Category Archives: in the news

Dr. Thomas Wright and Rosecrance alumnus featured on NBC News

Rosecrance’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Wright appeared on “NBC Nightly News” on Sunday, Sept. 7, as the network continued its in-depth coverage of the nation’s heroin crisis. Also featured was Rosecrance alumnus Wes, who chose to identified only by his first name.

Click here to read and watch the report online, or watch the videos below:


Rosecrance to be featured on "NBC Nightly News"


Rosecrance will be featured on “NBC Nightly News” with weekend anchor Lester Holt at 5:30 p.m. CST Sunday, Sept. 7, as the network continues its in-depth coverage of the nation’s heroin crisis. A story on Saturday’s “Nightly News” also looks at the heroin issue, and that report leads into the Sunday story featuring Rosecrance.

NBC reporter Mark Potter, NBC producer Erika Angulo, Rosecrance Director of Outreach Mary Egan, and Rosecrance Director of Communications Judy Emerson.

NBC reporter Mark Potter, NBC producer Erika Angulo, Rosecrance Director of Outreach Mary Egan, and Rosecrance Director of Communications Judy Emerson.

NBC reporter Mark Potter and producer Erika Angulo, both veteran award-winning journalists, traveled to Chicago recently to talk with law enforcement officials and others about the problem. The team traced the routes by which heroin is trafficked from Mexico to America’s cities, primarily to Chicago. The Windy City has become the epicenter of the nation’s heroin crisis, making the often-deadly drug cheap and easily accessible here.

From a treatment perspective, Rosecrance is in the eye of the heroin storm. Admissions of adolescents and young adults for treatment of heroin addiction have risen dramatically in recent years.

Potter interviewed Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Wright, along with 24-year-old Wes T., who’s in recovery after receiving treatment at Rosecrance, and Deb L., the mother of a boy who went through our residential program for adolescents.

Dr. Wright talked about the nature of heroin addiction and how Rosecrance treats people for heroin dependence. Wes and Deb both debunked the notion of the “Heroin Highway,” which had referred to interstate routes from the suburbs into the inner city, routes used by young people to buy heroin from street dealers. They said heroin is easily obtainable with a phone call in any of Chicago’s suburbs, and no one needs to go to the city anymore to get it.

Producer Angulo said the report featuring Rosecrance is set to air on Sunday, barring other news that could force NBC to reschedule it.

May renewed commitment to help and hope be part of Robin Williams’ legacy

Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer Thomas Wright, M.D., reflected on the death and legacy of actor Robin Williams in a guest column published Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, in the Rockford Register Star.

Dr. Thomas Wright, Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Thomas Wright, Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer

For some reason, the death of actor Robin Williams by suicide hit harder than similar stories about other super celebrities who die too soon from suicide or other causes. The sad ending for this beloved public man felt more personal, somehow.

Maybe it’s because most of us are so familiar with Williams’ hilarious comedy antics, and we know that genius was one of a kind. Maybe it’s because he infused even his wackiest movie characters with likable humanity, from the wisecracking genie who just wants his freedom in “Aladdin” to the devoted dad who cross-dresses as a housekeeper to be close to his kids in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” The list of beloved characters is long.

Maybe it’s because he was so open about being a flawed human being.  He was candid about his battles with addiction and depression, and his humor about these serious conditions made the public able to listen and, maybe, learn something that could eventually lessen the stigma for others who struggle.

Part of the reason may be because we all know and care about someone who lives with addiction or mental illness, and we hope and pray for outcomes that are less tragic. That Williams couldn’t find treatment to save him makes me sad, and even, a little bit angry.

Depression and addiction are treatable illnesses, and science is making great strides toward medications, psychotherapies and other treatments that can help people live better and suffer less. These conditions affect millions of people on our planet, and we need more general education about both the illnesses and the treatments.

Here are some realities:

  • According to the National Institute for Mental Health, almost 7% of adults have experienced a major depression in the past year. It’s most common in women between 18 and 25, and Native Americans.
  • The prevalence of a mood problem in adolescence is almost twice as high as adults and highest among girls.
  • Depression is what most often leads to suicide, but, it’s not the only cause. People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder along with substance use disorders are also at very high risk.
  • Depression is treatable.  There is hope.  Common treatments include:
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
    • Psychodynamic Therapy or psychoanalysis. Obstacles may include expense and time commitment.
    • Medications. They may be effective, but many patients are resistant due to side effects.  Adolescents may be at increased risk of suicide.
    • Other treatments, including Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and electroconvulsive (ECT — shock therapy) are non-medication options that may be used in severe cases with resistant symptoms.  TMS is more economical and has fewer side effects than ECT with similar effectiveness.
  • Successful suicide is most common among people in the 45-64 age group, among males and among Caucasians and Native Americans.
  • The suicide attempt rate is higher among women, but men are more likely to be successful.
  • Suicide is much more common in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) population than in the general population
  • Suicide is often a very impulsive behavior and is responsive to interventions.

