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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 1999

RYAN STRENGTHENS ROLE OF ALCOHOLISM & SUBSTANCE ABUSE OFFICE

SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. George H. Ryan today strengthened the role of the Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse, the lead agency for all substance abuse services for the state of Illinois, and ordered the agency to fill any holes in community-based treatment services for young people.

"In order to make substance abuse prevention and treatment a top priority for Illinois state government and to help ensure that Illinois meets its welfare reform goals, I'm strengthening the role of this office under the auspices of the Department of Human Services," Ryan said. "We're going to make every effort to promote and support services and programs to attack and prevent alcoholism and substance abuse."

Ryan issued an executive order that keeps a pledge made during his campaign for governor. "There is a cost to society from the crime and the incarceration of criminals, who are under the hammer of alcoholism and drug abuse," Ryan said. "We have proof that treatment has shown to help these individuals become self-sufficient and help their families to lead better lives."

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse estimated that drugs and alcohol contribute to the jailing of 80 percent of inmates in U.S. prisons. In Chicago, 70 percent of those arrested for violent crimes tested positive for drugs and alcohol.

Increased community-based substance abuse treatment for individuals released from jail could help reduce recidivism rates, Ryan added. Previous studies found that recidivism rates declined by 75 percent for inmates who completed drug treatment programs.

Ryan's executive order instructs OASA to convene a summit of community-based substance abuse prevention and treatment providers who deal with young people to identify service and funding gaps in services. The summit members will release their recommendations to the Governor.

"This Office will be responsible for coordinating the efforts of state programs dealing with the critical problems of substance abuse and maximizing the effectiveness of new and existing resources to expand and increase the availability and effectiveness of community based treatment and prevention programs," Ryan said.

During his budget address, Ryan recommended nearly $11 million for community-based substance abuse programs to expand services to youths. Termed "Futures for Kids," Ryan introduced an initiative to target substance abuse. The importance of these programs is underscored by reports that about 25 percent of senior high school students use illegal drugs.

"For families, the costs and suffering associated with substance abuse result in child and domestic abuse, an inability to achieve self-sufficiency, teen pregnancy, increased school dropout rates and community violence," Ryan added. "Addressing prevention and treatment offers families and the community a second-chance."

A copy of Executive Order 9 is attached.


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