Drug Treatment Center Collapses; Exasperated Advocates Point Finger of “Moral Culpability” at Illinois Elected Officials

IABH CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) – The slated closure of a Central Illinois addiction treatment center because of Illinois’ budget crisis has pushed exasperated behavioral health advocates to demand that Illinois’ top elected leaders “do their job” or face “moral culpability” for “abetting heroin crisis.”

The Jacksonville-based Wells Center, which provides a 32-inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment program, announced on Friday that it will close in April and layoff all 33 employees.

Wells Center, which serves 500 clients annually, is owed approximately $1.4 million from the state, which provides 70 percent of its funding.

“The Wells Center closure is an another self-inflected wound in a long list of self-inflicted wounds committed by the state’s elected leaders,” said Illinois Association for Behavioral Health CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “We ask our elected leaders to stop marching in parades; stop schmoozing at political fundraisers; stop working the rubber-chicken circuit and, instead, focus like a laser on a budget deal. Period. Nothing else matters.”

Illinois has gone 21 months without a full fiscal year budget.

“I’m very frustrated, like many citizens are,” said Wells Center executive director Bruce Carter. “You see real people suffering.”

The loss of the Wells Center’s treatment beds amid a heroin epidemic will deepen the public health crisis sweeping rural Illinois, says Howe.

“There is a heroin wild fire burning through Central Illinois that is consuming communities overwhelmed by drug overdoses and deaths,” said Howe. “Our elected officials will bear a moral culpability for abetting the heroin crisis by letting the Wells Center collapse through their willful negligence; the governor and lawmakers need to get a budget. Now.”

sara@ilabh.org

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