Eight Free And Impactful Ways of Being That Allow Your Child to Change Their Relationship With Drugs And Alcohol, with Brenda Zane

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Eight Free And Impactful Ways of Being That Allow Your Child to Change Their Relationship With Drugs And Alcohol, with Brenda Zane

In this episode, I share the reason behind my passion for helping parents navigate this stressful season of life and share eight important, free, and available ways of being that will help your child become more motivated to change their relationship with substances.

I spend a lot of time talking with professional experts and parent-experts – those of you living with and parenting young people who misuse substances. I recently took some time to reverse-engineer the things I've heard consistently that helped make the experience better and that have helped kids move faster through this period in life.

What I found in the process were eight nuggets of wisdom and insight that you can start implementing today – and we need to act quickly because our young people are dying at an unprecedented rate. 

As a precursor to the eight insights, I share recent statistics about teenage overdose deaths in the U.S. to emphasize why I'm so passionate about bringing parents more tools, skills, and knowledge when their child misuses substances.


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Hey, it is just us today. It’s been a while since I have checked in, so I thought today I would do just that. there has been a lot of rumbling around in my head that I’ve been wanting to share because I talk with so many amazing experts and parents and it’s hard to capture all of those insights and learnings that I soak up. 

 So today I’m gonna do my best to distill a few things that I think are really important for you to hear first. I know I have talked about CRAFT a lot, which might make you think I’m a very crafty person and doing lots of crafts, which is not the case. 

I promise you. CRAFT is an acronym for community reinforcement and family training , which I think is a terrible acronym for such a powerful approach. But what it is, is an approach that family members and friends can use to help somebody who’s misusing substances be more motivated to change. And it also helps you take better care of yourself so that you are healthier regardless of the other person’s actions. 

And if you have listened to episode number three or number 136 With Dr. Carrie Wilkins from the Center for Motivation and Change. She talks about the Invitation to Change approach, which is similar but different from craft, and it is the one that we teach in our communities for parents and in all of our educational workshops. 

So I thought I would just briefly explain. [00:03:00] What the difference is in case you hear me or Cathy, my business partner who’s on here often, or anyone else talk about ITC or the Invitation to Change Approach, cuz it can be confusing. 
When we talk about the ITC approach. What that means is we are using the set of materials created by the folks at cmc, the Center for Motivation and Change. 

Also happen to be the authors of the book. I talk about incessantly, Beyond Addiction, How science and kindness help people change. And they took the core CRAFT approach, which was developed by. Dr. Bob Myers, and they added on to really important elements to it, motivational interviewing and ACT, which is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. 

I know there’s a lot of acronyms going on here, but this is actually really simple and this is why I wanted to explain it. . When you combine those three pieces, you get a framework that has three main parts that we focus on in everything that we do, which is helping with understanding, so new ways to understand what’s going on, helping with awareness, being more aware of yourself and others around you, and then helping with action. 

And those are things that you can actually do to help make. Also, a big chunk of this approach that we sometimes forget to mention is practice because if you have been trying to [00:04:30] change your approach or your way of being with your son or daughter, and you’re finding that it doesn’t necessarily come easily, that is totally normal, and that’s why we encourage you to practice a lot on anyone that you can find. 

Partners and people at work are really, really good candidates for this. because the more you learn the language 

and the actions of this approach, the better your chances are that they are going to be effective with your child. So that’s what we’re talking about. If you hear me refer to the Invitation to Change approach or itc. , which I just love because doesn’t that sound a lot more positive than distance from your child? 

Wait till they hit rock bottom. You can hear me go on a little bit of a rant about rock bottom. If you rewind your podcast machine to episode number 1 51, where Kathy, my business partner and I talk about why we love this ITC approach. So, and primarily I think that’s because so much of the language and the advice around substance use and addiction is pejorative and ugly. 

And when I first heard the invitation to change, it felt like a breath of fresh air, and I was hugely intrigued. So stay tuned here for more about how we use the ITC approach and how it can come to life in your home and in your relationships. when you have a young person or anybody [00:06:00] actually, this is not just designed for teens or young adults. 

