Episode 39

Addiction Recovery and Community with Special Guest Brenda Zane

Aired 04/19/2021

Laura Richer, a licensed psychotherapist and the owner of Anchor Light Therapy interviews coach and advocate Brenda Zane. Brenda is the creator of The Stream (https://www.brendazane.com/thestream), an online community that offers support and resources to the parents of children struggling with addiction. She is also the host of Hope Stream (https://www.brendazane.com/podcast), a podcast substance use disorder, recovery, and self-care. When Brenda’s child was struggling with substance abuse disorder, she realized there was a lack of resources for parents and decided to create what she wished had been available to her at the time. Brenda shares her personal experience of being the mother of a child suffering from substance use disorder and the road to recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse disorder you will not want to miss this episode.

Brenda Zane

Therapists in This Episode

08:12:13 Welcome to our show holding ground. My name is Laura richer, I’m a psychotherapist and the owner of anchor light therapy collective in Seattle, Washington.

08:12:22 Each week, I’m joined by another therapist from the anchor light team to tackle important topics in mental health and psychotherapy. Our goal is to promote well being by normalizing mental health challenges.

08:12:32 We are here holding ground for you every Monday morning at 9am on kk MW.

08:12:41 Good morning, and you’re listening to holding ground here on kk MW where we bring you a little bit of everything in the world of therapy and positive mental health, every Monday morning at 9am.

08:12:51 I am your host Laura richer I’m a licensed psychotherapist and the founder of anchor light therapy collective in Seattle, Washington. I’m so excited to share with you today’s guest Brenda Zane.

08:13:02 I believe that Brenda has created something truly remarkable and so very needed when her child needed help, she realized that there was a lack of resources that were available to parents with a child who was fighting substance use disorder.

08:13:16 So she said I want to miss mission to create the support and resources that she wish were available to her at the time.

08:13:22 She is the creator of the stream which is a private online community for moms with kids who have substance use disorder. It is a positive space where parents can gather strength Pope and resources.

08:13:33 She is also the creator of hope stream which is a podcast that provides education resources and hope to parents who have a child battling addiction to drugs or alcohol and is available on all major podcast platforms, even if you don’t have a child dealing

08:13:46 with addiction but want to learn more about substance use disorder or self care in general, you’re definitely going to want to check hope stream out so Brenda.

08:13:53 Welcome to our show are so happy to have you here today.

08:13:56 Thank you. Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

08:13:59 So just to start I would love if you could share your story and what brought you to creating this much needed online community.

08:14:07 Yes. Well, my story could take up 17 hours of years.

08:14:12 So I will give you the cliff notes version. Perfect. Yes, which is I think sup fairly typical. We had a, I have four boys two of my own and two step sons and my oldest when he was 1314 started experimenting with some lead and a little bit, alcohol, and,

08:14:34 you know, I think that happens for a lot of parents, that’s kind of your freakout moment, and you’re wondering Is this going to be just experimentation is this going to be something longer term.

08:14:47 And over the course of his, you know, teens So between 13 and 19. He really fell into a lifestyle of not just a substance use, starting with marijuana moving to various pills.

08:15:08 Whatever he could get his hands on some cocaine, I mean just about everything and then really ending up becoming very addicted to Xanax, but he also fell into sort of an addiction to a very high risk of lifestyle.

08:15:24 And that meant running around with, you know, drug dealers and gang members and just really for, you know, a suburban kid that grew up in a, you know, fairly standard middle class neighborhood just completely took his dad and stepped out in the off of

08:15:43 our, our rocker like we had no idea what was going on.

08:15:48 And we as parents, you know, I’d never dealt with this before, and I didn’t know anybody else in our neighborhood or friend group or church group or anything, who was dealing with this and so you just sort of, you’re it’s like you’re reaching out in the

08:16:03 dark, and, you know, all you can feel is scary things. And so we went through that for you years, and eventually what he went through multiple treatments I couldn’t even list them all wilderness therapy residential treatment.

08:16:23 You know his own private therapist. All of the things we got a phone call in 2017, actually. Today is April 12, so in two days. It’ll be four years we got the phone call that he had overdosed and was in the hospital Northwest hospital at Northgate, and

08:16:45 that he probably wasn’t going to make it he had overdosed twice actually that week on Wednesday and then this was on Friday.

08:16:53 And he had overdosed on a combination of Xanax fentanyl, there was marijuana, alcohol, you know, just a cocktail of badness in his system.

08:17:04 And so we went to the hospital and he was on life support, and he is one of the few who actually made it through that experience and so I call myself the luckiest mom on the planet, because I get to tell that story that he is still with us.

08:17:24 He’s doing incredibly well he’s in a living a completely different lifestyle now, but it was a very dark period of life, to go through alone.

08:17:37 And, and so that’s why I do what I do now, and I don’t even imagine what oh good I’m so excited to have you share with us because I can’t even imagine what a parent is going through during that time and I’m sure there’s a roller coaster of emotions but

08:17:50 during that six years when you were going through this experience, what, what kind of things. What kind of obstacles Did you encounter for yourself.

08:18:00 For myself, I think it was, well there’s a mixture of emotions that the, the most common that I’ve felt was guilt, so I must have somehow failed in my parenting because if I had been a good parent, my child wouldn’t be doing this.

08:18:17 I didn’t really know anything about trauma, at the time and I had gotten divorced from his dad. When he was 10.

