Can Casey’s Law save lives? Henderson woman says she’s living proof

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Can Casey’s Law save lives? One Henderson woman who was forced into rehab says she’s living proof it does.

A few years ago, Tayler Willoughby was at her lowest point.

“Heroine, methamphetamine, you name it. There wasn’t much of anything that i didn’t try or do,” Willoughby said. “I was in a dark- a dark, dark place. And I didn’t care if i lived or died.”

Willoughby’s family tried to help, but she wasn’t willing to listen. Eventually her mom and dad turned to the courts, and took custody of Tayler’s son, Kaden.

“There was a lot of hatred,” said Willoughby’s mother Teresia Johnston.

Even that didn’t work, as the downward spiral continued.

“I had heard of this Casey’s Law, and actually called an attorney in town, and he kind of laughed me off, said it doesn’t work unless they put themselves in rehab. It’s a joke,” Johnston said.

Casey’s Law was passed into Kentucky legislature in 2004. It’s named after Matthew Casey Wethington, who died from drug use. The law gives people the opportunity to prove in court that a loved one with an addiction is a danger to themselves or others. If they are successful in doing so, the court can order the addict into rehab.

The Henderson County Attorney doesn’t think it’s a joke, saying the law is an effective way to get people clean before they’re arrested.

“Court ordered treatment is just effective or more effective as that treatment that somebody decides to go in themselves,” Steve Gold said. “So I’m a believer.”

In Willoughby’s case, there was resistance at first.

“I was angry, you know, I felt like everybody was trying to attack me,” she said.

“But I just knew I had to do something, or I was going to lose her,” Johnston said.

After initially exiting rehab early, Willoughby was held in contempt of court, and spent a week in jail. It wasn’t till she started rehab at the WARM center in Henderson that things turned around.

Getting her son back was her main motivation.

“If they hadn’t forced it on me, I don’t think I would be alive today,” Willoughby said.

Willoughby is now nine months sober. She graduated from the WARM center in December, and now works there.

“My grandson has his mother back. We have our daughter back,” Johnston said.

One pushback against Casey’s Law is families having to pay for the expensive rehab out of pocket, but Gold says many state-funded centers like the WARM center will offer court-ordered rehab for free.

Follow this link to learn more about Casey’s Law.”

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(This story was originally published on Feb. 20, 2018) 

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