Your article "Probe of 5 drug deaths" [News, Feb. 1] is a reflection of the hold that addiction has on our communities. Law-enforcement officers work hard to track the distribution chain and cut it off, but people who are addicted will continue to pursue other options unless they get help.
Treatment access has become very difficult in a misguided effort to curtail health care spending. Insurance companies say the outcomes for those who go into treatment are often poor, and they won't readily pay for it. Unfortunately, relapse is sometimes part of the recovery process and shows how strong addiction can be.
We would not tolerate insurance companies denying cancer treatment because there is potential for relapse. Sometimes insurers make decisions based on the negative publicity they would get if they denied care to people with cancer.
Addiction is sadly not viewed the same way. We must reduce this stigma by continuing to educate the public about the nature of addiction and how it destroys lives and families. Health care providers should take the same aggressive approach as with any other treatment-resistant disease.
Kristie Golden, Stony Brook
Editor's note: The writer is the administrator of Stony Brook University's Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Science.