Accepting the Invitation To Change: Two Parents Confront Fentanyl’s Hold On Their Daughter, with Eleanor & Dave

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Accepting the Invitation To Change: Two Parents Confront Fentanyl’s Hold On Their Daughter, with Eleanor & Dave

Every once in a while, I have the opportunity to speak with parents whose experiences are a perfect case study of why Hopestream Community exists. This episode with Eleanor and Dave is one of those conversations – especially for those of you with kids who are young adults living outside the home.

Eleanor and Dave raised their two children in Silicon Valley, where they had a nice house, a beautiful community, and access to California's best schools. But as many parents recognize, economic stability is not necessarily a shield against substance misuse.  

In the span of one short year, Eleanor and Dave watched their daughter spiral from a university student to homeless, living in her car and using fentanyl regularly.

After a brief period of denial about the seriousness of her situation, the couple was  forced to accept the reality in front of them. The hard work that followed should be held up as an example of what to do right, and that’s why I’m speaking with them today.

You'll hear how Eleanor and Dave implemented many of the tools and strategies we talk about frequently in Hopestream Community – creating supportive boundaries, rooting actions in love and empathy, implementing strategies from The Invitation to Change Approach, performing loving, family-based interventions, and so much more.



This podcast is part of a nonprofit called Hopestream Community
Learn about The Stream, our private online community for moms
Learn about The Woods, our private online community for dads
Find us on Instagram: @hopestreamcommunity
Download a free e-book, Worried Sick: A Compassionate Guide For Parents When Your Teen or Young Adult Child Misuses Drugs and Alcohol

Hopestream Community is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an Amazon Associate. We may make a small commission if you purchase from our links.

They flew back up. Drove her home. We woke up the next morning and she was gone. And she called us halfway back to Portland. And she was on the side of Highway five.
Again, I think I’m still in sort of denial about this whole thing. If I could just get her if I could just get in the car with her and get her home, that it’ll all be okay. I was like, No, that that’s not right. She needs those drugs. Her body is going to do anything. It can to get those drugs.
She will get in a car and she will drive north. Even knowing that she only has enough gas to get her half way and no money.
You’re listening to Hopestream. The place for those parenting teens and young adults who are misusing drugs and alcohol in a treatment program or working their way toward recovery. It’s your private space to learn and to gain encouragement and understanding for me. Your host, Brenda Zane. I’m fellow parent to a child who struggled, and I’m so glad you’re here to learn more about all the resources available to you besides a podcast, please head over to 
Well, if there was ever a story that exemplifies the mission of Hope Extreme Community, you are about to hear it. I got to have the most incredible conversation with a couple who literally watched their daughter deteriorate before their eyes going from being a college student to living in a car using fentanyl in a matter of a year.
Eleanor and Dave are both successful engineers for tech companies in Silicon Valley. They have two kids, a nice house, all the things. Then they noticed some unusual banking activity in their daughter’s account and things went downhill from there. David Eleanor story is like the book Beyond Addiction acted out. They used so many tools and strategies with their daughter, sometimes without even knowing that they were actually implementing the invitation to change approach as a way to liberate their 20 year old daughter from the vicious grip of fentanyl.
I say it often, and I want to reiterate the point here that you, as a parent, wield an astronomical amount of influence in your child’s recovery journey. That doesn’t mean you can fix them or make them stop using that. You can create conditions within which your child will be more likely to change and accept help. And you are about to hear exactly how Dave and Eleanor did that with their daughter Megan.
It is appointment listening, and I want to thank this brave couple for being willing to share their story as a way of helping you create change in your own family. Here we go.
David Eleanor, welcome to Hope Stream. This is a really special episode because, Eleanor, you and I know each other from the community, from retreat that we got to go on, which was so lovely and so it makes it extra special that we have been able to meet in person and hug each other and, like, get through things. So I appreciate you being willing to be here.
Great. Thanks for having us. Yeah, I’m very familiar with the podcast.
Awesome. That’s great. Well, I think your insight and the wisdom that you have earned and I always want to make sure and let people know that it is hard earned wisdom. There is a lot of scar tissue. I know that you’ve had in getting to where you are today, and it’s so valuable for people to hear. So I appreciate you being vulnerable to your experience.
I appreciate that your daughter agreed and consented to you two speaking about it, even though nobody is going to know specifically who you are. I think that is really important and I think it shows a big growth in her right to be able to to say that. So I think that’s really awesome. Why don’t you give us just a glance of today?
So kind of ground us in who you are, what you do. You don’t have to be specific. Just so we kind of get a picture of what what things are like today, and then we’ll hop in the time machine and go back.
Dave and I are both Silicon Valley engineers, basically. He has spent his life in big name companies around here, and most of mine have been through startups. We have two kids, both out of the house, so we’re in process of adjusting to empty nest and continuing that adjustment. Yes.
