Monthly Archives: March 2014

Transform Rockford visioning session encourages Rosecrance Ware Center clients to dream big

tr_websiteRosecrance Ware Center hosted a Transform Rockford community visioning session in the Recovery Resource Center March 24, 2014. Twenty people from the community attended the session to voice their concerns about the wellbeing of those who live with a mental illness. Transform Rockford volunteers Linda Zuba, Chad Carty, and Patrick O’Keefe led the brainstorming session, asking attendees to break into groups to discuss their vision for the future of Rockford. These groups contributed their ideas to create five main goals:


  1. Create a safe place for the mentally ill
  2. Educate the community about mental illness to reduce stigma
  3. Create a support system of people who understand/have compassion to help the mentally ill to get jobs and get housing
  4. Create a safe place free of gangs and drugs
  5. Repair the streets and sidewalks for improved safety

Transform Rockford will continue to have visioning sessions until the end of March. Visit for a list of future sessions.

Addiction’s impact goes far beyond the individual

The stereotype scenario of an addict often involves the image of a single individual hiding away to engage in drug or alcohol use. And while these activities may occur in solitary settings, they are far from isolated incidents.

Mary Roufa, community service manager for Rosecrance, says anyone who has dealt with drug or alcohol dependence directly or through the life of a loved one knows that it’s impossible to completely separate the addiction from the lives of others.

“Addiction is a family disease,” says Roufa. “Like any other chronic illnesses, it impacts all members of the family as family members live their lives in response to the manifestations of that illness.”

In fact, the lives of many family members can be altered long before an addict faces his or her issues. “Family members have a tendency to tolerate poor behavior and warning signs with their loved ones more so than the same behaviors coming from a stranger,” Roufa says. “They know the wonderful qualities of their loved ones and rationalize the unacceptable behaviors displayed by the addict.”

Addicts are well aware of the leeway they get from family members, and can act accordingly. “Addicts are very skilled at eliciting guilt from their family members when they attempt to hold them accountable,” she says.

In some cases, the lack of accountability is compounded directly or unintentionally by loved ones’ actions. In either case, the enabling from family members allows the addict to continue down his or her path of self-destruction. Enabling can take many forms, according to Roufa, including making excuses for the addict, giving them money or paying their bills, allowing certain privileges – like the use of a cell phone or a car – even though those privileges get used to fuel connections to drugs or alcohol. In some cases, the enabling is more obvious. Family members pay fines and legal fees incurred by the addict or bail them out of jail if they’re arrested. These small and large actions often stem from a family member’s reluctance to face reality. “There’s a horrible sense of shame that family members feel when it comes to admitting their loved one may have a problem, until the problem becomes so huge it can’t be ignored anymore,” Roufa says.

When support fails

Still, many family members think they’re helping, or in many cases, just being there to provide support. But at some point, supporting is often confused for enabling. “It can be difficult for family members to distinguish supporting someone they love from enabling destructive behaviors,” says Roufa. “But family members need to actually see and understand how they think helping their loved one is actually hurting them, which is the last thing a family member wants to do.”

Again, manipulation of the family member can play a role in dealing with addiction in the family. “Addicts may threaten to never see their family again, or offer up some scenario that causes a family member to envision a horrible outcome,” says Roufa. “But family members often realize they do not have the power to make their loved one stop, but they do have control over what they will support and do to help the addict. They stop enabling and allow the natural and logical consequences to happen for their addict.

And it’s this decision, Roufa says, that often triggers the addict’s realization that he or she needs help. “That is how addicts can come to the conclusion finally that maybe they don’t want to keep doing what they are doing and ask for help,” she says.

Ultimately, Roufa says that family members need to rely on the Three C’s when it comes to dealing with a loved one’s addiction: You did not Cause it, you Can’t Control it and you Can’t Cure it. “Family is not so powerful to cause someone else’s disease,” Roufa says. “They’ve tried to control it and that doesn’t work. And they are not so powerful to be able to cure it, especially since there is no cure for addiction. There is only the hope to manage it.”



