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Letter: Putting the ‘I’ In Illness

In “This Illness Isn’t Treated Like An Illness” (The Weekend, April 9-15), Claudia Peters Ragni makes the case that substance abusers’ addictions to alcohol, pills, and heroin “should be treated the same as other diseases” (because) “treating addicts differently from how we treat people with any chronic disease isn’t okay.” While she briefly concedes that “substance addiction is a disease with a behavioral component,” she seems unwilling to admit what an understandable difference that makes in why “it’s not looked at in the same way.”   

I don’t think it’s surprising that people tend to sympathize with “innocent victims” a lot more than with people who cause their own problems by their stubbornly-bad life choices.

Most people suffering from diseases such as muscular dystrophy, leukemia, asthma, sickle cell anemia, ALS, Parkinson’s, arthritis, rheumatism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and countless other debilitating conditions did nothing to cause it. Whether the “blame” is on bacteria, viruses or defective genes, these victims are suffering through no fault of their own. For them, it was unforseeable and unavoidable.

It’s quite different when people who were not born addicted to any substance choose to disobey their parents, ignore good advice from their teachers and preachers and sometimes even break laws and commit crimes in order to abuse their drug of choice.   

Perhaps Ms. Ragni could make a better case for equal treatment by pointing out that even people with lung cancer clearly caused by their decades-long, packs-a-day cigarette smoking usually receive the same medical treatment and insurance coverage as people whose breast or prostate cancers were not caused by their own bad habits.

Richard Siegelman

News

One local playwright and his company — The Plainview Project — seem to be headed to the big leagues.

Claude Solnik of Plainview, the Plainview Project’s writer, is married with two children. While he has a master’s degree in dramatic writing from New York University, after graduating he ended up going into journalism, which currently remains his day job. But in his free time he indulged in his true passion, hammering out numerous play scripts until the day they he realized that he needed to stop sitting on these works he was creating and put them in the hands of actors that could give them life.

Even as they hoped the parties would reach a last-minute settlement, commuters across Long Island were scrambling last week to devise alternate plans for getting to work if Long Island Rail Road’s 5,400 workers go on strike July 20. And they were vocal in their anger with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. The strike, it seems, has roused commuter ire over a wide range of LIRR issues, from timeliness to cleanliness to costs.

“I’ll have to figure out a new way home from work,” said Marco Allicastro, a 20-year-old Queens resident waiting for a train home at the Bethpage station after a day’s work at the local King Kullen. “Long Island doesn’t really have a lot of options in terms of transportation. Maybe I should get a new job.”


Calendar

Sonny And Perley

Saturday, July 26

Women Artists You Should Know

Thursday, July 31

Adult Summer Reading Club

Through Aug. 7



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com