So that’s today. And obviously because we’re talking, it means that things have not always been quite as smooth. So I wonder if you could just rewind to wherever you feel like you want to share with us a little bit about maybe what your family looked like when you were young and you had your kids and, you know, just growing up, what was what was the family life like around your house?
And Dave, you maybe want to jump in on that.
Kids in school, we would drive them to school. They went on playdates. We lived in a nice neighborhood where the kids could bike to friends houses and some some of them were within walking distance. We had nice schools in the neighborhood. Top of the line for California and I think a very nice town to grow up in, the kind of place where you might occasionally see horses walking down the sidewalk.
And kids on bicycles and.
Yeah. And I guess I would add to that that, you know, because we live where we live, it can be very fast paced because of the technology world and and the intensity and the expectations, Right. That are set up for a lot of families that are in this area, which is something I think that the environment can very much set some pretty extreme expectations on the kids.
Yeah. So they were being raised in Silicon Valley in the early 2000s, I’m sure very fast paced. The growth that was happening at that time was just astounding, right? Like when you think about what’s happened since 2000.
Yeah. Yeah, we were very busy. I mean, I always was very busy with work, you know, attention network and, and there were even things, you know, just in the area that, that were kind of indicative of that some of the really upper echelon two tiered schools in the area had really had some situations with kids who just couldn’t handle the pressure and were taking extreme, extreme actions to kind of get attention.
And so so we over time kind of were made aware that this is a pressure really high pressure place for kids to live. And when my son had finished high school and moved on to college, as I mentioned earlier, some things happening with one of the other schools where we’re kids were suicidal basically, and some number of them, and it became national news.
And Meghan had some difficulties in in middle school, just like what we thought was a normal middle school kind of stuff. Right? And so we actually decided, like, let’s go back to Ohio for a year because I had family back there and and we literally picked up and moved to Ohio for a year. Wow. Work remotely and just decided to let her see what it’s like out of this area, that there are other places in the US and in the world that that aren’t this bubble.
But that was her first year when she was a freshman in high school, I think. Or maybe a sophomore in high school.
Sophomore? And there are things that we I mean, we recognized this early on and in some ways I think we we tried to do things to to address it like, you know, we were home for dinner every night. Eleanor and I were working pretty hard. We also did things like we both worked for day workweeks for like the first eight years of Megan’s life.
No one was home on Mondays. I was home on Fridays. And so while we were working hard and frequently picking up hours in the evening or something like that, after the kids had gone to bed, we were we were trying to sort of insulate them from this, the craziness as much as possible. But I think, you know, it seeps through everywhere, right?
And it seeps through all the other kids.
Well, it sounds like you were very cognizant of the situation that you were in, that the kids were in and that you really tried to find ways to sort of mitigate the impact that that was having on them. So when did you start to realize maybe that things were a little bit off with Megan? Was there do you have kind of a memory of like, oh, this is a really big red flag?
Or did things just sort of like meander around in in the like no good zone?
So she was at college, right? So both kids had gone off to college and she probably was in some level of active use for probably at least a year or maybe even a year and a half before we knew because we weren’t seeing her very often. And she decided to stay. She was going to school up in Portland, and so she would stay the summer would just come home for a couple of days or things like that where it was easily, quote unquote, I guess, manageable for her right to hide it from us when both of the kids were going off to college, actually, when they were in high school, I got them debit cards
and I connected their accounts to my account. So fundamentally I could see what was happening in their accounts. And I wasn’t watching all that intently. But all of a sudden I was looking at it and I would see these like cash out. Cash? What is cash app like? What is that? Where’s that gone? What’s at $500. What is that going to?
And then all of a sudden it was a money trail, basically. Right. And so and so we called her and asked her and we were like, what? What is all this money moving around for? And she, you know, she just sort of, you know, kind of and and then we said, ah, the way I remember it anyway was like, are you doing drugs?
And and she said yes. So she acknowledged it. And that was kind of kicked everything off for us.
Do you think she was saying that in hopes that maybe you were going to give her some help or was it sort of a defiant yes, like, yes, this is what I’m doing, stay out of my way.
No, she has she’s super independent and really is a super capable person, as you know, like all these kids are, right? Yes, there was there was never I never felt really a defiance with her ever. And she just admitted it. And probably I know there were some cases through this period where I think she was asking for help but couldn’t ask for it overtly.
Right. And and I think that’s one of my learnings. It’s like sometimes sometimes the kids at whatever age find themselves in a situation where they either do something they should know they shouldn’t have, or just want to be a part of what’s going on, and then they can’t find their way back out. And admitting that to your parents is super challenging.
Like, right, You just can’t admit that kind of perceived failure. Right? So, so she but she I felt like I’m sure we got lied to over and over and over again, like I know we did, but in a lot of times, like, we would ask her direct questions and and I even if she was partially lying to me, she still told me stuff that we needed to know now.
And she said, yeah. So when she said yes on the phone that day and she was at this point living with boyfriend Dave and I, it was like a Thursday or something. And we just got plane tickets and flew up and was like, All right, you know, we’re going to be there tomorrow. So and we flew up and sat at the kitchen table with the two of them.
