Parents of heroin victims push New York lawmakers to help others

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Kristin Thorne talks to the parents behind the proposed law. (WABC)

Nick Carbonaro's mom will tell you her son wasn't a bad person. He just made some bad decisions.

"I know what I know. He was sensitive. He had a great heart," Lori Carbonaro said.

After struggling with addiction for years in February he died of a heroin overdose. "I wake him up the next morning, I couldn't get him up," she said.

Carbonaro says one of the biggest obstacles to getting Nick help -- her insurance company.

They consistently told her Nick didn't need inpatient detox treatment.

If he wanted it, he would first have to fail outpatient treatment.

"When you have that window of opportunity and they deny you, that person, that addict, feels like they've failed even before they started to try/. You're telling them no," Carbonaro said.

A bill being considered right now in Albany will help improve addicts access to treatment.

Linda Ventura, a mother from Long Island, has been fighting for the legislation.

Her son, Thomas, died two years ago from an overdose.

She too had to deal with repeated denials from her insurance to get her son into treatment.

She brings to Albany this plastic container with her son's ashes and tells legislators "this is what failure looks like."

"There's no price you can put on the life of anyone so why are they putting a price tag on the lives of addicts," said Linda Ventura, who created the group Thomas' Hope after her son's death.

The bill will require insurance companies to have an addiction expert review all cases when deciding someone's course of treatment. In addition, if a person appeals a denial of treatment the insurance company will have to pay for treatment throughout the appeal process. This bill doesn't go as far as many supporters wanted but they say it's a start. The bill must pass by the 19th.

"If you believe in it, don't poo poo it. Don't shut up. Make the phone call, write the letter, get on the email. Do something about it," Ventura said.

If you are a family struggling to get your loved one into treatment you can contact The Addict's Mom ( which offers free 24/7 support for the mothers of addicted children.

You can also contact Long Island-based Thomas' Hope on Facebook.
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