The Gift Of Failure, The Addiction Inoculation, Making Your Life Your Argument & More


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If you have teenagers like I do, or have kids that will become teenagers, or are considering having kids that will become teenagers, or even know anyone with a teenager…

…you've probably thought about kids and substance abuse.

Of course, all parents want to give their kids the best possible resources and support to prevent problems with drugs and alcohol. But what does that look like? Is it teaching moderation or prohibiting substances before the legal age? How much does genetics play into it? Those are big, important questions, considering that according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, teen drug addiction is the nation's largest preventable and costly health problem. And nine out of 10 adults with substance use disorder report they began drinking and taking drugs before age 18.

My guest on this podcast, Jessica Lahey, was born into a family with a long history of alcoholism and drug abuse. Despite her efforts to avoid that path, Jessica struggled with alcoholism herself until 2013, when she got sober in her early 40s. Her latest book, The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence, is a comprehensive resource that parents and educators can use to help prevent substance abuse in children. A parent herself, Jessica has also learned firsthand how to navigate this highly sensitive and important topic. Jessica is also the author of the New York Times bestselling book The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed.

For more than twenty years, Jessica has taught every grade from sixth to twelfth in both public and private schools, spent five years teaching in a drug and alcohol rehab for adolescents in Vermont, and serves as a prevention and recovery coach at Sana at Stowe, a medical detox and recovery center in Stowe, Vermont.

Jessica writes about education, parenting, and child welfare for The Washington Post, The Atlantic, is a book critic for Air Mail, and her biweekly column “The Parent Teacher Conference” for three years at the New York Times. Jessica designed and wrote the educational curriculum for Amazon Kids’ award-winning animated series The Stinky and Dirty Show, and was a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee for her Creative Nonfiction magazine essay, “I’ve Taught Monsters.

The co-host of the #AmWriting podcast, with bestselling authors KJ Dell’Antonia and Sarina Bowen, Jessica also holds the dubious honor of having written an article that was later adapted as a writing prompt for the 2018 SAT.

Jessica will be soon featured in a special chapter of my Boundless Parenting book, for which this podcast interview is part of a series leading up to the official book launch in late 2022. She lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and many dogs.

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