Kentucky is on the forefront of the battle against addiction. Prescription opioid, heroin, and methamphetamine abuse have destroyed lives and leveled communities across Kentucky, making it the fifth leading state in the nation for fatalities from drug overdose. For many addicts, the choice to enter into treatment is not an easy one to make. Casey’s Law, a piece of legislation from Kentucky in 2004, was passed in order to make mandatory treatment a reality for those suffering from addiction.
What is Mandatory Treatment?
Addicts are often in denial about the true state of their addiction. For that reason, they are often opposed to seeking treatment options. Casey’s Law was enacted to allow close friends, loved ones, and relatives of addicts to legally mandate people to attend a treatment program. The process involves petitioning a court to judge the severity of the afflicted person’s addiction and rendering a judgement on whether to commit that person and to what extent their treatment should encapsulate.
The length of treatment varies depending on the court, and can range from detox, usually about a week, to full on treatment which can last from 30-45 days, and can include therapy along with mandatory residential confinement. If the patient doesn’t comply with the court order, they could be held in contempt of the court and sentenced to jail time.
Where Does Casey’s Law Come From?
In 2002, at the young age of 2003, Matthew Casey Wellington passed away after entering into a heroin induced coma. His family had been convinced that when he had hit rock bottom he would finally be convinced to enter rehab, but this did not happen. While it may work for many, this mindset can be a danger to adhere to because it could result in a fatal overdose, like with Casey. It could lead to shared intravenous needle use, resulting in Hepatitis C or HIV. After Casey’s family had done all they could to convince him to go to rehab, they realized that perhaps in some cases, an addict needs a more forceful hand to accept treatment.
Casey’s family lobbied for a law that could mandate substance abuse treatment for addicts too deep into their illness to make the change themselves. Casey’s law , officially known as the Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention became law on April 9, 2004 in Lexington and the rest of Kentucky. The law was also enacted in the states of Ohio and North Carolina. There are currently multiple other states with pending petitions to add Casey’s Law or similar legislation.
How Does Casey’s Law Work?
If you are seeking to enter a loved one into drug and alcohol rehab in the Kentucky area, you may want to look into filing for the use of Casey’s Law. To do so, follow these instructions:
- Get a copy of the petition from the District Court clerk’s office or here
- Fill out the petition on their behalf and file it with the District Court clerk here.
- 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.
- The court will order treatment for anywhere between 60 days and 360 days, and can range from detoxification to intensive treatment.
From there, the court will work with you and your loved one to select a treatment center within your price range, work with insurance companies to uncover any coverage options, and oftentimes the treatment center will arrange for pickup and transportation.
What Else Should I Know About Casey’s Law?
If you’re on the fence as to whether or not Casey’s Law is the right option for you to pursue, you should be aware that mandatory treatment has seen promising results. The National Institute on Drug Abuse conducted a study on the viability of mandatory treatment for inmates over a period of five years. At the end of the study, groups of men who were forced to enter rehab had the same amount of abstinence rates as the groups who were enthusiastic about entering rehab.
Addiction is a brain disease that creates chemical changes in the brain. Addicts in the throes of addiction are not fully capable of making fully informed decisions. You should also know that Kentucky courts will allow you to file for Casey’s Law multiple times. Relapses are unfortunately a common occurrence for addicts suffering from a serious chemical dependency. Another good aspect about Casey’s Law is that the costs for treatment are legally required to be laid out before you make a decision to send your loved one somewhere. The only upfront costs associated with Casey’s Law go towards the services of the two medical professionals required to evaluate the selected person.
At Landmark Recovery, or experienced staff has dealt with a wide range of treatment methods and approaches for substance abuse disorders. If you’re seeking rehab in Louisville or the greater Kentucky area and are concerned for the wellbeing of yourself or a loved one abusing substances, reach out to our team and we’ll walk you through the process for enrolling.
