Give Me and Other Families the Power to Save Our Children's Lives, Pass Casey's Law in NYS

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I am writing to you as a voter, a counselor in both mental health and addiction treatment services and a parent  concerned with the prescription pill opiate / heroin health crisis epidemic that has been sweeping  across our nation and in New York State. With the current system in place thousands of addicted loved ones across New York State do not meet the criteria set forth by their insurance companies either to be eligible for inpatient treatment or allow the needed length of time to address opiate addiction and how it restructures the brain. Families have no recourse if their loved ones are adults so many go without proper treatment and continue the deadly cycle of abuse. Every day an addicted loved one goes without proper treatment they can die. Many die while waiting to receive treatment and there are countless roadblocks, dead ends and revolving doors in the process of someone reaching out for help.

The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse intervention provides a means of intervening with someone who is unable to recognize his or her need for treatment due to their substance abuse impairment and many have co-occurring disorders. This law will allow parents, relatives and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the substance abuse-impaired person. Denial and distorted thinking impedes a person's ability to make a rational decision. The “bottom” for many is death. Addiction is a progressive, life-threatening disease and the best hope of survival for a person who is substance abuse impaired is intervention. Casey’s Law has already been passed in Kentucky and there are similar laws in Florida (Marchman Act) and Ohio (Ohio Senate Bill 117). Studies show that involuntary treatment can be just as successful as voluntary treatment. Most individuals who are substance abuse-impaired receive court-ordered treatment only after they have become arrested for a crime while under the influence of a substance. Drugs and crime often go hand-in-hand because people who are substance abuse impaired are forced by their disease to resort to any means necessary to procure their drug and not become sick. Court-ordered treatment can be effective regardless of who initiates it. Not all people who are substance abuse impaired are arrested or, in the event that they are, may not receive the necessary treatment. Please help me to help my child and so many other families in need of this law. My son Nicholas, an all-American boy, became dependent on painkillers. His dependence was partly due to a combination of a leg injury and dealing with depression from losing a classmate. He began using prescription pain pills and it soon got the better of him. Now he struggles with addiction. There’s little one can do for their loved ones when they become substance abuse impaired in order to advocate in getting into treatment. The current system doesn’t allow me to intervene on his behalf since he’s over 18. So I am forced to stand idly by as my brave, smart son turns into someone I barely recognize. Casey’s Law would give me the power to help my son and others live and be involved in active recovery. Casey’s Law, which already exists in Kentucky and Ohio, allows the loved ones of an addict to help petition the court to mandate treatment. Instead of feeling helpless, the parent, relative, or friend can take action, and help an addict get control of his life. Even as a counselor and working in the field of addiction treatment there were many obstacles to face in getting immediate treatment. Casey’s Law has been proven to keep families together and serve as an invaluable tool for families to intervene on the substance abuse disorder of a loved one regardless of age and without criminal charges. I am asking the New York Senate and House to help save thousands of families by passing Casey’s Law in New York.    My name is Rachel Bruzee. For years, I’ve worked in different arenas of crisis intervention and, human service programs. My work is important to me and I have continued my education to better serve in the work I have a passion for in helping people. I know I am helping people in their darkest hour. But I never thought this darkness would strike my own son. Since age three, Nicholas wanted to be a fireman. At 16, he became one of the youngest volunteer firemen in the Seneca County, New York. And in 2008, he responded to more fire calls than there are days in the year, risking his life to rescue others. But now it’s he, and substance-impaired individuals like him, that needs to be rescued. This law is prudent, and humane, and loved ones of addicts across the country are raising their voices to get it passed. Alabama, California, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Washington are all currently trying to enact versions of Casey’s Law. I am a petrified parent trying to save her son. But I am also speaking out for the many parents and relatives of addicts who are unable to speak for themselves. Please join me in asking the New York State Congress and Senate to pass Casey’s Law and help keep families intact.



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