Odyssey House Louisiana (OHL) is a nonprofit behavioral health care provider with an emphasis on addiction treatment. OHL was established in 1973 as a nonprofit residential substance abuse treatment facility with the mission of empowering people to conquer addiction. Today, Odyssey House offers a professional, structured and caring Therapeutic Community with comprehensive services and effective support systems that enable individuals to chart new lives and return to their communities as contributing members.
A United Way Partner Agency
Letters to the Editor The Times-Picayune, June 18, 2007
Re: “Grieving Family Says Lack of Help Doomed Son, 18” Page 1, June 13
It is with a heavy heart that I read the article regarding the loss of Milton Rey’s young life due to drug addiction.
Unfortunately, this series of regrettable events was all too predictable in a city that has extremely limited substance abuse treatment services for adults and virtually no services available to adolescents.
Post-Katrina New Orleans is ill-equipped to deal with the addiction problems of its citizens.
There are providers in the New Orleans area that provide substance abuse treatment on sliding scale fee rates, or at no cost to residents, but if you are not able to be admitted to one of these few facilities, the cost for treatment can be astoundingly unaffordable, as the Rey family found out while searching for treatment for Milton.
Currently, there is legislation in the Louisiana House of Representatives that would allow for insurance parity for substance abuse treatment so that insurance providers would be required to cover at least some of the treatment costs just like any other medical illness.
As difficult as it is for many to understand, addiction is a chronic disease; sufferers have reached beyond the point of “just quitting” and their brains have stopped functioning as clearly as those who are not using substances. This insurance parity, if voted through, would be a huge advance for the addiction field, for the state, and for its citizens.
Insurance parity obviously receives much opposition, most noticeably from insurance companies who do not want to bear the expense of adding substance abuse treatment to coverage.
However, If insurance parity had been instated years ago, perhaps Milton's life could have been spared.
Edward C. Carlson, MA, M.F.T.
Odyssey House Louisiana, Inc.