Jake* had been in recovery from his opioid addiction for thirteen years when a judge ordered him to discontinue his treatment with the medication Suboxone within 90 days or face incarceration. When he called the Legal Action Center, he was terrified. In the past thirteen years, Jake had built a life that he loved. He had a supportive partner and a beautiful toddler to care for. He had a good job and a comfortable home. He was happy and healthy – and he didn’t want to lose it all by relapsing. He believed that discontinuing his treatment could cost him everything, and ultimately, might kill him. Jake asked us if we could help him fight the order. He said:
“For me, this drug has been a miracle. I know hundreds of people who can’t get into a clinic to get treatment. All they want is to get well and take care of their families like me.”
Working together with Jake’s pro-bono defender and probono counsel from the law firm of Paul Weiss, we argued that making discontinuation of treatment a condition of Jake’s probation violated New York’s Penal Law and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. We prevailed on Jake’s behalf, and the court permitted him to continue taking his medication. He is proud to be coming up on his fourteenth year in recovery from addiction and is continuing to live a life the he loves.
Jake credits the Legal Action Center’s advocacy with saving his life. “LAC did everything for me. I am alive because of them.”
*Clients’ names are changed to protect their confidentiality.