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There have been many public service commercials and films in the past that have warned young people about addiction. And like the saying goes, the earlier you talk with your children about drugs and addiction, the better. Yet both parents and children can learn about addiction, and a new cartoon series is hoping to educate people of various ages about addiction and recovery.


Educating Through Animation

This animated series was launched by the Addiction Policy Forum from Washington, D.C. The first episode of this cartoon series is titled The Hijacker, which shows how an addiction can hijack a person’s brain.


The goal of this animated series is to clear up misconceptions and stigmas about addiction. This series also hopes to “elevate the science of addiction,” according to the group’s president, Jessica Hulsey Nickel.


As Nickel told The Guam Daily Post, “There’s so much misinformation about this disease, everything from this being a choice and not a disease, the misunderstanding about how treatment works, misunderstandings about medications, about lengths of treatment and recovery support, how you develop this disease in the first place. We are surrounded and drowning in misinformation and myths.”


Learning About Addiction One Step at a Time

As this report explains, experts on addiction “synthesized the science [of addiction] into bite-sized pieces,” then animation artist Patrick Smith created his visual interpretation of the information in a way that people can understand simply and clearly.


“Hijacking the brain” is a common term in discussing addiction, which is why the first episode is titled The Hijacker. This episode begins with a bit of history. We learn that addiction was first considered a brain disorder in the fifties. We learned more about how addiction affects the brain in the ‘90s, and one of the big revelations is that addiction affects brain tissue function.


This episode goes on to explain how addiction can take over the limbic system of our brains, which is the survival area of our minds. “This hijacker changes the brain and weakens this system to make it believe that the primary need for survival is the drug.” The hijacker can make drugs more important to us than the survival instincts we all have like food, water, shelter, and protecting our children.


In three minutes, these animated clips give audiences a good primer on addiction that’s easy to follow and understand, and they’re a good start for many who need to learn.


The Ultimate Goals in Teaching About Addiction and Recovery

Nickel lost two parents from addiction, and she adds, “Most people don’t know that addiction has levels of severity, like stages of cancer. You don’t wait for an amputation before you treat someone with diabetes. We should not be waiting for that rock bottom, the worst thing that could happen, for someone to get the treatment, the help they need for addiction.”


Nickel says her real hope for this series is “education, and making sure the real science of the disease gets into every home.” With this animated series from the Addiction Policy Forum, she’s already off to a strong start.


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