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People are suffering and dying because there is no adequate care for substance abuse treatment. Typically, for someone to receive treatment in this country, you either need to  pay out of your pocket, have insurance, or go to a facility that is state funded. What if certain individuals don’t have any means to obtain that? The hope becomes much bleaker. Certain states cut out funding because they are unable to receive proper grants from the federal government for the funding, or the state allocates the money to other areas. Now, this is an area of concern, especially for citizens who need much help for his/her chemical dependency problems, which proves that if this problem is ignored, many more individuals will suffer, not just presently, but in the future as well.

No Funding, No Treatment

No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.

Patrick J. Kennedy

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Americans today tend to believe that people in society live in a time where being insured is of the absolute necessity. Being a person who is uninsured or living in poverty is very difficult to function in society. One of the worst positions to be in is when somebody needs help for personal problems, such as chemical dependency, and are unable to receive adequate care because of their economic status. What happens when the state you reside in doesn’t provide the necessary funding for treatment centers? The state of Illinois has been the target of an ongoing issue in regards to lack of funding for substance abuse. The state allocates funds to different divisions, but ignores the biggest issue, addiction. This issue is very important because it is affecting friends, families, etc. in addition, many individuals who want help are unable to receive care, and many people have died, and suffered due to this issue, and this issue will only get worse if the funds are essentially depleted. By focusing on allocations to different divisions. The state overlooks the deeper problem of addiction.  There are options out there such as; 12 step meetings and certain treatment programs that cater to individuals that don’t make enough money.  But some of them aren’t feasible for the underprivileged. Politicians and regular citizens seem to have this idea that addiction shouldn’t be funded, and “drug addicts” should just rot in jail. There is such a stigma attached to addiction, many think it shouldn’t gain that much attention, and there are more important matters should be addressed.  However, this type of mindset should be alarming, and addiction courtesy of treatment No Funding No Treatment Screen Shot 2015 02 18 at 12shouldn’t be ignored. Addiction isn’t a “choice”, rather a sickness that overcomes somebody. With the lack of funding for substance abuse treatment, we should focus on providing treatment centers with adequate care to provide for individuals who suffer from addiction.

According to Howe (2014), spokeswomen for the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA), the heroin crisis that has transpired to what it is present day was created by neglecting the prevention system and the treatment system. The state of Illinois has had to drastically cut programming due to lack of funding and budget cuts. Common sense seems to dictate if no help is available, other resources should be implemented. A constant fight between treatment centers and the state is quite problematic, and they’ve seen nothing to advance the treatment from the state. With that being said, individuals who suffer from addiction, this becomes the real issue. Though I concede that current budgetary issues become a hindrance, there should be a point of emphasis on helping people who suffer and who have no other means of supporting themselves. The IADDA estimates that from 2009-2011, funding cuts for addiction treatment and prevention have resulted in the loss of services for 27,000 people. From a personal experience, I was denied treatment on multiple occasions because I was either uninsured, or the treatment centers were not state funded.  According to Howe (2014), treatment providers haven’t seen a rate increase in almost two decades, and are still being reimbursed at rates from the 1990’s.

In terms of spending, jails in the state of Illinois receive significant funding.  The state is paying between $23,000-$24,000 a year to keep an individual in a state prison cell for a year, rather than increasing the amount that is destined for treatment. The average course of treatment runs $3,000-$4,000 (Lee, 2014). In fact, 65 percent of the nation’s inmates meet certain medical criteria for substance abuse problems, but only 11 percent received treatment for their addiction (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse {NCASA} 2014).  Essentially, if the inmates were properly diagnosed at one point or another, the state could have saved more money, and allocate the funds to help these individuals. This is why recidivism “refers to ones relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for previous crime,” becomes problematic for the individual.

It is often said, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, in this case it is broke, and it needs to be fixed. The Illinois state-operated hospitals had once more than 35,000 beds in the 1950’s and 1960’s. By 2009, only 1,400 beds in the nine remaining SOHs (Illinois Hospital Association {IHA} 2011). This proves with budget cuts, less people are receiving care for their addiction issues. This also shows the significant drop of state funding over the years.  The loss of state operated facilities and private inpatient beds in the past decade, due to recent community  mental health agency funding cuts, have contributed significantly to diminish, and in some deplete the pool of mental health resources in many communities (IHA 2011). In almost every part of the state, the person who lacks insurance, especially the single adult male without children, faces closed doors.  And, it is this group of persons who are often in our jails and prisons or are homeless. It is this group who does not qualify for Medicaid, or Medicare, and who have been abandoned when the state closes a state operated psychiatric hospital. These are the individuals who have no other resources, essentially depend on the state for its funding. This occurred with me on numerous occasions when I was in need of some help. Because I had no insurance at all, certain treatment centers turned me away very quickly because of my economic status.

The substance abuse community has experienced large budget cuts over the past several years. The Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) lost an additional $7.2 million in FY2011,  on top of losses of $23 million in FY2010 , and $55 million in FY2009 (IHA 2011). These cuts have caused many substance abuse providers to shrink or close treatment programs. And this will only get worse as more state funded beds close, and more budget cuts are implemented. “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.” (L. Snipes, personal communication, November 1, 2014). At the same time that I believe the state is in some type of financial difficulty. I also believe wholeheartedly that there are always more options in terms of funding substance abuse. Over the course of the next 3 to 5 years, the amount of funding will be decreased even more, essentially causing individuals to have no options for help. With less spending, and people needing more help, this ultimately will lead to a crisis for individuals who have no means to receive adequate care.