08:18:25 And we now know that that was a major.

08:18:29 You know source of his, you know, beginning of, of needing to use substances to sort of get through that period that on the outside, He appeared fine so I didn’t know that.

08:18:39 But for myself, guilt, for sure, shame, because there’s a huge amount of stigma in our society about addiction, especially for kids so as parents we kind of where our kids is our report cards and our badges was like, Look how good minds doing well if

08:18:57 your if your kids going off to that college, then you must be an amazing parent.

08:19:02 So, when you have a kid who’s struggling and you know they’re they’re missing High School, and you know the neighbors are saying, Oh, you know, who’s your son going to homecoming with or who is he going to prom with, where’s he going to college and your

08:19:16 Where is he going to college and your kid is out living, you know under a tarp in the woods in Utah, going through, you know, treatment, that’s just really hard to talk about so there’s an isolation factor that just settles in where you don’t want to

08:19:31 talk about it at all. You can’t talk about it.

08:19:35 So it’s incredibly isolating, which then leads to all kinds of other you know health problems, just you know I got very very sick I’m a stress eater so I was kind of a walking skeleton and, you know, aches and pains and just things that your body just

08:19:53 can’t handle that much stress, I mean, as you know, yeah more of like I don’t need to tell you this, but you know your body just can’t handle that. And so your body starts to say whoa, we gotta, we gotta do something about this because I’m shutting down,

08:20:08 basically. Yes, and I mean and speaking of trauma, you’re, and I think sometimes parents might not be aware of this but you are being traumatized through this experience and so you’re having your own mental health issues that are starting to come up during

08:20:23 this time. Yes, for sure. And, and you don’t. I think what’s so common and what at least what happened to me my experiences that I you focus all of your energy and resources on your child, because you’re just trying to save their life and especially today

08:20:40 with fentanyl on the market, you know, I think, maybe 15 years ago if your kid was, you know, drinking and smoking marijuana and probably taking a pill here and there.

08:20:51 It wasn’t the urgency wasn’t as critical because fentanyl wasn’t in every single thing. And so now, even if the parents like yeah you know my 17 year olds experimenting I think they’re taking a pill here in there.

08:21:04 You’re living with this anxiety that that pills probably going to have fentanyl in it, and it could very easily kill your child so I think the level of stress that parents are living under today is so elevated.

08:21:19 And, you know, you just can’t imagine every day, sometimes the only way I would know that my son was alive is because I would see him trying to sell something on offer up to get money to buy more drugs.

08:21:31 But that was a good day because at least I knew he was still alive so it was okay yeah yeah yeah so that level of stress is just not good to live under.

08:21:55 So speaking of fentanyl I saw something on the news the other day that the DEA has issued a public warning that there’s now something called car fentanyl which is a synthetic opioid that is 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which has 10,000 mean it’s

08:21:56 like wow.

08:21:57 Yes carpet is actually an elephant tranquilizer so that I mean you don’t really need to say anything more than that because if it’s going to tranquilize an elephant.

08:22:08 There you go.

08:22:09 So knowing that teenagers are not working with a fully developed brain and so therefore they don’t have the best decision making skills at time. What do you tell parents who are starting to notice like hey my kid might be experimenting and maybe this

08:22:24 is kind of normal behavior but then at the same time we have threats like car fentanyl which, you know, one poor choice could be be the end of your life and so what should parents be looking out for right now.

08:22:37 Well if you if you know that your kid is experimenting it’s just, it’s time to sit down and just have a really adult conversation about it so it’s not you need to stop doing this you know the blaming and threatening and punishing is not going to work

08:22:53 with a teenager, I don’t know that it really works with anybody but, you know, just to sit down and say hey you know I saw this information just like you just said wow I just read this article I couldn’t believe it or I listened to this podcast and I

08:23:07 learned this I didn’t even know this do you what do you know about this. What do you know about that now.

08:23:25 That’s the only way they’re going to open up to you and and they can and they will if you, if you come at it, I kind of think about it it’s like coming at it from the side versus the front and and just say, I am really shocked about what I’m learning

08:23:41 about this What do you know about this what’s happening with your friends. Do you know anybody who’s doing this. So, getting genuinely curious with them, can open the conversation.

08:23:54 And, you know, they’re to the point where they’re, you know they’re actively using and actively dependent on something, then it’s, it’s probably time to step in and get some professional help but just having a really honest conversation with them is probably

08:24:10 the best place to start.

08:24:13 I know you can you created this community because you didn’t, you couldn’t find this resource when you are going through this, this experience with your son and so some of the moms that come to you.

08:24:25 What are they, what are they needing How do you support them.

08:24:29 They’re mostly needing to know that they’re not doing this alone, that they’re not the only mom just like I thought I was the only mom which, if you think about it logically That doesn’t even make sense, could you know there’s so many people are struggling

08:24:42 but when you’re in it you just you, you feel like I’m the only one I somehow have failed in my parenting so what I think just having a community around you is just like you can look to your left.

08:24:55 Look to your right and even go, Oh, she looks just like me. like she’s just a mom.

08:25:02 In, you know, suburban Minnesota, or wherever it is, and she’s got kids and her kids are awesome and one of them’s really struggling. Okay, I can do this.

08:25:13 Yeah, well, like you said, This is such a stigmatize disorder that people don’t want to talk about it, well you know everyone’s like oh my kids off to Cornell you’re like well my kids in rehab, you know most people aren’t willing to have that conversation.

