CONTACT Hear and heed the recovering addict - Dr. Christian Thurstone

News organizations frequently ask me to help them find young people and parents willing to share their experiences with addiction.

I try to assist when and where I can — but these aren’t easy connections to make. Many people in substance recovery fear the stigma often associated with their condition. They’re ashamed. They’re scared about opening up to journalists, who could misrepresent their views to massive audiences in mere minutes.

(Side note for journalists: My patients are almost always hurt when they and their families do take the time — sometimes hours of their time — to speak with reporters only to be told later there was “no room” in the magazine or paper for their stories to be mentioned, or “not enough time” for them to appear on television. I understand that. However, I also recommend news organizations demonstrate more respect for what these people have shared, and make every effort to present their stories and opinions online, where space limitations are of relatively little concern.)

Because of these difficult dynamics, the voices of people in recovery are largely missing from news coverage — and from the halls of government, where public policies are made. Think about it: we hear routinely from politicians, spokespeople for well-funded drug-legalization groups and drug users who pounce at every opportunity to share anecdotes not even remotely supported by reputable science.

We don’t hear nearly enough from recovering addicts — whose stories, while anecdotal, are consistent with what medicine worldwide overwhelmingly knows to be true.

So, when I saw the videos below supported by The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, a nonprofit funded by the Church of Scientology, I cheered. Say what you will about Scientology — but the messages imparted by these videos shouldn’t be up for debate. They’re true. And the young people speaking here are brave. Their stories are part of a larger series about drug addiction that can be viewed at



About Chris Thurstone

Dr. Christian Thurstone is one of only a few dozen physicians in the United States who are board-certified in general, child and adolescent and addictions psychiatry. He is Director of Behavioral Health Services at Denver Health and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction and serves as director of medical training for the university’s addiction psychiatry fellowship program. You can read more about him here.

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