Do Not Cut Drug Prevention Funding

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Do Not Cut Drug Prevention Funding


Do not cut drug prevention funding

Gov. Pat Quinn proposed a budget that will eliminate drug prevention services for nearly 35,000 Illinois youth, but lawmakers need to restore this money. Quinn's budget will break the back of Illinois' drug prevention system while a heroin and synthetic drug epidemic is sweeping the state.

The governor's budget eliminates $2.6 million or 100 percent from the DHS Division of Family and Community Services for prevention, eliminating services to 34,593 Illinois teens. In fiscal 2008, Illinois spent $7.5 million on youth drug prevention.

This while suburban Chicago wrestles with an unprecedented increase in the use of heroin and other narcotics.

Wayne Hunter, Lake County sheriff chief of administration, told the Daily Herald heroin "is a plague of all communities, all incomes and all children."

In addition to heroin, synthetic drug use, like "K2," "spice" and "bath salts," is an escalating problem among youth. Illinois had one of the highest call rates to poison control centers for these drugs in 2010 and 2011.

Lawmakers must not only restore prevention funding, they must also protect the shrunken pot of drug and alcohol treatment money that remains. In 2008, Illinois spent $111 million, but today the state spends only $79 million for treatment. As a result, nearly 35,000 fewer adults, mothers, teens are receiving life-changing treatment. A 2005 study of Illinois adults found that treatment led to a 58 percent decrease in drug and alcohol use and a 61 percent decrease in violent and illegal behavior. And a 2009 report on Illinois youth revealed that treatment yielded a 42 percent decrease in drug and alcohol abuse.

The facts are clear. …

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