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Editorial 4/22/2014
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Heroin Victims
presented by Peter Kohler

After a big drug bust in Holtsville, Suffolk DA Tom Spota announced charges against a couple for dealing massive amounts of drugs while up to ten children were playing in their house.

But his thoughts were with the victims.

“They sold to addicts whose lives were being destroyed because of these habits,” Spota said. “They destroyed the lives of the families of these addicts, and, of course, the people of Suffolk County were also suffering.”

What can be done to salvage lives being destroyed by heroin?

State Sen. Kemp Hannon of Garden City aims to answer this question with legislation requiring health insurers to provide better treatment options.

At a recent state senate hearing on the heroin epidemic, Hannon had this to say: “Given the scourge of the heroin addiction in the suburbs these days, we have to find something that works.”

Hannon’s bill would require health insurance companies to provide more treatment options for drug and alcohol addicts, including residential care that often takes 30 days.

Health insurers, however, favor outpatient treatment, because they believe abusers should first fail, if need be, in a less costly outpatient setting.

But Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds says treatment reforms can’t wait.

“Until we make treatment as available as heroin is on the streets, we’re not going to get a foothold on this problem,” said the Long Island Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence executive director.

Of course, drug treatment is no panacea. But Hannon’s bill correctly insists that health insurance should provide a wider range of treatment options, and that doctors and medical professionals–not insurance providers–should call the shots.

Ellen McMahon
Huntington Station, NY
I think it should be mentioned that the reason many of our children are becoming addicted to heroin is because of the pain pills doctors are prescribing like candy. Most of our heroin addicts started on oxy, then, because they cannot afford to keep up that expensive habit, resort to heroin for a cheaper but same type of high. Hold our doctors and pharmaceutical companies responsible for these addicts.

Merrick, NY
You can’t shut down the grocery stores because people are becoming obese from all the cookies they are buying from them. If there is a demand, there will be a supply. Unfortunately, there will most likely always be a demand for illegal drugs. Heroin has been ruling low income households for decades. Now that heroin is migrating to the suburbs, it is suddenly a problem. The upper-class suburbanites don’t need nearly as much assistance with treatment and insurance policies as their less fortunate neighbors. Heroin is a serious problem that clouds your judgment. All you think about is how you will get your next high. When you have no job and no income, selling heroin to the upper class is a great way to make money. The bottom line is we need to help heroin addicts everywhere, in every walk of life. The upper class has more resources than anyone. Let’s help people who really need it.

Manorville, NY
Health insurers are completely wrong in thinking that outpatient treatment is the effective method. I can say from my own recovery experience that inpatient treatment–long term–is the most effective, and I mean over 30 days. If I did not have health insurance I would not have been able to get the proper and best treatment available to overcome my addiction to prescription pain killers. Most addicts and their families do not have the money for treatment. Therefore, not enough people are getting the care that they need. Until better treatment facilities are available you will only see this epidemic get worse and worse. I went to treatment in South Florida where there are sober living facilities, rehabs, and hundreds of meetings each week. More action needs to take place on Long Island to help those who are sick and suffering in this disease.
Task force to examine the rise in use of heroin and other opioids in New York State
LICADD’s mission is to address the addictive climate of our times by providing initial attention and referral services to individuals, families, and children, through intervention, education and professional guidance to overcome the ravages of alcohol and other drug-related problems
Dec 20, 2009
It was a shocking example of how heroin dealers connect with Long Island teens. Suffolk DA Tom Spota recently announced the arrests of dealers from two heroin rings operating from Brooklyn and Queens, among the 14 indicted was a West Babylon mother of two: “She was going in purchasing approximately 500 to1,000 bags a week,” Spota said, “bringing them back to the Island to sell them to customers as young as 17 years of age…”