My Commentary- Bloomington Herald Times 5/29/09
People fighting addictions need more treatment options
This column was written by Bloomington part-time resident Sharon Blair, who wrote “The Jennifer Act” for consideration in Florida.
I am writing to voice my overwhelming agreement with the comments made regarding treating the drug addicted who are incarcerated.
Those of us who have or had a loved one who is substance addicted (drug or alcohol) know the pain and suffering of watching a loved one destroy
themselves and not having the ability to stop the insanity with their own will power alone. They need intervention and professional help. Most of the
time, left untreated, they end up incarcerated or dead.
Drug treatment and rehabilitation for the addicted should be mandatory for those who cannot help themselves. I am working on this very issue of drug
treatment for the addicted. I have written an amended new (bill) law, The Jennifer Act, after my daughter recently died at age 29. I have walked beside my
daughter for over a decade as she struggled to live every day with an addiction. I know where the system can help the families who are intervening in
a life-and-death situation of addiction.
This bill will be drafted next month in Florida with the help of a local senator and representative, along with the help of the director of the Office of Drug
Control in Tallahassee. I am working very hard on this new law. A formulated plan of immediate assistance to families in crisis of a loved one addicted
is my mission.
My Web site explains the Jennifer Act; it is www.TheJenniferAct.com.
I have also contacted Indiana Gov. Daniels and Rep. Peggy Welch here in Bloomington to address this new law in Indiana as well. An article on the
Jennifer Act ran in St. Petersburg Times Easter Sunday, April 12. I have been receiving an overwhelming number of e-mails since the article was
published, confirming there is a great need to help families who are in this crisis.
I pray this new bill will be introduced and passed in Florida and Indiana, and help can come for those who are addicted and for the families trying
desperately to intervene. In extreme situations, involuntary drug treatment is sometimes necessary and can save lives. It is my prayer that God uses
me as a vessel to bring hope and help for those in the terrible bondage of addiction.
How an idea becomes a Law: During session, legislators work on making new laws or changing old laws. Each member also works on several committees where the effects of laws on the people in our state are studied. Any member of either house can make suggestions for new laws. These suggestions, called bills, are studied in committee. The committee can change the bill, accept the bill, or reject the bill. If the bill is changed or accepted by the committee it is then sent to the full house. The full house then votes weather to accept the bill as it is, change the bill, or reject the bill.
Passage of a bill occurs when the bill is accepted by a majority of the members of one house. The passed bill goes to the other house of the Legislature for review; that means a bill passed in the Senate goes to the house for review. The bill goes through the same process in the second house as it did in the first house. When a bill is passed by both houses, it is sent to the Governor for action. The Governor either signs the bill, allows the bill to become law without his signature, or vetoes the bill. All the laws are compiled to form the Florida Statutes. In Indiana, the Indiana Statues.