Why you should talk about your family history with substance use

Because addiction has such a strong genetic component, you may want to share any family history of substance use issues. This may help a young person make more informed decisions about their own use.

EMPHASIZE BRAIN DEVELOPMENT Young people are often interested in learning more about how their brains and bodies are developing. It can be powerful to share information about how much brains grow and change between ages 10-25. This stage of development makes it possible for young people to learn new information and new skills rapidly, but also makes them more vulnerable to the effects of substance use than older adults.

READING UP For families that want more in-depth guidance, Jessica Lahey’s book, The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence, gives lots of practical tips. Lahey recommends parents and caregivers be clear about their expectations around substance use, talk about the health consequences of drug use early and often, and discuss brain development and why teenagers are especially vulnerable to addiction.

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