For those of you familiar with the PotatoAllergy.com movement and its focus on educating children about addiction, the call for action in this week’s landmark report on addiction from the U.S. Surgeon General will come as no surprise.
Among the important findings in the 400+ page report, the U.S. Surgeon General recognizes that educating children about the dangers of addiction before they are exposed to drugs and alcohol is crucial in preventing future battles with addiction. The Surgeon General properly points out that children who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to become addicts later on than those that start at age 20 or later. It’s up to entire communities — teachers and principals, parents, doctors — to keep children from falling through the cracks, he told NBC News.
He issues a call to all Americans to help prevent addiction by educating our youth instead of having to focus on treatment decades later. “I’m calling the country to action,” he said. “We are going to need everybody to address addiction in America.”
Children with addiction in their genes are at an even higher risk and need even more attention. Children on alcoholics, for example, are five times more likely to become alcoholics than their peers.
The statistics above result in a horrifying reality for children of alcoholics — those who begin drinking before the age of 15 may be 20 times more likely to become an alcoholic than a peer. If this does not grab our society’s attention as a call to action then what will.
Yet today there are only a handful of resources that focus on educating and preparing children with addiction in their genes. Shatterproof.com and PotatoAllergy.com are two such movements that have already heeded the Surgeon General’s plea. We can only hope that this is just the beginning.
Marc Treitler and his family are the founders and creators of the family addiction education website www.potatoallergy.com and the authors and illustrators of My Dad Is an Alcoholic, What About Me?: A Pre-teen Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes.
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