It’s designed for anyone who has an unhealthy relationship with substances. So it applies to, uh, adults and other loved ones as well. Okay, so that’s that next something that I did recently and the focus of today’s episode. Was to reverse engineer all the incredible conversations and learnings that I have picked up in the past three years of doing this podcast and coaching and running our communities to see if I could come up with some of the foundational components of what allows a parent to better navigate this experience with their child. 

I know that sounds a little cerebral, but I have this incredible desire. to help you speed up the process and avoid the landmines. That took me five years to figure out, because where we are with overdoses and poisonings with young people here in the US is just staggering. I also just want you to be healthier during this time because your health and wellness impacts so many people around. 

But the thing is, we cannot ignore what is happening with the young people here in the US and globally. I know we have lots of listeners across the pond in the UK and in Australia, in other countries. And I know you guys are struggling as well. [00:07:30] So the data I have here that I’m gonna run through with you is US only, But if you are in one of our other countries, know that we see you. We know you are also struggling, so I’m gonna get a little statisticy on you for a minute. Not sure if that’s an actual word, just one I made up because I wanna tell you why this feels so urgent to me and why I am so passionate about bringing you this information and this podcast every week and our communities, and everything that I do, the data I’m gonna share with you is according to some new UCLA research that I will link to in the show notes. 

and what I wanted to just share was this information that it came across that the rate of overdose deaths among us teenagers. So everything I’m gonna talk about is teenagers. This is not adults, which I know are also hugely impacted. But for now we’re just gonna talk about teenagers. That overdose death rate among us teenagers almost doubled in 2020, which was obviously the first year of the. 

and then it rose another 20% in the first half of 2021 compared with the 10 years before the pandemic and get this. This all happened even though drug use by teenagers has remained generally stable during that same period. So there was not a marked increase in the drug use [00:09:00] by teens only in deaths. So there were five. 

18 adolescent overdose deaths in 2010, and that rate remained pretty stable for the next nine years, and in 2019, it actually went down a teeny tiny bit to 492 adolescent overdose deaths. Then in 2020 that rate increased to get this from 492 to 950. and then it jumped to 1,146 in 2021, which means if you’re doing the math with me, between 2019 and 2020, overdose mortality among teens in the US increased by 94%. 

This is the first time in recorded history that the teen drug death. Has seen this exponential rise and it again, it is not due to drug use becoming more common. The rate of use hasn’t increased. It is just because the drugs are more dangerous, so the stakes are way higher, and unless you have been living under a rock, this is obviously because of illicit fentanyl in the counterfeit pills that our young people are taking, either knowingly or unknowing. 

and of course I could go on and on about this for hours, but [00:10:30] you also see the numbers, so I will just leave it at that. So this data and all of the people I know who have lost their kids keeps me up at night because obviously it’s horrifying, but also because I know if you have one of these kids who is struggl. 

You may not know what you can do to help them move through this faster and to make better choices, and even to be willing to accept help. And I know that sounds a little far-fetched, but I have seen it with my eyes and ears. I guess I’ve seen it with my eyes, hurt it with my ears, and so I know it can happen. 

And the other thing is the supply of illicit fentanyl is not gonna slow down. So the only defense we. Is to slow down the demand. My father is a PhD in economics and so I know a lot about supply and demand. I will leave that out for today, but just know the supply is not gonna go down. The only defense we have against Fentanyl and our young people’s lives is to slow down the. 

Okay. So thank you for letting me run through the numbers with you. It, it feels better to get it off my chest, and I think it’s important because it’s really easy to get a bit myopic and have a narrow focus in your own specific situation, right? Which is a thousand percent reasonable. But it’s also good to pull [00:12:00] back, scale back a little bit and see what’s happening at a broader level too, which is where I wanna go. 

A little broader into some things that are free and a hundred percent available for you to make positive changes in your family, which then allows your child to choose to change instead of you trying to force it. When I reverse engineered this whole thing, the place I landed as the nugget in the middle really surprised me, and I’m guessing it’s gonna surprise you too. 

I landed. Don’t take things personally. Probably not what you are thinking, right? Me either. But when I pulled back all the layers of the onion, that is what I found and here’s why. By not taking your child’s behavior personally, or by not feeling guilty for the things that you believe you should or shouldn’t have done by not taking all of this onto your shoulders and carrying it around on your. 

you will have space and energy to do the next things that I found in my little engineering project. And those are number two, humility. When you don’t take things personally, it allows you to be humble. And what does being humble have to do with anything? Being humble allows you to get down off your pedestal and say to your son or daughter, [00:13:30] I don’t know. 

