(Chicago) – OP-ED: The Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse estimates Illinois will spend $72 million on substance abuse prevention and treatment this current fiscal year.
This amount is down dramatically from what Illinois spent on prevention and treatment in 2009, which was nearly $128 million. In just five years, Illinois has cut spending on treatment and prevention by 44% – a total of $56 million dollars.
The federal government cut our Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant funding by a similar amount. So the overall cut to the substance use disorders treatment and prevention field has been well over $100 million. In terms of the State’s overall budget, this is a small amount. But the cuts have been devastating to our field. Most agencies have cut services, some have shut down, and some are on the brink of closing.
Meanwhile, heroin abuse in Chicago and its suburbs has exploded. No doubt you have seen this in the newspapers and in your communities. We have certainly seen a dramatic increase in heroin abusers entering our system at Haymarket. Our detoxification unit, which today is smaller because of funding cuts, is overflowing with individuals seeking help.
Prior to the SMART Act the State spent $100 million in Medicaid dollars on three-day detox stays in hospitals alone, where patients were stabilized and returned to the street. By contrast, Haymarket and other treatment providers move the individuals into treatment and help them enter into recovery.
Chestnut Health Systems, based in Bloomington, Illinois, conducted a research study funded by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse in which they followed up 436 adults admitted to Haymarket Center for treatment quarterly for four years. What they found was that these 436 individuals cost society over six and a half million dollars in the year before treatment.
These costs included emergency room visits, hospital stays, arrests, stays in jails and prisons, and many other costs. What the researchers further found out, however, was that the cost of substance abuse treatment was offset within 18 months, and ended up saving Illinois tax payers six and a half million dollars over four years.
The lesson we can learn from this research on Haymarket’s own clients, here in Illinois, is that if DASA’s budget is cut, and Haymarket has to reduce capacity again, any short-term savings will be more than offset by millions of dollars of costs to Illinois tax payers.
As [Illinois lawmakers] begin the very difficult task of creating the State’s budget in a challenging time, we strongly urge you to realize that cutting DASA’s budget will only increase costs in Illinois and make the budget challenges worse.
Dan Lustig, Psy.D., MISA II, CRADC, Vice President of Clinical Services, Haymarket Center
Excerpt of testimony on the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Budget by Dan Lustig, Psy.D., MISA II, CRADC, Vice President of Clinical Services, Haymarket Center to the Illinois House of Representatives Human Services Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, March 10, 2014.
Talking to loved ones about heroin
BY Dan Lustig
Last Modified: Feb 5, 2014 09:10PM
When an artist of great talent dies due to addiction, as did Philip Seymour Hoffman on Sunday morning, we have an occasion to talk with people we love.
Too often, it takes a tragic death to remind us of the importance of substance abuse treatment. And yet, contrary to the seeming message of that death, addiction is truly a preventable disease and a treatable medical condition.
Hoffman’s performance in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” as the subversive Plutarch Heavensbee, made him visible to our kids — just as their generation struggles with drugs for the first time in their lives. His death can teach them — and us — a lesson.
With a needle in his arm, and dozens of bags of heroin in his apartment, Hoffman’s death represents both the drug’s resurgence and the many addicts we are seeing today. Just two days before he died, New York City police busted a Bronx-based distribution ring, finding 33 pounds of heroin worth $8 million, one of its largest finds on record.
Addiction has been the No. 1 killer in Illinois since 2006. The DuPage County coroner’s office says yearly heroin deaths there began climbing about six years ago, to the low-40s from the mid-20s. That is one every eight or nine days. Victims are overwhelmingly white males.
Hoffman said last year he had been clean and sober for 23 years, since his college days, but relapsed. His decline should bring attention to the heroin epidemic in Chicago’s suburbs. Addiction is a chronic relapsing disease.
Addiction affects all socioeconomic classes. Its grip on our children and on young adults is very strong.
The vast majority of kids start with unused, opiate-based, prescription painkillers from their parents’ medicine chests.
Once hooked, they seek inexpensive, small quantities of relatively pure heroin. Chicago is a heroin distribution hub. An extensive marketing network has evolved here to serve them.
Addicts seek heroin’s short-term effects. In the brain, it is converted to morphine. It rapidly binds to opiate receptors. Abusers typically report a surge of a pleasure sensation — a “rush.”
The intensity of the rush depends on how much of the drug is taken and how fast it reaches the brain. Then, the abuser feels drowsy for several hours, as heroin clouds mental function by its effect on the central nervous system. Cardiac function also is severely impacted as heroin slows breathing.
Kids in treatment say they are told that because of “purity,” addiction will not result. They snort, again because they are told it prevents addiction. They are wrong on both counts.
Addiction itself is one of the most detrimental effects of long-term heroin use. Once present, it often takes years to move individuals into recovery.
Families and loved ones often do not understand that concept. Concerned as they are, they often feel that once an individual enters treatment, they should be “cured.” But many individuals cycle in and out of treatment before reaching any period of sustained recovery.
The harsh reality is that there is no cure for addiction. There is only remission, not unlike to other chronic health-care conditions.
