If you haven’t heard of Kristen Johnston before, chances are you will soon. Johnston is energetically championing her cause to bring a high school geared toward teen addicts to New York. Best known for appearing in 3rd Rock from the Sun and TV Land’s, The Exes, this Broadway and television actress is now sharing the story of her struggle with addiction in her new memoir, Guts: The Endless Follies and Tiny Triumphs of a Giant Disaster.
Johnston recently revealed she was addicted to alcohol and drugs throughout most of her adult life. Her new memoir details many harrowing experiences, including the exploding ulcer which inspired the memoir’s title. Johnston sees the decision to write her memoir as a turning point stating, “that was the beginning of me becoming an honest person.”
The decision to write Guts was one Johnston made freely, rather than out of necessity. Johnston commented on the difference between a celebrity’s addiction being revealed by the media and her choice to reveal hers on her own terms. “I’m revealing something by choice, not by need. And I think that’s important, because then more people can do it. I just want the honesty to be O.K.”
Johnston also believes anonymity in recovery does more harm than good, creating a sense of shame.
This desire to stay hidden is very common among those who are undergoing drug addict treatment at a rehab center.
Instead, Johnston is striving to create an environment that is free of the stigma often associated with addition recovery.
SLAM (Sobriety, Learning and Motivation)
In an effort to bring the first addiction-recovery high school to New York, Johnston has founded the non-profit organization, SLAM (Sobriety, Learning and Motivation). The first annual fundraising event for SLAM was recently held on New York’s Upper West Side at The Triad. Actors from not only the stage and screen but also the Internet lent their comedic talents to a memorable performance of Celebrity Autobiography.
Among the actors on hand that evening were America Ferrara reading Melissa Gilbert’s account of sex with Rob Lowe on her mother’s couch, Bobby Cannavale reading from David Hasselfhoff’s, Don’t Hassel the Hoff, Santino Fontana reading Kenny Loggins’ The Unimaginable Life: Lessons Learned on the Way to Love, and Heather Matarazzo reading Suzanne Somers’ poetry. Andy Cohen kept the evening’s entertainment rolling with his reading of Countess LuAnn de Lesseps’ Class With the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair. The event’s organizer herself, Kristen Johnston, took her turn as well reading Cindy Crawford’s diaries from the set of her movie Fair Game.
The evening culminated with a reminder about why the work SLAM is doing is vitally important. “If I hadn’t gone to recovery high school, I’d be dead,” said Dillon Eaton, a 2009 graduate of the North Shore Recovery High School outside Boston. Eaton is also a resident of Loft 107, a transitional living facility based in Boston and founded by Joe Schrank. Schrank was honored for his work with addicts with the first “Friend of SLAM” award.
As evidence of how sorely needed recovery high schools are, Johnston presented the following statistics:
• One in three American teenagers meets the medical criteria for addiction.
• Eighty percent of rehabilitated teens who return to a regular high school will relapse within 90 days.
• Seventy percent of rehabilitated teens will graduate clean and sober if they are attending a recovery school.
“The fact that I’m still screaming into a wind tunnel about this issue is shocking to me,” said Johnston, commenting on her frustration. “The fact that there are 25 of these schools across the country and that New York doesn’t have one is just such a wrong.”
Johnston’s goal is to have the New York recovery high school open by the fall of 2013. Johnston’s main partner in the endeavor, investment banker Thomas Krauss, believes it can happen. After knowing Johnston for only a month, Krauss was on board as SLAM’s business half.
Joe Schrank is another firm believer in Johnston’s efforts and in SLAM. “I’ve had many rich and famous clients,” Schrank said. “Nobody wants to cozy up to addiction. Kristen has lent her celebrity fearlessly. I hope that she’s the pebble that starts an avalanche.”
This guest post article was written and provided by Gregg Gustafson who is a freelance writer and consultant for Drug-Rehab.org. Gustafson works with individuals who suffer from drug abuse, in turn referring them to some of the most prestige residential drug rehab centers active today.