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Help teens make informed decisions with judgment-free information about addictive behaviors.

What’s the Big Deal About Addictions?

Answers and Help for Teens


From drugs and alcohol to pervasive use of electronic devices, more teens are exhibiting addictive behaviors. What’s the Big Deal About Addictions? provides teens with lecture-free, reliable, and factual information about a range of addictions, from drugs and alcohol to electronic devices, social media, and other addictive activities, such as pornography, eating, gambling, and sex, among others.

A practicing psychologist and a certified substance abuse counselor, Dr. Crist shares advice for teens who are having serious troubles with addiction and for teens with casual levels of use who may be concerned about their use. With teen stories and quotes included, What’s the Big Deal About Addictions? speaks directly to teens about the real-life struggles with casual use and addictions they’re seeing and experiencing among peers in school and in the broader community.

Packed full of information to help teens make informed decisions, What’s the Big Deal About Addictions? covers:
  • The difference between casual use and addictive use, and the consequences of using
  • The types of addictions, addictive behavior, and the risks associated with each
  • How to overcome an addiction and the types of treatments available
  • How to know and accept when recovering from addiction may require giving up certain friendships 
  • Tips for preventing relapse or developing a secondary addiction
Additional resources for help and information are provided at the back of the book.
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ISBN: 978-1-63198-530-0
Reading Level: Grade 7
Interest Level: Ages 13 & up
Guided Reading Level: Z
Lexile Measure: 1090L
Trim Size: 6" x 9"
Page Count: 168
Praise for What’s the Big Deal About Addictions?

“A valuable resource for education and self-help.”—Booklist

“Critically important and unreservedly recommended.”—Children’s Bookwatch

“Once again, Dr. Jamie Crist breaks down complicated concepts into an easy-to-read format that speaks directly and compellingly to teens. The style of his writing, whereby he reinforces choice—even with how to read the book—lends to his ability to meet the teen reader where they're at, and not necessarily where adults want them to be. Even the adult reader has something to gain from this book; particularly parents, who may glean clever ways to talk with their teenagers about these often-misunderstood, difficult nuances about addiction and its many faces. Given what I've been seeing in my own practice over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a timely and important read for many. Making concepts relatable by giving glimpses into the lives of teenagers impacted by substance use and/or technology, Dr. Crist also offers down-to-earth suggestions, which foster better understanding and inspire hope for a manageable way forward for dealing with any behavior that could prove problematic.”—Steven M. Harner, Psy.D., licensed clinical psychologist, Child & Family Associates of Greater Washington, LLC

“A book on addictions tailored for teens is important for many reasons. Research shows that adolescents may not seek treatment due to lack of knowledge about substance use, stigma surrounding substance use, and misconceptions about available therapies. Dr. Crist’s book directly targets teens as consumers of knowledge, rather than going through parents, who may unwittingly pose a barrier to services. Teens should not have to wait for parents or other adults to put this book into their hands. It should be easily available at libraries and anywhere that youth gather. The book avoids preachiness and invites the reader in a warm, almost casual, conversational tone. Crist provides scientifically reliable, non-stigmatizing information and resources about a wide range of addictions-related issues. In addition to the (expected) drug and alcohol material, the book also covers addiction to porn, love, food, technologies, video gaming, and online gambling, and even addresses the reality of systemic racism in drug-related arrests. The section that orients readers to treatment approaches and recovery resources is especially useful as it also drives home the reality that trauma and mental health concerns go hand-in-hand with addictions.”—Sally MacKain, Ph.D., licensed psychologist and professor, University of North Carolina, Wilmington  
“As a school social worker, I have worked with secondary school–age students for over 10 years, and the one thing they always complain about is not feeling respected by adults and feeling like they are always talked down to and lectured. What’s the Big Deal About Addictions? provides much-needed information on different types of addictions and substance use in a factual, non-threatening, non-lecturing, and respectful way. The book is easy to read for both adolescents dealing with addiction and family members wanting to understand and support their loved ones. I highly recommend Dr. Crist’s book—it will empower readers.”—Vicky Castro, M.S.W., school social worker, Virginia
What’s the Big Deal About Addictions? is up-to-date and very understandable for all readers. Dr. Crist provides so many gems of information; I especially liked his use of quick tips. The quotes he provides bring the topic alive. This is a must-read for all those who provide alcohol and drug education.”—John W. Herdman, Ph.D., LADC, author of Global Criteria: The 12 Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor, and CEO of HerdmanHealth
“Dr. Crist has provided a nonjudgmental, helpful tool for teens that provides a realistic and educational overview of substance use, abuse, and addiction. As a therapist for over 40 years working with adolescents and families, I will use this as one of my tools with my clients to assist in improving their decision-making and choices. A useful tool for teens as well as adults.”—George Young, licensed clinical social worker, master addiction counselor, Envision Counseling, Virginia

