WKYT Investigates: Casey's Law saved daughter's life

Published: Sep. 15, 2016 at 6:23 PM EDT
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It started with a text message to Rusty Collinsworth eight years ago from his daughter. "And it says, Dad, I'm addicted to heroin. I need help. Yeah, I didn't see that coming," Collinsworth remembered. And right when the interview began, he had to take a break. "It hurts," he said.

He quickly composed himself and sat back down with his wife, Michelle, in their upscale home in Edgewood. Their daughter, Lindsey, they recall had been to just about every state-run drug rehabilitation center in the state. "You always thought they were going to work, or you hoped they would work," Rusty said.

But Lindsey would never stay at the rehabs. Sometimes, Michelle said, she would leave before the Collinsworths even got home from dropping her off. "There's nothing that keeps them in these treatment centers if they don't want to be there," Michelle said.

The Collinsworths have pictures in their dining room, documenting different rehabilitation stops. The pictures weren't proof of success though, but part of the path to a law the Collinsworths believe changed the game, and saved their daughter's life.

"Sucked. It's not fun. But you knew it had to be done." Rusty signed a petition, a court order that Lindsey was going to treatment or jail. It's called Casey's Law, for involuntary treatment. If a person leaves treatment without the court's consent, a warrant is issued for their arrest. Lindsey ended up leaving treatment and failed a drug test. So, Rusty called the law. "I said 'Hey, my daughter's at our house right now. Can you come arrest her for me?'" Lindsey spent 30 days in the Campbell County jail.

"If you would have asked me ten years ago if I would have been proactive about putting my child in jail, I would have said that's crazy!" said Michelle.

Casey's Law has been around since 2004. For the Collinsworths, it became their last hope in 2015. "Literally a year and a half ago, we were convinced we would be burying Lindsey," Michele said.

Today, Lindsey is ten months sober. "I feel like I sold my soul to the devil when I was on heroin," Lindsey told WKYT's Miranda Combs. "I wanted to stop, but I was so physically sick, I couldn't."

Her mother recalled waking Lindsey up to tell her the police were there to arrest her. Lindsey said, "A part of me was glad because I knew the fight was over. I knew I wasn't going to have to get high at least as long as I was in jail."

Casey's Law isn't an easy-out for family and friends. The petitioner is responsible for the cost of court fees and treatment, and finding treatment, which can be challenging. But the alternative, the Collinsworths said, wasn't an option. "You just have to be persistent and become an advocate for your child," MIchelle said.