Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Sobering Thought

It is so easy to fall prey to thinking that everyone understands addiction, at least to the extent that it can be understood.  There is so much yet to be learned about this complicated brain disease.  

Thirteen years ago when I went to Frankfort, I assumed that the Legislators would be on the same page with me.  They were not even in the book much less on the page.  However, remarkably, a bill that presented a concept that had at one time been widely used was introduced in a different light and it passed!  Casey's Law became effective on July 13, 2004. 

On March 30, 2017, Senators unaware of Casey's Law refused to vote on House Bill 305 in part, thinking it was new legislation. Hard to believe?  Not really.  There are a lot of people in Kentucky who do not know of the existence of this law. 

Another problem with HB 305 was the issue of taking away a person's rights when they have not committed a crime because failure to comply with the court orders can result in some time in jail, not as punishment but only as a means of keeping the person safe until the process can move forward.   

The reality is that everyone using an illegal substance has committed a crime.  People driving drugged have committed a crime. Many, like Casey, are never incarcerated and ordered to treatment, dying before their arrest. Casey's Law is the intervention that can come before the crime and an untimely death.  It is a law that uses incarceration as 'the hammer' that can keep a person in treatment long enough for the brain to begin healing and recovery to begin.  Jail is only a stop gap, a safety net, NOT a punishment accompanied by criminal charges.  A big difference from the involuntary commitment laws of the past.

So, here we are thirteen years later and the issue of rights still overrides the fact that a person who suffers from this brain disease has lost the ability to make good choices. Without an intervention, the options will be jail or death. It is shocking and scary to think that in the epidemic we are trying to survive, the issue of rights still reigns, and the scientific facts about this brain disease called addiction are frightfully lacking. 

What is really scary is that IF this bill had been new legislation, it would not have passed.  Think about that for a minute.  So, IF there were not already a Casey's Law and this had been new legislation, there would not be a Casey's Law today.

Now that's a sobering thought!

Until next time. . .

Casey's mom and Recovery Advocate

Friday, March 31, 2017

Wake Up Call - It's not over!

I woke up this morning thinking about yesterday and the incredible response from supporters of the bill containing amendments to Casey's Law.  I will forever be grateful for all of the calls and emails in support of HB 305 and for the words of encouragement after it was killed in the Senate.   

At the same time, there was another thought that crossed my mind. Today, is the perfect opportunity to express disappointment about the lack of action on HB 305 and ask the hard questions about why it was set aside.

The issue of taking away a person's rights seems to have been one of the issues that was a problem for the Senate Leadership responsible for deciding what bills are reported for a vote.  So, this morning let's think about rights, your rights.

You have the right to talk to your legislators about what is important to you.  Otherwise, you cannot expect them to know, especially not to know about the disease of addiction and how it effects your family.  Make no mistake!  As much reporting as there has been about the drug epidemic, understanding of addiction is found lacking.  If this is important to you, let  your legislators know it.  All of the contact information that you need can be found at www.lrc.ky.gov

You have the right to advocate for your loved ones as you would if they had any other chronic, progressive, potentially fatal illness. That means on every level not just in state government.  Do not give that right away to others who would have you believe that your relationship is altered or worse, obliterated when a person becomes a certain age.  When does your son stop being your son, your daughter stop being your daughter, your mother stop being your mother, your father stop being your father, and so on.  You get the picture.  

AND you have the right to cast your vote for legislators who act on your behalf, who are educated about addiction and make their decisions based on that knowledge rather than on personal opinions about people who have this disease.

Recovery advocacy happens all year long, not just in the 30 or 60 days that the Legislature is in session.  You have the opportunity today and every day to get in touch with your State Representative and Senator.  Get to know your legislators and let them get to know you.  It's by your vote that they have the right to serve in this critically important decision-making position for YOU and the people you love and care about.  This is not only regret about HB 305. Regardless of what the bill related to addiction, legislators will be more likely to vote your voice if they have heard your voice.  

Until next time. . . .

Casey's mom and Recovery Advocate