New law requires faster treatment for addiction

Help did not arrive in time for Chelsea Dupuis. She was 31 when she died in 2019 from substance abuse disorder.

“She was the greatest little girl, growing up, she was an honor student in schools. She was on the swim team,” said Chelsea’s mother, Gillian Dupuis. “We loved her. I miss her every minute of every day.”

In testimony before the Legislature last January, Dupuis said her daughter wanted to get into inpatient drug treatment twice, only to be told to wait while insurance companies considered the paperwork.

So, Chelsea went from a hospital bed back to the streets and the drugs.

“On October 14, our beautiful girl left this world. She was 31 years old. Chelsea wanted to get help so badly. She wanted to get better. And I wish more than anything that she could have received that help,” said Gillian Dupuis.

Rep. Lauren Davis led the passage of a law that takes effect with the new year. It requires that people who need inpatient treatment for addiction be admitted promptly.

“You’re talking about really sick people with a chronic progressive life-threatening brain disease who are presenting for care, they’re going to be admitted into care. And then the paperwork process will occur after they’re already there,” Davis said.

In fact, in 2019, Chelsea asked two times, months apart, for inpatient treatment before giving up the wait.

“What we know about people in active addiction is they’ve got this window of willingness for treatment and that window is fleeting. And if we do not provide care for folks within that window of willingness, we may never have a second chance,” said Davis.

Gillian Dupuis added, “She needed that time in inpatient to get her brain well, you know, I mean, they need that time on the medication and in a place with a bed and food and ... all that time to help heal their brain.”

Gillian Dupuis says she feels her daughter with her all the time, and would be proud that her mother worked to help other families dealing with addiction.

Representative Davis says those who need help for themselves or a loved one can contact the Washington Recovery Helpline at 1-866-789-1511.