Chicago Tribune Reveals Faces of Heroin Crisis in Chicago; Senator Mattie Hunter Wants Gov. Pat Quinn to Restore Drug Treatment Money

(Chicago, IL) – August 2, 2010. The Chicago Tribune‘s John Keilman on Sunday portrayed five lives–an addict, a cop, a mother, a landlord and a heroin survivor–that have confronted or are confronting the Chicago heroin crisis which is at ground-zero of a national crisis.

Keilman zeroed in on the face of today’s heroin crisis: youth.

But most who pass through the door are startlingly young: suburban teens and 20-somethings whose dalliance with the drug quickly became a consuming obsession.

After looking at hospital admissions, drug test results and overdose deaths, Roosevelt University researchers concluded recently that heroin abuse in the Chicago region is more extreme than anywhere else in the country. And young suburbanites are a primary reason.

They say the drug is alluring because it’s cheap and easy to obtain. It’s powerful, too, wrapping users in a numbing cocoon that seems to keep their troubles far away. That, of course, is a lie.

The release of the Roosevelt University report has also triggered a fierce reaction by a top Illinois lawmaker.

The study comes on the heels of Illinois budget cuts to state substance abuse prevention and treatment programs and has prompted State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) to call on Governor Pat Quinn to reverse recent Illinois budget cuts to drug treatment services.

Chicago's heroin crisis is striking at suburban youth.

“To stave off the escalating heroin crisis in Illinois, I am calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to reverse the budget cuts to substance abuse prevention and treatment. These cuts are not the answer, neither clinically nor financially, for the serious challenges facing our constituents and our state,” wrote Hunter in a letter recently published in the State Journal-Register.

Hunter notes that the report by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy reveals more people in Chicago and its suburbs enter hospital emergency rooms for heroin use than in any other big U.S. city and that heroin-related deaths have escalated in Chicago’s collar counties, as heroin use among young, white suburbanites has exploded.

“As a certified alcohol and drug counselor with 18 years of experience in the field of drug treatment and prevention, I have seen first-hand the effectiveness of prevention and treatment. It works. And it is far less expensive than the emergency room and prison costs that will inevitably result in the wake of this crisis,” said Hunter, Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee.

Hunter’s appeal to Quinn for drug treatment funding restoration is drawing praise from a top drug prevention and treatment advocate.

State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) wants Gov. Pat Quinn to restore funding for drug treatment.

“Senator Hunter’s letter underscores the critical need for our services and reminds the public of the dangers of cutting the addiction prevention and treatment system. We are grateful to Senator Hunter for lending her voice to this issue,” said Sara Moscato Howe, President of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

According to Howe, the Quinn Administration cut funding for drug prevention and treatment by 22% last year and this year sliced another 8% while imposing an additional 3% budget “reserve”, meaning at least 2,500 people will lose treatment this year and approximately 1,000 youth will be cut off from prevention services.

“We can’t fight this heroin crisis raging in Chicago’s suburbs while our budgets are slashed; prevention services eliminated; and treatment care dismantled,” said Howe.

“We need to Governor Quinn to rescind budgets so we can confront the heroin killing fields in the suburbs.”

Illinois Drug, Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Treatment Faces Further Cuts in Illinois Budget

(Springfield, IL) — Governor Pat Quinn‘s proposed Illinois budget for next year plans to cut drug, alcohol abuse prevention and treatment services by 8%–on top of 22% budget cut last year.  Illinois Alcohol and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe explains the stakes in the current Illinois budget battle.

Failure of State to Pay Illinois Substance Abuse Treatment Providers Pushes Agencies to Financial Edge; Quinn, Giannnoulias, Hynes Urged to Back Short-Term Loan

Sara Moscato Howe, CEO, IADDA

(Chicago, IL) – January 11, 2010. The State of Illinois’s inability to pay its $5.1 billion backlog of bills is threatening the ability of Illinois substance abuse providers to treat the estimated 98,000 individuals annually enrolled and provide care to the children of women in treatment.

The state owes prevention and treatment providers an estimated $43 million in unpaid bills, much of that amount stretching back six months.

“Though some payments are trickling in, the state has, essentially, stopped paying treatment providers for their work,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO at the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

For example, the state owes Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) approximately $1.2 million for this fiscal year, in addition to nearly $300,000 for the previous fiscal year.

LSSI, which provides substance abuse treatment to nearly 5,000 people annually, is facing grave decisions regarding the treatment and other services it can provide if the agency continues to go unpaid.

Rev. Dr. Denver Bitner, LSSI president/CEO

“We have almost exhausted our savings and lines of credits to keep paying our employees so that our agency can continue to operate,” said the Rev. Dr. Denver Bitner, LSSI president/CEO.

In addition to its substance abuse treatment services, the major human services provider serves more than 72,000 people annually through a wide variety of services for children, families and adults of all ages, including seniors.

