Op-Ed: Author David Sheff’s Drug Treatment Criticism “Irresponsible”

(Springfield, IL) – In the wake of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from a drug-overdose, the author of a Time magazine op-ed unconscionably distorted the reality of drug abuse treatment, potentially frightening away individuals, like Hoffman, who need help.

Author David Sheff outlandishly claimed (How Philip Seymour Hoffman Could Have Been Saved,” Time, February 2) “90% of those who enter addiction-treatment programs in the U.S. don’t receive evidence-based treatment.”

That’s an utterly irresponsible claim.

The author uses broad stroke generalizations of what, in his opinion, are the limitations the U.S. addiction treatment system, generalizations that are based entirely on anecdotes and conjecture.

In fact, evidence-based treatment has long formed the service core of publicly funded drug abuse treatment providers in Illinois and across the country. Period.

Additionally, one of the most obvious and glaring oversights in this article is the absence of any discussion of chronic care management. Addiction is a disease that is frequently chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal. A key feature of any chronic disease is: relapse. Assertive chronic disease management and recovery management could also have played a role in preventing Mr. Hoffman’s death, a concept embraced and adopted by professional treatment providers in the field today.

Here in Illinois, it is true we do have an escalating prescription drug and heroin crisis and, yes, our treatment system has been weakened by state budget cuts over the past five years, but it is simply unfounded to say that our providers do not employ evidence-based practices.

In fact, the Illinois Department of Human Services has engaged in performance based contracting for substance use disorder treatment services for several years, services that are evidenced based. Provider reports are not only given to the state but also they are posted online so any patient can review the outcomes.

Additionally, the federal government, through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, has implemented “National Outcome Measures” that the states must report in our annual federal block grant application. These measures are founded on evidence-based practice.

It’s unconscionable that Sheff would write and that Time would publish this kind of misinformation on such a wide scale. This blatantly inaccurate information could actually do more harm than good, deepening the stigma of addiction and undermining the ability of treatment providers to reach those in need who, after reading Sheff’s commentary, would ask themselves: why get any help?

Sheff’s foolish comments may jeopardize the lives of the very people about whom he expresses concern.

It is always heartbreaking to hear the news of another person lost to addiction. We mourn with Hoffman’s family and with the families of so many others who have succumbed to this disease. But it is wholly irresponsible to blame the very system that was responsible for providing him with many years of sobriety.

Sara Moscato Howe, CEO, Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association


Ex-Senator Maggie Crotty Honored for Successful Health Care “Batting Average”

South Suburban Council president Allen Sandusky, ex-State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) and IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

South Suburban Council president Allen Sandusky, ex-State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) and IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

(Springfield) – On her last full-day as a lawmaker, ex-State Senator Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest) snagged a health care legislative leadership award from a top Illinois advocacy group.

The Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association presented Crotty with the trade association’s annual “legislative leadership award” on addiction health care in the senator’s Springfield office on January 8.

“Maggie Crotty defines the word ‘leader’,” said Sara Moscato Howe, the organization’s CEO. “She led the effort to rescue drug treatment and prevention services on multiple occasions throughout the years when governors attempted to eliminate treatment and prevention money.”

In addition to Howe, South Suburban Council president Allen Sandusky, whose East Hazel Crest agency provides substance abuse treatment services in Chicago’s south suburbs, was also on hand to present Crotty the award.

“Maggie successfully went to bat for us so often to save our agency that she has earned her place in a legislative ‘Hall of Fame’ for the best batting average,” said Sandusky. “She’ll be missed.”

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Effingham Resident Wins $10,000 for Illinois Drug Prevention Volunteer Work

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Chicago) – Effingham resident Rob Grupe was awarded $10,000 in Chicago last Friday for his long-time volunteer work on substance abuse prevention.

Grupe received the honor from the Lillian and Larry Goodman Award for Excellence in Drug Abuse Prevention program during a symposium at Roosevelt University. The $10,000 is a gift from the Goodman Foundations.

The event was attended by Governor Pat Quinn.

Grupe, who has worked at Heartland Human Services as a prevention coordinator and a mental health counselor, volunteers with the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute and Operation Snowball, serving as a chapter leader, for 17 years.

“Rob has dedicated his entire career to preventing young people from using alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “He has been serving young people for 17 years, and he deserves this recognition for his commitment and dedication.”

