How to Talk to Your Child About Drugs and Alcohol


Adults are increasing their use of alcohol and drugs to cope with pandemic-related stress. Jessica Lahey worries that many teens will be tempted to do the same.

Ms. Lahey is the author of “The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids In a Culture of Dependence,” which will be published April 6. She taught middle school and high school English for more than two decades, including five years at a residential treatment center for teens with substance use disorders. Ms. Lahey, whose first book was the bestselling “The Gift of Failure,” has two sons, ages 22 and 17, and has battled her own addiction to alcohol.

In her new book, Ms. Lahey details what drugs and alcohol do to the adolescent brain, why even sips of wine at family dinners are a bad idea for kids and how to have conversations with teens that will help them refuse that offered beer or vape pen. Here are edited excerpts from an interview.

How has the pandemic affected drug and alcohol use by teens?

I think it is going to take a couple of years to get a really accurate picture of what happened with substance use. We went into this pandemic with drug and alcohol use among adolescents falling.



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