COVINGTON, KY (7-1-20) – In furthering his commitment to fighting the drug epidemic, Attorney General Daniel Cameron has announced his office is defending a Kentucky law used to combat drug addiction and help individuals suffering from substance use disorders receive treatment.

The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention, commonly known as “Casey’s Law,” allows family members and friends to secure court-ordered drug treatment for a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder.

The law, passed unanimously by the Kentucky Senate and 94-1 by the House of Representatives in 2004, is currently facing a constitutional challenge in the Kentucky Court of Appeals. In a brief filed this week by Cameron, he argues that the law is constitutional and should be upheld.

“Casey’s Law is critical to Kentucky’s ongoing fight against the drug epidemic, and we are doing everything in our power to defend it in court,” said Cameron. “With a rise in illicit drugs like crystal meth and fentanyl, Casey’s Law is an important intervention tool. In 2018 alone, we lost 1,247 Kentuckians to drug overdoses, and we cannot afford to lose this important method for connecting those suffering to necessary treatment services.”

Jessica Hinkle, supervisor of the KY HELP Statewide Call Center staffed by Operation UNITE, was on-hand to voice support for Casey’s Law.

Casey’s Law is named for Matthew Casey Wethington, a 23-year-old Kentuckian who tragically died of a heroin overdose after his parents tried in vain to secure involuntary drug treatment for him. At the time of Casey’s death, there was no specific mechanism in place in Kentucky to secure court-ordered drug treatment for those who need it.

“Casey’s Law is an essential tool in the fight to reclaim the lives and futures of those who struggle with substance use disorders,” said Sen. Chris McDaniel. “I am grateful to Attorney General Cameron for his dedicated defense of this important law.”

The law outlines a process by which a family member or friend can file a petition before the district court to determine if a loved should be ordered to undergo treatment. For treatment to be ordered, the court must find that an individual suffers from a substance use disorder, presents an “imminent threat of danger to self, family, or others as a result of a substance use disorder” or is substantially likely to pose such a threat in the near future, and can reasonably benefit from treatment.

“Understanding that individuals suffering from the disease of addiction are unable to make informed decisions about their well-being is the underpinning of Casey’s Law,” said Rep. Kim Moser. “This is a tool which must remain in the hands of family and loved ones. This law saves lives.”

Court files related to the respondent in Casey’s Law proceedings are confidential, but success stories have been documented by the media and in personal testimonials.

Information provided by the Office of Attorney General Daniel Cameron

Jessica Hinkle, supervisor of the KY HELP Statewide Call Center, and Charlotte Wethington at press conference conducted at the Kenton County Courthouse July 1, 2020.

Statement read by Charlotte Wethington

Nancy Hale, President and CEO of Operation UNITE, has asked me to share with you the support of Operation UNITE and the KY HELP Statewide Call Center for Casey’s Law.

Operation UNITE staff, through their Voucher Treatment line and the Statewide Call Center, speak regularly with family members desperate to save loved ones who are incapable of seeking help because of their addiction or substance use disorder. Casey’s Law provides help and offers hope to those who have nowhere else to turn.

In the last six months, the KY HELP Statewide Call Center staff worked with 39 Kentucky families under Casey’s Law to move a loved one into a residential treatment facility. That is 39 lives – and families – saved! These lives are someone’s children. They are someone’s parent. They are loved.

People who feel hopeless and helpless, can find hope and freedom from addiction through treatment, even when it is mandatory by court order. Casey’s Law saves Kentucky lives!

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during press conference.