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Proposed Denise's Law would force minors into drug detox

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Proposed Denise's Law would force minors into drug detox

    Carrie Gerardi knew her daughter Denise was using heroin and tried everything she could to get her to stop: Grounding the 18-year-old. Taking her bedroom door off its hinges so she would always be visible. Checking her arms for telltale track marks.

    Still, on July 16, 2008, at home in her bedroom just weeks after she graduated from Sachem High School East in Farmingville, Denise died of a heroin overdose.

    Now the Gerardi family, of Holtsville, is the human face of Denise's Law, a bill sponsored by state Sen. Brian Foley to increase parental control over enrolling their minor kids in drug detox treatment.

    Under family court law, children under 18 can check themselves out of detox programs, but Denise's Law would allow parents and guardians to obtain court orders and put their children back in the programs -- whether they like it or not.

    Janet Pfaeffle, of Farmingville, knows the struggle to help a child. Her son Christopher, 23, also a graduate of Sachem East, died on New Year's Day of a heroin overdose. He started his addiction as a teenager, and she could not get him to go to treatment. He went later on his own.

    "My son has been into detox and treatment many times. I know the disease itself makes him resistant to treatment, and you have to force them," Pfaeffle said. "I do believe forcing is an answer, even if some of the professionals believe if they are going to get clean they have to want to get clean."

    Officials at the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services said they are reviewing the bill and had no comment.

    In the past, officials at the office have pointed to other ways of dealing with heroin abuse, including outpatient means. And some experts question how effective drug rehab can be unless the person being treated, whatever the age, does so voluntarily.

    The bill, now awaiting a sponsor in the Assembly, also requires insurance companies to cover the cost of detox.

    At a news conference Thursday at the high school in Farmingville with the Gerardis, Foley called heroin use among teenagers a "problem growing out of control" and promised his bill would help remove "road blocks" for families trying to help their kids.

    Suffolk County statistics show that there have been at least 174 heroin-related deaths from 2006 to present, and one out of every 10 have been under 21.

    The legislation, supported by substance abuse treatment groups and local educational associations, was crafted with input from the Sachem Parent Teacher Association and the AWARE committee, made up of parents, students, educators and local community leaders.

    "I've wanted to do this for so long," Carrie Gerardi said of the bill. In the two years that her daughter went from smoking marijuana to shooting heroin, her daughter resisted any program. "She didn't want help," she said.



  1. RaverHippie
    That's interesting. It's completely a case of "Parents assuming they know best" as I've interacted with these kinds of crowds. Long Island is a crappy place to grow up and kids just get into trouble. The way to reach them is not to force them into a detox center, it's breaking down their reasons to use, showing them that using puts them on a path that isn't of their own choice, and giving them the self-confidence that they can amount to more. Parents who react this way out of love would only be distancing themselves further from their children who are hurt and need support. But I'm just a kid so I could be way off.
  2. UseIt~or~loseIt
    im kinda down with this idea....kinda...for 1, this article doesnt adress what the od was from, im guessing shister drug dealler (ie the stuff was cut, the stuff was a pill with tons of asprin in it, it was fenytal,ect ect),

    but i think if you are legal resposible for someone, you should.....oh crAP too many contradictions......ill know is that any stime somebody has taken the keys out my hand, it never hurt me... although it can be annoying and time consuming....

    im saying it doenst hurt to stop someone from hurting themself,
    even though it is aboslutly the users choice in the end...detox's can serve to get some of those bully demons out

    but i hate this law, even though im trying to be down with it, i sure most would rebel harder after the detox
  3. Greenport
    I'm for this too actually..if a minor is truly addicted to a highly addictive substance like heroin and it is obviously causing a problem to themselves and their family, their family should be able to step up and get help for the minor - they shouldn't be able to check themselves out at that age because they are still under their parents' rules.

    However there are surely going to be abuses of this law - parents claiming their child is 'addicted' to LSD or marijuana just because they catch them once and force them into a mandatory rehab program simply because they know no better. That is going to be the major issue with this law.
  4. pinksox
    SWIM agrees 100%. Hell, we have parents that get arrested when they can't force they're kids to get/stay at school in some places. There's many instances in our society in which parents are often held legally responsible for the behavior(or misbehavior as it may be) of their minor children.

    One avenue parent don't take, I think because a lot of them don't know it exists os to employ they aid of their child's peditrician (or even emergency room physician) in these cases. Put a protective order on the kid, an involuntary admission for detox since the child presents a hazard to themselves(if a kid is IV'ing heroin..theres a BIG fucking problem), and in the meantime file an ex parte CHINS order with the court that mandates detox.

    Hell, we CAN force it upon adults IF the right strings are pulled. It's easier with a child, but could likely never be easy enough as there will always be multiple hurdles to jump through.

    No knowing what State this is coming from, but SWIM knows that in any State she's ever practiced, unless it's an actual life-threatening emergency, EMS and even ED personnel cannot treat minors without parental consent(even if the minor gives permission). Nor can they sign themselves out of the ED once EMS has brought them there...and sometimes locating parents can be an entirely too difficult and lengthy process. Unless they were over 17/18 in SWIMs State she doesn't think they could sign themselves out of detox as things stand already.
  5. RaverHippie
    This is NY state. Melville, NY of Suffolk County Long Island.
  6. RealGanjaMan
    Must be different in NY. In CA, children under 18 have no rights, really. If your parents want you to attend a certain school, program, drug detox, or whatever, you have to. I know because my parents forced me into a rehab type boarding school program, and I can assure you I was NOT allowed to leave. Tried many times!

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