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