Pubdate: Sat, 01 Dec 2007
Source: News-Gazette, The (Champaign, IL)
Copyright: 2007 The News-Gazette
Author: Mary Schenk
Bookmark: (Treatment)


URBANA - Jesus T. Martinez never thought he'd be  excited about
getting up every morning to clean  apartments.

"I never thought about working. It was just something I  never did,"
said the 27-year-old Urbana man whose  lifestyle was more centered on
drinking alcohol,  smoking weed, and selling drugs.

Having completed his thirteenth month of drug  treatment, Martinez is
liking the regular paycheck.

"I live for that – to get up and go to work, to  say good
morning, and do something productive on a  daily basis," he said.

Martinez was among five people who "graduated" Friday  from Prairie
Center's "Day Treatment" program. Another  11 women graduated from
Prairie Center's "New  Beginnings" program.

Prairie Center Director of Development Betty Seidel  said Day
Treatment is an intensive outpatient program  aimed at getting those
with more severe addictions into  appropriate treatment faster. It was
launched two years  ago in recognition of the long waiting lists for
inpatient beds at residential treatment centers in  Illinois.

People with severe addictions to high intensity drugs  need more than
the typical nine hours a week of  outpatient treatment, she said.
Prairie Center worked  with state funders and local legislators to get
money  to develop the program with an eye toward providing 15  to 20
hours of outpatient services per week. The  average stay in the
program is four to six months.

The $200,000 that has been used annually for that  program was
recently line-item vetoed by Gov. Rod  Blagojevich, meaning Prairie
Center will have to scale  back the services it offers, like driving
people to  appointments. Seidel said the agency is working with  local
legislators in hopes of restoring the funding.

"New Beginnings," is an outpatient program providing  about 10 hours
of education a week for women with  children. Founded 12 years ago,
its funding comes from  the Department of Children and Family Services
and the  Division of Substance Abuse of the Illinois Department  of
Human Services. The majority of women in the program  are referred to
it by DCFS because there has been a  finding that they have neglected
their children due to  substance abuse.

The women take classes on parenting, codependency,  domestic violence,
healthy relationships and  self-discovery. They also do volunteer work
in the  community before they graduate.

Martinez graduated from Lincoln's Challenge in 1997 and  attended
Parkland College some, but never had a real  job, he said.

Having been arrested in August 2005 for selling drugs,  Martinez said
he began to drink even more heavily from  the stress of his legal
problems. In the fall of 2006,  he decided he was tired.

"I was just tired of living the way I was living, not  necessarily
just the drugs and alcohol, but the whole  lifestyle I was living. I
knew there was something  better," he said.

Martinez said that he went on his own to Prairie Center  in October
2006 and called it "the best decision I ever  made."

Like many of the other graduates who spoke Friday,  Martinez admitted
he entered "arrogant" and with the  feeling that he didn't really have
a problem because he  just drank and smoked marijuana. But after
talking and  sharing with others addicted to even worse drugs, he
realized they shared the same problems.

The program, he said, has given him the tools to  "change the actions,
the way of thinking, the people,  places, and things you're around."

He's been clean and sober since Jan. 10, 2007, the day  after he was
sentenced in his drug case to four years  of probation and continued
drug treatment.

"The scariest thing is not prison. It's change, leaving  everything
that is familiar," he said. "If you don't  have a strong foundation,
no matter how pretty a  building you build on it, it's going to crumble."

New Beginnings graduate Angela Miles, 36, of Urbana,  had a similar
success story. Toting her 4-week-old  twins in carriers to the
ceremony, the mother of six  children said she spent a lot of time
"blaming  everybody else for something I (have) done to put my  kids
in this predicament."

"This place helped me let go of the past because I  lived in the past
a long time," she said.

Nancy Roberts, coordinator of the two treatment  programs, gave
glowing testimonials about all the  graduates' successes but said
Miles had come so far in  her 11 months of treatment that DCFS did not
take  protective custody of her twins when they were born.  Miles is
hopeful that her 2-year-old daughter will be  returned to her in March
at her next court date. Her  three older boys live in Ohio with their
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