Lawmakers, People in Drug, Alcohol Treatment Protest Governor Pat Quinn’s Budget Cuts to Eliminate 2,500 from Treatment

Sara Howe

(Chicago, IL) — Since 1995, the number of Illinois women in drug, alcohol treatment has surged 41%, but Governor Pat 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 cuts comes on the heals of a 22% budget cuts that the Governor imposed on substance abuse prevention and treatment services last year, according to Sara Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

Additionally, 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.

Faced with the surging need for treatment and dwindling state money, public officials and private citizens yesterday rallied

State Sentor Mattie Hunter and Theodora Binion Taylor

at a community forum to discuss the cost and impact of untreated addiction and to protest Quinn’s budget cuts to prevention and treatment services.

Sponsored by the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association; Haymarket Center, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC, Inc.) and Healthcare Alternative Systems, Inc., the packed auditorium at Haymarket heard from multiple speakers:

  • John Roberts, Father who lost 19 year-old to heroin overdose, Chicago Police Captain (retired), Program Chair of Criminal/Social Justice at Lewis University (retired)
  • Mattie Hunter, State Senator (Chicago-3)
  • Earlean Collins, Cook County Commissioner
  • Paul Biebel, Presiding Judge, Criminal Division, Cook County Circuit Court
  • Anthony Cole, Vice President, Haymarket Center;  Board Chairman, Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA)
  • Sara Howe, CEO, IADDA
  • Roger Romanelli – CEO, Randolph/Fulton Market Association
  • Theodora Binion Taylor, Director of the Division of. Alcoholism and Substance

Illinois Doomsday Budget Forces TASC to Suspend Addiction Servicess

(Chicago, IL) — TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), a not-for-profit helps drug and alcohol addicts get into treatment, is losing 76 percent of its state funding in the Illinois doomsday budget crisis.

Beginning July 1, workers were forced to take two weeks off without pay.

The organization is mandated by the state to evaluate substance abuse addicts and determine an alternative treatment to jail. Without TASC services, addicts who fail to receive treatment are likelier to continue to abuse drugs and alcohol, sending them back in jail, again and again and again.

Governor Pat Quinn, House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno continue budget negotiations.

Lawmakers return to Springfield on July 14.

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New Reports Reveal Chicago Tops Nation in Arrestee Drug Use; Illinois Drug Treatment Spending Paltry

(Springfield, IL) – Chicago leads the nation in illicit drug use among arrestees, with 87% testing positive for drugs, according to a new report.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, which made the data public today, reports heroin use in Chicago leapt 45% in one year, and Chicago is the number one city in heroin use among arrestees.

Positive heroin tests jumped 45% from 20% of arrestees in 2007 to 29% -nearly a third of arrestees-in 2008.

And Chicago leads the nation in arrestees-40%-testing positive for more than one drug.

“Illinois’ drug problem is worsening and state government is failing to adequately fund criminal justice drug treatment,” said Melody Heaps, president of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC, Inc.). “Governor Pat Quinn and legislative leaders must fully fund treatment to stop the spiraling cycle of drug use and crime.”

In addition to the new White House report, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has also released a new study that shows Illinois spends $4.8 billion annually on the consequences of addiction, e.g. prisons and emergency care. However, it spends only a paltry $179 million or 4% on prevention and treatment.

“In the face of escalating crime-related drug use in Chicago, Governor Quinn’s proposed state budget cuts drug prevention and treatment by $13 million and leaves an additional $53 million budget hole, which will only worsen Illinois’ drug problem,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association.

State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) is sponsoring legislation, HB 4557, to increase the state alcohol tax by a nickel-a-drink, raising $254 million annually, to provide a reliable revenue stream to state addiction health care services.

The Feigenholtz bill is one of many revenue raising proposals still on the table as lawmakers debate the final state budget.

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 31.