My name is Lindsey Glass and I am a screenwriter and documentary filmmaker. I am also a person in recovery. I’ve been working on my recovery since I was 21, but more about that later.
As a media professional, there came a moment when I realized I didn’t like the way alcoholism and other addictions were portrayed in the media. In 2011, I produced a TV movie documentary, The Secret World of Recovery. That project took me to places all around the country, from inside jails to Congress. I saw recovery working everywhere I went, but also saw people and families suffering terribly. I realized I couldn’t go back to doing nothing about it. I decided that apart from our work as advocates, filmmakers and writers, we had to do more.
I am a third generation social activist. I was taught positive change is always possible if you stand up for what you believe and demand change by stating the facts. As a result, my mom and I co-founded the non-profit organization, Reach Out Recovery (ROR), in 2012.
At ROR, we put our efforts toward removing the stigma from alcoholism and addiction. We support teen education and prevention as well as other such causes. We make documentaries on these topics for PBS. We have a website that provides information on all things recovery, and we collaborate with other organizations in whatever ways we can to ensure that as many people as possible are getting the information they need.
I am very proud of our work, but it is also vital to my sobriety because it keeps me close and connected to the program. I need that. I need it every day to stay on this path. I’m grateful I am able to do the work we do.
After my second documentary, The Silent Majority (2012), received a national airdate from PBS, we decided to put together a teen empowerment curriculum as a supplement to the film. With the help of a teen counselor, we created a fascinating and fun curriculum to take into the nation’s schools and after-school programs. This enables teens to talk about drugs and alcohol in an open and healthy way. If that had been available to me, I might not have made the choices I did in my youth. Had I known in high school the damage I was doing to my body and my brain by using drugs, I do not believe I would have made the choice to use them. I might have looked for help sooner.
I am from New York, the second child of a good family; and I have an excellent education. While I come from decent American stock, that didn’t prevent me from having the disease of addiction.
Though I looked right, I felt different from the beginning. To cope with an anxiety disorder, I began to smoke pot at an early age. I progressed to other drugs, then for a decade battled prescription drugs and pot.
For years I suffered in silence. I was afraid to tell people how I really felt or how I abused drugs simply to feel normal and comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t understand I had a disease. When I finally understood, I was ashamed that I had the disease of addiction. I was terribly anxious and unhappy as a teenager, but didn’t get the help I needed. That led to years of addiction, accompanied by shame and other negative consequences.
While I didn’t stick needles in my arm, steal from my parents or live on the streets as many addicts do, I nevertheless suffered terribly. I did witness other people doing those awful things. I buried beloved friends from overdoses and I held the hands of parents who lost their teens, I didn’t understand why they had lost their kids while I had survived.
We at ROR want people to know that recovery from addiction is possible. The media doesn’t always show the bright side. We’ve seen lives lost to addiction, but we’ve also seen miracles – millions of successful, clean and sober people all over the country living wonderful, productive lives, many of them spending their time helping others improve their lives.
Yes, we have a drug problem in this country; but that’s not our main concern. Our main concern is to keep our young people off drugs to begin with. If teens begin using drugs and alcohol before their brains have fully developed, their chances of having a normal life drop dramatically.
My life was changed drastically by the disease of addiction, but it was not in vain. Because of my addiction, I am now in a position to do something positive about it. If it means talking about my own experience, so be it. That’s how much I care about ensuring that other young people don’t succumb to the devastation of addiction.
Because of our personal experience with the negative results of drug abuse, we at ROR care about making the world a better and safer place. I am proud of the work we do and am grateful that it helps me stay close to the realities of my disease.
Addiction is preventable; but if it occurs, recovery is possible.
Lindsey Glass is the daughter of veteran author, playwright and director Leslie Glass and the granddaughter of Milton Gordon, producer of Lassie and other beloved early TV series. She attended Johns Hopkins University, then received a Masters Degree from NYU. As of 2014 she is working with PBS on a documentary series and writing with musician, writer and director Chris Jaymes on several film projects. She splits her time between Florida and New York where Reach Out Recovery and Rehab Productions both have offices. She may be contacted through her website: http://reachoutrecovery.com.