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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. One implication of the government’s treatment of substance abuse is that it has significant impact on that state of Illinois. Most agencies have cut services, some have shut down, and some are on the brink of closing (L.Snipes, personal communication, November 1, 2014). The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant—funded by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—provides funds to all 50 states. It is considered the “safety net” for substance abuse treatment, intended to help those who have no other resources. According to Taylor (2014), In Illinois, the amount of the block grant decreased by over 10 percent in 2013, in part due to sequestration. Some of that cut was restored in 2014, yet last year’s block grant funding was still almost 5 percent below the 2012 level. SAMHSA also disperses discretionary funds to the states, and in 2014, Illinois received $20.9 million for substance abuse prevention and treatment. The previous year, the state received $22.9 million. The year before that, it was $24 million. That’s a 13 percent decrease in just two years. When our states and federal government make budget cuts that reduce or eliminate funding for substance abuse treatment centers, we sometimes fail to see the impact it will cause. It is something that is happening more and more, and it is drawing the attention of tax-paying citizens.

courtesy of treatment No Funding No Treatment 7111932 GAccording to Lesser (2014), Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has proposed a “not recommended” budget to state legislatures. If this budget is approved, funding for substance abuse would be cut by an additional $ 29 million. That means 16,000 fewer people would receive addiction services. Basically Lesser is warning that the proposed solution will only make the matters worse. Among the cuts is funding for prevention programs for youth, and state-run detox centers. While some legislators support the measure, many people are opposed to it.  These state-funded treatment programs provide necessary treatment for addicted patients who often aren’t able to get help anywhere else. Community-based treatment centers would be basically eliminated in the state, and Illinois would see a huge increase in drug addicts on the street. “Reports say that people are already turning to emergency rooms for treatment instead of trying to get into a detox center, something that will cost tax payers much more in the long run. (“Illinois Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in Crisis” 2014). Since this is the case, emergency rooms will not turn somebody away, but this will put a strain on the health care system, law enforcement costs, and court system.

The Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA) is the state of Illinois single agency to provide treatment services. Treatment centers usually receive grants from DASA, who then receives the money from the federal government, also known as “block grants”. The Department of Human Services (DHS) allocates money to DASA who then disburse its money to places providing treatment services. “That’s all about to change, it will transition from a grant, to Medicaid, which Medicaid will disburse it to separate insurance companies”(L. Snipes, personal communication, November 1, 2014). For someone who has insurance, this may seem like a feasible option, but it may not be that easy. The Affordable Care Act courtesy of treatment No Funding No Treatment aca alertrequires all citizens to carry health insurance, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea. But guess again. According to Merrion (2013), the rates and prices that go along with having insurance are extremely expensive. Many people won’t be able to afford it, therefore, will have to stick with state funded operations. What happens if that doesn’t exist anymore? Than uninsured patients will have to stick to their own devices and continue to use alcohol and drugs. Essentially this makes the matter worse.

Conversely, if all addicts and alcoholics had a choice in this matter, there wouldn’t be this much of a strain on the state to provide care for its own people.  There is speculation and assumptions that addiction is not a disease, and according to Schaler (2002), addiction is a choice and not a disease. Schaler also states that addiction is clearly intended by the individual and that every action is known and he/she knows how much they want to use. In addition, Schaler also states that the addict or alcoholic are always in control of what he or she is doing. The assertions are not only premature, but there is no correlation what so ever to signify that this is indeed credible. The lack of understanding and humiliation this author talks about is downright concerning. If this author assertion on addiction is indeed valid, than the state wouldn’t be obligated to provide the necessary funds for treatment centers and treatment services. If alcoholism and addiction were a choice, all the individual has to do is just say no. When addiction takes control of someone’s life, they lose the choice of saying “no.”

When it comes to the topic of addiction, most of us will readily agree that it is a big issue. Where this agreement usually ends, however, is on the question how much focus should be on this topic. Whereas some are convinced that it’s a waste of money to funda problem that is relative to decision making, others maintain it’s not a matter of choice, it’s a way of life.
Funding for substance abuse has been an issue for a while now, and the state of Illinois needs to figure out a “plan b” before it will eliminate most of its funding for treatment. Addiction is only getting worse, and as this persist, adequate care for the underprivileged will become less scarce.  Whether we treat addiction as a “choice” or a disease, it’s still a problem that affects millions of individuals.  If money is the issue at hand, start implementing certain legislations to help the less fortunate so he/she can get help. Once the state can achieve this, other states may notice and this can be the start of something great.


I am Shawn and I am an Alcoholic.  Sober date 8/23/12


Howe, S. M. (2014, August 6). IADDA News Weblog.

Retrieved from

Lee, T. F. (2014, April 16). Addiction treatment specialists say state funding it too low.        

Retrieved from

Illinois Mental Health and Subtance Abuse Services in Crisis. (2011, May). Retrieved from            

Lesser, D. (2014, April 24). The Shriver Brief: Poverty Law Commentary & Insights: Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law : Affordable Housing, Healthcare Reform. Retrieved from

Merrion, P. (2013, February 24). How the budget ax would fall on Illinois. Retrieved from

Schaler, J. A. (2002, October 1). Addiction is a choice. Retrieved from

Snipes, L. (2014, November 1). [Personal interview].

Taylor, T. B. (n.d.). Structure and function. Retrieved November 03, 2014, from


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