About Creative Drug Education

Creative Drug Education was co-founded in 1981 in Middlesex County, Massachusetts by Nancy Gibson and Richard Ryan. Having had written and implemented a curriculum on substance use and abuse issues in the state of Maine, Creative Drug Education quickly expanded into the private sector of education, focusing on providing alcohol (and other drug) use and abuse awareness and prevention programs to schools throughout the United States. In 1987, under the leadership of Richard Ryan, Creative Drug Education moved its primary base of operations to Denver, Colorado, from which it has operated ever since.

Personal Statement

Many individuals who choose to work in the field of alcohol (and other drug) use and abuse awareness and prevention programs come to this vocation through their own personal experiences in battling the insidious disease of chemical dependency. Personal experience in one’s own addiction or dependency, however, is not a prerequisite to engage in this work. Nor does one’s personal recovery alone qualify one to work with adolescents.

On this very topic, Richard Ryan, co-founder of Creative Drug Education and a consultant on adolescent addictions to Addiction Recovery Corporation (Waltham, MA), was quoted at the first Annual Conference on Adolescent Addictions in Philadelphia, PA as saying, “When presenting to adolescent populations within high schools and colleges throughout the United States, I remind them that for me to gain credibility to them--for my work in education around the issue of alcohol (and other drug) use and abuse prevention—from my personal addiction(s) and recovery, is both dangerous and disingenuous. It would be gaining credibility for the least credible part of my life, the period during which every addict suffers sincere delusion and an abject loss of insight. In short, an ‘honest addict’ is an oxymoron.

“Recovery alone no more qualifies one to be an educator than it does prepare her/him for any other work. For those professionals among you who are engaged in such work, it is imperative that you formally engage in academic work to enhance your understanding of adolescents and young adults, the very populations you lay claim to serving. Without doing so, your work will be less effective, and the population(s) you address will be under-served.

“Finally, it is essential for those of you who are recovering from your own addictions and/or dependencies to own and share--within the context of the educational services you provide--the long-term difficulties inherent in your own emotional, social, and spiritual development, a condition suffered by every addict, though to different degrees.”

Richard Ryan’s formal education includes an advance degree in Human Development with an emphasis on the population of 14 – 24 year olds. In addition to his academic work in the area of adolescent development, Ryan, who has been educating adolescent populations for the past three decades, has over thirty (30) years of personal recovery from alcoholism and drug dependency.

Richard Ryan

Creative Drug Education

Lakewood, CO  |  303-275-9426 (Home office)  |  720-985-5505 (Cell)

email: creativedrugeducation@yahoo.com

When working with a school, Richard is not merely present as an educator for students.  His depth of knowledge, and understanding of human development, makes him an invaluable resource for faculty, administrators and young people alike.  Endlessly flexible in the program he provides, Richard presents information which is reinforced by engaging stories, allowing students to directly apply what they're learning to real-life situations.  'Tweens and teens find him approachable and easy to be with, making Richard an important source of support for students.  Furthermore, his presentations to parents and faculty are thorough, sensitive and strongly impactful.”

– Patti Wilzcek, PhD.
Head of School, Milbury School

Los Gatos, CA    

(Former Director of
Counseling, Cate School, Ojai, CA)