Eye opening public hearing on Adolescent Drug Addiction Crisis in Connecticut

July 2, 2012
L to R - Rep. Rob Sampson, Margaret Arseniadis, Karen Zaorski and Sen. Joe Markley

L to R – Rep. Rob Sampson, Margaret Arseniadis, Karen Zaorski and Sen. Joe Markley

Hartford, CT – Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington), a ranking member on the Human Services Committee, along with members of the Program Review Committee listened to more than five hours of at times heartbreaking public testimony on the adolescent drug addiction crisis in Connecticut.

Southington parent Mary Marcuccio, founder of Parents 4 A Change Inc. testified, “Overall, the youth substance abuse treatment ‘system’ is very broken, and desperately in need of repair. Insurance companies are the driving force behind this fracture, as they seem to view drug abuse/addiction with what I call ‘broken leg syndrome’ — just patch him up and send him home.”

“It was deeply troubling to hear testimony from parents who struggled to help their children through addiction, from a mother who lost her son to drug abuse. It was experiences like these, related to me by parents and children in my district, which moved me to propose this study to the committee,” said Senator Markley. “I think legislators who had not heard such stories before were moved as I was. I believe we can work together to make sure young people struggling with addiction receive the help they need.”

Two programs–one in Wolcott called Cross Roads and Parents 4 A Change Inc. –were first to point out potential problems with state services. The common thread among the groups was concern that the state is overwhelmed by the demands involved in helping adolescents with an addiction.

Danelle D’Angelo, the parent of an addicted teen, testified that she would like to see the state look into fixing insurance rules that apply to billing questions. “We are legally and financially responsible for our son,” D’Angleo said. “Yet, I was told to download a consent form and have my 16 year old sign it so that I could get permission on a billing question. How can a 16 year old with mental health issues and substance abuse issues be considered the adult in charge?”

Some of the other issues brought forth to committee members:

  • Insurance companies should support long term detox and rehab stays
  • Align insurance company criteria with clinically appropriate recommendations

Senator Markley suggested this topic to committee members, and they supported his call to dig deeper into the issue. The superb staff of the Program Review Committee will now be tasked with providing committee members with a comprehensive study on the programs used to combat adolescent drug abuse. The goal will be to strengthen the response so families will be comforted by the help available through the state.