Cover Image: The Addiction Inoculation

The Addiction Inoculation

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Member Reviews

I wish I'd had this book 20 years ago! I knew then that we have a family history of alcoholism & addiction; I didn't know what to do about that, besides let my kids know that they're at increased risk of addiction. (And as anyone who works with kids knows, simply telling kids about a danger is *not* sufficient to change behavior!). This helpful book clearly outlines steps parents can take to minimize kids' chances of developing a substance use disorder, without ever being intimidating or preachy. This one should be a must-read for all parents.
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Weaving in author Jessica Lahey’s personal and professional experiences with research-backed information, this part memoir and part information deep dive gives parents and caregivers the tools to build strong and honest communication regarding substance use and addiction prevention.

Lahey dives into how young brains respond to substances, how genes and lifestyles play a role, and what parents can do moving forward. I appreciated knowing from a young age about my own family’s risk with substance abuse and so the chapter on how to start the conversation with our own children was especially powerful for me.

For many parents, talking about substance abuse can feel like a bit of a taboo topic and not only does Lahey help normalize these conversations but also gives practical advice on how to have these conversations, starting with very young children through adulthood.

The Addiction Inoculation taught me so much and also highlighted where we could be more proactive in our conversations with our elementary and middle school-aged children, and how to continue having this dialogue as they grow. Just like all the uncomfortable things we need to talk about with our kids but don’t always want to, the more we do it, the more easily it becomes just a normal part of our everyday conversations.

I highly recommend adding this book to your 2021 reading list and if you do read it, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you to HarperCollins for my gifted copy. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Addiction is a topic I am very interested in, and when I came across this book I found it to be especially intriguing. A promise to help you raise healthy kids in a culture of dependence? I was hooked. I wanted to know more about how to keep your children safe from the dangers of addiction. 

This book starts as a memoir. Jessica Lahey is now sober after battling her own journey with alcohol. I found her story one like many others, and love how she quotes recent works like Quit Like A Woman by Holly Whitaker, another memoir/self-help book about alcohol that I really liked and highly recommend. 

“No one wants to grow up to be a drug addict or an alcoholic; that’s simply where some of us end up, so desperate to escape the discomfort of being who we are that we pick up that first smoke or drink.”

Lahey provides the always eye-opening information about how damaging drugs and alcohol are to our brains and bodies, but I found her specific details on the dangers to adolescents who use substances the most jarring. The young brain is still developing until the ripe age of 25, and drugs and/or alcohol can cause more brain damage when consumed before 25 then in an adult. Of course it’s still poison to an adult, but for a child it’s even more destructive.

“In an adult brain, a communication pathway between neurons may be able to shut down for a while, then recover once the drug is out of the body, but in a developing adolescent brain, where neurons must connect in order to continue maturing, an entire pathway could die off in a massive, permanent loss of cognitive potential.”

As I reflected on my own underage drinking, my mind was blown as I came to terms with the fact that all those black outs I had in high school and college were effectively brain damage. The importance of keeping kids sober and off drugs became easily understood. 

I especially liked the sections about permissive parenting when it came specifically to drinking. Lahey reminds us that drinking underage is illegal and allowing it is a felony. There is proof that kids who are allowed to drink at home are actually at a higher risk to abuse substances later in life because they see substance use as not a big deal to their family. Lahey instructs that a much better approach is to have clear expectations and consequences when it comes to substance use. 

Another big take away for me was just about honesty. It’s better to be honest with kids than to confuse them with euphemisms. As a child of a parent with substance use disorder, I found myself wishing there was more communication around substance use in my own childhood instead of treating it as the subject that shall not be named. 

Because of my experience with family addiction group meetings and their teachings, I struggled with the whole idea that parents have as much control over their children’s substance use as Lahey paints there to be. Programs teach that you did not cause addiction in someone else, you cannot control it, and you can’t cure it. These ideas are very important to the recovery of family members dealing with a loved one’s addiction, and since Lahey attends her own meetings I was surprised she didn’t try to reconcile these concepts with what the book is set out to teach. Of course providing an ideal environment and being open about expectations with substance use can place your child in a better spot to succeed, but there should always be the caveat that at the end of the day you cannot control them or their decisions. 

Some later chapters seemed more directed at schools rather than the parents, so I found it harder to read since that essentially is not the role of the parent, although it could always be reinforced at home. 

All in all, I thought the book had some great facts and directives that I will definitely keep in my mind when I become a parent. It seemed the techniques would be beneficial to children overall, not just to help them avoid substance use disorder. I just warn that if you think as long as you do these things your children will stay safe, you may end up disappointed. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper for providing me with an ARC of this book.
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I have an appreciation for this book and the personal story shared here. I think this is a good book for those who struggle with someone they love who is dealing with addiction. 
I don’t necessarily agree with the concept of predestination in this area but I can understand how some can see it that way. 
I appreciate a copy from the publisher and netgalley
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Profoundly moving and expertly researched, this book will help so many parents and mentors support young people in a world where addiction is an ever-present concern. I especially appreciate the author's brave and honest sharing about her personal experience and careful, research based arguments against a permissive culture around alcohol and drugs. Grateful for this book and will recommend to every parent and mentor I know !
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As someone familiar with recovery,  I think this book is really solid at giving the background of how addictions and substances works. But, I have a hard time getting on board with the idea of predestination and addiction due to genetics. Genetics is part of it and I understand not abusing substances before our brains are fully developed (age 25) is important but we need to be realistic about free will as well.
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