And he was also doing, you know, this was her first boyfriend. He was also using and we sat them down and were like, all right, what’s the plan, guys? And that started our cycle. So, wow, that’s pretty.
I have not heard this version of the story before, which is what I love about talking with parents because there’s so many different scenarios. Right. And this is a very unique one. And what I love about it is that you two went into action mode very quickly. It sounds like. Dave, what was your when you heard this conversation?
I’m trying to imagine what was going through your mind because you you know, your little girl, right? You know, like you’ve known her forever. Obviously, you know her personality. What was going through your mind when you heard that?
You know, it was probably both simultaneous sort of terror and denial, right? No, not really. I can’t really be that bad. Right? Yeah. And but but deep down knew that it was and yeah, we just sort of for us, the easy thing is to sort of leap into action. When we got there and we were sitting at that table, she already knew the plan going forward that she was going to go to rehab.
She’d identified the rehab, maybe she’d even called them to make arrangements.
I think she did literally.
I literally was kind of like, okay, mom, dad, you’re great. You’re here. Could you give me a ride to this place and drop me off and then you can go home, which is, you know, testament to her because she when when she kicks in, she’s totally capable of of making all that stuff happen. And, you know, that actually probably contributed to me not recognizing just how serious this was.
Right. Because she told us what’s going on, but not any of the real details, just that she’s using. We get up there, she says, oh, I’m going to rehab. I’ll take you know, I’ll take care of it sort of thing. And it’s kind of like, okay, we’re we’re done like that. Was it.
Problem solved? Not that completely fooled me. And I want it to be true, right? I wanted for it to be done and over and not have to think about this. But of course, that’s just the beginning.
Of course. Of course. That’s. That’s an especially and I don’t know, maybe you can give us some insight into your your kind of family of origin. Was addiction something that you had any experience with or was this just net new information for you?
This is all new for us.
Yeah, this was new. My I have actually two uncles that are on both sides of the family that are alcoholic, but my exposure to those is almost nil, you know, So like, just just sort of a piece of data that got transmitted at some point.
Yeah. So I think what makes our situation a little unique around a lot of the other people I know in the stream and and the other women and families that I’ve met is that a lot of people are fighting the this with kids that are still in the house, you know, and making decisions around, you know, do I do I send them off to the wilderness?
Do I how do I get them to go to school? How do I you know, all of those things. And for us, she’s she’s out of sight, right? So we almost had to do the reverse of everything. We had to get into her life, right, to try to see what was going on. And so this was the start of COVID, basically.
And my son was actually in the same area. We came home from that. We drove her to rehab and then left.
Just wrapped that up with a beau, didn’t you?
And but we came home and said we looked at each other and said, no, we got to go like we got to be there. So we spent the next two weeks deciding and and we said, okay, we’re going to move to Portland, Oregon, for probably some. We gave ourselves four months. We’ll get this we’ll get it under control in four months.
Well, I love the engineering mindset is kicking in, right? Like, did you have a spreadsheet that said, okay, this is going to be.
Sort of.
So. So we said, oh, okay, we’ll stay up there through Christmas. Let’s find an apartment we like because we’re not going to be in Portland in the winter and some place that we hate and and we spent the next two days. I got on it, you know, I found it a really awesome apartment and and Dave, the got stuff worked out for stuff we needed to move What was the minimum stuff we needed to take and we hope to trailer you all, trailer the car and we moved ourselves up there.
Oh, to be in the area where she was. And it was like, Hi kids, we here we are back in your lives. And she did she did kind of say that was a little bit of a blindside for her, though. She did stay in there in the rehab for 30 days. She, you know, had some cycles. So we were super glad we were there.
Not that we solved everything there by any means, but we learned a lot while we were there. And we we built our relationship with her because when she came out of that first rehab, she had broken up with her first boyfriend where all this was introduced. And she then had a second boyfriend coming out.
The rehab boyfriend?
Yeah, the rehab boyfriend’s. So. Or girlfriend.
Yes. For that kid. And so as that evolved, then we realized she was using again. We were there, you know, and she would come and visit us and and we were there for the holidays and we had her and her boyfriend in active use at our place for Thanksgiving, at our place for Christmas, for dinners. We you know, we made sure that we were in enough space time with her and she was allowing us to do that.
So that was great.
You know, so we were walking that line of, you know, she’s an adult. She can leave any time, which means that we have to be more used to her to come visit than to stay away. So feed her and and not be judgmental and not, you know, ask lightweight questions and keep the conversations pleasant, you know, and maybe get deep in the stuff for a very short period of time, very specific things.
But but try to keep it light and easy and keep them well-fed so that they come back.
Yeah. Food is a really, really good tool. I it’s so interesting to me that you immediately became the safe place for her and you didn’t. It doesn’t sound like you went through what often I think parents go through, which is this feeling that this is a moral failing, that this is somehow something to be really ashamed of. And it just it feels like you sort of naturally went into this mode of we know we need to keep the connection.
