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Ohio’s New Drug Law

A law passed by the Ohio Legislature in November 2011 allows a spouse, relative or guardian to request that a loved one be forced to undergo treatment for his or her addiction. Senate Bill 117, also known as Casey’s Law, went into effect in March 2012.

Three criteria must be met before involuntary treatment can be ordered for an individual. The individual must

  • Suffer from alcohol or drug abuse
  • Present an imminent danger or imminent threat of danger to self or others
  • Reasonably benefit from treatment

Legal steps of obtaining involuntary treatment

The family member or guardian must file a petition with the probate court asking that involuntary treatment be ordered. The petition must include a physician’s certification stating the individual is a danger or imminent danger and that the individual would benefit from treatment. The physician must also include a recommendation as to how long and what type of treatment is needed. If the individual refuses to be examined by a physician, the physician’s certification can be waived.

What the family member must provide

The person requesting the forced treatment must agree to cover all treatment costs and must pay half of the bill in advance. The petitioner is also required to pay court fees and the cost of the physician’s examination. Treatment must be provided through a certified alcohol and drug addiction program or by certain licensed professionals.

The pros and cons

Critics of the law contend being required to pay for treatment costs will prevent low-income individuals from seeking help for a loved one and that it violates one of the central beliefs of alcohol or drug addiction recovery — that the individual must want to undergo treatment.

Proponents argue that an individual suffering from addiction is too consumed by the drug to make an informed decision and that compelling addicts to detoxify may help them decide to seek help.

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