Landmark U.S. Surgeon General Report Lends Medical Weight to Addiction Fight as Illinois Retreats from Battlefield

spr_capitol_v2(Springfield, IL) – While a new, groundbreaking Surgeon General’s report finds alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders, commonly called addiction, to be one of America’s most pressing public health fights, Illinois is in a full financial retreat from the addiction battlefield.

“It’s time to change how we view addiction,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on November 17, 2016. “Not as a moral failing but as a chronic illness that must be treated with skill, urgency and compassion. The way we address this crisis is a test for America.”

Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders. Of those, approximately 845,201 are in Illinois.

The report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, marks the first time a U.S. Surgeon General has dedicated a report to substance misuse and related disorders.

By issuing the first-ever report on addiction, the Surgeon General has lent the weight of “medical opinion” to the classification of substance use disorders as a health care issue, according to a top Illinois behavioral healthcare advocacy group.

“The Office of Surgeon General has for the first time recognized that addiction is a chronic health care issue whose treatment must be addressed on an equal footing with other chronic health care issues, such as diabetes, hypertension, etc.,” said Illinois Association of Behavioral Health CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “Unfortunately, in Illinois, the state’s financial commitment to fight addiction has floundered.”


$1.3 Million from Feds Will Help IL Bolster Mental Health, Drug Treatment Parity

IABH CEO Sara Moscato Howe

IABH CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) – The Illinois Department of Insurance has received a $1.3 million federal grant to improve consumer and healthcare provider outreach, focusing on parity in mental health & substance use disorder benefits, and preventative health services.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to further our Administration’s coordinated efforts on mental health,” Acting Director of DOI Anne Melissa Dowling said. “These funds will help extend our outreach.”

Illinois Association Behavioral Healthcare CEO Sara Moscato Howe echoed Dowling comments.

“The grant does present an important outreach opportunity to help individuals struggling mental health or substance use disorders to get the care that they need, but otherwise may forgo by being unaware of insurance benefits to which they are entitled,” Howe said.

A portion of the grant will be directed to the Office of Consumer Health Insurance to improve data tracking and consumer complaint analysis. It will also help in increasing awareness of the internal and external appeals processes for health insurance consumers.  The grant will allow the state insurance department to develop community-focused health insurance consumer education for Illinois residents.

The state agency will also work with health plans, consumers and providers to ensure that mental health parity compliance is understood.

“I am committed to furthering this collaboration to achieve mental health parity in the commercial health care system by collaborating with my colleagues as well as with the provider community in Illinois,” said Dowling.

Quinn Aide Jumps to Top Substance Abuse Treatment, Mental Health Advocacy Group

(Springfield, IL) – A key aide to Governor Pat Quinn at the Illinois Department of Human Services has accepted a new post at a top substance abuse treatment, mental health advocacy group.

The current Director of Legislative Affairs for the Department of Human Services, Randy Wells, has been appointed to a newly created position of Vice President for Mental Health Policy at the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association the group announced on Wednesday.

“As the behavior health field has evolved in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, IADDA’s investment in its mental health policy agenda has evolved,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “That evolution includes expanding the reach of our mental health policy agenda, and Randy will be vital to that expansion.”

In addition to his role under DHS Secretary Michelle Saddler, Wells previously led the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for Illinois for eight-years, Howe noted.

“Randy brings to the Association membership a long history and leadership experience in mental health policy, particularly at NAMI-Illinois,” said Howe. “Randy will be charged with tracking mental health legislation, working with the legislature and the new Administration, and devising recommendations and policy positions.”


Top U.S. Drug Official David Mineta Speaks at 40th Youth Anti-Drug Abuse Conference

Deputy Director for Demand Reduction David Mineta at the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy took a selfie before addressing the 550 Illinois at the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute on Sunday.

Deputy Director for Demand Reduction David Mineta at the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy took a selfie before addressing the 550 Illinois at the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute on Sunday.

(Springfield, IL) – A top U.S. drug prevention official this weekend appeared in Central Illinois to speak at an Illinois youth substance abuse prevention organization’s summer conference marking the group’s 40th anniversary.