We we need to not be judgmental. We need to try and gently and respectfully get information that’s going on. Where where do you think that came from, Dave? Do you have thoughts of like how how did you arrive at this mentality just sort of so quickly?
I don’t know, maybe it was the long drives talking about all this stuff. And to me, you know, it’s it’s the grief cycle, right? You got to go through this. We were and just and just recognizing that that’s what it is. And I honestly couldn’t tell you why. But I think we both recognized what the end of that loop was. The end of that was acceptance that this was going on and and kind of moving on from there.
So maybe that’s the, you know, engineer problem solving. I just want to get to the problem so I can go fix it. Yeah. And get through all the other stuff, through the denial and the anger and frustration as quickly as possible.
And yeah, I think it was just not natural for us. I mean, I was thinking about this earlier, Like one of the things I like to read, I like to read biographies because it’s interesting to me how people get where they are and sort of what influences their life to put them in a certain place at a certain time.
And so and especially once we were living in Portland, I wanted to know what she was feeling like, what were what were they doing to her? What what were the drugs doing? What was like what was all this about? And I actually just sort of stumbled upon the Beyond Addiction book. And I started listening to a lot of podcasts.
I’m a huge podcast consumer, and I started listening to ones from people who went through addiction and like, you know, the one that I remember specifically was Woman, a young, young adult woman who was an alcoholic. And the one specific thing I remember, she was saying, you know, now she smokes and how her parents would say, that stinks, like, don’t do that.
And she was just like, you know what the F right? Like, just let me have my cigaret. Like, I’ve got a lot going on. Just let me have the cigaret. Right. And and Megan came out of rehab smoking and initially and I’m sure she will say, no, there’s plenty of judgment here with my parents. But she came out smoking and it was like, you know, and all I could remember was that podcast that said, leave me alone, right?
Yeah. And so we just did It was like, okay, now you’re smoking. Like, we’re not going to do anything to change that.
I sort of remember that. It’s like, Ach, you’re smoking, but hey, that’s so much better.
So yeah, So you said her, you mentioned her first rehab. So the story did not, you know, have this beautiful ending at the first rehab. Take us through what happened next.
Well, she came back after she got out. She came we had to, like, get her out of that apartment she was with in with the boyfriend, which was a huge cleaning job and all all of that. So we got her out of that. She lived with us a little bit and the plan was for her to go back to school.
So we found her a second apartment and got her set up there. I think she she started using again and she acknowledged that she was. And so I said, okay, we had a talk again. And I said, okay, so you know what the experience was was one, what do you need differently? What you know, And again, we went through and we found the places in Portland and she we went and visited ones that even she hadn’t been to and she chose another one.
And she went there. And about two days in she calls on she calls me and says, Mom, you’ve got to get me out of here. Like, I hate this place, you know, and went through all the horrible things about it. And so I’m on the phone, actually. Dave, you were back in California during that week and I’m on the phone and I’m like, okay, everybody says, don’t rescue the kids, don’t rescue you.
So like, you got to leave them there. Why does she have her phone? Like, I kept thinking, why does she have her phone? And but she kept like, if you don’t come and get me, I’m going to leave. I’m going to leave anyway. And so I agonized and I said, please give me 24 hours. Give me 24 hours to just think about this.
And so she did. And we connected the next day and she said, Mom, if you don’t come and get me, I’m leaving. I hate this place. And then all you can think about is, okay, now in my kids going to be on the street, you know, and etc.. So so I went and picked her up and after a lot of agony about that, but I went and picked her up and brought her back to our place and we went through the cycle again.
Well, okay, that’s not working. Where else, right? So she said, I’ll go back to the first place I went to that was that, you know, I liked it there or whatever. So I said, okay. And so she went back there, but unbeknownst to us, she left. We had called her over the weekend and said, Hey, we’re going to go to your apartment and just make sure everything’s okay.
Is there anything we can bring you? And she kind of said, Can I? Can I? I’m mom. I’m at the apartment. And I’m like, Well, I’m sorry. Was you wearing two weeks then? And she said, Can you please give me 24 hours? I’ll talk to you tomorrow. And I said, okay. So we sat and waited patiently and then we went over the next day and she wouldn’t let us in to the apartment, but she came out to talk to us and what we didn’t know was her new boyfriend was there.
And that’s, I think when the sort of heavy use started and and she was using her her main drugs was fentanyl.
So, you know, and during this time we’re trying to find support. Dave and I did find a woman who did craft based off that we then connected with an invitation to change and, and we were trying to work through that. But, but you know, mostly on our own and, but using that as kind of trying to how to be continue to be respectful but but yet there was seriously some elevation in an escalation that was happening now she was you know, we started noticing a lot more signs.
She looked tired all the time, you know, one notch outward, black hands, kind of she would borrow my car and, you know, you would find all kinds of stuff when you got your car back. And so we could see it escalating.
Did you know what fentanyl was like? Were you aware of the kind of the extreme danger of that at that time?
