Letter: Shortsighted cuts to drug treatment

File photo of small bags of heroin and File photo of small bags of heroin and syringes. (Dec. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: New York State Police

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Regarding the escalating drug problem on Long Island ["Deadly turn to heroin," News, March 11], six months ago, County Executive Edward Mangano held a news conference on the growing heroin and prescription pill problem in Nassau County. He stood with the mothers of children who died from drug overdoses.

To remedy this he announced that Nassau had been certified by the New York State Department of Health to train its employees, as well as families of at-risk individuals, in administering the overdose-reversal agent Narcan to anyone who has ingested large amounts of opioids like heroin.

Any step to save lives is welcome. However, at the news conference there was no mention of $7.3 million in human services funding that was cut on July 5, 2012, which included $1.75 million for outpatient drug treatment.

I am reminded of the parable about the small village on the edge of a river. One day a villager saw a baby floating down the river. He jumped in the river and saved the baby. The next day he saw two babies floating down the river. He and another villager dived in and saved them. Each day that followed, more babies were found floating down the river. The villagers organized themselves, training teams of swimmers to rescue the babies. They were soon working around the clock.

Although they could not save all the babies, the rescue squad members felt good and were lauded for saving as many babies as they could. However, one day, one of the villagers asked: "Where are all these babies coming from? Why don't we organize a team to head upstream to find out who's throwing the babies into the river in the first place!"

Mobilizing county resources to pull babies from the river while simultaneously cutting back on activities to prevent the babies from being tossed into the river in the first place makes no sense.

Andrew Malekoff, Long Beach

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Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the nonprofit North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights.

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