Casey’s Law: Get Your Loved One Addiction Treatment Before It’s Too Late

For 20 years now, I’ve represented men and women battling drug addiction. I’ve met hundreds of people who need help. I can count on one hand the number of them who wanted rehab before a crash. In my business, a crash usually means a jail cell when they’re facing prison time. Sadly, these days, an even bigger crash is possible. Of course, I mean an overdose death, which happens far too often nowadays, thanks largely to the dangers of fentanyl, a lab-made opioid that’s finding its way into every possible street drug you can imagine. 

Back to that jail cell, it is the fate that waits for far too many men, and women caught up in a cycle of addiction. Something I’ve come across several times recently while speaking to someone who is incarcerated and facing a substantial prison sentence is this: “my family tried to do a Casey law, but I talked them out of it. I want treatment now.” For many, now is too late. Their addiction has taken them to dark places, and no judge is willing (or, often, even able, due to the severity of the charges) to probate them. 

What’s the solution?

The best resource for a family member or friend of someone headed for a crash is a Casey’s Law petition. As the Kentucky Office for Drug Control Policy describes it, “The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention is named for Matthew Casey Wethington, who died in 2002 from a heroin overdose at the age of 23. Casey was an energetic young man who enjoyed life until it was “taken” by drugs.” 



Like any legal action, successfully filing a Casey Law requires jumping through certain hoops. You’ll need to schedule a physician examination and a licensed drug counselor’s assessment. Most importantly, you’ll need evidence for why you think your loved one is using drugs and how they constitute a danger to themselves or others. That may sound difficult. And I would be remiss if I did not say it can be. But here’s the good news: your loved one is worth it, and dozens of free advocates around Kentucky are willing to roll up their sleeves and help you save a friend’s or family’s life. So don’t sweat the procedure. Pick up the phone, and ask for help. It’s much harder to get them help when they’re in a jail cell. It’s impossible when they’re gone. 

Johnathan Gay is Deputy Legal Counsel at ARC and helps with court relations and questions related to Casey’s Law. ARC donates a substantial number of physicians’ assessments and counselors’ evaluations for families going through Casey’s Law process and has numerous staff members who will tell you that Casey’s Law saved their life.