The bottom line is that depression is a common illness among the population, and suicidal thoughts are common in people with depression. Depression and suicide are particularly linked with substance use disorders. Let us shine a light on those realities and, at the same time, broadcast far and wide that depression is treatable and can be individualized to the patient.

There is hope for even resistant depression with newer, less widely available treatments such as Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and with new uses for medications like ketamine.

People who struggle must not lose hope, but instead, reach out for help. Honestly share what you’re feeling with people who really listen and access the network of care that is available. Those of us who come in contact with people who have depression must not avoid the proverbial “elephant in the living room.” We need to ask the hard questions, listen to the answers and guide the person we care about to appropriate help.

Beyond Robin Williams’ amazing body of professional work, beyond the joy and pathos he brought to our lives over the years, may this be part of his legacy.

Thomas Wright, M.D, oversees all medical operations for Rosecrance. He is certified as a child and adolescent psychiatrist by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and in addiction medicine by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Dr. Wright specializes in the treatment of co-occurring disorders. He joined Rosecrance in 2005.

Anne Fridh, Administrator of Rosecrance Ware Center, speaks about mental illness in wake of Robin Williams' death

Anne Fridh, Administrator of Rosecrance Ware Center, speaks about mental health in an article written by Melissa Westphal from the Rockford Register Star.

In 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, 39,518 suicides were reported in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention noted that the numbers make suicide the 10th-leading cause of death for Americans.

Rosecrance Health Network fields calls for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline when people call from the 815 area code.

The lifeline rings to a phone at Rosecrance’s triage center at the downtown Ware Center. The triage center is a voluntary facility where adult patients stay temporarily while they’re evaluated for treatment.

“We help people who are feeling afraid and worried that they’re going to hurt themselves,” Ware administrator and psychologist Anne Fridh said. “We’re constantly reaching out to folks, and they’re reaching out to us.

“Mental illness is something that can affect anybody. One thing to remember is that mental illness is much like cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Folks struggle with it during a certain period of time and they continue to manage it.”

Fridh said self-destruction is a “very painful end, not just for the person who commits suicide but for the family members left behind.”

Rosecrance will host a Mental Health First Aid session Oct. 10 aimed at understanding and responding to the signs of mental illness and substance abuse.

“A lot of people don’t want to talk about it. There’s certainly a stigma about why they didn’t get the help they needed, if the family member knew it was going to happen. That’s not always the case. Sometimes there are signs, and sometimes there aren’t,” Fridh said.

“I think the stigma is mostly related to the fact that people don’t really understand how you can get yourself to the point where (suicide) is the only option left. They don’t understand how depression puts that in people’s minds, how really overwhelming the illness can become.”

The median age for a depression diagnosis is 32, Fridh said. The median age has increased as more older adults are found to have depression, in part because people are living longer.


You can read the entire article here on the Rockford Register Star’s website.

Dr. Thomas Wright speaks about the legalization of marijuana on The Daily Buzz

Dr. Thomas Wright, Rosecrance Chief Medical Officer, was featured May 29 on The Daily Buzz discussing a new study by Rosecrance that found teenagers think that legalization will cause more teens to try marijuana and move on to other drugs more quickly. He also discussed what parents can do to make sure their teens are making the right choices when it comes to substance use. See the interview here:


Rosecrance Senior Vice President and COO David Gomel gives parents of teens conversation tips about drugs and alcohol

davegomelDavid Gomel, Rosecrance Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, spoke on how to effectively speak to teens about alcohol and drugs in an article published by the Wicked Local Chatham May 16. “It needs to be a conversation, not an edict. When it comes to parenting style, the most effective is authoritative – high on both warmth and control,” says Gomel. Read the article here.

For more information on how to talk to your teen about drugs and alcohol, visit our Resources for Parents page.

Rosecrance is one of the country’s leading teen substance use treatment facilities and provides help, hope and the opportunity for lasting recovery for teens and their families. Rosecrance has been helping kids and teens for almost one hundred years and serves more than 1,200 teens each year. Rosecrance offers a holistic treatment approach that addresses the emotional, developmental, physical, psychological, social, academic, spiritual, and cultural needs of teens and deeply involves family in the recovery process.

New Rosecrance Ware Center Expected to Improve Neighborhood

Rosecrance’s new Ware Center was featured on WIFR May 12, 2014. Watch the interview with Rosecrance President/CEO Phil Eaton here.

Work Begins on New Rosecrance Ware Center

Rosecrance was featured on WIFR Monday, April 21. The report highlighted the new Rosecrance Ware Center. Watch the video and read the article here.

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:

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.