We were learning about that, yeah. At that time, yeah. Yeah.
Had to have been so scary.
Yeah, a lot of it was. I mean, we definitely knew that at the end, you know, we kept hearing there’s kind of two outcomes right at the end there. Either go into rehab or, or they’re going to find themselves dead or jail. Third one, I guess, or in jail. And so, so yeah, we were, we were afraid, but we we had some level of confidence, but we were getting consumed as well, Right?
So so now we had moved our lives to Portland. We were working remote. We still had to maintain like active, heavy job.
Remotely as well as then, you know, trying to understand what was going on, helping her where we could, seeing my son because we didn’t want him to feel isolated and like, yeah, you know, that he wasn’t a part of the family. The pressures definitely started to build.
Hey, did you know How Extreme Community is a nonprofit organization? And we are so happy to provide financial scholarships to over a quarter of the parents who use our services. We have our first ever giving campaign happening right now. And if you’re a podcast listener and you’ve benefited from the content here, we would love it if you’d help us keep this as a free resource for parents.
We’re all about action and hope. Stream community and over 84% of our members say they’ve noticed an improvement in their relationship with their child since joining, and over 69% believe their child has accepted help in one form or another as a result of their experience with us. So we know lives are being changed and we want to be able to help even more parents.
If you’re able to give to our Year of Hope campaign, please go to Hope Stream Community dawg. Forward slash donate to Learn more. Thank you. Now back to the show. What was going on in your marriage? Because this just just the pressure and the fear and I’m also thinking of the logistics that you’re dealing with and you’re extremely demanding jobs.
What were what was going on from a relationship standpoint? Like how were you guys navigating your marriage.
Poorly. Both of us were, you know, just depressed at some level. Right. And I think we both tend under those circumstances to to just, you know, go to our own corners. So there was a lot of there was a lot of quiet in the house, in the apartment. You sort of just feel alone, even though there’s another person there.
It just it felt it felt lonely.
Yeah. Were you sort of strategizing together or because it sounds like you were working with somebody and you’re doing a lot of reading, you’re doing a lot of listening to podcasts where you sort of trying to come up with a plan together. Now that you’ve now that you’re really in it and you’re seeing, Oh, this is not going to self-correct, what was what was your plan of like, okay, we’ve been through a couple of rehab years.
She’s back in use now. There’s a guy in the picture. What what’s your plan at that point?
It’s sort of I mean, it evolved over time, but eventually it became pretty simple and that was maintain the relationship, you know, get her over for dinner or get out with her. And if meals are the easiest thing, what if that’s the the easiest attractor, then that’s what we’re going to do is go have a meal with her or have her over for a meal with us at some regular basis.
And so how well are we doing that? Do we you know, what topics are off limits during those those interchanges and and what things should we talk about or subjects we ought to broach?
Figuring out, you know, apartments or cars or whatever, you know, how far are we going to go to help her and are we facilitating or are we keeping her alive?
00;33;59;09 – 00;34;01;24
Sometimes it’s the same thing, right?
00;34;03;16 – 00;34;22;18
Yeah. So we did go through a lot of that. Like, okay, we’re going to only give her enough money to pay rent and we’re going to give it to her the day before rent is due. Right? So we were we went through cycles like that. And then, I mean, it got to the point where, again, the money was tied to me.
I was watching all that stuff. Right? So I, I saw that rent is due. Only half the money’s there where the money go, you know. So when it when it became really obvious that she she wasn’t recovering, she was getting deeper, we kind of had to decide at that point what she told us anyway, that she got chased one night because we knew she was now taking the trains and busses because her her car broke down and and was no longer so she was having to get around everywhere by bus and train and and you know, we could see she had allowed me to to view her on one of the agreements we made was
that she would want is a track let me track her, which was a mistake I mean it was good and bad. Same thing. There’s they’re all double edged. Right? Right. So I could see where she was and I would see at three in the morning because I’m awake. Right. Right. That she was on the train on the other side of town.
And, you know, but I knew she was moving so she was alive. And so there was a lot of that that was really causing a lot of stress. And as Dave said, we did we manage things differently. I would take one tack to try to figure out the next steps and and Dave would take another tact. And but the one thing about us as a family and I think our kids would attest to this and that Megan pointed out to us that we have always been a united front again with the kids.
So there was never, ever a, you know, ask your mom, you don’t get your answer, ask your dad. We always made sure we were on the same page in even through this when we were talking with her. So, so even as much arguing and and quietness there was between us, we always presented the same right to her.
So, so we, we could see that, that it was getting worse. She was taking these, you know, through whatever two or three in the morning out and about. And she told us one time she had gotten chased and, you know, was getting robbed or something. So now we’re afraid of her for her just being on the streets. And we had to make the decision whether we were going to get her another car, that at least she could be safe because we were getting ready to move back.
We were like, okay, Christmas has come and gone. Her birthday was February. We decided, look, clearly, whether we’re here or not, she’s going to keep using, so it’s time for us to leave. And we decided that we would be there for her birthday. And then we were leaving and we had more than one dinner with her where she fell asleep at the table essentially from use.
