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Itasca, Ill. – Community leaders in Itasca, Illinois, are revisiting a proposal to place a drug treatment and rehabilitation center in the village. The National Safety Council, whose headquarters is located down the street from the proposed center location, maintains its support for placing a treatment facility in Itasca. We also believe it is critical that this plan be debated using the latest facts and data, rather than on hyperbolic or misleading information.
COVID-19 has made access to drug treatment and rehabilitation facilities more important than ever. In September, the American Medical Association announced that more than 40 states have reported increases in opioid-related deaths, as well as ongoing concern for those with mental health or substance use disorders. We must take action to curtail opioid misuse and help those who are struggling with substance use disorders get the treatment they need to live their fullest lives. Treatment centers provide this necessary assistance.
As was the case in 2019 when conversations began, some area residents have voiced concerns about community safety regarding this proposed project. We would like to reiterate what we said last year:
As the nation’s leading safety advocate, no one is more focused on the safety of its own community than the National Safety Council. We follow the data, which support the expansion of treatment, because treatment centers and those overcoming addiction can lift up their communities.
Counties with treatment facilities experience drops in drug-induced mortality rates, according to a study from the Institute for the Study of Labor. Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) indicates that adding treatment facilities in counties reduces local crime, both violent and financially motivated. NBER finds that an additional treatment facility reduces homicides by between 0.18% and 0.24%, along with reductions in robbery, motor vehicle theft, burglary and larceny. Additional research finds that increasing access to treatment significantly decreases robbery, aggravated assault and larceny theft.
Communities with treatment centers also benefit financially. The average cost of operating one facility is $1.1 million annually, and communities save $1.2 million to $2.9 million each year because of reductions in crime.
Access to treatment can be the difference between life and death for many people struggling with substance use disorders. Unfortunately, less than 10% of people with addictions have access to treatment. We must do more to expand that, because counseling and behavioral therapy, coupled with medication-assisted treatment, is the most effective way for most people to address opioid dependency.
Finally, we need better education around the nature of addiction, because it is a disease – not a decision. Miseducation perpetuates stigma, and stigma is a common barrier to treatment, not just for communities but for those who are struggling with addiction and dependency. In order to save lives, we must approach addiction the same way we approach all chronic illnesses, and that means expanding access to proven treatment options.
The National Safety Council has data, tools and other resources to fight overdose, and encourages community members to review this information so they can learn more about this topic. A need for urgent action exists, including expanded access to treatment.
About the National Safety CouncilThe National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for over 100 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace, roadway and impairment. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.
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