Nov 112010
Authors: Lianna Salva

Addiction speaks for itself. There are people who are addicted to Facebook or people who are addicted to television.
Thursday night Chaske Spencer, who portrays wolf leader Sam Uley in the popular “Twilight” films, spoke about another addiction: drugs and alcohol.

As a part of Native American Heritage Month at CSU, Spencer was invited to give a lecture about overcoming substance abuse and raising awareness of the dangers this addiction can cause.

Over the years, Spencer has noticed a lot of addiction within the Native American community.

“It’s a great opportunity to raise cultural awareness and bring up issues about diversity,” said Courtney Woolsey, a senior Native American Cultural Center mentor. “Also, overcoming addiction is a very universal and empowering message.”

Spencer, who is celebrating sobriety of two years, nine months and six days, explains what a shock it is to be alive today.
“Statistically, I am not supposed to be here,” Spencer said. “Honestly, I’m just happy to have all my teeth.”

After moving from reservation to reservation, Spencer’s family settled in Montana where Spencer was “just a spec of color” in his dominantly Caucasian high school.  

It was there, after suffering under peer pressure and wanting acceptance, that he took his first drink where “all the insecurities went away.”  

An accident with drunk driving caused Spencer to move to New York City in hopes of starting his career as an actor and getting clean.

His vow for sobriety lasted one day. Trying to get completely sober took up to four years.

With the help of his manager and his friends, Spencer went into rehab and graduated after two months.

He was working as a bartender in New York –– still sober –– when he got the call to audition for “Twilight: New Moon.” The day he signed the contract for the film is also his sobriety date.

“Because of the huge success of “Twilight” I am able to raise awareness on a global scale,” he said.

Members of the Native American community from all of Colorado, CSU students and “Twilight” fans were present to hear his message.

“It was surprising but very motivating for him to speak about his addiction openly,” said freshman sociology major Jasmine Matthews.

Spencer’s advice for anyone who wants to overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol is to “do it for yourself, not for anybody else, or it won’t work out.”  

He also explained how he takes it “one day at a time” and surrounds himself with people who care about him.  Spencer attends AA meetings every day and sometimes twice a day to keep himself in check.

Spencer is also involved with raising awareness about the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation water crisis. For more information on this crisis and to sign Spencer’s petition, go to his official website

Staff writer Lianna Salva can be reached at

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