In this Sept. 22, 2017 photo, Julie Eldred poses for a photo in her Massachusetts home. Eldred, 29, tested positive for the opioid fentanyl less than two weeks after a court ordered her to refrain from drugs while on probation for larceny. She spent the next 10 days in jail until her lawyer could find her a bed in a treatment facility. On Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, Massachusetts' highest court will hear her case challenging the practice of ordering people with addiction to stay drug free as a condition of probation. (Jesse Costa/WBUR via AP)

If addiction is a disease, should relapse mean jail time?

October 02, 2017 - 12:22 am

BOSTON (AP) — A unique case before Massachusetts' highest court is challenging the practice of ordering people with addiction to stay drug free as a condition of probation.

Julie Eldred was sent to jail last year after testing positive for fentanyl days into her probation for larceny. The 29-year-old with severe substance use disorder now says she was unfairly punished because her relapse was the result of a disease, not a choice.

Eldred's supporters say punishing people with addiction doesn't work, and even the threat can cause stress that increases the risk of relapse.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's office is urging the court to uphold the probation requirement. The attorney general says drug testing and sanctions help users on their path to recovery.

The court is set to hear the case Monday.

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