Commitment of drug abusers in Israel: medical or social responsibility?

M. Sigal, M. Gelkopf, H. M. Ben-Or

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1977 a new paragraph was added to Israel's penal law allowing rehabilitation of convicted drug abusers by compulsory psychiatric treatment. The commitment was implemented on the basis of a court order. Notwithstanding the doubts of psychiatrists the law permitted the commitment of a significant number of drug abusers to psychiatric wards. The rehabilitation treatment through commitment and some of its negative consequences are described in a study that covers 10 years of activity at the Pardessia Menta Health Center. We present 3 typical profiles of drug abusers who were treated in our center as specified by the law. None needed medical help in physical withdrawal from the drug. All took advantage of the opportunity to spend part of their incarceration time in the hospital instead of in jail. The law was amended in July 1989 and since February 1990 treatment is conducted under the supervision of probation officers and not in a medical institution. The amended law reflects the approach to drug abuse as a social not psychopathological problem, so that social agencies and no medical instances are in charge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-8
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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