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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound commonsense and practical advice, 10 Sep 2007
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This review is from: Addiction-proof Your Child: A Realistic Approach to Preventing Drug, Alcohol, and Other Dependencies (Paperback)
Dr Stanton Peele's new book "Addiction-Proof Your Child" is a concise and commonsense piece of work that does exactly what the title suggests, and gives parents a comprehensive guide to ensure their offspring never fall victim to drug and other addictions, including alcoholism.

At the same time, the book provides valuable advice as to how best to help a child who is already an addict or is showing signs of dependency.

Although he claims at the outset that his book is not revolutionary, Dr Peele starts off by saying that we should disregard much of what we are told about addiction and its treatment.

Reiterating what he has argued in previous books, the author points out that addiction can take many forms, and need not be to a substance, citing the examples of shopping, gambling, love and sex.

He goes on to deride the idea that addiction is an illness or a disease, or that it is any kind of biological phenomenon beyond our control, or that it has any genetic causation.

Addicts do not have a problem with heroin or with alcohol, Dr Peele says, they have a problem with life.

He explains: "People become addicted to experiences that protect them from life challenges that they can't deal with."

Not only should we not treat addiction as if it were a disease, neither should we treat it as a crime.

Stanton Peele points out that alcohol and drugs are always going to be available regardless of what society may do, and young people are always going to be prone to experiment with them.

However, the good news is that drug use rarely leads to drug addiction, any more so than taking a drink leads to alcoholism.

Moreover, of those people who do become dependent, the vast majority mature out of their addiction of their own volition as their life moves on.

So parents should think twice before rushing children with a drug or alcohol problem into treatment, since surveys have proved that people undergoing such treatments, particularly those based upon the 12-Step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous, fare no better, or even not so well as those who undertake to change their behaviour with no outside assistance whatsoever.

What Stanton Peele says parents can and should do is to encourage this natural maturing process by instilling their children with positive values and a responsible attitude about themselves and their place in society.

He says: "What kids need to protect them from addiction are the fundamentals of a life: a sense of meaning and involvement, purposeful activity and achievement, caring about themselves and others, and the ability to manage themselves."

Stanton Peele goes on: "My approach includes recognising 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."

Dr Peele argues that such an approach depends for success upon giving children self-efficacy, a firm belief that they hold their destiny in their own hands.

This is in stark contrast to the 12-Step programme, which is based upon the false assumption that an addict is powerless against an incurable lifelong disease.

As Dr Peele says: "Learning to assume adult responsibilities does not mesh well with admitting powerlessness."

"No experience, including addiction, is beyond human beings' control. People are most likely to escape addiction when their values contradict continued addiction, and when they believe they can escape it."

Stanton Peele's book provides much more detailed advice about how parents can deal with offspring's addiction, and (even more importantly) how to avoid it happening in the first place.

It claims to say little that is new, but rather to reassert some good old-fashioned traditional virtues and values.

"Addiction-Proof" Your Child" is nevertheless an urgent and much-needed wake-up call to all parents, to the medical profession, and to governments both here in the UK as well as in Stanton Peele's native America.

Murdoch and Lilian MacDonald
Ayrshire, Scotland.

Murdoch and Lilian MacDonald are the authors of "Phoenix in a Bottle", an account of how they themselves reconstructed their own lives after many years of chronic alcoholism.
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