Deputy Director for Demand Reduction David Mineta at the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy on Sunday attended and spoke at the opening ceremonies of the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute conference at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston.

The Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute, administered by the Springfield-based Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA) and which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, hosted nearly 550 Illinois youth at Eastern Illinois University who heard Mineta speak at the conference’s opening day regarding the role of young people in the battle against alcohol and drug abuse.

“The message that I have for the participants at the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute is that youth can be effective advocates for positive change in their schools and their communities to prevent drug and alcohol abuse,” said Mineta.

A former youth prevention program manager in San Francisco, Mineta, who oversees the agency’s newly created focus on programs for individuals in recovery from addiction, said, “Effective advocacy requires leadership skills and the ability to communicate the benefits of preventing drug and alcohol abuse.”
Mineta, who has held his post since June 2010, also brought greetings from President Barack Obama to the students attending the youth anti-drug forum.

“I also bring greetings to you from the President and note that the President firmly believes in youth and your ability and potential to make positive change in your communities,” Mineta said.

Mineta’s visit, which was the first time that a White House drug policy official has participated at the Teen Institute, launched the four-day conference that features other speakers, discussion groups, and workshops that aim to arm middle and high school students from across the state with the necessary leadership skills to persuade their friends, family, and neighbors that each has a role to play in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse, according to IADDA’s chief.

“The Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute provides youth the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills, but, most importantly, to become a force for positive change in their schools and communities,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe.

The conference, held on the Eastern Illinois University campus, runs from July 20 through July 24.

House GOP Heroin Legislation Welcomed, But Warned on “Half-Measures”

House Republican Lawmakers new legislation to combat heroin in DuPage County.

House Republican Lawmakers new legislation to combat heroin in DuPage County.

(Springfield, IL) – Action by House Republican lawmakers to fight Illinois’ growing heroin epidemic was welcomed by addiction advocates who urged the lawmakers to strengthen their proposals.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), State Reps. Dennis Reboletti (R-Elmhurst), Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), and Sandy Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn) on Thursday announced a package of legislation designed to address heroin abuse.

“After seeing firsthand the toll heroin addiction takes on individuals and their families, it’s evident we need to take collaborative actions to stem the tide,” said Reboletti, a former narcotics prosecutor. “This year in Springfield, we are introducing a comprehensive package of legislation aimed at addressing the full range and scope of the heroin epidemic.”

The Republican plan includes substance abuse treatment facility for DuPage County, increased criminal penalties, enhanced data collection, among other measures.

Specifically, the GOP lawmakers have introduced five concrete, but limited proposals:

  • Create a pilot program in DuPage County to establish a secure substance abuse treatment facility that will be a joint partnership between the state and county to serve as a “last chance” option for those convicted of drug crimes.
  • Extend Illinois’ RICO statutes sunset date to 2022, which is currently scheduled to expire in 2017 and allow prosecutors to use a portion of the proceeds from seized assets accumulated by gangs to fund substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Require each county’s Department of Public Health to track and periodically report the number of drug overdose deaths to the State.
  • Enhance penalties for ‘Doctor Shopping’ to strengthen current law to prohibit patients from withholding the fact that they have received the same or similar controlled substance from health care practitioners within a specified time frame.
  • Creates an educational initiative to promote the “Good Samaritan” law by distributing pamphlets to educate holders of opiate prescriptions about the dangers of children and teens gaining access to medications.
  • Crack down on ‘krokodil,’ an often cheaper heroin alternative by enhancing penalties for the drug to be on par with those for heroin.

The leader of Illinois’ top addiction healthcare advocacy group welcomed the House GOP package, but wants more substantive steps.

“We’re grateful that House Republican lawmakers are proposing measures to address the deepening heroin crisis in DuPage,” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe.  “IADDA is committed to working with those legislators to rally our members to help advance their proposals, in particular those of which that will best help individuals working to overcome addiction.”

Howe proposed increasing the current state prevention funding from its historic low of $1 million to $2.5 million.