“Being a positive role model is one of the core values of the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute,” said the program director Sarah Potter. “Rob is nothing short of just that. The time, energy, and effort that he gives is a perfect illustration of his selfless and giving personality.”

The private, volunteer substance abuse prevention sector is shouldering a greater burden as Illinois state government drug prevention funding has been decreased in recent years.

In fact, last year Governor Quinn proposed eliminating the entire $2.7 million state substance abuse prevention budget, but the Illinois General Assembly restored $1 million. The number of Illinois teens served by drug prevention services this year will shrink from 223,556 in fiscal year 2012 to 200,152 in fiscal year 2013, according to Howe.

“As a result of Governor Quinn’s cuts, more than 23,000 fewer Illinois teens will have access to drug prevention services and fall into the grip of drug abuse,” said Howe. “That’s just the reality.”

The founder of the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations, Larry Goodman, said, “Our State should be a model for keeping children healthy by funding drug prevention programs. It’s an investment in the safety and lives of our children.”

Howe noted that only five years ago Illinois spent over $7 million on youth substance abuse prevention, and state’s shrinking role is fueling a youth drug abuse epidemic.

“Illinois is in full retreat as far as Illinois teen drug prevention is concerned, and that retreat has unleashed a youth heroin epidemic in the suburbs and a crystal meth wildfire in downstate Illinois,” said Howe. “That’s the painful truth.”

Bestselling Author Koren Zailckas, “Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood,” to Keynote Drug Abuse Prevention Conference

Koren Zailckas

(Springfield, IL) – September 5, 2012. Koren Zailckas, the New York Times bestselling author of“Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood,” will provide the keynote address at the 2012 Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association’s (IADDA) annual conference in Lisle on September 6.

Zailckas’ speech is sponsored by the Cebrin Goodman Center, an affiliate of the Lillian and Larry Goodman Foundations.

In her book, Zailckas provides an account of her experience abusing alcohol, starting with her first sip at age 14 and continuing through harrowing binges until she successfully sought treatment at age 22.

In addition to sponsoring Zailckas’ address, the Cebrin Goodman Center has also granted 36 conference scholarships to prevention and treatment professionals throughout Illinois.

Scholarships were awarded to addiction prevention and treatment professionals with preference given to prevention providers, geographic diversity, and financial need.

“We are grateful to the Cebrin Goodman Center for their generous support of the 2012 IADDA Annual Conference,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “Information gained from the conference workshops will directly benefit those who provide prevention and treatment services to Illinois’ most vulnerable populations, particularly youth.”

Scholarships cover full conference registration and hotel accommodations at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville.

The IADDA conference will be held September 5–7 at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville.

Zailckas will speak on September 6 at 9:00 am.

Drug Treatment Advocates Applaud Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Exposure of Central Illinois Synthetic Drugs Supplier

Attorney General Lisa Madigan

(Springfield, IL) – March 27, 2012. Local law enforcement and Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s investigators took down a major Central Illinois synthetic drug supplier on Friday, capturing $110,000 worth of illegal synthetic drugs, a move that drew praise from IADDA, the state’s top drug treatment advocate group.

An informant’s tip led Madigan’s investigators, Jerseyville Police, the Jersey County Sheriff’s Department and the South Central Illinois Drug Task Force to William F. Brockman Wholesale Tobacco & Candy in Jerseyville, snagging 1,200 packages of synthetic drugs with a street value of $42,000.

“This is a major step forward in our efforts to stop the spread of synthetic drugs in Illinois,” said Attorney General Madigan. “This distributor was pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal drugs into Central Illinois. Cutting off the supply of these extremely dangerous substances at the source is a huge victory.”

The head of the state’s leading drug treatment advocacy group hailed Madigan’s announcement.

“While we know that the war on drugs will ultimately be won by cost efficient and proven effective drug treatment to neutralize addiction, the battle to end the scourge of drug abuse must be a comprehensive strategy, including law enforcement operations to eliminate the illegal drug trade,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

“We applaud Attorney General Madigan’s blow against this alleged drug supplier which is responsible for devastating lives and communities in Central Illinois.