“In What’s the Big Deal About Addictions? Dr. Crist uses a conversational approach to addressing the epidemic of addiction facing our kids. Fear-based, consequence-driven interventions are often the go-to method despite evidence that other approaches are more effective. Dr. Crist provides reliable and factual information about effective approaches, arming teenagers, their families, and healthcare providers with the information they need to foster health and wellness in the lives of young people.”—James M. Ryan, LCPC, VP of Clinical Services, Ashley Addiction Treatment
“Dr. Crist’s book about addictions is an important resource for our children, their siblings and friends, and especially their parents, teachers, and loved ones. It is authoritative, very readable, and excels in its practicality. What impresses me most is how Dr. Crist treats these problems and those who suffer with them so sensitively and respectfully, modeling to all of us how to empathize, talk to, and help each other!”—Tony Muccio, M.A., LPC, retired therapist, Arlington Community Services Board
The Big Deal About Addictions - What Educators Need to Know
A Free Webinar with James J. Crist, Ph.D.

Join Free Spirit’s edWeb community, Social-Emotional Learning, Positive Behavior, and Student Achievement, to take a short quiz based on the webinar below and earn a free CE credit.

  • ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success

    MS.1, MS.2, MS.5, BS.LS.1, BS.LS.4, BS.LS.5, BS.LS.10, BS.SMS.1, BS.SMS.2, BS.SMS.4, BS.SMS.5, BS.SMS.6, BS.SMS.7, BS.SMS.8, BS.SMS.9, BS.SMS.10, BS.SS.1, BS.SS.2, BS.SS.3, BS.SS.4, BS.SS.5, BS.SS.8, BS.SS.9

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User Reviews

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June 21, 2021 / Selene Fabiano
Invaluable and Straightforward Guide on Addictions for Teens

Conversational in tone and packed with a wealth of information, James Crist’s “What’s the Big Deal about Addictions?” is an invaluable guide for today’s teens. The author addresses what teens need and want to know about drug and alcohol abuse, as well as about other kinds of addictions (gaming, cellphone use, gambling, porn, etc), in easily digestible segments. Most importantly, the book offers a framework for finding answers to the not-so-simple question of whether a person’s use of substances is casual or addictive. The book’s respect for young people and awareness of their need for honesty from adults comes through in its acknowledgement of the positive aspects of substance use, as well as a realistic description of common consequences. While explicitly noting the risks of using alcohol, Dr. Crist also provides information on how to drink responsibly, for those teens who will choose to drink. The sidebar on “Helping Friends with Alcohol Poisoning” could very well help in saving the life of a young person.

The design of this book is ideal for youth who may not be inclined to read a book from cover to cover. The eye-catching side-bars highlighting key point and safety concerns provide potentially life-saving information and easily hook the attention of a casual reader, encouraging a deeper dive into the main body of the book. The glossary and list of resources make it easy for the reader to access additional information, as needed. This should be required reading for all high school students. So much valuable information in an easy-to-read format!

February 22, 2021 / Nancy Winans LCSW - New York
A Must Read!

"What's the Big Deal About Addictions? is clear, concise and thorough! Such a wealth of information and resources for teens as well as the adults who care for them! Even as a Mental Health professional I learned a lot from reading this book. It not only teaches about addictions but offers so much help and alternatives. I loved the tone of respect offered to teens along with hope and encouragement. Clearly Dr. Crist is very knowledgeable about this topic and genuinely cares about and connects with his clients. With so many quotes from teens, this book will definitely be one they can relate to!!

February 9, 2021 / Betty O. Graves LCSW - Fairfax, VA
What's the Big Deal About Addiction?

An excellent study of various aspects of addiction for teens, parents and clinicians. Particularly liked chapter 7, Coping Strategies. Overall, a nonjudgemental, empathic, easy-reading approach to teen addiction. Betty O. Graves LCSW


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