BOSTON - In response to rising levels of drug addiction, the Senate on Thursday passed an order to create a special committee to study the application of Section 35 and drug addiction treatment options in the state, and Sen. Jennifer Flanagan will chair the panel, according to a statement from Flanagan's office.

According to Trust for America's Health, the number of drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts has increased by 47 percent since 1999.

Section 35 of Chapter 123 of the General Laws allows the courts to commit an individual whose alcohol or drug addiction puts themselves or others at risk to inpatient substance abuse treatment for a period of up to 90 days.

"I'm eager to start working on this serious issue that affects so many families in Massachusetts and the nation," said Flanagan, a Leominster Democrat whose district includes Townsend. "The Section 35 process has proved valuable many times for many families who were in desperate need of help. With that said, I think that looking at all aspects of the program will allow us to further enhance the program's efficacy."

Other assigned members include Senate Chair of the Joint Committee of the Judiciary William N. Brownsberger, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government Linda Dorcena Forry, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health John F. Keenan, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Joan B. Lovely and Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means Senator Richard J. Ross.

"Addiction is a very serious and often fatal problem that affects families in every community from every socio-economic background," Senate President Therese Murray said. "Sadly, Section 35 often serves as a revolving door for drug addicts with many falling back to their old ways because meaningful treatment has not been available. We need to take a look at what treatment options are available in all regions of the state, if there is a need for change and how we fill that need."

Under Section 35, if no beds are available at a licensed treatment facility, men are sent to the correctional facility at Bridgewater and women are sent to the correctional facility in Framingham. The Women's Addiction Treatment Center in New Bedford and the Men's Addiction Treatment Center in Brockton also provide treatment for individuals committed under Section 35.