Number of Illinois Residents Waiting in 2008 for Alcohol, Drug Abuse Treatment Jumps 17%, Report Says

(Springfield, IL) – The estimated number of Illinois residents waiting for alcohol and drug abuse assessment and treatment at state-financed facilities in 2008 rose 17 percent in, according to a report released at a press conference in Springfield on May 1.

The report by the Survey Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago surveyed 106 Illinois community treatment providers in December 2007 and revealed 7,541 people were waiting for some form of treatment, up from 6,467 in March 2007.

“Substance abuse treatment works best when an individual is ready,” said Sara Moscato Howe, right, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association. “Turning people away at the door is unacceptable and only leads to crises for the person and the community.”

Moscato Howe said the state must invest $41 million this year to provide care to the growing number of untreated Illinois residents, to decrease wait times, and to provide relief to community service providers burdened by escalating expenses.

State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), left, is backing Moscato Howe’s call for additional money. Schoenberg is sponsoring legislation, S.B. 2886, to boost funding by $41 million in this year’s budget.

“Illinois is losing the battle against drug and alcohol abuse by failing to care for those who need treatment,” said Schoenberg. “We must stop the growing number of people forced on to waiting lists. We must be able to provide services for those who need help by adequately funding substance abuse treatment and prevention.”

Across the state, northern Illinois has the most people, 2,168, waiting for care. The fewest, 830, is in southern Illinois. The report also estimated that 595 youth are waiting for treatment. Central Illinois has the most youth waiting for treatment with 182 on waiting lists.

The funding legislation’s fate is uncertain.

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