To the editor of THE EAGLE:

I am responding to a recent article entitled, "Mass. health insurance parity pushed." I agree that mental health and substance abuse are illnesses and should be treated as such. I admire Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli and Sen. Benjamin Downing for addressing this issue. However, I disagree with their views of "diversion controls" which are running astray.

The solutions to opiate dependency and other addictions are not harsher prison sentences, insurance payments, FDA regulations, education, toxicology screens nor the outdated legislation called Section 35.

I am an educator whose students discover very quickly that education on many issues is not the answer. If it was, no one would smoke, obesity wouldn’t exist and STDs would have been eliminated years ago. It is not up to the insurance companies to fix opiate abuse problems or other addictions. My homeowner’s insurance is not responsible for a leaky roof that I have ignored for years.

Henry David Thoreau touched on the answer many years ago in the following statement; "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." The root of the problem lies in addictive personality traits and belief systems which are common threads among many addicts, and for many, these begin early in life. Our society has the quick fix mentality, with this dysfunction being passed down from generation to generation.

The solution is in the root. Identify addictive traits at a young age. In other words -- fixing the problem is fixing the problem before the problem exists.

BETSEY HALLIHAN

Ashley Falls

The writer is professor emeritus at CUNY.