Addiction is a Preventable Developmental Disease

“Addiction is a preventable developmental disease that starts in childhood and adolescence,” reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). A quick glance at the research on addiction risk and protective factors available through NIDA and the Centers for Disease Control reads like an extended testimonial for quality early childhood care and education. That is the message the Permanent Fund’s Rick Davis and Julie Coffey of Building Bright Futures brought to to The :30 Show on WCAX-TV recently.

So much to say, so little time

Five minutes on TV goes by very quickly. This subject is worthy of an hour-long special, but that can be saved for a future blog post. Here are a few highlights of the WCAX interview, and the essential connections you want to hold onto for community conversations about early childhood and drug addiction.

Three critical early childhood and addiction connections

1. Brain development science from birth to age 5

Brain development before age 5

2. Quality early childhood environments increase protective factors (and adverse experiences increase vulnerability to addiction and other health problems)

The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative has an extensive collection of resources on the physical and emotional links between early childhood experiences and addiction.


3. Poor early childhood environments increase risk factors and the likelihood of poor outcomes

quality early education offers protectionWhat Vermont is doing

There is a long way to go before every Vermont child has a safe, stimulating and nurturing early childhood environment from birth to age 5 — but there are some bright spots. As of January 2014, there are a few signs of progress:

  • H.270, a bill to expand access to pre-kindergarten education
  • Federal Race-to-the-Top grant to build capacity in Vermont’s early childhood system
  • Additional funding for childcare in the new Pathways out of Poverty
  • Early childhood action planning, following a statewide summit


Topics in Brief: Drug Abuse Prevention (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study (Centers for Disease Control)

Building Bright Futures