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As the Covid-19 pandemic rips at our social fabric, substance abuse has skyrocketed. A combination of an explosive opioid crisis, economic decline, and loss of supportive in-person meetings has seen the addiction crisis worsen here in the state. Illinois addiction care has received a boost, however, which will help some.
A grant of just over one hundred thousand dollars from the Cigna Foundation to non-profit treatment provider Gateway Foundation has come at a welcome time. This will enable the foundation to expand its efforts here in the state, as it seeks to tackle this issue.
Recent figures published by Illinois state officials estimate that overdoses this year will kill as many as 2700 people, a forty percent increase on the last big spike back in 2016.
There are many reasons behind this, all of which are related to or greatly aggravated by the pandemic, such as fewer donations of time or money, not to mention more people driven to substance abuse because of personal or professional circumstances such as job losses or domestic violence.
Using this cash, the Gateway Foundation will be able to increase their investment in the “Warm Hand Off Program.” This initiative sees workers from the foundation attend hospitals and enables them to provide care on-site. Dr. Teresa Garate of Gateway Foundation reinforces how important this grant will be:
“This grant will get more people consenting to treatment at the moment they are discharged from a hospital. We know from experience that engaging individuals at this exact moment increases their likelihood of engaging in active treatment.”
“By collaborating with these partnering hospitals, we can now serve people when and where this critical care is needed most and is most effective.”
The Cigna Foundation usually gives out a huge number of grants each and every year to Illinois addiction care and many more charities through the state. This year, however, has challenged even its ability to help where it is needed.
This grant given to Illinois addiction care has been welcomed with open arms by the Gateway Foundation,but many more charities have not been so lucky. Of the grant, Brian Marsella, Midwest market president for Cigna, had this to say:
“Cigna is committed to reducing opioid abuse in our communities, so we are proud to support the Gateway Foundation in their efforts to provide people with access to essential treatment.”
“Gateway shares our mission to help those in our community struggling with addiction, and this grant will enable even more to begin their recovery journey.”
In a year where so many need help, it can be easy to think that substance abuse shouldn’t be at the top of the list. This is however a multi-faceted problem and just as we have reported, big pharma has a large part to play in this. The opioid addiction epidemic was fostered by big pharma’s greed for profits, resulting in so many issues at the street level.
We have also covered the increase in substance abuse based on the direct-to-physician marketing which has been employed throughout the state by big pharma as well.
Thankfully, for as many greedy pharma companies there are out there who care little about the damage which is done, there is a strong force of good too. Back in 2018, we broke the story that Howard Buffett would commit thirty million to Illinois addiction care. Cigna’s grant amount may pale in comparison, but the effort is equally as remarkable.
As Illinois is now in its fourth phase of the five-phase reopening plan, the economy is slowly getting back on its feet. Unfortunately, however, the lockdown’s impacts this year will be felt for months, if not years, to come. This is why it is so essential that nonprofits such as the Gateway Foundation can get back to doing the great work it does.
Through support from donations, greater community awareness, and care for neighbors and community, non-profits working to help addicts to sobriety and fuller lives will be able to achieve those goals in a post-pandemic climate.