Legal Changes to Casey’s Law
In 2017, the Kentucky House advanced legislation that helped improve Casey’s Law. House Bill 305 will help improve treatment options and ease the burden of costs associated with involuntary treatment through Casey’s Law. The changes allow a judge to order a person to undergo treatment for up to one year (with the ability to petition for another year) and clarifies that someone who petitions the court for involuntary treatment is the one responsible for covering costs that aren’t covered by third party entities such as private insurance and Medicaid. The bill also allows court-ordered treatment to be changed without any additional cost to the person petitioning.
Understanding the Legal Process for Casey’s Law
Your loved one is addicted to drugs or alcohol and is spiraling downhill on a path that leads to health deterioration, isolation, and loss of everything that truly matters in life.
You’ve asked yourself a hundred times, “What can I do for someone who doesn’t want my help and doesn’t believe a problem exists?” You’ve begged, pleaded and bargained with your loved one to stop using drugs or alcohol, but to no avail. Your loved one keeps using, and you keep wondering if he or she will overdose or live to see another day.
Even though you feel like your wheels are spinning but you're getting nowhere, there is something you can do!
Read 9 Casey’s Law FAQ’s to find out what it is, how it can help, and how to start the process for someone you care about.
Question: What is Casey’s Law?
Answer: The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for substance abuse was enacted in 2004 after a Kentucky mother; Charlotte Wethington lost her son (Casey) to a heroin overdose. Charlotte worked with the judicial system to create an intervention process for anyone concerned about a friend or family member’s substance abuse.
Casey’s Law is a legal process that allows you to intervene on your loved one's behalf. This law enables you to attend a court hearing, speak to a judge, and present facts about your loved one’s substance abuse. The outcome of this legal intervention often results in mandated court-ordered treatment for your loved one.
Question: My loved one lives in Indiana. Does Casey’s Law apply in other states?
Answer: Casey’s law is in effect in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. If your loved one lives in a different state, check the specific regulations and procedures that apply to court-ordered treatment for substance abuse in that state.
Question: How do I begin the Casey’s Law petition process?
Answer: Your first step is to book appointments with two qualified health professionals. Do this BEFORE filing the petition. Schedule these appointments 14 days out from the current date. One appointment MUST be with a medical doctor. For a list of qualified professionals go to https://louisvilleky.gov/government/county-attorney/caseys-law.
Question: What should I do after I book the two appointments with qualified healthcare professionals?
Answer: Call the prosecutor to relay the appointment dates. Based on those dates, the prosecutor will tell you the court date for the hearing and the date you should go to the Jefferson County Clerk’s office to file the Casey’s Law petition. The prosecutor in Kentucky is Claudia Smith, and her phone number is (502) 574- 5585.
Question: What do I need do on the designated date to file the Casey’s Law petition?
- Go to Jefferson County Clerk's office located at 600 W. Jefferson Street – Room 3177, Louisville, KY 40202.
- Be prepared to provide the appointment dates with qualified professionals
- Bring 40 dollars for the court summons
- Bring one page summary of loved one’s addiction history
Question: What happens after I file the Casey’s Law petition and what else should I do?
- The petition will go to the judge, and he/she will determine if probable cause exists to order treatment. If the judge finds that probable cause exists, an order will be signed.
- You must pick up the signed order.
- You are required to go to the appointments with your loved one and, if necessary, to
facilitate their attendance by providing transportation.
- You must return these evaluations at least 24 hours before the court date.
Question: What happens if my loved one refuses to go to the evaluation appointments?
Answer: Failure to go to appointments may lead to contempt of court which could result in jail time.
Question: What should I expect on the court date?
Answer: You will testify about your loved one’s drug history and how he/she will benefit from treatment. The judge will make a ruling about whether there is probable cause to believe that your loved one needs to go to treatment.
Question: What else should I know about the court date?
Answer: Be prepared to take your loved one to a treatment center on that day. If you think your loved one will bolt you can pay a sheriff's fee to have him/her transported to the chosen treatment center.
If your considering Casey’s Law for your loved one, your not alone. Many people have turned to the legal system for help when they cannot convince their loved ones to get the help they so desperately need. For more information about Casey’s Law, visit this link.
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Let us share with you how our drug and alcohol treatment program will provide your loved one with resources, tools, and the necessary confidence to abstain from drugs and alcohol for a lifetime.