08:25:27 Yes, it’s so true and it’s, you know, I, that’s another thing that I’m really just trying to do is to.

08:25:35 I don’t want to say normalize it because I don’t want it to be normal that kids go through this but it kind of is, you know, kids struggle with all kinds of different things.

08:25:46 Substance Use is just one of them. It’s a really scary one because it’s life and death, you know some kids struggle with, you know, overachieving and if they don’t get that a then you know they struggle with anxiety and depression, which is also horrible

08:26:00 and scary when you’re a parent, I think the level of fear is elevated when it when your child.

08:26:10 You know ends up in substance use with substance use issues because of the life and death immediate life and death threats that is there, versus, maybe another challenge that kids have it might not be like okay today could be the day that I get the phone

08:26:25 call that overdose. And I think the thing for parents to know is your kid could take their very first pill ever and die because it’s got that dominance so this isn’t like oh well my kids not addicted.

08:26:39 This has nothing to do with addiction.

08:26:42 This has to do with when you put something in your mouth, that has a deadly level of fat on it and when I say deadly level of fentanyl I mean, about three grains of salt.

08:26:52 That’s how big a deadly dose is that is terrifying for parents. And so you’ve got to have people around you who aren’t stigmatized by it where you can say, my kid has been gone for three days and I don’t know where she is, you know, and not have everybody

08:27:11 freaked out about it and just have them say okay we’re with you. We’re with you, you know.

08:27:16 Yeah. And like you said I mean there’s so many mental health struggles that people have and for some reason substance use gets very stigmatized that somehow it’s a moral issue or, like you said earlier, you must have bad parents if they have substance

08:27:29 use issues when in fact, you know people struggle with anxiety, depression, eating disorders like you said overachieving you know those high levels of stress, I mean, I think it’s very important to normalize this is just one of those, you know, one of

08:27:43 the things that that teens and adults deal with and it’s not a moral issue.

08:27:49 Right, right. It’s definitely not and, you know, you can read all the books and all that to learn that but I think you just have to as a parent, because you don’t have a lot of time with this one, you’ve got to just get over that quickly, like, just.

08:28:05 Okay. Have your moment set it aside. Move on, because you know you honestly don’t have time to sit around and feel guilty and hot round about it and by your fingernails like you got to get on this quickly, so I’m trying to just, you know, and so I appreciate

08:28:20 you letting me come on and do this just I’m trying to find the biggest megaphone that I can to say, parents that don’t, don’t be don’t spend the time freaking out about this and feeling guilty and all that, like, do that in therapy and 20 years when you

08:28:40 do after the fact. Yeah, but for now you got to get on this. Yeah. How was education I mean even in, and I don’t know if you know the answer to this question in school systems and kids are kids aware of how life or death.

08:28:53 This is because like you said I think when we were kids. While there were substances that people were taking it wasn’t in and they were often deadly for some for some people but this like critical nature of you could get the wrong pill that you don’t

08:29:08 know what’s in it and that could be it.

08:29:12 You are aware of that.

08:29:13 You know, I think there’s pockets of places where there’s education going on in schools but what it is, is it’s sadly the parents of kids who have died, who get a fire in their belly and they’re like me and they’re like, I have to go tell every single

08:29:30 person I can about this and so they will take it upon themselves to go out to their local school district, and have a conversation, but that’s not enough obviously that’s just like barely, barely, barely, you know, putting one drop in the bucket and I

08:29:46 wish that we could have some sort of a national mandate that would say every single Middle School, starting in middle school this needs to be in seventh, eighth grade they need to start hearing this message.

08:30:01 And so, for anybody listening who has any sort of any platform that can reach you know middle school and high schoolers I would encourage you to, to try to make that happen because it’s so tragic when you hear about that kid who is just trying to fit

08:30:18 in at a party right they just want to be cool and they just, you know, they don’t know what to do and so somebody offers them a pill and they’re like okay and they might not even want to take it but they do.

08:30:31 And it’s that fake oxy 30, that looks like it came out of a prescription bottle and it is not so that’s that’s what we’re dealing with and there are school programs for prevention, which are amazing.

08:30:46 But as far as this sort of what I’m calling the SOS like the the red beacon light, I don’t, I don’t think that’s happening on a national level now. Okay.

08:30:57 Well hopefully your message will get out more and more and other parents who have had to live through this because it, I can’t even imagine what kind of nightmare it is to live through this experience and so when you work with the parents who who come

08:31:09 to you I know that you’re a parent coach and you do advocacy work, and you talk to them about taking care of themselves through this process, what do you what do you tell them or how do you help them take the best care of themselves during these really

08:31:23 incredibly challenging times.

08:31:26 The, the way that I’ve learned to approach it because especially moms are horrible at self care, we put everybody else. First, we, we say okay well I’ll deal with myself later I’ll take care of myself later, when this crisis is over, then I’m going to

08:31:41 go to the doctor and figure out what that thing is, or you know when this crisis is over, I’m going to actually go get my hair cut, I mean it’s ridiculous.

08:31:50 So the way I approach it now with them is to say, there’s a lot of times when you feel like you can’t do anything right you’re watching your kid. You’re, you’re learning or therapy or doing all the things, taking care of yourself, is the number one priority

08:32:05 because who else can give your son or your daughter a healthy mom or dad, nobody like you’re the only one that can do that.