Still, we were communicating with her, so we accepted that. But it came time and we decided to come home. So we came home with her in heavy act of use. There’s only so much we can do. We’re coming home. So we moved back home. And then I got a call from her boyfriend or then second boyfriend’s mom, and she said, I can’t find my son.
Do you know where Megan is? And neither of us could find them. So we both got really worried. And this is where Dave and I started making monthly trips back up for long weekends. And this is the time period where I found the stream. I think I found your podcast and joined the stream, and we went back up right after that and basically did a family intervention.
My son came up, we went to her apartment and said, This is not okay, look at this apartment. Look at your what you’re doing. You know, do you agree? And had a very frank family conversation. And my son said, you know, Megan, this isn’t this isn’t good. And she agreed to come home to California. We rented a U-Haul in Portland, packed up her apartment, most of it.
We came home. She had a friend who was going to drive her in her car home and follow us. That following did not happen. She stayed. They flew back up, found her, drove her home, and that night we woke up the next morning and she was gone. The car was gone. She was gone. And she called us halfway back out to Portland because she had no money and she had no gas.
And she was on the side of Highway five.
I’m thinking, okay, we’ll get her home and we’ll get her into rehab, you know, down in the Bay Area quickly. And if I had been smarter at that time, I would have made sure that she had enough drugs. Right. To carry her through the next five days or something like that. Yeah, but again, I think I’m still in sort of denial about this whole thing.
If I could just get her if I could just get in the car with her and get her home, then it’ll be okay. I was like, No, no, that’s not right. You know, she needs she needs those drugs. Her body is going to do anything. It can to get those drugs. She will get in a car and she will drive north to get those drugs, even knowing that she only has enough gas to get her halfway and no money.
But she didn’t know she didn’t have money because when we realized she left first, like Dave fell apart, right?
Oh, God.
And my son was flying home that same day. So when we realized she was gone, Dave just we take turns, basically in who’s going to fall apart, right? Yeah. So, yeah. So Dave, that just crushed him.
Screaming, crying, the whole thing.
And. And I, somebody had. Yeah, somebody had to go pick up my son at the airport. So I was just like, okay, you fall apart, you know, I got to go get our son. So I took the car and went to the airport, picked up my son. You know, we’re starting to drive out of the airport and he’s like, okay, well, so Megan’s home and I was like, Oh, I know.
And then I fell apart. Basically, I had to pull over. He’s like, Mom, pull over, you know? And he’s like, I’m driving. And then I fell apart while my son drove home. And he was with us through the next several days of what does this all mean? But but when she contacted us because she realized she was out of money, we said, we’re not giving you any money.
Like I’m sorry you chose to leave. And that’s one another big boundary you got set, right? There’s no more money. Yeah, there’s no more. All these things. Right? And we will. But. But then we went. Okay, but she. I can’t leave her on I-5 doing who knows what to get the money to get gas to go back. So.
So I said, okay, here’s you know $60 I’m putting in your account. That’s for gas to get you back to Portland.
Or get home.
We hope you come home instead.
You could point the car south.
Yeah, Yeah, but. But you got to get somewhere. So we gave her enough money to do that and said, That’s it. You’re not getting anything else. We will help you. If you ask for help to get healthy and to get into recovery, but you’re not getting any more money or anything else from us. So what she ended up doing because she’s smart and manipulate, as they all are at this point, she went and got her keys back to the apartment, but still had two weeks of lease on it.
And she lives her and her boyfriend lived in that apartment for two more weeks and they got themselves set up. They you know, they made sure they had what they needed because they were going to need to move to live in the car after that.
Right. So the resourcefulness is amazing, isn’t it?
It is.
So now they’re they’re living in the car in Portland using fentanyl and I remember, Eleanor, when we got together, we had a local meet up in Northern California. We went to brunch and I remember we I had only ever seen you on Zoom. And so we got together in person and I thought, she looks exactly like I looked when my son was at his worst.
You must also be a stress monitor because you were about a pound and a half big. And I was like, I know exactly where she is right now, you, but I want you to tell a story. Because you had told me my my daughter’s living in her car in Portland. She’s doing fentanyl with the boyfriend. And but there was a little ray of hope when we met.
Because you had texted her because you were still in contact, which was beautiful and amazing. What you had said is that she that you had texted her and said, There’s this brunch with Mom’s. I’m kind of nervous to go and I don’t know what to wear.
Because I’m sure you had no clothes. It fit you because everything would probably have just fallen off you because your skin and bones.
She. Meghan has always been great about like I could always go to her for things like that. For, like, what should I wear? You know, I’m. I don’t have any friends anymore, but I’m going to go meet all these, you know, women. And. And she was very encouraging of it all, you know? That’s good, Mom. You know, you’ll do fine.
