Lianna Treitler is on a mission to get kids to embrace a substance-free lifestyle and prevent addiction before it even begins.
Growing up, her father Marc Treitler was an alcoholic who was able to hide his addiction behind the curtain of a successful career and beautiful family. But when he took 9-year-old Lianna to a David Archuleta concert, and she noticed how much he had been drinking (and subsequently told her mother, Rowena Treitler, about it), he decided to enter rehab. Lianna, who is now 17 and about to graduate from The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, said her father has been able to maintain his sobriety ever since.
While he was going through rehab, Marc and Rowena looked for ways to help Lianna and her younger brother, Bennett Treitler, cope with their father’s addiction. So as a “family project,” they created a book titled “My Dad is an Alcoholic, What About Me?” Marc and Lianna wrote it while Rowena and Bennett provided the illustrations.
“We didn’t realize that there was such a need for a book on that subject matter,” Lianna said. So in 2016, the family decided to publish it. Now, the family team has written another book, “Alcohol, Drugs & You: A Young Person’s Guide to Avoiding Addiction,” that aims to create an open dialogue about substance abuse with children ages 9-13.
“I think the misconception is that, ‘it’s okay if I try it once,’” Lianna said. “But even trying a drug or having a drink just once can risk getting you addicted. It changes your brain chemistry just trying it once.”
Lianna said experimenting is especially risky for kids who are predisposed to alcoholism or have the “alcoholic gene.” According to American Addiction Centers, genetics and family history are the “most correlated risk” for developing alcohol use disorder, or AUD. And with as many as 26.8 million children being exposed to some form of alcoholism in their lifetime, Lianna said prevention is more crucial now than ever; which is why she abstains from all alcohol and drugs.
“Since I learned it was in my genes, I decided it’s best for me not to try anything at all,” she said. “If I don’t try anything, there’s no way for me to become an alcoholic.”
The La Jolla teen hopes by sharing her family’s story and writing more books, children with alcoholic parents will realize that they don’t have to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Through the Red Rosebud Foundation, the Treitler family has been able to provide over 500 books free of charge to the juvenile detention center, the YMCA and Promises to Kids. Lianna Treitler will be speaking at the 2019 East Region Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Symposium on April 6 in El Cajon.
For more information about the Treitler family or to buy one of their books, visit potatoallergy.com.