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Drug Clinics


Dear Editor,

Each week we read in the newspapers and watch on TV reports of individuals arrested for crimes committed in Suffolk Co. by individuals under the influence of drugs or in possession of paraphernalia used (i.e. needles, syringes, pipes, etc.) to consume heroin, cocaine or marijuana. Many of these people arrested are breaking our laws be it driving under the influence of drugs, robbery, physical altercations, domestic violence, etc.

For many years we who live on the East End of Long Island denied we had a problem with substance abuse, but the evidence was there and finally we were forced to face the sad reality. Suffolk Co. Dept. of Alcohol and Substance Abuse services heard our cry for help and opened a Methadone dispensing clinic at the County Center in Riverhead. This service has helped many people on the East End and West of Riverhead to get clean from heroin and other opiate drugs. The Riverhead East End Clinic is one of a series of clinics located throughout Suffolk Co. The others are located in Huntington, Hauppauge and Babylon.

As part of a cost saving strategy the Suffolk Co. Dept. of Health has made a decision to close the Babylon location by December 31, transferring the patients serviced by that clinic to the Hauppauge, Huntington and Riverhead locations. This sounds "ok" but here is the catch. Each of the remaining clinics will be full to capacity absorbing the transfers from Babylon, resulting in the complete shutdown of admitting new patients seeking Methadone treatment anywhere in Suffolk Co.

The consequence of this action is going to have profound effects on the citizens of Suffolk Co. Some addicted individuals will have to travel to Nassau Co. or New York City on a daily basis to get methadone treatment. Many will try to buy Methadone on the black market. Others will continue to use heroin or narcotic prescription pills and commit crimes to support their addiction, some will overdose and seek medical care in our overcrowded emergency rooms, others will overdose and die, some will enter the criminal justice system and fill our overcrowded jails, while others will contract HIV or Hepatitis through bad needle sharing practices. The future is bleak if action is not taken immediately.

I am confident the Health Dept of Suffolk and the division of Mental Hygiene in particular have the insight to know their actions have broad reaching consequences for the quality of health care in Suffolk Co. We implore our elected officials to take a close look at this decision and make every effort to provide admission slots to our family members and neighbors seeking treatment for their drug addiction.

MIKE MCGUIRE
November 28, 2006

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