08:32:12 And when your kid needs help, and they come to you, you need to be of clear mind, you need to have some water in your system you need to have some good food at your party.

08:32:24 You know, if you are, if you’re on empty when your kid finally reaches that moment where they’re like, okay, maybe I need to get some help you, you want to be at 100%, not at zero.

08:32:38 So it’s kind of like walking around with your phone dead in your purse, all day, every day, how’s that going to help anybody right so that’s really how I approach it because same You deserve it, you’re worth it.

08:32:52 That doesn’t work to spend it doesn’t work because they don’t even care about that they just want to save they’re done. Yeah, they just want to save their kid yeah so it really is part of your treatment plan your child’s treatment plan is is really the

08:33:05 way I put it is like all the things that they can do part of their treatment plan is you being healthy so you got to do it.

08:33:16 But what about for parents because I couldn’t imagine this would be extremely challenging who have other kids that they’re trying to still take care of and pay attention to yet they have this life or death crisis that is just hanging in the background

08:33:27 constantly.

08:33:32 Hello. Oh, are you there.

08:33:35 Do I lose you.

08:33:37 Oh, I’m all here. Still, I’m here to nobody can hear me, Oh, we go.

08:33:43 Okay. I’m back.

08:33:45 Okay. Can you guys hear me.

08:33:47 Yep. Okay, I’m not sure what happened there. A little glitch. Okay.

08:33:52 So Benny edit that out I was asking about parents who have other children that they’re still trying to parent while they have this crisis happening and, you know, ongoing in the background at all times.

08:34:03 Yes, it’s so hard because those other kids, it can be easy to have less focus on them and they’re also terrified right they’re seeing a sibling in trouble and there’s a lot of emotions there about.

08:34:18 I hate what you’re doing but I love you and so I actually did a whole episode on this on my podcast recently because it’s such an issue but it really is very important just to be really honest and open with them and go to them, obviously an age appropriate

08:34:33 way but to say, Listen, I’m scared to write it’s okay to be scared that you’re your brother, your sisters doing this and we’re working on it. We’re trying to get them some help, but not talking about it and just kind of stuffing it in the closet and hoping

08:34:49 that nobody’s noticing is not going to work.

08:34:51 So you’ve really just got to be forthright about it get potentially get them their own therapist to help them through some of this and just make sure that you’re providing them some of the same normal opportunities that they had before all this was going

08:35:05 on that yet so hard for those siblings.

08:35:09 Wow. Well this is such great information Brenda, please share with our listeners where they can find you if they want to learn more about the stream or hope stream.

08:35:19 Sure you can probably the easiest way is just my website Brenda Zane calm, or you can just google search my name.

08:35:27 Hope stream is the podcast it’s on all podcast players, HOPSTREAM, and the stream is the stream community, calm and it’s just a group of right now we’re about 75 women all like, really cool badass moms who are trying to get through this.

08:35:44 Just like what’s going on right and we all just kind of hold each other up and we do you know lots of great self care we do meditation we have yoga classes.

08:35:57 So we just try to keep our bodies and our minds as healthy as possible so yeah, that’s how you can find me. Very cool and very needed well let’s take a quick break and when we come back we’re going to talk more to Brenda Zane about her online community

08:36:09 the stream and her podcast hope stream so stay tuned.

08:36:29 Alright, take a little breather there. We’re at 2424. Okay, cool. Perfect.

08:36:34 So we’ll try to do about 20 more.

08:36:37 It’s not ready. Yeah, that’s fine, or maybe a little bit more. Okay.

08:36:42 24 more. Yeah, that’d be good. Okay.

08:36:52 I’m feeling we could talk for like 44 more like so many questions is, is your son comfortable with you talking about his story because I wanted to ask you a little bit like about his recovery.

08:36:58 Yes, he is. Okay, we’re an open book. Okay. Okay, cool. I know he’s going into this work himself so it helps people so having your own story of recovery is probably the most powerful thing that you could have and helping someone else.

08:37:12 Right. Yeah.

08:37:15 All right, buddy. Well, we’re ready, I’m ready whenever you are.

08:37:18 All right, let me get back into here.

08:37:31 Alright, So stand by.

08:37:40 Welcome back to holding ground if you’re just tuning in, we are speaking with Brenda Zane who’s the creator of the stream which is an online space for parents of kids struggling with addiction and Brenda also has a podcast hopes called hope stream and

08:37:54 burnout I love your podcast because it has so much information and so many resources to support parents so I was curious why did you decide to create a podcast.

08:38:05 The podcast really is kind of funny I had no plans of creating a podcast, but I was working with a business coach who was helping me try to figure out where to kind of steer my passion and my, I don’t want to call it, anxiety, but it kind of was like

08:38:24 I just felt this need to, to talk to a lot of people so she advised in and she said hey there’s, there’s a way that you can reach a lot of people with your message if you want to call the podcast was like, but I’m not a podcaster and she’s like, well,

08:38:40 maybe you need to be. So that’s why I created is just I was doing one on one coaching which I love to do because you really get to dive in deep, you know with somebody in their story and their journey but I felt this urgency to have a wider platform and

08:39:00 a bigger megaphone I guess and so I just thought, I’m just going to start it and see what happens. And I’m, you know, a year later 56 episodes and it’s still, still going strong so

08:39:13 well you I know you have some great information and also some really interesting guests on your podcast so who have you featured on your show.

