Alcohol and other drug addictions are chronic illnesses that affect nearly 1 million Illinoisans. Many of us know someone who suffers from substance abuse addiction, a disease that can take over a person's life and cause devastating consequences for addicts and their families. Unfortunately, addiction is still believed by some to be a moral failing. Medical research has proven otherwise. Addiction is a brain disease, in the same sense that hearts or lungs may become diseased. When alcohol or other drugs are consumed, they activate or imitate the brain chemistry associated with feelings of well-being, pleasure, and euphoria. Although a person does control the initial decision to have a drink or try a drug, once the alcohol or other drugs are in the body, they begin to modify the person's brain neurochemistry of pleasure. As the modification occurs, the brain begins to become dependent on the chemical intake of the alcohol or other drugs, causing the person to become addicted. Brain dependency makes it extremely difficult for the addicted person to stop using the alcohol or other drugs.
The Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DHS/DASA), is the state's lead agency for addressing the profound personal, social and economic consequences of alcohol and other drug abuse. DHS/DASA administers a network of community based alcohol and other drug treatment programs. Treatment services are delivered under contract through a network of 170 agencies at over 200 community-based sites. The treatment system provides evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation to alcohol and other drug-abusing persons and their families.