Investigators also grabbed an additional 1,500 packages valued at $68,000, from the home of a Brockman Wholesale employee. The wholesaler is suspected of supplying synthetic drugs, like fake pot and fake cocaine, to retailers from Benton to Decatur.

“We know this is not the end to these dangerous drugs, but no doubt this action will put a dent in the fight we have waged in Jersey County for a couple of years now,” Sheriff Mark Kallal said.

“Synthetic drug usage is growing which represents a very dangerous threat to the young people of our area,” said Jerseyville Police Chief Brad Blackorby. “We are eager to get them off the street and appreciate the combined efforts of Attorney General Madigan and our agencies.”

Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Budget Eliminates Drug Prevention for 34,593 Illinois Youth

Illinois substance abuse prevention funding cuts are a ritual in Illinois. But IADDA and its supporters have repeatedly fought back–and won.

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ alcohol and drug prevention advocates today denounced Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed budget for next year, saying it will eliminate drug prevention services for more than 34,593 Illinois youth.

“This budget will break the back of Illinois’ drug prevention system helping youth while a heroin and synthetic drug epidemic is sweeping Illinois,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

Quinn’s newly unveiled fiscal year 2013 budget eliminates $2.6 million or 100% from the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Family and Community Services for prevention which will reduce the number youth being target for drug prevention.

In fiscal year 2008 Illinois spent $7.5 million in state money on youth prevention.

“The days of heroin use being confined to the wrong people in the wrongs are gone. It is a plague of all communities, all incomes and all children,” said Wayne Hunter, Lake County sheriff chief of administration, Daily Herald, January 31, 2012.

In Lake County, heroin deaths increased 130% from 2000 to 2009. In McHenry,  in three years heroin deaths zoomed 150% higher. In Will County, in two years, deaths doubled.

In addition to heroin, synthetic drug use, like “K2”, “Spice” and “Bath Salts”, is an escalating problem among youth, said Howe.

“Illinois had one of the highest call rates to the Poison Control Centers for these synthetic drugs in 2010 and 2011,” said Howe.

“Year after year after year an Illinois governor has tried to completely eliminate successful drug prevention programs to save a little money up front, but  such a move just ignites youth addictions, while a heroin and synthetic drug epidemic is sweeping the Chicago suburbs and down state Illinois,” said Howe.


Advocates Hail Quinn Signature on Meth Disruption Law, But Warn against Budget Cuts to Drug Prevention, Treatment Funding

Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Associaiton CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) ­– January 20, 2012. Illinois’ leading drug prevention and treatment advocacy group today welcomed Governor Pat Quinn’s signature on legislation that helps to disrupt Illinois meth production, but also warned the governor that the state’s efforts to combat drug abuse will falter if the already shrunken funding for prevention and treatment is reduced further in next year’s Illinois budget.

The new law signed by Quinn makes permanent a pilot program initially created to electronically track pseudoephedrine purchases that could be used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

“This program is a valuable tool that helps us prevent meth from getting into our communities by stopping production,” said Quinn. “Tracking the sales of items commonly used to manufacture meth has enabled us to nip production in the bud, and it is important to continue this program.”

The Methamphetamine Precursor Tracking Act took effect in 2009 and required pharmacies to track and block excessive purchases of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Since its implementation, the program has blocked more than 103,319 boxes – or 230,330 grams – of pseudoephedrine from being used for methamphetamine production in communities throughout Illinois, according to Quinn.

“Because this is an important tool to disrupt meth production, we welcome Governor Quinn’s signature on this law,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

“However, the principal line of defense against drug abuse in Illinois is drug prevention and treatment, for which state funding has been cut 30% since 2007,” said Howe. “To protect communities, we need Governor Quinn to shield the Illinois prevention and treatment budget from further cuts next year.”

Illinois’ non-Medicaid funding for prevention and treatment has fallen from $118 million in 2007 to $83 million this year, reducing the number of Illinois residents in treatment from 84,167 to 45,149, according to the most recent data.

“Unfortunately, meth production is starting to increase again across the state,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

“Attorney General Madigan’s warning about rising meth production underscores the consequence of Illinois’ prevention and treatment budget cuts,” said Howe. “That’s why we need Governor Quinn to preserve Illinois addiction prevention and treatment funds.”

Quinn is scheduled to unveil his fiscal year 2013 Illinois budget proposal on February 22.

