe Station program and is currently five weeks sober.

The group is urging lawmakers to take action this upcoming session. Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley heard the family's story and said he's considering sponsoring a bill.

"It would have to be done with safeguards to ensure that people's rights weren't being trampled, but I think that at least we ought to have the discussion," Bradley said.

In memory of Bubba, the family is raising money with the hopes of opening a sober living home called "Bubba's Home." The plan is to have a building in the southern part of the state that will help men 18-25 years old.

Some of the money is currently being used to create care bags for the Safe Station program, which will include toiletries and candy to comfort those beginning their journey to sobriety. To donate to "Bubba's Home" click here.

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