I don’t know. I’ve never done this. , I don’t have the answers and I get stuff wrong often. I know I have some responsibility to take in how our family is functioning right now. I know I don’t have it all together. However, I am here for you and I’m willing to do the work I need to. To make things better between us or to simply get out of your way. Only when you have a heart and attitude of humility can you do that, and saying those words and relating in that way tells your child, it’s not them against you. 

You are on their team. Not judging them, not shaming them, but working with them to help them with what they need to. 

and as you know, you are probably not going to get an immediate reaction of, oh gee, dad or Mom, thanks for understanding that I’m gonna start changing my life today. What you will do though is to start a new dynamic in your home and in your relationship that over time will bring down barriers and pave new roads for better communi. 

and it takes time. The third thing I found deep in the layers of the onion, once you’re not taking things personally, was the ability to be curious. If you’re not taking things personally and you’re being humble, [00:15:00] it means that you can be genuinely curious about your child’s life and their world and their substance use and everything else that they’re. 

Without feeling like you have to fix it, you will show up with a sense of wanting to understand and empathize instead of blaming and controlling. 

Curiosity is one of the most available and underused tools I see in the work I do, which is why it is on this list of things. I’m hugely in favor of you adopting in your day-to-day interactions. The next time you talk with your son or. Try to take on the role of student, not professor. Put yourself in a position where you recognize they are the ultimate experts on themselves, and if you ask and listen without criticism or critique, they’ll start to notice that, and you’re gonna have a better chance of having a real conversation that moves things forward instead of an explosion that might leave you both wounded. 

So that is curiosity. Next in my engineering project, I found the notion that we need to accept we are flawed human beings.  

 Hi, I’m taking a quick break because there is a new resource for dads who have kids struggling with substance use and mental health, and it is a game changer. This is a private online community called The Woods. It’s completely disconnected from social [00:16:30] media and it gives men the evidence-based tools and strategies to help them help their children make positive change, and it’s also a place where they can be totally real about what’s going on. 

The woods is hosted and supported by battle tested advisor. Who are all dads themselves and they work with members to help them better navigate a really challenging time in life. So if you are a dad listening and wondering where all the other cool dads are who have these amazing yet challenging kids, the woods is where you can meet up. 

And if you know a dad or a stepdad who could use some additional scaffolding around them right now, you can let them know there’s a private and supportive place. , you can learn more at members dot the woods community.org and there’s free trial, so there’s no risk to check it out. Okay, now back to the conversation.  

This is a little bit different from humility and it gets closer into shame. It’s the idea that we have all done things that we are not proud of, and we may be doing things today that we know are not moving us or our family in a positive. 

that kind of self blame and hate can be so corrosive to the influence that we have on our kids’ motivation for change by acknowledging that we are flawed human beings. We weren’t perfect yesterday. We aren’t perfect today, and we’ll never be [00:18:00] perfect in the future. If you can acknowledge that, it will free you up to have Compass. 

For yourself, and it allows you to step away from the toxicity of perfectionism. Now, I am truly the pot calling the kettle black on this one, so please don’t think I have this figured out or anything. I don’t. But I do know that when we can be more tender with ourselves and accept that we didn’t get any magic sprinkles at birth that made us flawless, you can start to feel. 

When I do this, when I accept this about myself, I smile more, I judge less. I’m way more pleasant to be around and I am a way better mom. 

Number five on my list. The next layer that I got to after recognizing my own humanness was the reality that you cannot fix your child and make them stop using substances. Now, this one might be a huge downer to hear if you are expecting to come to Hope Stream and get the answer, but this is true. 

You cannot fix it, but you are massively influential in the equation. I won’t go too deep on this one because I just did an episode all about this incredible influence that you possess. That is episode 1 51 with my business partner [00:19:30] Kathy. So be sure to take a listen to that one. This is a biggie though, because if you believe that you are somehow going to find the right. Or the right podcast or book or consequences or negotiation that will change your child. You are going to spend a whole lot of time distracting yourself with those things instead of being focused on changing yourself in order to create conditions that will help your child change. 

next. In my reverse engineering project, I came to tolerating discomfort and specifically tolerating and even initiating uncomfortable conversations. This one is something I hear often and I can completely relate because I do not like difficult conversations. And in the past I have done a really excellent job of avoiding them. 

only not with great results. If we aren’t having difficult conversations, we risk gaining information and input from our kids about why they’re using substances to withstand life. We know now that substances are not the problem. They are the solution to a problem and we need to be okay getting muddy and waiting into the deep end, even when it feels so uncomfortable and like we are gonna find something hidden there that we don’t wanna find. 

