Future of Meth treatment program uncertain - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Future of Meth treatment program uncertain


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says legislators have not given him enough money to keep state government running for a full year. He says he'll have to make deep cuts to keep within the budget that lawmakers approved.

The looming cuts leave a question marks around the future of a number of programs, including one in southern Illinois designed to fight the meth epidemic.

For the past 5 ½ years the Franklin County Juvenile Meth Program has helped nearly 100 teens. That number may sound small. But experts say it's been, when it comes to saving tax dollars.

Dillon Estep works on his throw. This is not a typical place you expect to find a 17-year-old playing a game of catch. Estep is locked up at Juvenile Detention Center in Benton.

"We're about to go inside my room in D-pod right now," Estep said.  

Estep is one of just 8 teens going through a state funded program designed to get them off meth.

"You feel like you are on top of the world when you are on it," Estep said.

Estep says he tried marijuana at just 13-years-old. He says he then tried other drugs as he got older including alcohol, meth and cocaine. It's a high that Estep says he stole to sustain.

"I'd steal anything I could get my hands on," Estep said. "Either sell it or try to find a drug dealer and trade it," he added.

But after a 2010 arrest, the court ordered Estep into the Juvenile Meth Treatment Program. 

"This is his last chance," Program Manager Andrew Belt said.  

Belt says nearly 90-percent of meth users nationwide go back to the drug after treatment.  Belt says in Franklin County they're using new methods to break that addition.

"More than 50-percent of the clients who enter after care and go through the six months of after care are successful and do not re offend, do not get locked back up,'" Belt said. "So in the long run it's saving tax payers a lot of money."  

But that savings, Belt says, could soon be gone if funding is cut in Springfield.

Meanwhile Estep and his counselor head back to treatment. He'll leave the detention center Friday and start after care. It's another chance on life that Estep says he plans to keep clean.

"I want to stay sober," Estep said. "Me and my family we're building our relationships back up, my life it's seems like it's coming back together for the first time in a long time."

The H Group, in Marion, runs an adult substance abuse treatment program.  Heartland News is told those dollars are under the knife, leaving its future in question as well.

Quinn is expected to announce soon what cuts he thinks must be made.

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