Pubdate: Sun, 26 May 2002
Source: Daily Herald (IL)
Copyright: 2002 The Daily Herald Company
Author: Dan Bigg


I am sorry to see the ironic immoderation of the Illinois legislators' 
action in increasing penalties for possession of heroin. While it makes 
surface sense to make penalties for heroin and cocaine the same, such 
reasoning ignores the fact that 9 out of 10 people desperately looking for 
the most effective therapy for their heroin addiction cannot get it because 
of insufficient funding.

Spending this money on incarceration to the tune of $25,000 per year 
instead of $500 per year for methadone is the height of legislative 
inebriation. Does anyone think the influx of heroin use among youth, 
especially suburban youth, will be affected by being subject to up to 15 
years in jail instead of "just" seven? Don't we all remember our youth, 
when all such periods of time were considered an eternity?

We fight every day to assist young people who have developed addictions to 
heroin make positive changes in their lives, prevent disease, prevent 
overdose, reduce or eliminate their drug use through the most effective 
treatment of methadone, but it is not largely available. There are only 
seven methadone treatment clinics with state funding in the entire Chicago 
metropolitan area outside Chicago.

While this area has a population of more than 5 million, it has only 760 
treatment places funded. When will our legislators be thoughtful and 
effective instead of tough and posturing on drug issues? Isn't 40 years of 
the most harmful drugs, drug markets and devastation of human life reason 
to re-evaluate things?

Dan Bigg, Director, Chicago Recovery Alliance, Chicago
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D