What Is Casey’s Law?

My Loved One Is Abusing Drugs or Alcohol and I Am Afraid They May Hurt Themselves. What Can I Do?

If there is an immediate threat of harm to themselves or others call 911. Often families or friends turn to involuntary treatment because they feel that they have exhausted all other options. After all, the person who is abusing substances is hurting themselves, causing family strife, and harming others to continue using. If the person is treatment-resistant or does not see their substance use as a problem it leaves loved ones in a state of hopelessness and fear. This is OK and normal. Most people have little or no experience with substance abuse or treatment options, so they don’t know where to turn.

There are solutions beyond involuntary treatment that are more effective. An informal intervention by a neutral third party is one way to help ease a person into the realization that treatment is the best course of action. Formally structured interventions are another way to go. Making things difficult for the person suffering from addiction by strategically cutting off resources is another effective approach. At The Ridge, we are experienced with treatment-resistant individuals and can use our resources to assist in helping your loved one make the best choice.

What Is Casey’s Law?

Casey’s law is a piece of legislature passed in Ohio and Kentucky that allows loved ones to petition the court for involuntary addiction treatment.[1]

What States Have Casey’s Law?

As of October 2019, only Ohio and Kentucky have active versions of Casey’s law with versions in the works in Georgia and West Virginia. Civil commitment for substance use or involuntary substance use treatment laws, such as Florida’s Marchman Act or Kentucky’s Casey’s Law exist in 37 states.[2]

These laws are rarely used as an option because they can be complex to undertake, unclear, or are simply not known in the state. Also, once the process of involuntary commitment begins, a person suffering from substance use disorder may decide on their own to attend treatment.

How Do I Use Casey’s Law or Another Civil Commitment Law to Court Order My Loved One Into Treatment?

For Casey’s law specifically, there are a series of legal steps that must be taken including filling out a petition and filing it with your local district court. There are fees involved with this filing and the process can take 14 days or longer. Additionally, two or more qualified health professionals must also agree that the person will benefit from treatment. Find out more about the specific steps for Kentucky here: https://odcp.ky.gov/Stop-Overdoses/Pages/Caseys-Law.aspx and for Ohio: http://caseyslaw.org/caseys-law-oh-steps/

What Are My Options If I Cannot Use Casey’s Law Where I Live?

If there is an immediate threat of harm to themselves or others call 911. If the individual’s substance use is creating imminent harm, your local jurisdiction may have a version of a “civil commitment” or “involuntary treatment” law that includes substance use. These laws vary greatly from state to state. Here is an interactive map that can help guide you to your own area’s laws and regulations: http://lawatlas.org/datasets/long-term-involuntary-commitment-laws

Our Family Has Been Through So Much, What Is Next for Us?

The fact remains: if an individual does not want help forcing treatment may not change their mindset. That does not make it any easier for the loved ones involved but there is always hope for the person suffering from the disease of addiction.

  • First of all, do not give up on your loved one.
  • Come up with a plan to get them into treatment.
  • Find out which centers can treat their specific type of substance use disorder.
  • Find out how they treat the disease of addiction, get specific, ask for staff credentials and treatment methods. Are they licensed in the state? Are they Joint Commission or CARF accredited? Is there detox offered if necessary? Is the treatment residential, outpatient, or partial hospitalization?
  • Determine what the financial impact will be, so you are ready. Check with local treatment centers to see if they accept your loved one’s health benefits, what the copay or out of pocket amounts are and, what the self-pay rate is. Are they in-network or out of network? Are there payment plans available?
  • Find out if your loved one needs detox services and what agencies provide those services. Again, find out the cost of detox services ahead of time.
  • Tour your local facilities and see what the environment is like, get an idea of what the center offers in both amenities (comfort) and clinical treatment (effectiveness). Here is a great resource for how to find the right treatment center: NAATP Treatment center selection guide. Remember effective treatment may be offered at a facility outside of your immediate area.
  • There are solutions beyond involuntary treatment. An informal intervention by a neutral third party is one way to help ease a person into the realization that treatment is the best course of action. Formally structured interventions are another way to go. Making things difficult for the person suffering from addiction by strategically cutting off resources is another effective approach.

The Bottom Line

Casey’s law and other civil commitment tools are one avenue to pursue when it comes time to get your treatment-resistant loved help. However, there are other less cumbersome, less expensive and effective avenues which you may not have considered. The Ridge can help navigate these questions for you and also can provide the residential treatment your loved one may need when they are ready.