 [00:21:00] And that might happen. You might get information you don’t want yet. If you don’t get it, it’ll stay with your child and keep them in the spiral that they’re in. that may not happen. You may not be the person your child feels like they can open up to right now about whatever’s going on with them, and that’s okay because you’re not taking it personally. 

You’re just going to be curious about what it is they need to move on to healthier choices. What’s great about hard conversations I have learned is that they won’t kill. , you literally can withstand a few minutes of extreme discomfort, and once you begin, it usually doesn’t go as badly as you might assume. 

Sometimes it does, but usually not. And if you’re taking good care of yourself and practicing being mindful, you can use some of the tools that we talk about here, like the information sandwich, or halt or surf. These are all techniques that we teach you so that you can be more strategic and set yourself. 

For conversations in a way that gives you the greatest likelihood of a positive interaction. And of course, they’re not all going to go well, and that’s okay. Take what nuggets of learning you can reflect on what you might do differently next time. And carry on. Don’t take it personally. Layer on some humility and acceptance of being a flawed human and just carry.[00:22:30]  

And we’re getting down to the last two layers as I reverse engineered this season of life that you’re in and how you can find ways to potentially expedite your family’s ride on the roller coaster. And the next one is the realization that solid and healthy boundaries are kind, understanding this, that having and holding boundaries is. 

Not a mean or punishing thing is crucial to forward progress with your kiddo. And it’s also, by the way, one of the harder things to implement on a consistent basis. Again, this could and should be its own episode, and we actually offer an in-depth to our workshop on boundaries. So I will not go into huge detail here, but this is one that I do think is important to emphasize that if you are feeling like a doormat, if you feel like your rules are not being followed and you’re resentful of your child, or if you have a lot of anger building up, that is a clear indicator of weak boundaries. 

And if your anger builds up and up and up and then it explodes, that is not kindness. Losing it with your. Saying things that you don’t really mean or didn’t want to say in the heat of an angry moment is not kindness. Loving yourself enough to hold a boundary prevents you from having that anger boil up to the point of losing [00:24:00] control, so you stay in control, you feel respected, which allows you to stay calm and that my friend is. 

What boundaries are are limits and actions that you put in place to help direct your universe when the rules don’t apply or when they’re not relevant. And I should say, rules are easy. You set them and everyone follows them, right? Mm. Wrong. Unfortunately, we can’t change our kids’ behavior with rules, as you have probably learned. 

So any success that we are gonna have is going to come from setting and holding healthy boundaries for ourselves. I like to think about boundaries as a fence. It’s fine to build a fence around your yard because it’s your property, and you may wanna keep out deer or other people or have some privacy. 

It’s not really okay to go and build a fence around your neighbor’s yard because that’s not your. And you are not in control of what they do with their yard or what animals they choose to keep in or out, or how much privacy they want. Also, you can see another person over a fence and you can have a gate that swings both ways. 

Open and shut. Your boundaries are the magic key that unlocks the gate and lets it swing open. And if your boundaries are not upheld or crossed, the gate stays. . The last thing I’ll say on this [00:25:30] is that your boundaries apply to everyone, not just your one specific child. Think about a boundary you’d like to hold. 

Would it hold true if you had an exchange student living with you? Would it hold true if it was your sister or brother? Would it hold true if it was your spouse or partner? This is how you know that you’re not being mean or setting a punish. Or trying to control your child. Good news though. Boundaries are incredibly effective at sparking change, and they’re a win-win because you’ll begin to feel better when you’re not the family doormat, and you won’t be exploding all over people. 

I will put a link in the show notes to our boundaries, workshop registration, because if this is something that you struggle with, I highly recommend that because it will allow you to take a deep dive into your own personal. . And finally the outermost layer of what I found when I began this exploration is the truth that all behaviors have consequences, good and bad, and we must let our kids experience the good and the bad. 

