Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse - DHS 4650

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services


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.

Three decades of scientific research and clinical practice have yielded a variety of effective approaches to substance addiction treatment. Research has shown that addiction treatment can benefit an individual, just as treatment for other chronic diseases like hypertension or diabetes.

Treatment and recovery support varies, depending on the type of drug and characteristics of the user. The best programs provide a combination or continuum of therapies and support services. These services are delivered with the goal of recovery and a return to a healthy and productive life.

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.

This system enables patients to be assessed and treated as close to their home communities as possible, allows communities to take ownership of their programs and facilitates public information and other adjunct services. Treatment services are delivered through a continuum approach, with individual patients moving from one level of care to another, based upon their assessed needs.

Alcohol and other drug abuse services in Illinois consist of:

  1. Detoxification provides immediate and short-term clinical support for persons in the withdrawal process. Detoxification programs are, for the most part, open to admissions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and are most often furnished in a residential setting.
  2. Early Intervention is pre-treatment services for individuals whose problems or risk factors appear to be related to substance abuse but who do not meet any diagnostic criteria for substance abuse related disorders.
  3. Case Management is the provision, coordination, or arrangement of ancillary services designed to support a specific patient's treatment with the goal of improving clinical outcomes.
  4. Outpatient Counseling provides a variety of diagnostic and clinical services on a scheduled or non-scheduled basis. Activities include individual, group and family counseling, and may include medication support (methadone). Outpatient counseling is classified as Level I by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).
  5. Intensive Outpatient Counseling provides a variety of diagnostic and highly structured clinical services on a scheduled basis. Activities include individual, group and  family counseling and patient education. Intensive outpatient counseling is classified under ASAM as Level II.
  6. Residential Rehabilitation provides clinical and treatment rehabilitation services 24 hours a day.
  7. Residential Aftercare is offered in two levels: halfway houses and recovery homes. Halfway houses provide living opportunities to patients in need of additional services, usually following residential rehabilitation. Services are designed to support the patients' productive return to the community. Recovery homes provide extended residential support services and the mutual support of living in a sober environment with other recovering individuals.

Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) services are provided statewide, either directly within a county or by a multi-county service provider. Residential and other more specialized treatment services may not be available locally in every area of the state. Individuals can be referred by the outpatient program in their area to the closest regional residential center. All treatment programs must be licensed by DHS/DASA unless operating under a hospital license.


Several AODA treatment services are covered by the state's Medicaid program. Providers qualify for Medicaid reimbursement by having their programs certified by DHS/DASA and enrolled by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Only covered services delivered to eligible Medicaid patients qualify for reimbursement under the Medicaid program.

To maintain Medicaid program certification and enrollment, an AODA provider in Illinois must comply with certain minimum standards (set forth in 77 Ill. Adm. Code 2090).

Special Populations

DHS/DASA has identified populations for priority admission to substance abuse treatment services. These populations are given priority status because of their impact on families and society. Priority is currently given to the following populations in rank order:

  1. Pregnant injecting drug users
  2. Pregnant and post-partum women
  3. Pregnant, post-partum women and women with children
  4. Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) referred persons
  5. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligible persons
  6. Department of Corrections (DOC) releasees, and Treatment

 Alternatives for Special Clients (TASC) referrals

Criminal Justice

Drug treatment is an effective means to reduce illegal drug use, crime, and recidivism within the general population and across offender populations. Up to 75 percent of parolees who leave prison without drug treatment for their cocaine or heroin addictions resume drug use within 3 months of release. DHS/DASA contracts with various treatment providers to provide services to alcohol and other drug abusers involved with the Illinois Department of Corrections and Illinois Court Systems.


DHS/DASA provides funding for alcohol and other drug abuse treatment services for individuals with active DCFS cases. Persons receiving these services are screened and referred by DCFS offices and local service providers. Treatment providers work collaboratively with DCFS workers to bring patients into the treatment process and when needed, provide transportation for patients and/or their children to child care so they may attend treatment.

The overall goals of the DASA/DCFS Initiative include:

 * Improved health and safety of the child(ren) and mother

 * Improved parenting skills

 * Improved family functioning

 * Reduced substance abuse

 * Improved life management skills of the mother

Pregnant Women and Women with Children

DHS/DASA funds special programs for pregnant women or women with children. These programs hope to stop AODA use before any permanent damage is done to the fetus, the mothers lose their rights to keep their children, or the children are harmed. Many of these programs provide for child visitation and interaction as well as parenting skills development while the mother is in treatment. The interaction helps to develop a bond between mother and child in a controlled setting while teaching some parenting skills.


