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Letter: Drug Abusers Need Treatment

I am a director at Drug Free Long Island, Inc. and Drug Free Massapequa (a volunteer). I am retired after 25 years with Nassau County and 18 years with the Town of Oyster Bay.

At the Town I was deputy town attorney and in charge of employees relations and also drug and alcohol matters. At three separate occasions, we had three individuals with drug and alcohol problems whose situations still haunt me. All three were desperately in need of long term inpatient care, over 30 days. Even I could tell by observation (as well as their doctor`s and therapists’ evaluations) that these were seriously ill people simply by listening to their speech patterns. Inpatient therapy had been ordered for them. The insurance company said no, not until they had failed two outpatient courses of treatment. The alcohol abuser had. He was initially placed for 30-60 days inpatient, but against therapist orders he was terminated from treatment after 15 days. He was dead a few weeks later.

The other two were never allowed to go inpatient. Each was dead within a fortnight. They could do nothing to get them the necessary inpatient therapy. Their doctors, family and therapists spoke to the insurance company. I, the prosecutor and those acting as judges in their cases also contacted the insurance company. All to no effect. Not one of them lasted a month after getting out of detox.

Recently. state Senator Kemp Hannon offered a bill to prevent insurance companies from denying medically mandated care. State Senator James Seward and state Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg have united to try to make it a law that insurance companies can no longer deny a person in crisis treatment desperately needed by them.

I will long remember my fights and fears for all three of those people who succumbed to their drug demons. I will eternally bless senators Hannon and Seward and Assemblyman Weisbein.

Please feel free to utilize these tragic facts, if perhaps it will save lives.

John Joseph Budnick