Like I would get encouragement from her, right, to to have this support. And, you know, she she wouldn’t talk to us via phone, but she and sometimes she wouldn’t text back. But, but I would text her at whatever when I was awake at two in the morning. You know, I hope you’re doing well. She’d answer me or I would send of another thing I really liked was I would send a couple of voice memos and I’d say, you know, Oh, Meghan, I just felt like I wanted to talk to you.
I’m sitting here at Michael’s looking for a hobby. I need a hobby, and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do. And then she would text me later and say, So what did you get? You know? So I knew that she was still interested and wanting to be part of the family. She just couldn’t talk to us.
Yeah, there was probably a lot of shame, I’m guessing, because she, like you said earlier, you get to a point where you can’t find your way out and you know that your life is not what you want it to be or what your parents are hoping for you for all of that. So how? Because I know she’s not still living in her car with, you know, the the boyfriend and the fentanyl.
How do you go from that to where you are today?
Well, so the stream honestly was instrumental for me. I mean, it was huge. Such huge value. You and Cathy and all, you know, all the moms and the senior people who had been through it, you know, I would the resources you had. Honestly, I scoured through all of that. We found a and and and consultant mainly just for helping us not that I wanted to put her in school or anything, but just to help us understand if if we should try to get her into wilderness, what should we now at the point of like, okay, like we need to get help for her.
And, and so I looked at interventionists and I, we started to get that help. And, and, you know, as we’re driving to Portland, which every month, like I said, for four months we would rent and two bedroom Airbnb tell her we were coming, give her the address and she always with her boyfriend, would come and stay with us.
Wow. And, and we would again feed them and make sure they were getting sleep. And we would in the first two to we talked about rehab. We even got her on the phone to one and she like was sort of self admitting. But then every both of those two times she ran in the morning again, we would wake up, they’d be gone.
Interestingly, though, we would often get notes that would say we would get notes from her boyfriend that would say, I’m so sorry. I tried to get her to stay because because we believed he wanted to get help. But he he didn’t want to leave her on the street herself. Yeah. So he was sticking with her. So, you know, we would get these notes, but then we’d go back up and we do it again.
And then I finally I found an interventionist who was from Oregon, and we connected with him and said, okay, we’re going back up. And this was Mother’s Day weekend. And I said, okay, we’re going to do an intervention. My son was going to come up. We’re going to Mother’s Day. He’s going to come. We met with her the day before the planned intervention, and she had her act together.
I mean, she’s like, oh, okay, I’ll meet you at this restaurant. I just got to go to the storage unit. We’re staying with friends. They gave us their basement and and then she left that lunch and Dave and I looked at each other and we’re like, We’re never going to get her to go to rehab. Like, she has a two together.
And literally, she had a storage unit and she had shelving in there. Again, the resourcefulness that she had, she had shelving. They had all there. It was incredible. And so we’re like, she’s not going to go. So we canceled that intervention. Standing, you know, in the rain on a corner in Portland, going, talking to the interventionist, go and turn around.
00;49;45;13 – 00;50;11;10
We believe she’s going to go, oh, So he turned around and we said, you know, we got to try again. So we waited another month. We went back up. But the good thing that happened out of that one was we never asked her to go to rehab that visit. And she was so happy. She was like, Oh my God, you guys, like, were off my case about rehab, you know?  Great. So she was so happy.
So finally, my parents got the memo.
The next month it became a game. Honestly, I think between me and her to some degree. So the next month we went up and and we said, okay, here’s what we have to do. We have to block the car. So she can’t just leave.
And we, you know, we got to get her back in. And the intervention had said, are you going to be able to get her to stay with you? I’m like, I can get her to stay. Like I’m sure I can. So And here’s what we have to do, though. We got to we got to make sure that she can’t run.
So that next one, he came back and and we woke her up that Sunday morning or whatever. He woke her. Woke them up. He woke her up and and but both of them, because he was staying with us as well and said, Megan, come on out here. And she says, you know, like she she had no idea because she thought we had just let go of the whole, you know, getting her to rehab.
Right. And and between all of us, we got her keys. She was blocked in. And we basically, again, the final and last boundary was, here’s the deal. You go today and you go with him and here’s where you’re going or you’re on the street because we’re not. You’re not. Get in your car.
You take what you can carry.
Yeah. And that was it. And so between the interventionist, our letters to her, which we did as part of the intervention and her boyfriend convincing her to go, she agreed to go. And then we stayed behind to help her boyfriend.
I remember that. I remember that because we were all in this dream. We were like, Yeah, she went. And then. And then Elena’s like, No, wait, but we’re still here. We got one more. One my kid to save.
This has got to be a twofer because, yeah, he we felt he was important to her during that time. He wanted her to get help. He protected her, and at one point, I believe, even ended up she took took him to emergency because somebody was doing something and he got beat up. And, you know, so we’re like, we we can’t abandon him here.
He actually I just found out he just had his one year anniversary as well. So I was happy to hear that, as did Megan June 4th was her first sober anniversary. So we’re just really happy that kind of you know, they’ve met those big milestones.