08:39:22 Some of the highlights. No.

08:39:26 Yeah. No, I have been really really fortunate to have a lot of people be willing to come on people like Carrie Wilkens, who is incredible, PhD, their pitch she is a co author of beyond addiction, which I’m sure it’s probably a book that you have heard

08:39:44 it’s kind of the Bible, so if there’s any parents listening and you’re like, what can I, what’s the one book I should read if I’ve got a kid, or even a spouse or somebody else who’s struggling, beyond addiction is the book you want to get and that’s so

08:39:59 she was on she was actually my, my third guest which was so generous of her to do that you know i mean Laura you started podcast at first it’s kind of like, how am I going to get people.

08:40:12 Exactly. Yeah, can be a little intimidating to call people up.

08:40:17 I had the CEO of Hazel and Betty Ford on. I had Danielle Schaefer who is a really big Instagram influencer and her brother actually passed away from an overdose.

08:40:33 And she has been dealing with that so I’ve really been trying to do a lot of work on siblings, because that is such a big issue so she was on a sibling episode, I just, you know, it’s, it’s so incredible.

08:40:48 How generous people are with their time to talk about this issue and I’m just really blessed to have them so I love it, I love that too I mean I think especially with substance use disorder, education is just so important and so that’s so great that you’re

08:41:03 getting these guests that are willing to come and talk about their experiences and and share it with other people because that is where we’re going to find the solution.

08:41:11 Yep. Yes, so I know you said earlier in the show that you are one of the lucky ones that your son had a severe struggle, and he was able to recover and so I know you told us about the day in the hospital where they said hey, this does not look like the

08:41:27 outcome is going to be good. What happened from there.

08:41:31 Well, from there, you would think that that would be like the turning point right he would be like well. Well that didn’t go well so let me try something else but that’s not how recovery works and I want to just let parents know that it is not a straight

08:41:46 line.

08:41:48 It can be a very up and down it’s like a roller coaster and so he was in the hospital for a month because he basically had a stroke and heart attack and every organ in his body shut down all at once and so he was actually on the stroke unit at Northwest

08:42:03 hospital which was very interesting because all the nurses were like, Whoa, that here’s somebody who’s 19 years old, like we have all these 90 year olds on our unit and here’s this kid, but he had to be there because he had, you know, brain damage where

08:42:16 he had to relearn how to walk how to talk how to tell time how to dial a phone how to you know brushes teeth.

08:42:25 So he went through a very intense period of physical rehabilitation, without even being able to address the substance use because you know he couldn’t even remember why he was in the hospital.

08:42:38 Every day he would wake up four or five times, and look around and look at me and say why, where am I, why am I here.

08:42:46 And that went on for weeks. And so, when he got out, you know I wanted, I got to the point where I was like well I don’t want him to get out because what do you do with the kid now, like what do you do with them.

08:42:58 After this, and so we were very fortunate his father lived in California, and a situation arose where he was able to have our son live with him and so he got out of the hospital and then a couple weeks later we packed up his car and drove and one of the

08:43:16 biggest reasons we did that was to get him out of Seattle where all of the triggers were all of the friends.

08:43:24 Well I use friends lightly. Sure, all of the people that he hung out with,

08:43:32 and just getting away from that environment is so huge, you know when they have to go back to the same place in the same friends, whether that’s high school or whether that’s just living life.

08:43:44 It can be almost impossible for them to get out of that and so getting him away.

08:43:50 He entered a partial hospital rebuilt partial hospitalization program a PHP there’s lots of acronyms as you know are in this industry but PHP is partial hospitalization program where basically you are at a treatment program for like 830 or nine in the

08:44:07 morning until about four o’clock in the evening. And so he did that for about three months, and then stepped down to an intensive outpatient step down to, you know, all of the things, while he was dealing with a lot of court issues and so the thing I

08:44:26 think, for people to know is a is not straight line, so it’s gonna it’s going to be very curvy and he had times when he would still smoke some weed and he was even in the hospital he was asking the nurses for oxy and, you know, lazy, really crazy.

08:44:43 So he wasn’t quite ready at that point. Did he just was he out of options and so he was going along with the program or how did you get him to prove to participate in the PHP and IOP or was there a part of him that was kind of ready, I think, I think

08:44:57 there was a little inch of him that was probably ready to go, but he, it was basically a court order things so he had some legal stuff, a lot of these kids are like that.

08:45:08 There’s the peanuts character I think it’s pig pen who as he walks there’s just this cloud of like dirt behind them. Yes, and it’s like that with you know it’s like every time he would take a step forward, there’s this huge crowd of dirt that would come

08:45:21 up so he had lots of legal issues to deal with and so his attorney said, you know, if you’re in a treatment program. It’s going to look a lot better to the judge and I was so grateful for that because it really did encourage him to do that I mean all

08:45:38 the doctors obviously at the hospital were like, dude, you’ve got it. You’ve got to get into some sort of something because you’re not going to live right he was walking around with this horrendous case of pneumonia he had just overdosed twice in the

08:45:51 same week.

08:45:52 So, you know he did have a little bit of a like, okay, maybe I’ll try this.

08:45:58 And I think it’s been in a completely different environment, with the support of his dad hugely important. I don’t think he could have done it without that support from his dad.

08:46:10 And it’s just one day at a time it’s like okay I’m going to go today. Okay, I’m gonna go tomorrow I’m going to show up tomorrow and he showed up every single day to that program.