And that is so hard for many of us because it feels very counterintuitive to what our heart tell. 

 There are a few other episodes on this idea of allowing consequences, allowing struggle, and it’s important because the more we step into our kids’ lives when we could instead allow [00:27:00] them to struggle and figure things out themselves, the more we rob them of those incredible moments of joy and pride when they are successful. 

And we also rob them of the learning when things don’t go. . In reality, it’s not our place to take those experiences from them. It’s a way of controlling them. And when is the last time you enjoyed being controlled? When is the last time you thought, gosh, I learned so much from everything going perfectly. 

I ask people all the time how they have gotten where they are and consistently without fail, they tell me it is the struggles in their life that taught them their most valuable lessons and their, how they have achieved the success that they have. There’s a saying by Franklin Roosevelt that I love, which is a calm sea, never made a skilled sailor, and trust me, I know that the sea gets more turbulent. 

As your kids get older, the storms can get stronger and you might not be able to fix things anymore, 

and at the same time, . It’s very powerful for your child to navigate those storms and realize they are capable, maybe not without some capsizing a few times, but they are capable to weather the storm. That will eventually make them a skilled sailor for more on this topic of consequences in not rescuing. 

You can rewind way back to episode 17 where I go [00:28:30] a bit deeper into why and how to do this. So now you’ve gotten a sneak peek into what happens in my brain when I feel the urgency around helping you traverse this unknown territory with your son or daughter, or maybe it’s familiar territory that you have been wandering around in for a long time, and you could use a fresh set of eyes on the. 

either way. I do feel that if you’re willing to look inside and start to work on these things, and this is not an exhaustive list by any means, you’ll start to see ways in which you are allowing change to happen organically, peacefully, and respectfully. 

And it’ll cut down on the yelling and the drama and anger and all of the stuff that I don’t need to list off for. Let me do a quick review of these eight things that are in your control because it’s a lot. Number one, don’t take anything personally. Think Teflon, not Velcro. Don’t let this stick onto you and hold you hostage. 

Number two, adopt an attitude of humility. If you’re not taking things personally, it allows you to be humble, which lowers the defensiveness of your. , which then allows you to be number three, curious. Curiosity is free. It’s fully available if you’re doing number one and two. Number four, you are a flawed human being. 

Drop the need or the expectation that you can be perfect, [00:30:00] which allows for self-compassion and makes you a little more enjoyable to be around. Number five, you cannot fix this, but you can influence. This might be a spoiler alert for some of you, but the truth is your child is going to fix this. You get to change yourself in order to create the conditions in which they can do that. 

 Number six, tolerate discomfort. Remember, an uncomfortable conversation is sometimes necessary, and if you go un prepared, humble, and curious, and use some of your skills, you’ll be set up for success. And if it goes poorly, it’s not the end of the. Number seven, boundaries are kind. Holding in your resentment and frustration leads to emotional explosions which are not kind. 

Allowing people to interact with you on your terms avoids those explosions, and that is kindness. And number eight, consequences. Remember, there are good and bad consequences, and if we hijack the opportunity our kids have to experience. , we’re robbing them of the ability to someday become a skilled sailor. 


It’s a lot to think about, and you may have heard one of these points that really stood out to you as something that you could work on. So I encourage you to be. Be adventurous and see if you can today try a small change in how you respond or how you think, and just see what happens. Remember, [00:31:30] it’s a big experiment and you are just gathering information about how all of this works. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect and it won’t be perfect because remember, point number four, you’re a flawed human being and that is perfectly. 

 All right, my friend. I’m going to leave it there. Of course, you can find the show notes@brendazane.com slash podcast and then look for episode number 1 54. if you wanna dive a bit deeper and get some insight into why your child might be doing what they are and how you can be healthier throughout it, you can download a free ebook that I wrote. 

It’s called hindsight. Three things I Wish I knew When My Son was Misusing Drugs. Pretty self-explanatory and you can get that at brenda zane.com/hindsight. Thank you so much for taking this time to invest in your family, which in turn is time that you have invested in yourself and also in your community. 

Please Be ridiculously kind to yourself today. Remember, you are an elite level parent doing this, and I’ll meet you right back here next week to continue on with. 

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