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Area congressmen urge DOJ to increase opioid addiction treatment options

May 12, 2014
Adam Kinzinger

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger

Online Staff Report

U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, and Bobby L. Rush, D-Chicago, have requested assistance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to address the alarming increase in opioid addictions in Illinois and offer rehabilitation strategies.

In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, which was signed by the entire Illinois Congressional delegation, the lawmakers request a meeting to further discuss treatment methods that have been successful in rehabilitating drug-related offenders in Illinois.

“This problem affects all our communities in a very destructive and dangerous way,” said Kinzinger. “It really is a battle, and we need to be doing all we can to fight back by using strategies that have been proven to work.”

In the letter, the lawmakers urge DOJ to take a comprehensive approach to deal with the growing epidemic. Using evidence-based tools like addiction treatment medications in combination with counseling, case management, and related services, the government can do more to curb opioid abuse than prison alone.

Studies show the opioid epidemic directly connects to the growth of the state’s prison population. In Illinois, some offender re-entry programs and drug courts have successfully implemented comprehensive treatment approaches to reduce relapse and recidivism rates. These efforts draw upon a combination of proven strategies to help heroin and prescription opioid-addicted offenders recover from their addictions, saving lives and taxpayers’ dollars.

U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush

U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush

To confront this crisis in Illinois and nationwide, Representative Kinzinger and myself are writing to urge the Department of Justice to undertake the use of non-addictive anti-addiction medications in jails, federal prisons and reentry centers,” said Rush. “Our nation is under siege form opioid overdose epidemic being fueled by a dramatic increase in the use of illicit prescription opioids and more recently, heroin.”

The lawmakers commend DOJ for its current use of the Smart on Crime program designed to reduce prison overcrowding and recidivism rates. They suggest the solution to the burgeoning problem of substance abuse and crime must include drug recovery treatment if we are to curtail incarceration rates.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of illicit drugs costs the U.S. nearly $200 billion annually through law enforcement, lost productivity, and health care costs.

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