Death by heroin overdose is a particular risk, since no one knows what they are ingesting.
This makes it imperative that treatment, medication-assisted therapies and other support services are available when individuals require it, and that managed-care entities address addiction services comprehensively, as with other medical conditions.
Overcoming an addiction is extremely difficult, and especially so when loved ones, trying to help, seek a cure — often before the patient is ready for treatment.
If Hoffman’s death starts kitchen table conversations that help families, then some small good will have come of it.
Talk about drugs. Talk about heroin and addiction with your children. Start today.
Go to the National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Its “parents” section has many answers and provides language to help you speak with your children.
A generation of kids is experiencing drugs for the first time. Give yours the benefit of what we have learned. You might prevent another tragedy.
Dan Lustig, Psy.D., heads clinical programs at Haymarket Center, a nationally recognized substance abuse treatment facility.
Copyright © 2014 — Sun-Times Media, LLC.
John J. Whalen
Chairman of the Board
McDermott Foundation / Haymarket Center
John J. Whalen, 84, chairman of the board of the Haymarket Center and a successful ink business executive, died Monday, January 20, 2014 of natural causes at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood.
Mr. Whalen had been hospitalized for several days battling various ailments. Born July 3, 1929 in the Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, he was a Westchester resident at the time of his death.
Mr. Whalen served on the McDermott Foundation board from 1983 to his passing, making him the longest-serving director of the foundation parent of Haymarket Center.
Haymarket Center is a nationally-recognized independent, not-for-profit treatment center in substance abuse and dependency, troubled pregnancies and job training, founded by legendary Chicago cleric Monsignor Ignatius D. McDermott.
“My dad put his whole heart and soul into Haymarket, and he virtually lived Haymarket's mission right up to the last minutes of his life. His roommate in the hospital was struggling with his efforts in recovery, my dad quite literally spent the very last hour of his life trying to help this man,” Julia Whalen-Musil, Mr. Whalen’s daughter, said.
Originally, Mr. Whalen joined to assist Haymarket simply to help find a new home.
“We were going to be as homeless as the men and women we serve,” Haymarket president Ray Soucek said.
“But Jack came through. While we had been told to vacate, Jack led the identification, purchase and renovation of the current headquarters building at 120 North Sangamon Street. Jack looked after its maintenance needs ever since.
“In this way alone, countless thousands owe their treatment and its benefits to Jack Whalen. He touched that many lives directly. And through them, thousands more,” Soucek said.
“I can't tell you how many people have told me, "Your father saved my life," Julia Whalen-Musil said.
Mr. Whalen and his wife, Betty, purchased the Kerley Ink Company from the Kerley family in 1968. Soon thereafter they developed a new ink that made the firm a great success.
He served as co-president, with Betty, of the company, and as an active member and eventually president of the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers.
In the 2002 book, “Father Mac, The Life and Times of Ignatius D. McDermott,” Mr. Whalen disclosed his own post-Korean War battles with alcohol, though he said, “I didn’t think liquor was my problem.”
But Mr. Whalen joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 1957. Soon thereafter, he started helping homeless Skid Row residents get to flop houses.
Mr. Whalen’s sister recommended that he meet the iconoclastic Fr. McDermott, who was ministering to the same flock. It took years for the two to get together, but once they did they were nearly inseparable in their service to others on Chicago’s near west side.
“Jack Whalen was a forceful leader in turbulent times,” said Dr. Dan Lustig, Haymarket Center clinical services vice president.
“Until last year, 2013, Jack Whalen would devote his Saturdays to Haymarket. He would arrive ready to help – and thereby inspired the staff, and our clients.”
“Since Jack learned Haymarket from its founder, Father Mac, he kept Father’s attitudes very much alive and kicking in each of our board meetings. The two of them are now reunited. We know they are watching,” Soucek said.
Hursen Funeral Home of Hillside – Westchester is handling arrangements:
Visitation: Friday, January 24th
3:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Hursen Funeral Home
4001 Roosevelt Road
Hillside-Westchester, IL 60162
Services: Saturday, January 25th
Viewing: 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Haymarket Center – Chapel
932 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
Mass: 11:00 am
Haymarket Center – Chapel
McDermott / Haymarket Board Vice Chair, Lee Daniels, 630-363-7070
Haymarket President, Ray Soucek, 312 307-9700
Haymarket Clinical V.P., Dr. Dan Lustig, (312) 226-7984 ext. 488
Mr. Whalen is survived by his wife, Betty K. Whalen, his son John (Jack), daughter, Julia Whalen-Musil, son - in - law Donald Musil, sisters Mary V. Whalen and Joanne Whalen D. C., brother, Robert Whalen, grandchildren Christine Whalen, John Whalen, Anne Kramer (Robert) Zachary Musil (Marie), Whitney Musil, and James Musil, great grandchildren, Parker Musil, and Benjamin Kramer, as well as son Jack’s former spouse, Lynda.
He was preceded in death by his father James Anthony Whalen, his mother Virginia Greening Whalen, his brothers James Whalen, and Frank Whalen.