We have a heroin crisis in this state. Illinoisans are dying of heroin overdoses at twice the rate they were in 1999. Since 2012, in the Chicago suburbs alone, an average of three people have died a day.

This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of the Heroin Crisis Act, a proposal I supported in the Senate that seeks to address the epidemic of narcotic use in Illinois.

He declined to sign this bill unless the State of Illinois removes investments in treatment for those who need help covering the insurance costs.

As a society, we are coming to grips with the reality that drug addiction is not a war, but a public health concern — that the answer is not brutish incarceration but medical treatment. Substance abuse costs our nation over $600 billion annually, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment can reduce these costs far more effectively than incarceration.

A year of methadone treatment costs $4,700 per patient. A year of imprisonment in the State of Illinois costs $38,000. According to conservative estimates, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of $4 to $7 as we prevent drug-related crime. The governor would have us believe that we can’t afford to spend money on treatment — the fact is, we can’t afford not to.

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