“Substantive funding for prevention can help begin to put a substantive dent in the crisis,” said Howe. “We’re beyond half measures being effective.”

Since 2009, the legislature has cut drug prevention funding by 88% and drug treatment by 41%, Howe noted.

“The painful reality is that the heroin crisis playing out in Illinois today is, in large part, a result of the legislature’s drastic reduction of drug prevention and treatment funding in the last five years,” said Howe. “If lawmakers want to be serious about fighting the heroin epidemic, they need to invest the money necessary to get the job done.”

And the challenge in DuPage, and elsewhere in Illinois, to blunt the heroin crisis is staggering, DuPage officials say.

“Heroin use in DuPage County and across the state has hit epidemic proportions resulting in nearly one death per week last year,” said Robert Berlin, DuPage County State’s Attorney.

“Last year, DuPage County suffered a record number of fatal heroin overdoses – 46. The victims ranged in age from 15 to 64,” said Grant Eckhoff, DuPage County Judicial and Public Safety Committee chairman. “These victims are not just statistics. Instead they are our neighbors and often our family members.”

“Meeting the threat posed by the growing suburban heroin epidemic requires the best efforts of parents, educators, law enforcement, public health officials and state policymakers,” said Bellock.

Howe agreed.

“One of the best efforts that lawmakers can make is to comprehensively fund drug prevention and treatment,” said Howe. “Otherwise, we are just fooling ourselves that half-measures will solve the problem.”

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

Illinois Youth Drug Prevention Activism Soars

Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute

Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute

(Springfield, IL) – One year after the relaunch of an Illinois youth drug prevention group, its summer conference attendance by Illinois high school teens is expected to jump 40 percent.

The Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute, administered by the Springfield-based Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA) and boosted by a $1.1 million grant from the Skokie-based Cebrin Goodman Center, will host nearly 450 Illinois youth – up from 285 in 2012 – at Eastern Illinois University on July 21–25.

“The $1.1 million Goodman grant included additional funding for an outreach coordinator whose job is to reach out to communities across Illinois who have never participated or have higher rates of alcohol or drug use,” said IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “The grant also included additional dollars to provide 150 scholarships for youth to attend the summer conference.”

Larry Goodman, along with his late wife, Lillian Goodman, founded the Skokie based foundation in honor of their granddaughter, Cebrin, who died of a drug overdose. The Foundation has committed the three-year grant to the Springfield-based youth drug prevention program, previously known as the Illinois Teen Institute, as part of his crusade against youth drug abuse.

“We have been able to dramatically expand our outreach to high school students throughout Illinois and provide drug prevention programming to thousands of youth who would otherwise now be overlooked because of the Illinois budget cuts in the last few years,” said Director of Program Development Ron Jakubisin.

Here are the communities that are new to Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute for 2013 that were not in attendance in 2012:

Arlington Heights, Athens, Belvidere, Bunker Hill, Carbondale, Carpentersville, Carterville, Centralia, Champaign, Cicero, Cordova, DeKalb, Divernon, East Alton, Flossmoor, Franklin, Franklin Park, Godfrey, Granville, Green Bay, Greenview, Herrin, Leland, Lostant, Lovington, Malta, Mark, Milwaukee, Naperville, Princeton, Round Lake, Roxana, Sandwich, Schiller Park, Sullivan, Swansea, Vernon Hills, Walnut, Walnut Hill, Waukegan, Williamsville, Wood River, Worden, and Wyanet.

For any questions about the registration/application process, please contact the IADDA office at 217.528.7335 ext. 12.

About the Cebrin Goodman Center

Established in 2005, the Cebrin Goodman Center is committed to the goal of helping young people fulfill their potential as happy, healthy contributing members of society. The often tragic consequences of drug use, abuse, and addiction are a powerful threat to the realization of that goal.

Lillian and Larry Goodman created The Cebrin Goodman Center in memory of their granddaughter Cebrin who lost her battle with drug addiction. The Goodman family wants to spare other families the pain of losing a loved one by educating teens, parents, and communities about substance abuse and other challenges facing teens today.

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.”

Twitter @IL_IADDA

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.