Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse - IDHS 4650

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services


The Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (IDHS/DASA) is the state's lead agency for addressing the profound personal, social and economic consequences of alcohol and other drug abuse. IDHS/DASA oversees a network of communitybased alcohol and other drug treatment programs. Treatment services are delivered through a network of agencies in communities throughout Illinois. The treatment system provides assessment, diagnosis, treatment, continuing care and recovery services to individuals with substance use disorders.

Substance Use Disorders (SUD's) affect millions of Illinoisans. They are defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Five (DSM-V). Substance use disorders occur when the repeated use of alcohol and/or drugs causes significant clinical and functional impairment, such as health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.

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 brain neurochemistry. As modification occurs, the brain becomes dependent on the chemical intake of the substances, causing the person to become addicted. Brain dependency makes it extremely difficult for the addicted person to stop using the substances.

Decades of scientific research and clinical practice have yielded a variety of effective approaches to substance use disorder treatment. Research has shown that 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. Treatment goals include helping an addicted person to achieve recovery and a return to a healthy and productive life.

Alcohol and other drug abuse services in Illinois consist of:

  1. 1. 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.

    2. Case Management is the provision, coordination, or arrangement of ancillary services designed to support a specific individual's treatment with the goal of improving clinical outcomes.

    3. Outpatient Treatment Counseling provides a variety of diagnostic and clinical services. Activities include individual, group and family counseling, and may include medication assisted therapy support (methadone). Outpatient counseling is classified as Level I by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

    4. Intensive Outpatient treatment counseling provides a variety of diagnostic and highly structured clinical services. Activities include individual, group and family counseling. Medication assisted treatment is available in an Outpatient setting at qualified providers. Intensive Outpatient treatment counseling is classified under ASAM as Level II.

    5. Detoxification services provide 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.

    6. Residential Rehabilitation ranges in intensity based on ASAM placement criteria and may take place in an inpatient (residential) setting. These levels of care are referred to as III.2, III.5 or III.7D and provide clinical and treatment rehabilitation services 24 hours a day.

    7. Residential Aftercare is offered on an Outpatient basis called Extended Care and is referred to as Level III.1. This level of care provides living opportunities to individuals in need of additional services. These services usually take place after discharge from residential rehabilitation. Services are designed to support the individuals' productive return to the community.

    Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) services are provided statewide. Residential and other specialized treatment services may not be available in every area of the state. In those instances individuals can be referred to a program that is geographically suitable to the individual. All treatment programs must be licensed by IDHS/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 IDHS/DASA and enrolled by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Only covered services delivered to eligible Medicaid individuals 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).

Several Medicaid Managed Care Organizations are in place to assist qualified individuals and families with medical insurance coverage in Illinois. These MCO's are responsible for assisting individuals in locating substance abuse services which are covered by the MCO in several facilities statewide.

Special Populations

IDHS/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)
  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 addictions resume drug use within 3 months of release. IDHS/DASA contracts with various treatment providers to assist individuals involved with the Illinois Department of Corrections and Illinois Court Systems.


IDHS/DASA provides funding for alcohol and other drug abuse treatment services for individuals with active DCFS involvement. Persons receiving these services are screened and referred by DCFS offices and local service providers. Treatment providers work collaboratively with DCFS workers to bring individuals into the treatment process and when needed, provide transportation for individuals 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

IDHS/DASA funds special programs for pregnant women or women with children. These programs help to stop substance 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 become involved with street gangs. IDHS/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 use disorders. Illinois' welfare-to-work strategies encourage treatment to address substance abuse as a barrier to self-sufficiency for TANF clients. IDHS/DASA funds a joint effort with IDHS local offices to offer early intervention, assessment, and community intervention services. Additionally, treatment services throughout the state are offered to TANF individuals.

HIV Counseling and Testing

IDHS/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 (IDU's) and their partners. IDU's are recognized as a high-risk group for HIV infections and AIDS.


IDHS/DASA offers outpatient counseling, case management, and early intervention services to individuals with problem or pathological gambling disorders. There are multiple 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 and 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:

  • Individuals 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 individuals 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 individuals 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 alone.***

*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)

To contact IDHS, visit our website at: www.dhs.state.il.us

or call the automated Helpline for Information and Referral Services.

To find the address and phone number of your local IDHS?office, call:

1-800-843-6154 (Voice)

1-866-324-5553 (TTY)

Representatives are available between:

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday (except state holidays)

For answers to your questions, please write:

Illinois Department of Human Services

Bureau of Customer and Support Services

100 South Grand Avenue East, 2nd Floor

Springfield, Illinois 62762

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-06-15) DASA Brochure Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois.  2,000 copies P.O.#15-0228