Casey’s Law allows for involuntary treatment, meaning that someone can have their drug addicted loved one evaluated for and admitted into drug treatment even if that person is an adult and is unwilling to get help.
Mathew Casey Wethington’s life and death is the inspiration for this law that allows parents, relatives and/or friends to intervene on the substance use disorder of a loved one, regardless of age and without criminal charges.
At the tragically young age of 23, Mathew Casey Wethington slipped into a heroin-induced coma and later died on August 19, 2002 of what is considered to be a heroin overdose. His family wanted more than anything to give him the right to live a life in recovery. Because he was over the age of 18 and unwilling to seek help voluntarily, his family’s hands were tied – they could not force him to go into treatment.
History of the Act
Casey’s Law is the broader name for The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention and became a law on April 9, 2004 and went into effect in the state of Kentucky on July 13, 2004. It is now a means of intervention in Indiana and Ohio, as well.
Premise for Casey’s Law
Early drug use can basically arrest someone’s emotional development at the age of first use. Because Casey began using drugs around 14 or 15 years old, he had the emotionality and rationality of a 14 year old even as he became a young adult. The premise for allowing the intervention of loved ones on the behalf of someone who is addicted to drugs lies within this understanding: someone reacting emotionally as an adolescent (when most addicts’ drug use begins) and who is suffering from an ultimately fatal disease cannot respond in a normal, healthy way and choose to get treatment. Before Casey’s Law, parental intervention was denied by law and even discouraged, at times.
The act provides a means of intervening with someone who is unable to recognize their own need for treatment due to their impairment from drugs. This law will allow parents, relatives and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the substance abuse-impaired person.
What is the Process for Using Casey’s Law?
In order to involuntarily commit someone to treatment, the following steps must be taken:
- Get a copy of the petition from the District Court clerk’s office or access it online.
- You, as the loved one of the drug addicted person, will fill out the petition on their behalf and file it with the District Court clerk.
- The court will review your claims made in the petition and will question you under oath.
- The court will determine if there is probable cause to require treatment for your loved one.
- If there is probable cause, a judge will appoint an attorney to represent your loved one, require your loved one to be evaluated, and schedule a hearing within 14 days.
- Your loved one will be notified of the date and purpose of the hearing.
- Your loved one is evaluated by two qualified health professionals, one being a physician, to determine if your loved one could benefit from treatment.
If the judge finds that your loved one needs addiction treatment, the court will order treatment for anywhere between 60 days and 360 days, and can range from detoxification to intensive treatment through recovery. Depending upon your request in the petition and the result of the evaluation, treatment options will vary.
How Casey’s Law is Helping
Every year from 2004 through 2008, there were fewer than 10 petitions filed in the Kentucky counties of Boone, Campbell, and Kenton. According to the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, these three counties had an increase in cases of a total of 20 in 2009 and in 2010. The number of petitions shot up to 66 in 2011 and 71 in 2012. There has also been a coinciding heroin epidemic to account for the upshot in petitions filed.
For more information on how to use Casey’s Law to help your addicted loved one , please give us a call at 800-951-6135.