Youth Mental Health MattersWe're for the developing brain -- our world's most valuable natural resource
Simply put, this website offers information about child and adolescent mental health — particularly as it relates to substance use and addiction.
Contributors to DrThurstone.com are big believers in evidence-based medicine that has practical, real-world applications — meaning science that has been subjected to the rigorous review of reputable scholars and can be used at home and throughout a community.
We do not have all the answers — but we are confident the information you find here is trustworthy enough to guide your search for them responsibly.
— Dr. Christian Thurstone, M.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing much stress and distress as it disrupts so many things at the core of our lives, including our education, finances, health and social interaction. Stress specifically affects our mental health. It leads to biological changes in the...
I am pleased to share this treatment guide, "impACT: Animal-Assisted Therapy Manual", which can be used in conjunction with “impACT: An MI/ACT Trans-Diagnostic Manual for Substance Use and Co-occurring Problems.” Both are yours, free for the download. About...
Vaping rapidly has become one of the most troubling addictions for a generation of adolescent Americans.
I am deeply grateful to all of the Colorado physicians who took the time to recognize my work with a ninth consecutive "Top Doc" award in 5280 magazine. Thank you. Substance Use Disorder is one of our country's most damaging and pressing public health problems, and...
I am glad for this report from Colorado Public Radio about the state's highly disturbing rate of teen vaping and its lack of resources to help these young people beat an addiction that studies show affects their brain development and increases the likelihood that...
Prevention and Treatment for Families
Help and hope for families wanting to avoid and address problems associated with substance use and addiction.
The most important thing parents can do for their adolescent with a substance problem is to maintain a positive, warm and loving relationship with him or her because this is the most important tool parents have to shape their child's values and future directions. This...
These are common questions: If so many teens are using addictive substances such as alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, what's the big deal? Isn't it normal to experiment like this? After all, teens will be teens -- and a lot of parents had their own flings with smokes...
The May 2017 edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry includes a review of our book, "Clearing the Haze: Helping Families Face Teen Addiction." Dr. Christopher Hammond calls it "parent-friendly" and writes: "Thurstone and Tatum...
Get the impACT diagnostic manual
This is the first adaptation of Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) for adolescent substance treatment. The manual is a general guide for treatment using Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) principles.
Animal- assisted therapy for impACT
The use of animal-assisted therapy will promote comfort, accelerate rapport-building, encourage trust, elevate mood, reinforce activities of daily living (ADLs), increase interpersonal contact, encourage communication and encourage self-care.
Read the book
Clearing the Haze is a guide designed to help parents determine whether their child may have a substance problem and, if so, how to begin to address it. This book includes the voices and insight of experts in substance abuse counseling, young people in recovery, and parents who have lived the nightmare of adolescent addiction.
Hot Topics, Great Resources
Find a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist
Remember: Adolescent mental health extends to age 25. A great way to find a physician who understands the unique mental health needs of children and adolescents is searching the online member directory of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.