Adolescent substance abuse is directly associated with declining grades, absenteeism from school, and school dropout rates. Research also tells us that youth who use marijuana are more likely to carry a handgun and be gang involved. DHS/DASA continues to expand its system of youth treatment programs. Youth programs are now developed in non-traditional treatment settings more conducive to youth involvement. These services integrate early intervention and treatment, are more family focused, and are promoted in school and community settings


The 1996 federal welfare reform law mandated a five year maximum benefit limit for all welfare recipients. The recipient's ability to become self-sufficient during that time period is critical, and substance abuse has been identified as a barrier to self-sufficiency. In a recent Illinois needs assessment study, it was determined that, minimally, 10-12 percent of the TANF population have addictions or serious substance abuse problems. Illinois' welfare-to-work strategies encourage treatment to address substance abuse as a barrier to self-sufficiency for TANF clients. DHS/DASA funds a joint effort with DHS local offices to offer early intervention, assessment, and community intervention services. Additionally, treatment services throughout the state are offered to TANF patients.

HIV Counseling and Testing

DHS/DASA offers a number of counseling, testing and intervention programs for persons at risk or infected with HIV. The department's HIV Early Intervention programs are provided by 37 funded organizations at multiple sites throughout the state. Many of those served are injecting drug users (IDUs) and their partners. IDUs are recognized as a high-risk group for HIV infections and AIDS. DASA?will increase efforts for training and intervention related to the various forms of hepatitis.


DHS/DASA offers services to individuals with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health diagnoses (MISA patients) through a collaborative system of care with the DHS/Division of Mental Health (DMH). There are a total of five funded MISA consortia and three non-funded MISA consortia across the state. DASA funds 26 providers at 32 sites. DASA provides funding for the Illinois MISA Institute to provide training and technical assistance to agencies that provide MISA treatment. In addition, the local state mental hospital in each consortium is an active partner in treating and referring consumers. These agencies work together to ensure local integration of mental health/substance abuse services for the dually diagnosed and assure reduction of service barriers for consumers.


DHS/DASA offers outpatient counseling, case management, and early intervention services to individuals with problem or pathological gambling disorders. There are 7 treatment sites throughout the state. Each site follows a manualized treatment protocol addressing:

  • Pathological Gambling and Other Mental Disorders
  • Ideas, Attitudes, Values, and Priorities
  • Spirituality and Mindfulness
  • Impulse Control
  • Financial Planning, Restitution, and Making Amends
  • Personal Growth nd Development
  • Relationships and Gambling

The Facts

Treatment reduces drug use by 40 to 60 percent, which is comparable to success rates of treatments for other chronic diseases, such as asthma and hypertension.*

In an independent evaluation of the DASA treatment system, the following was found:

  • Patients reporting use of alcohol decreased from 59 percent at admission to 30 percent six months post treatment; marijuana from 30 percent to 6 percent; cocaine from 37 percent to 6 percent; and heroin from 24 percent to 6 percent.**
  • The percent of patients receiving wages for work increased significantly: 44 percent received wages at admission versus 57 percent who received wages six months after treatment.**
  • The number of patients reporting income received from illegal activities decreased from 16 percent at treatment admission to only 2 percent six months after treatment, an 88 percent decrease.**

Alcohol and other drug treatment is cost effective. Each $1 invested in treatment equals $4 to $7 in savings on crime and criminal justice costs

*Principles of Drug Addiction, National Institute on Drug Abuse

**DASA-Delta Metrics Study

***National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

If you have any questions about alcohol or other drugs, call:

Illinois Department of Human Services
Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse

1-866-213-0548 (toll-free Voice)

1-866-843-7344 (toll-free TTY)

For more information: Call or visit your local Department of Human Services' Family Community Resource Center (FCRC).

If you have questions about any Department of Human Services (DHS) program, call or visit your FCRC. We will answer your questions. If you do not know where your FCRC is or if you are unable to go there, you may call the automated helpline 24 hours a day at:


1-800-447-6404 (TTY)

You may speak to a representative between:

8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Monday - Friday (except state holidays)

For answers to your questions, you may also write:

Illinois Department of Human Services
Bureau of Customer and Provider Assistance
100 South Grand Avenue East
Springfield, Illinois 62762

Visit our web site at: www.dhs.state.il.us

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.

DHS 4650 (R-06-09) DASA Brochure

Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois.