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Itasca, Ill. – As community leaders in Itasca, Ill. meet this week to debate 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, believes it is imperative that the public debate be based on the latest facts and data, rather than on hyperbolic or misleading information. For the first time in U.S. history, a person’s lifetime odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose have eclipsed the odds of dying from a motor vehicle crash. We must do everything we can 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 that level of care, and this is why the National Safety Council supports placing a treatment facility in the village of Itasca.
Local residents have expressed concerns for community safety. As the nation’s leading safety advocate, no one is more focused on the safety of our own community than the National Safety Council. We go where the data tell us to go and when it comes to treatment, the data support 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 percent, 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.
People in recovery can enhance a community’s economy because they make good employees. Employees in recovery miss fewer days of work and change jobs less often than their peers, according to research from NORC at the University of Chicago. Although the Itasca facility likely would treat individuals who are employed outside Itasca, this positive impact is desirable given the tight labor market in the greater Chicagoland area.
Access to treatment can be the difference between life and death for many people struggling with substance misuse 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 wants to be a resource for all community members so they understand not only the scope of the opioid crisis, but also the need for urgent action, including expanded access to treatment. We encourage our community to visit our website – nsc.org – to find all the information you need to keep each other safe.
About the National Safety Council The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.
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