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Mother Fights for Substance Abuse Treatment Bill

Sharon Blair has been on a crusade since January 2009, when she had to identify the body of her daughter, Jennifer Reynolds, who died of a prescription drug overdose. Sharon Blair is working to pass a new law called the Jennifer Act, that would extend the treatment options available for those struggled with substance abuse problems in Florida.

Pushing for the Jennifer Act

Ms. Blair believes that there are holes in the law that could better serve family members who wish to get help for their loved ones with substance abuse issues. Currently, Florida law has the Marchman Act, which allows a loved one of someone suffering from substance abuse to petition the court for an involuntary assessment that can possibly lead to court ordered treatment. In addition, the Baker Act provides for a 72-hour psychiatric hold for those suffering from substance abuse.

While some counties such as Palm Beach typically grant a Marchman Act petition, Ms. Blair wants to extend the law through the Jennifer Act in order to provide more opportunities for treatment for those suffering from substance abuse. In fact, it is her mission to provide more resources for family members to get their loved ones the treatment that they need to break the cycle of addiction.

Details of the Jennifer Act

The Jennifer Act has gone through a few different iterations since 2009, but the most recent version of the bill that was filed in the Florida House and Senate addresses the issues of mental illness and substance abuse. It seeks to create a new program with the Florida Department of Children and Families that would allow a family member of someone in need to request comprehensive involuntary substance abuse treatment for up to 14 days.

In addition, the bill would allow the state to start tracking and researching long-term treatment options for people suffering from substance abuse and mental illness. However, this process has not been without its struggles. Ms. Blair has advocated for the act in six different legislative sessions, and many legislators across the state have told her that the issue is more a problem of willpower on the part of those suffering from addiction. She found that there is not always a clear understanding of substance abuse, mental illness, or treatment services.

Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research now shows that drug abuse does alter the makeup of the brain. The report states that “We now know that while the initial decision to use drugs is voluntary, drug addiction is a disease of the brain that compels a person to become singularly obsessed with obtaining and abusing drugs despite their many adverse health and life consequences.” To help push forward the Jennifer Act, Ms. Blair has partnered with drug prevention nonprofit organizations to educate and bring awareness to younger people throughout Florida about the dangers of substance abuse.

Call a Florida Substance Abuse Attorney Now

If your or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse in the West Palm Beach area and you would like to know about what your options are, let the experienced attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associates help. Call the office or contact us today for a private and free review of your case.

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