“The State’s failure to pay us for services we’ve already provided — some going back to last fiscal year — jeopardizes our ability to continue to provide the care and treatment that men, women and their children need,” said Bitner.

“How long could you keep your house if you boss failed to pay you for six months?”

According to Bitner, LSSI employs 163 people in its substance abuse treatment programs. Of its nearly 5,000 clients, many are women with children.

“When women come for help, they don’t come alone—they come with children,” said Bitner. “The women will lose their treatment and this will directly affect the well-being of their children

Illinois currently has a backlog of $5.1 billion in unpaid bills, and the payment cycle is, in some cases, six-months from the time a bill is submitted to the state until payment is received by a vendor.

“Program closures, client service cuts, and staff lay-offs are not empty warnings if the state continues to not pay its bills to us,” said

Diana Martinez, 32 years old; single mother with 3 children, LSSI client

Bitner. “We have taken loans to pay the state’s bills—the state should also take the loans necessary to pay its own bills.”

“Across the state, agencies like Lutheran Social Services of Illinois are taking loans to pay their bills because the state is failing to do so,” said Howe. “Governor Pat Quinn, Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Comptroller Dan Hynes need to reach immediate agreement on a short term-loan to help pay the state’s bills.”

“We have reduced our costs as much as possible. In fact, last year, we reduced our cost of providing treatment services by approximately 15 percent.

“Any further cuts will severely affect our ability to serve people and add to the state’s unemployment rolls,” added Bitner.”

News Video: Gov. Pat Quinn’s Early Release of Prisoners Will Need Money for Drug, Alcohol Treatment

(Chicago, IL) — November 14, 2009. The first early release of non-violent Illinois prisoners has begun.

Governor Pat Quinn initiated the early prisoner release as a means to reduce expenses to the deeply indebted Illinois budget. However, more than 70 percent of Illinois prisoners test positive for drugs or alcohol at the time of their arrest and treatment services are in short supply.

“To keep the early-released prisoners from returning to jail, Gov. Quinn will need to find extra money for treatment,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA).

Anthony Cole, Executive Vice President of Haymarket Center and Chairman of the IADDA board of directors, says his agency is likely to be flooded with former prisoners seeking help, but Haymarket already has a waiting list, and without more money from the state, Haymarket will be hardpressed to provide treatment quickly to the former inmates.

Watch Cole’s speak to Chicago Fox-TV’s Jack Conaty here:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Advisor Presents at Panel in Lisle on “State of Addiction Healthcare”

(Lisle, IL) – September 29, 2009. White House special advisor Dr. Kevin Sabet participated in a policy panel discussion in Lisle today to address the challenges and opportunities that face the field of substance abuse prevention and treatment.

Sabet, 30, a special advisor for policy and strategic planning at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, joined two other panelists to discuss the “State of Addiction Healthcare” in Illinois and the U.S.

The panel presentation was hosted by the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA) as part of its annual conference.

“We are pleased that the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy recognizes our work and that someone of Dr. Kevin Sabet’s stature joined our conference,” said Sara Howe, CEO of IADDA.

Sabet, who joined President Barack Obama’s Administration in August, previously worked on policy and speechwriting at White House drug control office from 2003-2004 and 2000 in both the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton Administrations, making him one of the youngest people to have served in the last three Administrations as a political appointee.

In addition to Sabet, the other panelists included Paul Samuels, Director and President, Legal Action Center and Lonnetta Albright, Director, Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center.

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Advisor Comes to Illinois for Panel on “State of Addiction Healthcare”

Kevin Sabet

Kevin Sabet

(Springfield, IL) — September 14, 2009. As part of its annual conference, the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association will host a public policy panel presentation on September 29 to discuss the challenges and opportunities that currently face the substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery field, and the panel will include Kevin Sabet, Special Advisor for Policy and Strategic Planning, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Other panelists include: Paul Samuels, Director and President, Legal Action Center and Lonnetta Albright, Director, Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center.

The panel presentation will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Lisle located at 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle and is scheduled from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Sara Howe, CEO, IADDA 217-528-7335, ext. 11.

Governor Quinn Cuts Illinois Budget for Drug Treatment 29.2%; IADDA Goes on Media Offensive to Highlight Cuts Impact

(Chicago, IL) — August 4. The total Illinois budget cuts by Governor Pat Quinn to drug treatment is 29.2 percent and the total cut for addiction prevention is 22 percent–this does not include any block grant funding or Medicaid.

Overall cuts to the addiction healthcare system as compared to FY 09 restored funding levels are as follows:


  • 29 percent cut to GRF
  • 19 percent cut including the block grant and GRF
  • 13 percent cut for all funding lines – GRF, Medicaid, Block Grant and Dedicated Funds


  • 22 percent cut to GRF
  • 5 percent cut to GRF, block grant and dedicated funds

The Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA) anticipates there will be no change to these numbers will change. In order for there to be any hope of an increase in our funding, Illinois needs to pass an income tax increase or additional revenues need to be identified for the state coffers.

