Rosecrance Health Network has made an unmistakable mark in addiction and mental health treatment with its significant presence in Illinois and Wisconsin, but it also is working to strengthen the voice for prevention in its service area. It has contributed $75,000 to assist the drug and alcohol awareness program Your Choice in making presentations to schools over the course of this year.
The Lybert family established Your Choice to assist families in overcoming stigma about substance abuse and in getting help for their affected children. Sandi and Rick Lybert's son Tyler began using drugs in the 6th grade, was jailed multiple times, and entered treatment at 21; he has now been sober for about six years.
Rosecrance president and CEO Philip Eaton offers a two-part explanation for the organization's decision to put some financial support behind Your Choice's effort, amid its other priorities. “One, Rosecrance is in the epicenter of the nation's heroin epidemic, which is claiming too many young lives,” Eaton says. “We are responding on the treatment side as best we can, and we also want to directly address this issue from the prevention angle.”
Eaton adds, “And second, there is pitifully little public funding for prevention education. The state of Illinois has no money for this work, and schools and communities are committed to so many other priorities. We have the expertise to help fill this gap in a way that reaches individuals and families and provides an important service to communities throughout this region. Bottom line: We hope to save lives.”
Rosecrance expects that its grant will finance 100 public presentations. It says that last year, the organization presented at 32 schools, reaching more than 12,000 students and more than 800 parents.
Tyler Lybert's father, mother and sister all participate in public appearances, offering their personal perspectives on how their loved one's struggle affected each of them as well as the family as a unit. “We know what we're doing is working,” Tyler Lybert said in a Jan. 6 news release from Rosecrance. “It's affecting everybody, and people are finally starting to open up and try to figure out what we can do about this.”
Rosecrance director of business development Kelly Dinsmore told Rockford, Ill., NBC news affiliate WREX, “We're trying to really spread the message that if you educate your kids, you educate your students, educate your families, then hopefully we can really help stop some of these folks from venturing to addiction.”