Kentucky mother finds a way to help families of addicts after the death of her son from Heroin overdose

06/20/2014 11:20 AM

As lawmakers continue to try to find a solution to the dangerous rise in Heroin the state is seeing, one northern Kentucky mother who lost her son to the drug found a way to change the system to help other addicts and families.

Kenton County resident Charlotte Wethington suffered a parent’s worst nightmare in August of 2002 when her 25-year-old son Casey died of a Heroin overdose.

Through the horror of losing her son, Wethington encountered a number of barriers in place which prevented her from being able to get the help her son needed to try to overcome his addiction. The first barrier they encountered as they checked Casey into rehab.

“We were able to get a bed at what was then St. Luke Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center in Falmouth but the problem was when we took him down, they informed us that, if he chose to leave, he could and there was nothing that they could do to stop him,” Wethington said. “And that’s exactly what happened. He left after 6 days of detox and continued to use.”

After her son’s second overdose, Wethington realized the only way to keep him away from the drug was incarceration. So when Casey was arrested for possession, Wethington—as a mother desperate for help to keep her son safe—petitioned to keep her son in prison for his own safety but the judge denied the request and said Casey could be called back within 90 days to appear in court.

The summons eventually came on the same day as her son’s burial. And Wethington was told she didn’t “understand the system”, she realized she wanted to help make changes to that system.

Senior Reporter Don Weber presents Casey’s story:

For Wethington, changing the system meant changing the law. Wethington worked with legislators to pass a law to would allow parents, relatives and/or friends to intervene on someone’s behalf who is unable to recognize his or her need for treatment due to their impairment.

Though the legislation moved slowly through the General Assembly, Wethington never gave up on making this change.

“I was a mom on a mission,” Wethington said (in part two below). “And my mission was to try to make a difference for other families. For us, it was too late. But, I knew then that there were going to be many more to follow.”

The legislation became law on July 13, 2004.

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