At the earliest, the General Assembly may discuss a tax increase during veto session in October but we are hearing that it is more likely that the issue of an income tax increase won’t come up again until January.

IADDA has already began working on a media strategy to highlight the impact of cuts to lawmakers. CEO Sara Moscato Howe was the lead human service quote in a Chicago Tribune article on August and was interviewed by Springfield ABC-TV/CH. 20 on August 4. (Watch video).

And IADDA Board Chair Anthony Cole was on Chicago Tonight, hosted by Carol Marin, on Monday evening, August 3.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Carol Marin on Illinois Budget“, posted with vodpod

Finally, IADDA will also be addressing the disproportionate funding cuts to addiction healthcare at the state agency level in order to paint a statewide picture of how devastating these cuts are to Illinois’ communities.

Governor Quinn Vetoes Illinois Doomsday Budget, Lawmakers to Return to Springfield

(Springfield, IL) — Governor Pat Quinn has made good on his promise to veto the Illinois doomsday budget or ‘50% budget’ – SB 1197.

Quinn delivered his veto message this afternoon at his office in Springfield.

“This bill … is a halfway measure that fails to address the dire consequences of the state’s declining revenues, widening deficit, increased demand for critical human services, and the weak U.S. economy,” Quinn wrote to lawmakers.

Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the Illinois doomsday budget yesterday.

Governor Pat Quinn vetoed the Illinois doomsday budget yesterday.

Also, shortly before the Governor delivered his veto message, Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Michael Madigan announced a joint session of the Illinois Senate and House to:

‘take action on any vetoes, amendatory vetoes, or reduction vetoes by the Governor of legislation related to the budget for Fiscal Year 2010 and (ii) to consider any legislation, pending or otherwise, related in any way to the budget for Fiscal Year 2010, including but not limited to appropriation, budget implementation, or additional revenue resources.’

“While it is unknown what will transpire during the joint session on July 14, it does not change our message to legislators: they work must together with the Governor to find a permanent solution to this budget crisis when they return to Springfield,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA).

If they fail, more than 65,000 Illinois residents will struggling to overcome drug or alcohol addiction will lose substance abuse treatment services, Howe noted.

Quinn Joins 5,000 at Capitol Rally as Illinois Doomsday Budget Looms

(Springfield, IL) – Governor Pat Quinn joined more than 5,000 human service supporters, clients, and workers at a rally at the state capitol in Springfield today to protest the looming 50% funding cuts to human service providers under the Illinois General Assembly’s “doomsday” budget that begins on July 1.

Under the “doomsday” budget, Quinn’s administration is warning 65,000 people will lose drug

Doomsday rally in the state capitol today. (Photo posted originally at Capitol Fax Blog)

Doomsday rally in the state capitol today. (Photo posted originally at Capitol Fax Blog)

treatment, 175,000 will lose mental health care, 40,000 seniors will no longer have home healthcare aides, 9,000 foster parents will have their expense reimbursement halved, and more.

“This budget will destroy Illinois’ addiction healthcare system,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association. “Little will remain standing on July 1.”

The fiscal year 2010 state budget is facing a $9.2 billion deficit. Of that amount, $5 billion will cut from community human service providers.

The legislature cut $2.24 billion from the Illinois Department of Human Services, reducing, for example, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse contracts to community services providers by 75%.

Lawmakers are in the state capitol this week mulling over possible options to avoid the human service budget cuts that Quinn has warned are coming without an income tax increase.

“It is absolutely essential that the legislature pass an income tax increase,” said Don Moss, Coordinator of the Illinois Human Services Coalition.

“For the sake of the private nonprofit human service delivery system throughout our state, the alternative, as they say, is too horrible to contemplate.”

The Illinois Human Services Coalition and SEIU joined IADDA as the rally’s co-hosts.

The legislature is in special session this week to grapple with the budget crisis.

IADDA, SEIU, Other Groups to Rally 5,000 against Illinois “Doomsday” Budget at Capitol

(Chicago, IL) — More than 5,000 human service supporters, clients, and workers will rally at the state capitol in Springfield on Tuesday, June 23 to protest the looming 50% funding cuts to human service providers under the Illinois General Assembly’s “doomsday” budget that begins on July 1.

Governor Pat Quinn will address rally participants.

Under the Illinois “doomsday” budget, Quinn‘s administration is warning substance abuse prevention and treatment services will witness the elimination of 65,000 people from care, according to Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA).

IADDA, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Illinois Human Services Coalition are the rally’s co-hosts.

The rally begins at 11:30 a.m. in the capitol rotunda.