Journalist Maia Szalavitz, who has been featured in publications like Vice, TIME and The New York Times, spoke to our Solutions Journalism: Covering Addiction class on Tuesday about her own recovery and how journalists report on addiction.

She discussed the importance of using science and evidence to back up both reporting and policy. Being aware of scientific reports on data and addiction will allow you to ask questions as a journalist that others won’t, she said.

“You have to look for anecdotes that fit your data, not data that fits your anecdotes,” she added.

Szalavitz touched on her own experiences entering recovery and navigating the criminal justice system, citing her race, class and gender as reasons she was able to avoid incarceration and enter treatment.

She also made a “subtle point” about the breadth of addiction’s impact: Though it does affect people at every level of society, there are some populations who are high-risk groups, like people living in poverty, people of color and those of who have experienced trauma.

“It kicks people who are already down,” she said.

Click here to listen to Szalavitz speak more about her experiences.