Letters: Getting a fix on heroin

Heroin evidence from the DEA Public Information New

Heroin evidence from the DEA Public Information New York Field Division. (Credit: DEA NY)

There were two tragedies recently: the death of the esteemed, transcendent actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the ensuing investigation to bring the people who sold him the drugs to justice ["2 released in drug probe," News, Feb. 7].

Parading the capture of the four people creates a distorted image. My cousin Jeffrey died of a heroin overdose in 2012 and my boyhood friend Keith passed in 2010. I never heard a word about the search for their killers.

More will undoubtedly die, but the question must always be asked, what is being done?

Andrew Chapin, Bellmore

Your Opinion pages contained four excellent pieces on the heroin epidemic plaguing not just Long Island but the nation. Linda Ventura's account of the senseless loss of her 21-year-old son in 2012 [" 'Heroin morphs into the beast of addiction,' " Opinion, Feb. 9] underscores the opiate-addiction crisis.

Many insurance companies deny long-term residential treatment for opiate addicts. I support New York State Senate bill S4623, which would direct insurers to cover detoxification and rehabilitation based on a physician's recommendation.

Unfortunately, government is ineffective, and that is part of the problem. We need a team of community people and professionals to chart a more comprehensive course of action for people battling addiction.

The John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility, now closed, could be a long-term residential treatment center for addiction as an alternative to incarceration. That proposal is sinking into oblivion because of government's ineffectiveness.

The Rev. Francis Pizzarelli, Port Jefferson

Editor's note: The writer is the founder of Hope House Ministries, which helps homeless teens and young adults.

I read Linda Ventura's account of her unsuccessful struggle to rescue her son from addiction. As a mother, my heart goes out to her and everyone who has lost a loved one to heroin or any substance.

Even so, I am against Senate bill S4623, which would make it more difficult for health insurance companies, including those that provide Medicaid coverage, to deny payment for substance abuse treatment. This proposed law is being promoted by substance-abuse treatment providers who have a vested financial interest.

Ventura said her son was in multiple programs -- detoxification, inpatient rehabilitation and outpatient rehabilitation -- and that he returned home from a 21-day program and died the next day. The substance-abuse treatment he received was apparently a failure.

This relapse is not unusual. Society does not have unlimited funds to spend on health care.

Do we continue to throw good money after bad for a relatively small group of chronic and treatment-resistant addicts? Or would we be better off spending these funds on preventive care or expanding access to health care for our children? I know which choice I would make.

Alexandra Bilinski, Riverhead

As the father of an 8-year-old boy, I was stirred as I read the various accounts of the heroin epidemic. But what is missing in the discussion is, what is the state of mind of a person who is drawn to drugs?

The important philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, founded by educator Eli Siegel, shows that in every person there is a deep desire to like the world and see meaning and value in it. The other desire is to feel the world is a mess, have contempt for it, and feel superior to everyone and everything.

When we feel contempt, we think nothing matters much, including the subjects in school. It's then that drugs can lure us quickly away and be so appealing.

Matthew D'Amico, Lynbrook

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