Pitman House v EH [2020] NZFC 10063

Published 16 December 2021

Application for compulsory treatment — substance addiction — alcohol — brain injury — Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 2017, ss 4, 7, 8 & 9. This hearing was to determine an application for a compulsory treatment order under the Substance Addiction (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act ("the Act") in respect of the subject person for her alcohol dependency. The subject person had been served with notice to attend an assessment with a medical detoxification service provider, but had not been admitted to the inpatient unit. Subsequently the subject person had consumed alcohol to the extent she had to be admitted to hospital where she remained for three days and required IV medication. The subject person acknowledged she had an addiction but did not agree that she needed compulsory treatment. A compulsory treatment order should only be made if the criteria in s 7 of the Act apply: the person must have a severe substance addiction; their capacity to make informed decisions about treatment for the addiction is severely impaired; and compulsory treatment is necessary and available. A "substance addiction" is defined in s 8 of the Act as a continuous or intermittent condition which manifests itself in the compulsive use of a substance and is characterised by at least two of the features of subs (2); and poses a serious danger to the health and safety of the person and seriously diminishes their ability to care for themselves. Section 9 outlines the criteria for capacity. The Judge was satisfied, based on the medical evidence submitted, that the subject person fit the criteria of having a substance addiction and that it impacted her ability to make informed decisions about her treatment for it. She was assessed as having a brain injury as defined in s 4 of the Act. She had been unable to recover on her own despite attempts, and a treatment facility was available to take her in. The application was granted and a compulsory treatment order was made. Judgment Date: 16 November 2020. ***Note: names have been changed to meet legal requirements***