08:46:19 And, you know, then he was able to start like okay now my brain has enough little space maybe I could start thinking about getting a job.

08:46:26 So he got a job, you know, and then after that it was well maybe I could enroll in one class at the community college so it’s it’s painstakingly slow.

08:46:37 And I think as parents we want stuff to happen quickly it’s like, Okay, great. You’re out of the hospital now.

08:46:43 Go get enrolled in school full time, you know, it’s like, wait, we gotta, we gotta slow it down because they’ve you know he had started really using at around 1415, he, he was not even though he was night in his brain was not 19.

08:47:02 So you have to remember that developmentally they’re not at the you know, the age where were their age marker is right.

08:47:11 So yeah, he but he started just putting those little pieces in place and it took a long time.

08:47:25 But he did it at a pace that was, you know, achievable for him and, and he is doing extremely well so we just you know every day is a miracle is so fantastic.

08:47:42 And for parents like you bring up a very good point that some parents want to be beyond this which, obviously, there’s a desire to move past this, but that can maybe their way of going about that might be unintentionally sabotaging their child.

08:47:48 So what are some things that you notice that parents maybe do who have the, you know, their child’s best interests at heart but maybe are working against them.

08:47:56 I think the that desire to just have everything be normal again, can be really really strong at not only for us but we want that for them right we want them to have those experiences I mean, you know, I remember my son being in treatment in Utah, and

08:48:15 I thought, He’s never going to go to prom.

08:48:19 Now, in hindsight that seems so asinine that I even thought that it just seems so insignificant and I think now in the, in, you know, we have covered to kind of put perspective on life as well.

08:48:33 But at the time those things seem really important I want him to go to prom I want him to have all these experiences I want him to have the team experience of riding on the bus to play the baseball game you know and and so we push and we might.

08:48:48 We might prioritize our desires for them, and our desires for us to be able to say yes he’s going off to this college isn’t that amazing he’s going to be majoring in this.

08:49:00 And really, in the end, who cares who cares like about any of that you got to have them healthy and alive so I think parents expectations and our outcomes that we put out there for them can really impact our decisions, whether that’s seeking treatment

08:49:20 or wanting them to come home from treatment I know a lot of families struggle during covert It was like, oh my gosh I just sent my kid to wilderness therapy and covert hit.

08:49:31 I want them to come home which was actually like the opposite you want to keep them out in the woods in the middle of nowhere because they’re over out there.

08:49:41 Okay, much more opportunity to social distance Yes, yes.

08:49:43 But you know you want them close at a time like that so it takes a lot of hard work and I want to acknowledge that for parents that it takes a lot of work on yourself to be able to put yourself aside and your own desires and outcomes aside and really

08:49:58 focus on what’s best for my kid. And that might not be what society says is, is the best thing so we can really trip ourselves up that way. Yeah, and I think it’s important to to acknowledge that every parent has a dream for their child in their child’s

08:50:13 life and when something happens like this for like you said that that you know my son isn’t going to go to prom or he isn’t going to have the normal high school experiences and that there’s there’s grief that is associated with that and that the parents

08:50:25 have to do their own work to process that grief. Absolutely, absolutely. And, and I would say just keep it in perspective and you know sometimes you can think back like to their second or third birthday and did the cake turn out the way you wanted it

08:50:39 because at that time right when they’re two or three. Those are the things that are important and who came to the party or who didn’t come to the party and.

08:50:47 And it’s the same thing now and you know he, the great thing is like he graduated from high school while he was in treatment in Utah, and he has that experience to tell you know and like we put us I need him to wilderness there because it was winter and

08:51:02 I’m like I can’t send my kid out to live in the woods when it’s February in the middle of Utah.

08:51:08 And now he brags about that like somebody will say, you know, oh I went to wilderness and he was like, but did you go in February.

08:51:17 Right. Like, that’s a badge of honor for him yeah exactly and I’m thinking it’s the worst thing in the world. So I think that’s where it helps to to have a community of other parents to say Wait, how are you doing this and how are you thinking about this

08:51:30 and here’s my experience like it’s not the worst thing to send them in February, send them in February like those kids.

08:51:37 They get a whole different experience because it’s not fun you know it’s not like nice weather and they’re out there doing the campaign thing it’s like hardcore so I think it’s just really important to have that perspective and the only way you can get

08:51:50 that is if you’re interacting with other parents who are doing the exact same thing that you’re doing. Yes, because you’re probably I would imagine always struggling with Am I doing the right thing.

08:51:59 Am I making the decision is this going to further traumatize them to be in wilderness camp, you know, in the middle of February is that the right thing to do.

08:52:07 Oh hundred percent, and I, I was absolutely convinced and I, we worked with the educational consultant who are people who help you make these decisions and choices and I was convinced he would never ever ever speak to us again, I was like you know i’m

08:52:21 I’m willing to take this risk to send him knowing that he will probably never speak to me again, and our educational consultant was like Well, I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I can tell you that’s never happened, but we will happen to you right

08:52:35 just like you just assume the worst.

08:52:39 So yeah, you just have to you have to go with your gut sometimes and sometimes that’s really really hard. Yeah. So having a community to be there with you to say I’ve been through this too and, you know, most likely your child is going to continue to

08:52:54 speak to you and maybe even really appreciate that you push them to get the help that they needed.

