CONTACT Helping families face teen addiction - Dr. Christian Thurstone

Every week, parents looking for help with issues and problems related to substance use contact us through this website — so my wife, journalist Christine Tatum, and I have written a book designed to help them act quickly, efficiently and effectively to care for their children.

"Clearing the Haze" book cover

“Clearing the Haze” book cover

Clearing The Haze: Helping Families Face Teen Addiction (Rowman & Littlefield) is available online in hardback and e-reader editions through online book sellers, such as Amazon. The book covers an array of topics in 12 chapters:

  • Why adolescent substance use is a big deal
  • Parents’ tools for planning, communicating and monitoring
  • What to do when you learn your child is using drugs
  • When to seek treatment and what to look for in it
  • Specific family objectives during treatment: The Theory
  • Specific family objectives during treatment: The Practice
  • How parents can help their adolescents not use substances
  • Addiction is a chronic condition that requires chronic maintenance
  • Taking care of you
  • Advocating for adolescent substance prevention
  • Additional resources (people, organizations and books we recommend)
  • Summary (a roundup of the previous chapters to help you find information quickly

We’re grateful to former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, a tireless advocate for mental healthcare and addiction treatment, for writing the book’s foreword. We also thank you in advance for reviewing the book and recommending it to others. Again, we welcome questions.

From the book’s first chapter:

Clearing_Haze_Book“If so many teens are using substances, what’s the big deal, right? 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 and drinks, so shouldn’t we just chill out and let our kids navigate the world of substances in much the same way we were expected to?

“That sounds like a plan — if you take your cues from industries selling addictive substances and are good with remaining in twentieth-century mindsets and approaches to drug prevention and treatment.

“Science of only the last decade is sounding serious alarms about adolescent drug use. In just the last five years, researchers have discovered more than the world ever has known. Unfortunately, the gap between what reputable science knows about adolescent substance use and what the general public believes about it has never been wider.

“People profiting and otherwise benefiting from the sale of addictive drugs want to keep it that way. The alcohol and tobacco industries maintain legions of lobbyists to influence public drug policies and spend billions of dollars on media each year to influence public opinion. Now, the marijuana industry is on the rise — fueled largely by legislative and popular votes that opened the doors to more mountains of misinformation.

“‘People are voting without knowledge,’ Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Insitute on Drug Abuse, told a ballroom packed with hundreds of drug-prevention experts, treatment providers and concerned parents in February 2014. ‘And we have to counter investments of individuals wanting to change the culture and promote beliefs that marijuana is a safe drug.’

“Yet it is very difficult to hear addiction scientists and world-recognized substance treatment experts like Dr. Volkow and all the peer-reviewed research studies published in prominent medical journals over the din of billion-dollar advertising and public relations campaigns launched by companies deriving most of their profits from addiction. They want us either stuck in outdated mindsets or embracing their latest clever — and often insidious — slogans and narratives because they fear what would happen if more of us understood brain development science of the twenty-first century and challenged ourselves and our communities to rethink public policies and social norms surrounding drug and alcohol use.

“The latest science boils down to this: adolescent substance use is a very big deal — and a bigger deal than researchers previously thought. Parents do not have to accept it, and when they reject the messages of popular culture that so often ensure youth, they should know they’ve got reputable science on their side.”

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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