Spokane parents of addicted teenagers decry state law that keeps them at distance

When Vanessa Schultz was released from the hospital at the end of June, it was time for her to make a decision.

The 17-year-old – who struggles with mental health and addiction – could go into intensive inpatient treatment. Or intensive outpatient treatment. Or neither.

Regardless of her choice, her adoptive parents, Kevin and Rochelle Schultz, wouldn’t have much input.

That’s because Washington state law allows anyone over the age of 13 to make their own medical decisions.

“The child has to be willing to engage and if the child is not willing to engage, you’re kind of stuck,” Kevin Schultz said in an April interview.

This spring, Vanessa Schultz went missing for two months after spending 62 days in treatment at Daybreak Youth Services. Like the majority of addicts who have been in and out of treatment, she had already relapsed several times before.

Then, on June 10, she was picked up by a police officer and sent to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center’s child psychiatric unit.

The psychiatrist at the hospital – who believed Vanessa needed intensive inpatient treatment – suggested the Schultzes hire someone to forcibly remove her to another state where she could be involuntarily committed. Certain treatment centers specialize in this kind of drastic removal.

Kevin Schultz said he considered it, but the cost of those types of programs and the harm it would do to his relationship with Vanessa convinced him not to.

“What kind of resentment would Vanessa have if I had someone come and get her in the middle of the night?” he said.

Ultimately, Vanessa Schultz decided she didn’t want to go into inpatient treatment again. She didn’t see the point. Instead she started an intensive outpatient treatment plan. But on July 5, a week after her release from the hospital, she dropped off the grid again.

“The next thing we know, we’re getting a call from her on a strange phone and she’s in…

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