OLYMPIA – Families with loved ones suffering from substance abuse disorders may finally have another tool to fight addiction with the passage of Ricky’s Law. HB 1713 addresses the growing substance abuse problem in Washington by aligning the substance abuse and mental health statutes and creating a unified involuntary commitment law that allows those who are harming themselves with a chemical dependency to get necessary care.
Ricky’s Law is named for Ricky Garcia, a young man who suffered for years from substance abuse disorders and was hospitalized six times with multiple near-fatal incidents. Because secure detoxification facility beds are not available, most patients, like Ricky, end up in emergency rooms or mental health facilities or even jail cells, where they cannot get the appropriate care.
“We have people dying every day due to substance abuse and right now our state discriminates against them,” said Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle), the prime sponsor of the legislation and chair of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee. “Although the two systems won’t be fully integrated until 2026, this is the right step in getting our substance abuse disorder patients appropriate care in secure detox facilities.”
HB 1713 passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 82-15 and will now be considered by the state Senate.