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Drug prevention starts with toddlers

Wednesday, Mar. 12 | By Julie Taylor
Dr. Robert Iadeluca addresses the community at the seminar on drug prevention.
On Feb 27, local clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Iadeluca presented a seminar on preventing drug addiction, sponsored by The Fauquier Chamber of Commerce. Also speaking at the seminar were community law enforcement officers as well as others.

The seminar was geared toward parents of young children. According to Iadeluca, drug addiction actually begins before the age of 5. Not the actual usage of drugs, but within the first five years, certain triggers occur that will make the child more likely to abuse substances later in life.

“This event is meant to help parents of children from birth up to kindergarten to guide them to prevent their children from becoming addicted [to drugs] when they move on to teenage years,” said Iadeluca.

Iadeluca has a degree in Lifespan Development Psychology, which includes the study of the brain and accompanying behaviors. In 1990 he retired as a research psychologist with the federal government and in 1992 opened hid practice on Hospital Hill in Warrenton.

“More people are dying from prescription drug overdoses than suicide or car accidents,” said Iadeluca. “Considering the vast social costs of untreated addictions in terms of incarcerations and criminal justice burdens, not to mention poverty and homelessness, it is clear that addiction is our nation’s central public health challenge.”

According to Iadeluca, addiction is the greatest root cause of accidental injury, disease and premature death in the United States.

"Before birth a child has about 100 billion cells in it's brain," said Iadeluca. "The brain at birth has 150 billion cells, plus the brain stem."

"Over the first couple of years the right brain takes over more," Iadeluca said. The right side of the brain is more emotional than logical, he said.

"Every single action affects the child," said Iadeluca. By the time the child is 2 it is forming two million synapses per second. By the time child is 3 it has a thousand-trillion synapses."

He said that in the brain, the nucleus accumbens is like the reward center. When a person takes a drug some of it goes in there. After a while the brain starts to treat the need for drugs like a necessity, like food and sleep.

Once certain parts of the brain have gone down in volume, they're down for life.

Gwen Sudowski with Grow, Learn, Thrive advises parents to pretend play with their children to help their development. She also encourages parents to read to their kids, which is proven to enhance vocabulary.

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