08:53:01 Yes. Yeah, I mean, yeah, for me to be able to tell the moms in the stream to say you know there’ll be a mom who will post something on my son, you know we hadn’t picked up last night.

08:53:11 a very traumatic experience for parents, as well as kids and for me to be able to say, I did the same thing, and guess what he now wants to go work in wilderness therapy, right, to be able to hear if I had had somebody tell me that it would have completely

08:53:31 changed my experience, completely.

08:53:33 Because I’m sure your child is telling you that you’re ruining their lives and that you know they don’t want to do these things because of course they want to continue with their addiction and continue what they’re doing so you’re also getting without

08:53:42 the support of someone else you’re getting your child actually telling you I don’t want Yes, yeah. Oh yes. Yeah, horrible mom. Yeah, no, no good parent would do this You had me kidnapped in the middle of the night like you should be arrested for this

08:53:56 you know they’ll tell you all of those things. Yeah. So, when you’re when you’re getting that barrage, to be able to turn to your, your tribe of moms who are like.

08:54:08 Yep, that happens, don’t worry about it like that’s going to happen that’s healthy he’s doing what he there he’s just, that’s exactly normal. Yeah, to have that is really really helpful.

08:54:19 So have you noticed during Koba that there are new challenges that parents have been dealing with the around helping a child with substance use disorder, I know you said it kind of people feel fearful to let them go to treatment is there other things

08:54:32 that have come up now that we’ve all been in lockdown and kids don’t have a lot to do.

08:54:37 Yes, for sure. Well, I think, one, one thing that’s kind of good and bad is that a lot of parents had their kids around them where, if you have a kid is struggling like this, you tend not to see them very much because they don’t want to be at home because

08:54:53 they can’t use at home, usually, and they’re just, you know, there’s usually some tension and some, some issues going on around with the parents. Right, so the kids are home a lot, then you have coven and all of a sudden, kids don’t have school to go

08:55:07 to. They’re having to do it online so there’s this the the end of the forest togetherness.

08:55:14 Parents were starting to see things that they might not have seen so in a way it was good because some parents started to recognize issues that they might not have recognized for a longer period of time.

08:55:27 And they were able to intervene. But on the other hand, kids, you know, they don’t comply right so it’s like yeah they’re supposed to be at home with you doing their school online that they log in, they you know show up for whenever they’re taking the

08:55:42 attendance and then they turn the camera off and then they leave, and when they’re going out to try and find whatever substance their brain is telling them they need to use.

08:55:51 They’re not wearing a mask and they’re not social distancing and they’re not using hand sanitizer right so there’s, there was a certain level of health concern.

08:56:00 In addition to so this is something that I really think that the general public doesn’t realize this for these parents. They were already terrified for their child’s health and safety every day.

08:56:12 Then you layer on cope it.

08:56:16 It just added a whole nother level of panic and fear and anxiety that that anybody who had kids who weren’t struggling with that didn’t feel.

08:56:26 So, then you have the treatment issue and I had so many moms who are like okay my kid now I’m seeing this. I’ve talked to them they’re actually willing to go to treatment.

08:56:36 Well guess what treatment programs are still open but they only have the half, half the number of beds available because they used to have two kids in a room and now they can only have one.

08:56:44 So, there was just a supply issue if you want to, kind of, boil it down to the nuts and bolts of it is, when we can’t take your kid now because we don’t have room Collison two weeks, it’s like okay.

08:56:59 My kids not going to sit here and wait for two weeks.

08:57:02 If they’re ready for treatment you might have an hour. One hour window where they’re willing to go You gotta jump on that. Yeah, so yeah there’s been a lot of really, really challenging things for parents to navigate through this or just getting them

08:57:16 to treatment. Maybe you found a program they’re willing to go they have that that perfect. Want to how am I going to get in there, because if I put them on an airplane.

08:57:25 And I have to get an airplane, then we have to quarantine for two weeks before they let us into the treatment program.

08:57:30 So, I mean the hurdles have just been massive.

08:57:34 Wow, how much control do parents have if their child does not want to go into treatment say like if you have a 15 year old are you able to still get them into treatment at that point in time or do they have enough say to to reject it.

08:57:49 Oh that’s that we can help.

08:57:51 That’s another episode.

08:57:54 The short answer is, it depends on your state’s age of consent. So, in Washington State I’m sure you know this is age of consent is 13. So after 13, as a parent you don’t have any state in what’s happening with your child’s health care, you cannot get

08:58:11 information from their doctor from their therapist. So, unless, obviously, you know they’re a threat to themselves or to someone else. So, after the age of 13.

08:58:21 Unless, obviously, you know they’re a threat to themselves or to someone else. So, after the age of 13. If your child is struggling as mine was so I was in fear for my child’s life, I knew he was using drugs I was pretty sure he was selling drugs I knew he was hanging

08:58:32 he was hanging out with people who had were, you know, parts of gangs, and we were really in fear of his life, and he was 16.

08:58:40 So, if they’re not 18 yet you’re still legally responsible so it depends on your state which is why states like Utah are really great for for treatment because their age of consent is 18.

08:58:57 So, what you do is, what you can do, I should say, is you can have them in treatment in a state like Utah, and there’s other states as well, where you basically assign power of attorney to that program for your child so they are basically.

08:59:22 I don’t want to say a citizen, what is the word, but basically there. Yeah, so, in that state then they have to stay in that treatment program because in Washington state they wouldn’t have to.

