Haymarket Center

OP-ED: Since 2009 Illinois Drug Treatment Cut 44%; Heroin Abuse Explodes

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The mission of Haymarket Center is to aid people with substance use disorders in their recovery by providing comprehensive behavioral health solutions.

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(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.

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