This episode features an important conversation about alcohol and substance abuse. In almost five years of podcasting, I’ve only covered this topic once so far, yet I know this is a pressing issue for parents of differently wired kids as several studies have linked neurodivergence with higher rates of alcohol and substance addiction. 

Well it just so happens that friend of the show and all around amazing human, Jessica Lahey, has written a brand new book, The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids in a Culture of Dependence. As a recovering alcoholic herself and having taught in a rehab center for adolescents, Jessica wanted to better understand how to inoculate her own children against their addict inheritance. After delving into the current research and her own past, the result is a vulnerable and powerful resource for all parents, teachers, and caregivers. I was able to receive an advance copy of her book and had so many a ha moments while reading it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

I wanted to talk to Jessica specifically about the link between neurodivergence and addiction, something Jessica has seen firsthand in her teaching experience. We talk about why that is, what parents need to know, as well as her best strategies for when and how to talk to kids about alcohol and drugs. You might be surprised by some of Jess’s research findings and her advice.


About Jessica: Jessica Lahey is a teacher, writer, and mom. Over twenty years, she’s taught every grade from sixth to twelfth in both public and private schools as well as in an inpatient rehab for adolescents. She writes about education, parenting, and child welfare for the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Vermont Public Radio, and the New York Times and is 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.



  • How Jessica knew she needed to write about addiction and why it was so important to her
  • The research that surprised Jessica most as she wrote this book
  • What parents need to know about the nature of the relationship between neurodivergence and alcoholism
  • Jessica’s tips on when and how to talk to kids about alcohol and substance use
  • What factors are vitally important in inoculating kids against alcohol and substance abuse



  • ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experience Study)




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