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Addiction Proof Your Child: A Realistic Approach to Preventing Drug, Alcohol, and Other Dependenciesby J.D. Stanton Peele. Ph.D.
Synopses & Reviews
THE PROBLEM IS ADDICTION, NOT DRUGS
People become addicted to experiences that protect them from life challenges they can't deal with. It is not possible to say that any one thing causes addiction. Most kids who use drugs and alcohol don't become addicted to them. On the other hand, they can get addicted to very typical, common activities--such as eating, the Internet, other media, games, even medications they are prescribed for other problems.
The core of an addiction is that people become enmeshed in an activity that interferes with their functioning and, for children, thwarts their growth. If your children avoid regular involvements and experiences, if they can't cope with their lives, and if you fear that, left to their own devices, they will either collapse or go haywire, your children face addictive problems.
Disagreements about the nature of addiction make for vast differences in how we go about combating it. I do not find it helpful to regard addiction as a disease, which is the prevalent view these days. Although many people, including scientists, now believe that a wide range of things can be addictive, they wrongly persist in seeing addiction as a biological phenomenon beyond people's control.
By contrast, I was one of the first proponents of the view that addiction is not limited to drugs. But its very universality makes it clear that addiction can't be traced to a specific neurological mechanism. If sex or gambling addictions are defined by changes in the brain, why do so many people who find these involvements alluring for a moment, or even enthralling for some time, then simply move on to other activities? As we shall see, the exact same thing is true of addictive drugs.
Addiction can be especially debilitating for the young, but young people are more likely than not to outgrow it. The way out of addiction is to develop a range of skills and engage fully in life. The disease mythology is particularly unhelpful for young people. Telling adolescents that they have inherited addiction as part of their biological makeup encourages them to get stuck in the problem, rather than motivating them to overcome it.
Although my view of addiction is not the conventional one, my way of thinking has been adopted by many and is gaining influence in the field. My approach includes recognizing that addiction is not limited to drugs, that people overcome addiction when they are motivated and when their lives improve, and that successful therapy for addiction builds on people's own motivation to change while teaching them better ways of coping.
At the same time that not all drug use is addictive, addiction does not have to involve drugs. People can become addicted to powerful experiences such as sex, love, gambling, shopping, food--indeed, any experience that can absorb their feelings and consciousness. Addiction to the Internet is now in the spotlight, and before that came addiction to television and then video games.
Addictions provide quick, sure, easy-to-obtain gratifications, and advances in the electronic age such as the Internet, cell phone, iPod, and BlackBerry bring more addictive possibilities. Two addictions intertwined with the Internet are pornography and gambling. People become enmeshed in these experiences in isolation, rejecting everything else in their lives. A typical Internet pornography addiction case reads like this:
Offers an unorthodox approach to help parents teach their children the fundamental skills and values that will protect them from substance abuse and keep experimentation with drugs and alcohol from turning into a more dangerous dependency.
Offers an effective if unorthodox approach designed to help parents take aim at the problem of addiction by explaining how to impart the fundamental skills and values that will protect youngsters and keepexperimentation from turning into a more dangerous dependency.
Table of Contents
Introduction — The problem is addiction, not drugs — Youthful drug and alcohol use: why it becomes addictive or not — Why our drug education doesn't work — You can raise a non-addicted child — Discipline and values — Independence and control — The moderating household — Preventing adolescent and family problems from causing addiction — Keeping your child safe — Making treatment work: deciding on, monitoring, and participating in treatment — Policies for a non-addicted America — Appendix A: Education and treatment resources for adolescents — Appendix B: Government watchdog agency report finding government media program ineffective understates the case — Appendix C: Harm reduction for drug addicts.
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