Community forum focuses on progression of drug use, particularly heroin, among teens

OCONOMOWOC – A rise in heroin use among young people in Lake Country has prompted the Oconomowoc School District to partner with other concerned local groups in scheduling a public forum from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, at The Oconomowoc Arts Center.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature speakers familiar with drug treatment, law enforcement and criminal justice, as well as individuals in recovery from heroin addiction and family members who lost a loved one through a drug overdose.

The Oconomowoc Arts Center is at 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc. Prior to the program, audience members may access information on prevention, education and treatment at a Resource Fair, which begins at 6 p.m. The event is recommended for people aged 12 and older.

Featured speakers:

  • Paul Raddatz, local father of an overdose victim
  • Judge Timothy Kay, Lake Country Municipal Court Judge
  • Chris Kohl, Waukesha Metro Drug Unit Detective
  • Chris Gleason, Director, Rosecrance McHenry County
  • Your Choice – A Family’s Journey to Recovery

The event is co-sponsored by the Oconomowoc Area School District, Rosecrance Health Network, Oconomowoc Parent Education Network, Your Choice, Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department and Lake Country Municipal Court.

National studies show that about 40 percent of teens will use marijuana before they finish high school. Research has shown a link between early marijuana use and later use of prescription drugs and, increasingly, heroin use, which can be deadly. Research also shows that use goes down when parents are educated on the topic and involved in their kids’ lives.

For more information, contact or Scott Bakkum at 262-560-3123.

Read more about the event in the Oconomowoc Focus.

Register for the free event at

Download the press release.

Dr. Thomas Wright warns about the dangers of decriminalization of marijuana

Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer Thomas Wright, MD, traveled to Washington, D.C., on March 13, 2014, to meet with various national media outlets to discuss concerns over marijuana legalization and how it may impact teen substance use. Also, he addressed the rising national crisis of heroin use. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder declared heroin use an “urgent public health crisis” earlier this week.

Wright met with officials in the office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, to discuss how Rosecrance is dealing with the heroin crisis through prevention/education efforts, intervention and treatment. Sen. Durbin expressed concern over increasing heroin use among teens and young adults when he visited Rosecrance’s adolescent campus last summer.

Watch Dr. Wright interviewed by Lesli Foster on Washington, D.C. television station WUSA 9:

Challenges continue for recovering addicts even after discharge

Facing down an addiction can be tough. Living in its wake can be tougher.

In fact, it’s often helpful to avoid thinking in time-focused terms because recovery is an ongoing process, says Glenda Burns, transition specialist at the Rosecrance Adolescent Treatment Center.

“Just because a person stops using does not mean that he or she is cured. Addiction is cunning, powerful and baffling,” says Burns. “No matter how much clean time a person has it is crucial to that they understand that the disease of addiction is patient and it will wait for the right moment to do what it has always done: hurt.”

Burns says a recovering addict has to deal with the pressures of a potential relapse often, and in most cases, they’re fully aware that they can’t rely on past successes to stay clean. But Burns says they should rely on the processes, lessons and encounters they participated in while in recovery. “Every interaction makes a difference. I believe that every client that we come into contact with wants to stay clean and sober and will take something with them when they leave treatment,” Burns says. “It may be something huge or something as small as a staff member staying behind to listen.”

And those memories and lessons don’t come with an expiration date. “Even if the client chooses not to stay clean and sober, there will always be something that they will remember,” Burns says.

And for many, those memories come with strings attached – strings that the former patient can use to pull him or herself back to Rosecrance to be a positive force for others. “There are clients who have left and have stayed clean for years that come back and give freely what was given to them, which is hope,” Burns says.

Throwing out a lifeline

Rosecrance’s Recovery Lifeline is a post-treatment resource that’s always available to Rosecrance alumni and family members. It’s a phone-based continuing care service which provides support to former patients whenever needed, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The Recovery Lifeline is important because it is a comfort to clients and the families when they know that they will have someone that they can call for support,” says Burns, adding that the service is offered to any client and family that completes the program.

