WOODBURY - The challenge for heroin addicts, and in many cases the challenge for their parents as well, is getting help before it is too late.
In part three of the series Heroin: Addicted on Long Island, Rich Barrabi finds that the proper treatment can be hard to find, and hard to pay for.
On July 16, 2013, Kathy Koenigsdorf, of East Islip, got a call that from her son Jake's drug counselor saying Jake suffered a fatal heroin overdose at the age of 21.
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Jake's death put an end to Kathy's struggle to get help for her son. She told News 12 there was a long wait for a hospital detox bed to get the drug physically out of his system. Then, the insurance company refused to pay for anything but outpatient visits to counselors.
Finally, Kathy says she ran into a harsh reality when she realized even if you can find the money, there's no guarantee there will be room at a 24/7 live-in rehab center.
Experts say heroin victims must get help immediately, with no delays. The state legislature recently passed laws to crack down on insurance companies who allegedly drag their feet on paying for treatment.
State Sen. Phil Boyle, of Bay Shore, says insurance companies can no longer require a person to fail in outpatient care before authorizing inpatient treatment, and they must follow the state's rules instead of their own when determining an addict's treatment plan.
Kathy says she's determined to help others escape the same fate her son endured and started a foundation in her son's name. The foundation has already helped more than 90 people addicted to heroin get into long-term programs.