08:59:34 So it can be very complex which is why I really recommend working with educational consultant because they know all of the laws and they know all of the programs in the States and the age of consent which is so overwhelming just if you’re fully functioning

08:59:48 parent and you’re not dealing with this it’s confusing to understand when you’re a parent of a kid and you haven’t slept for two years or three months, or whatever it is, and you’re in a state of panic, you can be really vulnerable to treatment programs

09:00:03 who may not be as you know forthright as they should be. So I really recommend getting a neutral kind of third party to involve to help you through that decision.

09:00:13 Which is why a lot of kids get trapped when we say transport our kids will call it goon.

09:00:34 You have a transport company who comes to your house, and they’re very good so I don’t want this to sound like it’s a big scary thing it’s emotionally it’s very challenging but from a safety perspective it’s the best way to get them there because these

09:00:37 are trained interventionists.

09:00:38 They have psychology training like they really help the kids through this process and you just say listen we’re giving you time to take a break, you’re getting away from all of this, you’re going to go with these two guys they’re going to take you on

09:00:48 an airplane.

09:00:50 You’re going to go to Utah, and right at two o’clock in the morning that’s really scary when you wake up, and your parents are in the room and there’s these two guys that look like NFL football line Yeah, who are going to take you on an airplane right

09:01:03 It’s so confusing but I actually just heard it, this is, this is why I think a community so great one of the moms said yesterday she posted that her son was transported that we finally made the move.

09:01:16 The transporters were so awesome they, they told him, dude.

09:01:22 You know you can just tell everybody that you’re, you know, famous Instagram or a famous youtuber guy and where your body guards and that’s why you have us with you right there so good at it and what is bad for the kids as you imagine it’s going to be.

09:01:37 And parents can take their kids to treatment to it’s not that they have to go this way but if they’re not going to agree to go. This is kind of the best way to do it.

09:01:45 Wow, I mean those are such tough choices to have to make I just I can’t even imagine. I think it’s so cool that you have created this community and I know that your son is now in recovery and he’s thriving and he even wants to work in addiction.

09:02:03 But I know also for a lot of people this is a really traumatic experience and so I would imagine not everyone wants to stay involved in this work once their their child has recovered and they, they can move on from it so what keeps you coming back to

09:02:17 this work what inspires you to consider to continue supporting parents.

09:02:23 The fact that I went through it alone, and that if a. If a parent and a mom in particular because for some reason moms tend to take the lead on this dads are absolutely involved but moms tend to kind of you know when somebody drives point on something.

09:02:41 Moms are the ones that tend to drive point on this and if the mom is healthier, there’s better outcomes for the kids. And so, you know, everybody kind of finds their way to make an impact in their world and some people work in prevention and they really

09:02:57 like put all the resources into helping kids never get into the situation in the first place which is amazing. And then there’s people like my son who have been through it and they can have their impact in their own way and I just thought my way that

09:03:11 I can have an impact to help kids get healthier, is to work with the moms and the other, you know, my, my sort of bigger North Stars that moms going through this lose themselves, and they often end up having to quit their jobs, they often end up very

09:03:28 unhealthy physically and so when that happens and this is happening to millions of moms. This is not like, Oh there’s like 5000 moms have me do this is millions of moms.

09:03:40 Women are getting, you know impacted from a career standpoint, employers, you are if you’re an employer listening and you’re not doing something for the parents of, you know your your employees who have kids who are struggling you are missing out I guarantee

09:03:55 you I cost my company, thousands hundreds of thousands of dollars in the business trips that I missed, because I was having to go to court, or I was having to stay home with my son because I didn’t, you know, know where he was or what he was doing so.

09:04:12 Just the impact for women in particular on the world The world is missing out on their talents, because they are so incapacitated by the fear and the anxiety and the work of trying to get these kids healthy so that’s kind of my bigger purpose is, we’ve

09:04:30 got to keep moms healthy so that they can deal with this so that they can continue on with their life you know attribute to their employers and to their passions and their purpose.

09:04:41 So what can we do you bring up such a good point with employers what can employers do better or what can society do better to support families who were struggling with addiction.

09:04:53 Well for employers. I think it’s recognizing it. Just like you know employers have great, amazing di programs now and they’re really recognizing the needs of specific communities within their employer base.

09:05:10 I think they need to recognize you have a community within your employee base that are hurting and struggling and you don’t know it because it doesn’t show up on the outside, it doesn’t matter what color they are It doesn’t matter what level they are

09:05:24 in your organization if you’re an Amazon employee at level two or level, 12, years, you’re still going to struggle with this and so you’ve got.

09:05:35 As an employer you’ve got about 20% of your employees who are struggling with this and they have kids, whose lives are at risk and so when they’re sitting in a meeting, I guarantee you a good chunk of their brain is not at that meeting, it is on.

09:05:52 Where’s my kid right now, are they putting fat on their body today. So, having something whether that’s through your health insurance, make sure that there are resources for them and that they don’t feel stigmatized because I was lucky enough to have

09:06:06 a great employer who I could say, Listen, I don’t know where my son is today, I cannot get on this airplane and fly to Chicago for the next three days, I just can’t and he was amazing about that.

09:06:17 But if I hadn’t had that what would I have done, you know, I would have had to fake illness, so that I could stay home, so I think it’s being aware and giving them a space to be able to to work with that and give them some resources.