For newly released patients, Lifeline counselors check in with them for six months after they leave the program. “When a client is discharged from treatment it can be scary for everyone involved,” says Burns. “Sometime just knowing that there is someone to turn to is a comfort.

Burns says that Rosecrance suggests that each client get a sponsor when they leave treatment but Burns says the chances of that happening are very slim. “It’s easier for clients and the family to call someone they already have a rapport with,” Burns says. “It’s amazing when you’re calling clients and they know your voice and you can tell that they are excited to talk with you, or when a client calls and they tell you that you’re a day behind with your check-in with them – that’s priceless. For some clients and families it is the only support they will have.”

Rockford City Council approves zoning for new Crisis Stabilization Center

The Rockford City Council approved necessary zoning to allow Rosecrance to create a Crisis Stabilization Center in downtown Rockford. The Crisis Stabilization Center will put the Triage Program and the Crisis Residential Unit under one roof to improve the continuum of care to individuals in psychiatric crisis.


The Rosecrance Triage Center currently is located on the first floor of the Rosecrance Ware Center, 526 West State Street, Rockford, IL.

Currently, the Triage Program provides crisis intervention services and stabilization, with linkages to community providers. Rosecrance Triage utilizes a “living room” concept; instead of a typical clinical or emergency room setting, the program offers a comfortable, safe and welcoming environment.

The Crisis Residential Unit is a voluntary, short-term program available to individuals with serious mental illness who are experiencing a psychiatric crisis. They do not require inpatient care, but need to be stabilized in a 24-hour supervised setting.

At the new location, Rosecrance will also add detoxification services for individuals in psychiatric crisis who have a co-occurring substance use disorder.

The Crisis Stabilization Center will be open by the end of the year.  This is a unique program in Illinois and there are only a few such operations in the nation.

Dr. Thomas Wright gives talking tips for parents with teens about drug & alcohol use

Dr. Thomas Wright spoke on WGN’s Midday news segment, giving tips to parents on how to talk to your teen about marijuana, alcohol, and heroin abuse.

Click here to access the resources for parents mentioned in the interview.

Pat Spangler, Mary Ann Abate speak to legislators about Rockford heroin epidemic


ROCKFORD – Rosecrance’s Pat Spangler, Men’s Inpatient Unit Coordinator, and Mary Ann Abate, Vice President of Public Policy, gave testimony for the Young Adult Heroin Use Task Force hearing at Rock Valley College on Saturday, March 1. The task force addresses the growing problem of heroin use in high schools across the state. Spangler commented on the trends in heroin use related to treatment, particularly the spike in the number of opiate-addicted patients 18-25 years old.

“The trends that we’re seeing are the number of patients that are returning, which is a good thing because they’re still alive, but also the number of patients that identify opiates as their primary drug of choice,” said Spangler.

Last year, 124 people died of drug overdoses in Winnebago County, and 51 of those overdoses were heroin-related.

Spangler also suggested changes to the education system regarding the stigma surrounding this issue. “Society tends to say, ‘Well they chose it so they deserve it.’ To me that’s just a lack of knowledge about treating addiction as a disease. We need to challenge the stigma.”

Mary Ann Abate addressed how mental health issues affect heroin addiction, as well as the importance of increased funding for the Triage and Crisis Residential programs.

Over 50 individuals attended the hearing, including State Rep. Sam Yingling, State Rep. John Cabello, State Sen. Kyle McCarter, and State Sen. Steve Studelman. Many other organizations and individuals shared their expertise and personal stories about the heroin epidemic. The Young Adult Heroin Use Task Force will report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and Governor on or before June 30, 2014.

“I’m very proud to say that I’ve seen this community come together and attack this issue from a multi-faceted standpoint,” said Spangler. ” I like the way we’re moving and I encourage this community to continue to combat this together.”