Sharing my learnings from the book, The Addiction Inoculation by Jessica Lahey
The Addiction Inoculation by Jessica Lahey
The Addiction Inoculation is a comprehensive resource parents and educators can use to prevent substance abuse in children. Based on research in child welfare, psychology, substance abuse, and developmental neuroscience, this essential guide provides evidence-based strategies and practical tools adults need to understand, support, and educate resilient, addiction-resistant children. The guidelines are age-appropriate and actionable—from navigating a child’s risk for addiction, to interpreting signs of early abuse, to advice for broaching difficult conversations with children.
The Addiction Inoculation is an empathetic, accessible resource for anyone who plays a vital role in children’s lives—parents, teachers, coaches, or pediatricians—to help them raise kids who will grow up healthy, happy, and addiction-free.
- Whether we like it or not, these days we have to raise our children surrounded by temptations. But we can’t bring our kids up in isolation. We can’t shelter them from a wider culture steeped in substance use. What we can do is inoculate them against it.
- Being a teenager is both intense and confusing. On the one hand, your teenage years are profoundly exciting and memorable. On the other, many teens find themselves dealing with troubling new experiences and unfamiliar emotions. What many people don’t realize is that the uniqueness of your teenage years isn’t just down to novel experiences, like first love, going to prom, or learning to drive. There are brass-tack issues of cognitive development at play – factors that also make the teenage brain far more vulnerable to substance abuse. they’re driven by the limbic system, a collection of structures that process emotions, instincts, memories, and desires.
- Abusing substances in your mid-twenties is still a really bad idea, sure – but people who use alcohol and drugs when their brains are fully formed are much less likely to experience the poor mental health and cognitive issues that plague teenage users.
- Understanding why children abuse substances can help you to protect your own kids.
- Most minors who drink or use drugs say they do it in order to feel better: to relax, to sleep, to decrease their anxiety and cope with life’s problems. In short, most underage substance users are trying to self-medicate.
- If kids generally use substances to cope with stress and trauma, then we can reduce the risk that they’ll use by ensuring their psychological well-being.
- sipping at home makes teenage drinking no less likely – in fact, it increases the odds that kids will turn into regular drinkers.
- how can families discourage drinking among their underage children?
- make sure children experience the natural consequences of their actions
- if your teenager’s drinking results in nausea, a hangover, or some other minor trouble, help her to draw the dots between her behavior and its ramifications. Sometimes punishments are necessary, but when it comes to changing behaviors, the best teacher is life itself.
- Natural consequences like these teach kids that rules aren’t arbitrary: they’re designed to prevent the bad decisions that lead to harmful outcomes.
- the unmistakable sense of elation, satisfaction, and competence is at the heart of what psychologists call self-efficacy – the belief that one has the ability to succeed in life, by adapting to new circumstances and overcoming obstacles. People with a weak sense of self-efficacy are pessimistic and prone to feelings of helplessness, while those with a strong sense of self-efficacy are resilient, confident, and driven – and most importantly for us, they’re also less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
- the best substance abuse prevention programs focus on developing a sense of self-efficacy in students
- start with yourself. One of the best ways to develop a sense of self-efficacy in your children is by modeling it for them.
- To drive that point home, teach your children skills. It’s not enough to tell your kids that they can develop their abilities, you need to help them do it for real. Set your kids age-appropriate tasks that are hard enough to challenge them but not so hard that they become completely discouraged.
- praise your kids carefully. To develop a sense of self-efficacy, the praise kids hear needs to be specific – simply saying “Well done!” is useless.
- Fostering trust through communication with your kids is vital in helping them steer clear of substance abuse – and the dinner table is the ideal place for these discussions.
- When it comes to discussing alcohol and drug use with your kids, the most important thing is to start, and start early. aim to be talking about substance use, in an age-appropriate manner, from elementary school onward.
- When it comes to substance abuse prevention, lectures don’t work – communication goes both ways. What’s more, listening to your kids will help you to identify warning signs. If so, don’t overlook it. These offhand comments can help you get a better picture of your child’s attitudes regarding substance use, and the likelihood they might drink or do drugs down the line.
- Peer pressure is the nemesis of parents and the complaint is always the same: if only kids listened to you instead of their friends, if only they cared less about being cool and fitting in – then you could rest easy. But instead, you’re afraid.
- If you want your kid to show some backbone and refuse whatever substances they’re offered, then you need to make things easy for them. In other words, you need to equip them with some tools.
- One of the most important tools for kids is a sense of perspective. Too often, they buy into the false belief that everyone’s doing it. If your child ever parrots this argument, take the opportunity to make it clear that most kids don’t smoke, drink, or use drugs – the impression that everyone else doing it is a total illusion.
- take the time to equip your kids with ready-made scripts they can rely on in intimidating situations. In other words, help them come up with convincing responses when they’re refusing to partake.
- Equipping your child to resist peer pressure means you can rest a bit more easily knowing that you’ve bolstered your child against a powerful and often destructive force.