Governor Pat Quinn Signs Budget Bill to Restore $28 Million to Illinois Substance Abuse Treatment Services

(Springfield, IL) – Governor Pat Quinn yesterday signed legislation that restores $28 million to Illinois substance abuse treatment services that were cut inadvertently earlier this year.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2412, reallocated money within the current Illinois budget to reinstate the treatment funding.

“We are thankful to Governor Quinn for signing the measure into law,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

The following budget line items were restored:

  • Addiction Treatment Medicaid: $7.6M
  • Addiction Treatment Services: $16.9M
  • Addiction Treatment for DCFS Clients: $2M
  • Addiction Treatment for Special Populations: $1.5M

The bill also includes $30 million for community-based mental health services, mental health centers, burial services for the homeless and the poor, homelessness prevention programs, and need-based financial aid for college students.

Finally, the legislation will ensure that no state-run mental health or developmental disability centers will be closed this fiscal year.

“The tireless advocacy efforts of IADDA and its member agencies were key to achieve this significant victory,” said Howe. “And the leadership and the commitment of State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz and State Senator Heather Steans were absolutely central in the successful restoration.”

The current state budget runs until June 30, 2012.

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske Headline Forum on Drug Prevention, Treatment

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Chicago, IL) – Illinois drug prevention and treatment advocates, Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske will debate the impact of Federal and local initiatives to combat recidivism and substance abuse at a forum in Chicago on Monday, October 17.

The forum, which will include Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe, will feature two panels that will discuss Federal initiatives in the Chicago area.

Those initiatives include drug prevention programs and drug courts. Panelists will also discuss the successes of local drug treatment and adjudication programs benefiting the health and safety of local communities.

The forum will take place at A Safe Haven, 2750 W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago on Monday, October 17 beginning at 9:00 A.M.

Davis is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives, and lead sponsor of the Second Chance Act, which authorizes federal grants to entities that provide drug treatment, mental health care, housing and jobs for people newly released from prison.

Kerlikowske, who assumed his White House drug czar post on May 7, 2009, has served as Chief of Police in four cities and worked in the United States Justice Department. His longest term as a Chief of Police was between July 2001 and March 2009 in Seattle, Washington.

The panel participants include:

Panel 1

 Panel 2

Fresh Round of Illinois Budget Cuts Shutter Substance Abuse Treatment Services in Central Illinois

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) – Another punishing round of Illinois state government budget cuts to substance abuse treatment services approved by the legislature in May, averaging 26%, is triggering program closures and employee layoffs in Central Illinois.

“Though the Illinois General Assembly restored 75% of the substance abuse cuts proposed by Governor Pat Quinn, the 25% cut approved by lawmakers is still forcing program closures and employee layoffs,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

The Illinois fiscal year 2012 budget signed by Quinn, which began on July 1, reduces state funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment from $63 million in fiscal year 2011 to $47 million this year. In fact, over the past five years state funding has declined from $112 million to $47 million, according to Howe.

The latest round of budget cuts has forced the recent announcements of planned closures of treatment programs in both Champaign and Peoria.

The Urbana-based Prairie Center closed its detox program, which serves individuals from 62 Illinois counties, on September 1, eliminating service to 700 to 800 people and laying off 7 employees. The Illinois Department of Human Services, led by Secretary Michelle Saddler, cut $450,000 from The Prairie Center’s budget this year.

“Hospitals and emergency rooms will also be notified regarding the impact of these cuts,” said Bruce Suardini, The Prairie Center CEO. “Between 700 and 800 patients will lose services each year.”

In Peoria, the Human Services Center is closing its women’s residential treatment program, eliminating capacity for 125 women annually and laying off 27 employees on September 23, 11 of whom will come from the women’s program. Saddler’s agency cut $2,000,000 from the Human Services Center budget this year.

“It’s shameful that the State is limiting access to treatment for women in need and turning them out of their shelter” said CEO Fred Nirdé.

Howe is calling on the governor and top human service budget lawmakers to restore funding to this year’s budget for substance abuse prevention and treatment.

“Governor Quinn and State Representative Sara Feigenholtz and State Senator Heather Steans need to restore funding to prevention and treatment services as soon as possible to avoid the piece-meal collapse of an Illinois behavioral health care system that is already in shambles,” said Howe.