Chicago Area Heroin Abuse Worst in the Country; Governor Pat Quinn Cuts Illinois Drug Prevention, Treatment Budget 30%

Heroin leaves its mark.

(Chicago, IL) — While the Chicago-area has been earning the infamous distinction of having a heroin abuse problem more extreme than anywhere else in the country in the last decade, according to a new report, Illinois has cut its drug prevention and treatment by more than 30% in the last two years.

The new state budget proposed by Governor Pat Quinn will slash Illinois drug prevention treatment for more than 2,500 Illinois residents, including drug prevention for 1,000 youth.

“For those of us in the drug prevention and treatment system, the explosion of heroin abuse among suburban Chicago youth is something we already knew,” said Eric Foster, Chief Operating Officer of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association, referring to a new heroin usage report released today by Roosevelt University.

“In fact, all year, we were warning lawmakers and the governor’s office of the escalating heroin problem, pleading with them not to cut prevention and treatment funding,” said Foster. “But funding got cut anyway.”

“Governor Quinn’s budget cuts to the Illinois addiction healthcare system will eliminate care for more than 2,500 people, including drug prevention for1,000 youth,” said Foster.

Since 1995, the number of Illinois women in drug, alcohol treatment has surged 41%, but Quinn this year is still cutting treatment services by 8%, which will toss more than 2,500 out of treatment, of whom nearly 1,000 are women.

Quinn’s budget cuts to the Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse budget for community treatment providers and funds for addiction prevention for community prevention providers are on top of a 22% cut last year.

“Relentless budget cuts are forcing the Illinois addiction healthcare system into a death spiral and women and youth confronting heroin are increasingly suffering the brunt of the budget pain,” said Foster.

In FY 2009, there were 89,909 individuals receiving treatment services, down from 101,105 in FY 2008, an 11.6% decrease.

“By further strangling the drug treatment system, threats to public safety by heroin will boil over,” said Foster.

In 2009, a resurgent heroin crisis killed more than 100 people in Northern Illinois alone, a crisis that is zeroing in on local teens. Meanwhile, Quinn’s proposed budget will eliminate drug prevention for more than 1,000 youth.

“The threat to public safety is not a hypothetical threat,” said Foster. “There are young people whose lives will be sacrificed to heroin because of prevention funding cuts.”

“We urge Speaker Michael Madigan, Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, Minority Leader Christine Radogno and Governor Quinn to adjust the new state budget to eliminate drug prevention and treatment budget cuts.”

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