National Association for Rights Protection
Alaska Supreme Court Strikes Down Forced Psychiatric Drugging
In a resounding affirmation of personal liberty and freedom, the
Alaska Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Myers v. Alaska
Psychiatric Institute today. The court found Alaska's forced psychiatric
drugging regime to be unconstitutional when the state forces someone to take psychiatric
medications without proving it to be in their best interests or when there are less
Faith Myers, the appellant in the case, reacted to the decision saying, "It makes all
of my suffering worthwhile."
Myers' attorney, Jim Gottstein, said "By requiring the least intrusive alternative to
forced psychiatric drugging, this decision has the potential to change the face of current
psychiatric practice, dramatically improving the lives of people who now find
themselves at the wrong end of a hypodermic needle. While he
acknowledged that some people find psychiatric drugs helpful, Gottstein said he pursued
this case because, in addition to the drugs' serious physical health risks, he is
concerned about the rights of those who find them both unhelpful and intolerable. He
continued, For people who want to try non-drug approaches, the research
is very clear that many will have much better long-term outcomes, including complete
recovery after being diagnosed with serious mental illness. This decision restores
the rights of those people to pursue that potential."
The Alaska Supreme Court decision noted the trial court's concern that the statute did not
allow the court to consider the problems with the drugs even though "a valid debate
exists in the medically/psychiatric community as to the safety and effectiveness of the
proposed treatment plan." With this decision, trial courts are now required to
consider the safety and effectiveness of the drugs in deciding whether the proposed
psychiatric drugging is in the patient's best interest.
The Court's Decision also makes specific mention that Alaska Statutes require the hospital
to honor a patient's previously expressed desires regarding psychiatric medications.
The full decision can be found on the Internet at http://psychrights.org/States/Alaska/CaseOne/MyersOpinion.pdf.
Detailed background about The Law Project for Psychiatric
Rights, a non-profit organization, is available on the PsychRights web site: http://psychrights.org/.
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