They know I need to let you go, but I would say I would love to just hear maybe Dave from you. And then, Eleanor, have there been some silver linings that you found through this experience? Like, I know it takes its toll for sure, not only on your marriage but on your body and your mind, on your work, your career, all of that.
But have you found any silver linings that you would want to share with a parent who might be in it right now?
Absolutely. I mean, I was thinking as we were you know, you asked earlier, how did we get so quickly from finding out about this to, you know, to to kind of dealing with the problem rather than being angry and resentful? And and we certainly had those feelings. But honestly, all throughout this, there have been instances where we’re just extremely proud.
You know, you just see this amazing resourcefulness in the kids, their ability to to sort of make stuff happen that they want to make, you know, what they’re making happen. You’re not proud of that, correct?
But the fact that they’re that they’re just like, you know, she’s living on the street in Portland, living in her car, doing drugs. So she’s figuring out how to get money, figuring out places to stay. She’s you know, we find out later she’s, you know, keeping notes in a log to to to plan things and making arrangements like she doesn’t want park in certain places too frequently.
You know, she’s managing where she’s showing up so that she doesn’t get, you know, all this stuff. It’s like, you know, there’s just a tremendous amount to be proud of while she’s doing this. And and same with, you know, her her boyfriend. You know, he’s this kid who’s been who’s 25 years old. He’s been using for ten years.
Wow. You know, he’s he’s he still seems like this 15 year old kid in a lot of ways.
And yet it was amazing. And like I said, it became a game in some cases with Megan and I and and it is a family problem. It’s not it’s not a kid problem. And, you know, for whatever you look and say, like, what did I do? What did I do? We should have done this. We should have done that.
But you just, you know, you don’t know what it is. And there were good things and bad things that we’ve done. And it’s just some it’s decisions that were made that were not the best decisions. And she got trapped. Right. So the therapy we did family therapy while she was in rehab. That was that was an amazing process.
And we we learned about each other. Right. And I try to react differently, you know, So I would not have had that look inward because it’s not her problem.
Our our family relationships are better now than they were beforehand. Right. So that’s certainly a silver lining.
Yeah. Well, it is a story that I think shows that parents and we know this from research that parents are so influential and that you are not helpless. Right? You guys didn’t just throw up your hands and go, well, let’s just let her figure it out and, you know, we’ll step away. And so I think that’s important because a lot of parents do get a message of there’s nothing you can do.
You’re going to need to step away, let her hit rock bottom and you save yourself. And I and I’m guilty of this, too. I did less of the saving myself. I did more of the trying to save the kid. But in the end, you were successful in helping her, and I’m sure she would. Maybe you have to do a follow up with Meghan, but.
She actually said, Oh, are you going to call me.
That? But, you know, I’m sure she would say that you were instrumental in that process because as you see that kid living in a car or sitting at the end of a freeway off ramp and it’s easy to just go, oh, right. Like, oh, who’s you know, what a mess that could be your child in that car or on that off ramp.
And so who else is going to step in besides the parents. Nobody, nobody. People walk by those kids all day, every day. And so I think it’s just so important for parents to recognize you do have power. There are resources to help. You’re going to have to like get your seatbelt on tight because it is a wild ride. But you can do it. And there’s parents out there like you guys that, you know, have have just really shown that it’s possible. So I just I’m so grateful for you to share your story. It’s so important. And I know it’s also probably a little painful to go back to some of those memories. I know it is for me when I tell our story, because it does take you back to some of those really horrible moments where where you really don’t know how it’s going to end.
Like you said, the the the options are very limited. So thank you for being here. I’m so glad that you found the stream and just you know, that’s that’s why we do what we do, because we know that these things can happen and we’re just so grateful.
So I appreciate it. The stream was, like I said, was was my light right? It it gave me the support and the information. So, yeah, thank you.
And the love. And we got to love you up when we saw you. That’s what we do. Yeah. Yeah. So. All right, well, I’ll let you get on with your busy days and jobs. And next time you see Megan, give her a big hug for me and tell her I might be giving her a call.
Oh, she’ll take it. Thank you. Thanks, Dave. Thanks, Brianna.
Okay. That it for today. If you would like to get the show notes for this episode, you can go to All of the episodes are listed there and you can also find curated playlists there, so that’s very helpful. You might also want to download a free e-book I wrote. It’s called Hindsight Light Three Things I Wish I Knew when My Son Was Misusing Drugs.
It’ll give you some insight as to why your son or daughter might be doing what they are. And importantly, it gives you tips on how to cope and how to be more healthy through this rough time. You can grab that free from Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate it. And I hope that these episodes are helping you stay strong and be very, very good to yourself.
And I will meet you right back here next week.

, ,

the parent’s gathering place

Join us after
the episodes

Hopestream Community is a private online destination where parents find resources, education and personal connections when their child struggles with substance misuse, addiction, and mental health challenges. We teach skills that help improve communication and rebuild broken relationships, while empowering you to motivate your child to adopt or maintain healthier choices.

Learn more and join us >