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Desperate Mother Of A Drug Addict Turns To Lawmakers For Help

CHICAGO (CBS)--With the increase of opioid addiction across the U.S., drug addiction is devastating more families than ever, and one mother in suburban Chicago is fighting to change her power to save her 24-year-old daughter's life.

Renee Portokalis started losing her daughter Danielle to drugs when she was still a student at Batavia High School. Portokalis says her daughter first started smoking pot before trying pills and eventually turning to heroin.

With Danielle entering and exiting rehab more than two-dozen times, Portokalis's fight to convince Danielle to stay clean has been fruitless, and today Portokalis faces the frightening reality that she has no idea where her daughter is.

Danielle Portokalis

What's clear, however, is that when she's under the influence she doesn't want help.

Under Illinois law, friends and family members of drug addicts have no power to force someone into treatment against their will, but the situation is much different in Kentucky and Ohio.

In those states, "Casey's Law" provides families with the option to involuntarily commit a loved one to a treatment facility--even if its against the person's will.

The law rationalizes involuntary treatment for someone addicted to drugs due to a drug-user's clouded judgement and distorted thinking as a result of ingesting drugs.

Drug use "impedes their ability to make a rational decision," the law says. "The 'bottom' for many is death. Addiction is a progressive, life-threatening disease. The best hope of survival for a person who is substance abuse impaired is intervention," according to the law.

The law allows parents, relatives, and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the person who is substance-abuse impaired. The petitioner is required to pay for the treatment, however.

If the person leaves treatment too soon, they're sent back to jail.

Social worker and addiction specialist Dr. Caitlin Simpson says the most important step is getting addicts through the door of the addiction treatment center--by whatever means necessary.

Portokalis believes court-mandated help may be her only option left.

"She's probably not happy--her brain doesn't know right from wrong," Portokalis said. "I'm not giving up--I will never give up--I love her too much," she said.

More than 120 people have signed a petition Portokalis started on

If you or a loved one needs help, has help.



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