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Healing the Heartland: The Changing Face of Addiction Treatment in Chicagoland

Author: Sunspire Health Staff

Chicago and its surrounding areas in Illinois are no stranger to the addiction epidemic that the rest of the nation is now grappling with. As the public health crisis escalates, new options for care like Sunspire Health Heartland are becoming available to help these Illinois residents in need of recovery.


Chicago’s Crisis, Then and Now

Now more than ever, substance use disorders are in the public eye as addiction rates skyrocket throughout the United States. However, Chicagoland residents know that addiction isn’t anything new. A 2010 study from the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy showed that Chicago and its suburbs had the highest rate of heroin-related ER visits compared to any other major metropolitan area.

In 2015, heroin and fentanyl (heroin’s synthetic and more potent relative within the opioid class) were linked to 53 overdoses in Will County and 526 in Cook County. The drugs were responsible for more deaths than traffic fatalities that year.

And it’s not just opioids that are having a negative impact on Illinois: 2012 research from The Atlantic suggested Illinois was in the middle of a “binge drinking belt,” with alcohol consumption in Chicago outpacing the national average. According to SAMHSA, over 661,000 people over the age of 12 were dependent on alcohol in 2014.

As the numbers surrounding the addiction epidemic have continued to grow, so have the options for the people and their loved ones seeking a solution from this chronic disease. Facilities like Sunspire Health Heartland offer evidence-based, accredited addiction treatment for people outside of Chicago and in the surrounding areas of Illinois.

Local Treatment, Nationally Recognized

Sunspire Health Heartland is a charming addiction treatment facility in Gilman, Illinois, just under two hours outside Chicago. Gilman is a quaint rural town, giving patients the peace and privacy they need to focus on recovery while still remaining close enough to Chicago for easy travel and wide accessibility. The center used to be a spa and wellness retreat and was extensively redesigned to meet national accreditation standards.

The facility’s evidence-based approach is accredited not only by the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, a national non-profit society dedicated to providing people with top-tier substance use treatment, but also The Joint Commission (TJC). TJC is an independent non-profit whose certification is recognized across the country as a symbol of commitment to high-performance standards in the field of behavioral health.

In addition to its accreditations, Heartland staff is comprised of professionals recognized for their successes state-wide. Tom Delegatto, Executive Director, has worked in the field of addiction treatment for over 25 years and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. The facility’s Medical Director, Danesh Alam, MD, DFAPA, FASAM is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and has co-authored several publications in peer-reviewed journals. Patients can trust that the care they receive at Heartland is from compassionate and highly experienced staff members.

Heartland adheres to the belief that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to treat addiction, so the staff completes a clinical assessment for each patient to determine his or her substances of abuse, physical health and mental health before he or she is admitted to the facility. From there, staff is able to determine the best level of care for the patient and form a treatment plan that will best help the patient have a successful path to recovery.

Care Catered to Individuals

Heartland offers on-site medical detoxification for patients with severe addictions who cannot stop using substances “cold turkey” without dangerous ramifications. With 24/7 staff support and a safe setting, patients in Heartland’s medical detox are as comfortable as possible as they cleanse their bodies in preparation for a life free from addiction.

Medication is administered on a case-by-case basis to help ease severe withdrawal symptoms. After successful completion of detox, patients begin a residential treatment program at the Heartland facility. With only 36 beds available, the staff is able to provide personalized attention and care to each patient and tailor treatment programs to their individual needs as they seek recovery.

These patients are immersed in a daily schedule full of medically proven therapies to overcome addiction, as well as complementary therapies that will help support them in life outside of treatment. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and family therapy are offered in addition to group therapy sessions covering trauma, co-occurring mental health disorders and anger management, among others.

Complementary therapies offer patients an opportunity to express themselves in ways different than traditional individual or group therapy settings. Expressive arts enable patients to explore creating art or acting to channel their emotions in artistic ways, and mindfulness meditation teaches patients to focus on living in the moment and clearing their minds of distracting thoughts.

Support for Long-term Recovery

After patients finish their residential treatment, which usually takes between 30 and 90 days, they are given the option to continue their care at Heartland through its Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). Despite its name, there is no hospitalization involved in PHP—it’s a lower level of care for patients who still want to receive ongoing support and treatment while beginning to transition to an aftercare program around the facility or closer to home. Patients are still able to reside at the Heartland campus as part of this program.

All patients completing their treatment at Heartland meet with a staff discharge planner to help them determine their goals outside of the facility’s care and the steps they need to take in recovery in order to achieve them. Discharge planners also help patients find sober living accommodations and connect them to other resources that Heartland recommends or partners with.

Patients are also introduced to Heartland’s alumni community for a support system once treatment is over and the rest of recovery begins. Through in-person meetings and an active Facebook page, Heartland alumni stay in touch with each other and hold each other accountable to not relapse and continue living life in a healthy and safe way.

If you or a loved one want to learn more about Heartland and how it helps patients recover, reach out anytime online at