Parenting in the Real World: 5 Moms Share The Key Lessons Learned From Parenting Kids Who Are Misusing Drugs & Alcohol

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Parenting in the Real World: 5 Moms Share The Key Lessons Learned From Parenting Kids Who Are Misusing Drugs & Alcohol

No matter where you are on the journey with a child misusing substances, chances are you've faced two very dangerous lies: 

1. that you've failed as a parent, and/or
2. that you're alone in the fight for your child

In this week's Hopestream episode, I have the honor of introducing you to five incredible women who, together in The Stream Community, have faced these lies and additional terrifying moments in parenting.  They were generous enough to tell their stories which are all individually unique, and yet they're all known and understood by one another. These moms also share their biggest ah-ha moments with you, which you won't want to miss.

The Stream is a private online community I created where we help moms connect with each other. We help you gain knowledge about how to have better communication and relationships with your kids and help you get as healthy as possible. It’s specifically for moms of kids who are misusing substances, in treatment, or working toward recovery.

If you are encouraged by these brave women and their honesty, I invite you to join us. The first two weeks are always free. We’re saving a spot for you. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why it’s critical to stay present in your journey-even taking it hour by hour
  • How these women are discovering how to become experts in self-compassion
  • What is in your control vs. what is not in this battle
  • Why The Stream Community has helped these moms find the balance between denial and too much positivity
  • What an impact approaching their kids with empathy and understanding has had on their relationships


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.

[00:00:00] Brenda: Boy, do I have an incredible episode for you today. It’s a bit different than anything I’ve ever done in the past, and I think it would be really helpful for you.
If you’re in a place where you’re questioning your sanity, your parenting skills, your decisions, or if you are just feeling really alone. Today you get to hear from five moms who are all in various stages of the substance use roller coaster with their kids. They are all members in the stream community, and they were generous enough to agree to share their experiences in this format so that others could hear and learn from them.
It’s a brave and compassionate person who is willing to do this. So I just wanna send a huge shout out to these women who I consider to be elite level mamas. They have been through so much and they do things other parents can’t even imagine, which is probably also true of you if you’re listening. So you are about to meet some fellow ninja level moms here.
And if you’re wondering what the stream is, it’s a private online community I created where we help moms connect with each other. We help you gain knowledge about how to have better communication and relationships with your kids. And we help you get as healthy as possible. And I should say it’s specifically for moms of kids who are misusing substances or working their way toward recovery.
I couldn’t find a place like that when I was going through it. So I created it and I would love to have you check it out and learn more. And you can do that all at the stream, Okay. Grab your shoes, your dog, your coffee, car keys, whatever you do while you’re listening and drop in now to the lives of five amazing women who I am honored, very honored to know and love.
Cheryl, Jill, Elizabeth Lynn, and Sarah.
Well, I’m, I’m so grateful for all of you to join me on this kind of a little bit of an experiment because I’ve never done a panel before. I think the most I’ve had on is three. So logistically I am, I may be a little challenged, but we’re gonna work through it. And we all know each other pretty well.
Cause we’ve, we’ve hung out together for many, a call haven’t it’s like, I don’t know how many calls we’ve been on together. But I, I was telling you all earlier that I really wanted to do this to just give people a little bit of an inside peak at what a community like and what a community can do for people who are going through what you all are going through, have been through.
All of that. So thank you for joining me. And what I thought we would do is just start off with and this part could be like a three day session. So we’re gonna, you’re gonna have to gimme the cliff notes of what sort of, where you are with your family as far as substance use and your, your kiddo or kiddos some as is the case sometimes.
And so that we can just ground people in kind of who is, who is participating in this, and then we’ll get a little bit deeper. So Cheryl, maybe you’ll start off. People heard you in coaching episode, I wanna say it was number two. I think is it two, which is now in the top 10 most downloaded episodes.
Woo. Of a hundred and oh, awesome. Awesome. Eight episodes. Yeah. That’s amazing. Yeah. So I think I’m give to it twice, right? Wow. Mm-hmm no, I get such great feedback on it. And again, it’s because it’s so real, like this is life, this is what people are dealing with. And I feel like we might wanna do a follow up episode cuz now you are in a different place than you were when we did your could episode.
Yeah. So why don’t you just give us a quick download of who, who you are as much as you wanna share and then what’s going on with your family. 
[00:04:19] Cheryl: Well, I’m a mother of three wonderful kids. And we had to send our second son, our second child our son to wilderness and then to a treatment program in Utah.
And it was mainly for behavioral issues and also use of peds, performance enhancing drugs. And yeah, he was away for eight months and he’s been home for about two months now and we’ve had a few bumps in the beginning, but things are going pretty well right now. And it’s a huge difference from when he left.
So we’re very grateful and yeah, it was really scary. In the beginning, but it was worth it. And we’re in a totally different place now. And we just found an amazing therapist, right? Like next to us, like walking distance, who just fits all the criteria. Like it’s like a copy photocopy of his therapist in that he really loved in Utah who also is a Rams fan, loves football.
So it’s like, wow, okay. This is, you know, and he wanted a female therapist and she’s just very caring and. Wonderful. So just, it’s nice to see things aligning and yeah, I know there’s gonna be some bumps here and there again, but we have so many tools now to handle it. So yeah, that’s, that’s what we have now that we didn’t have before is that support system and then being here, you know, just another added yeah.
You know, support system, that’s been so valuable. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you. That’s so great. Good to hear. 
[00:06:28] Brenda: Jill, what about you? 
[00:06:31] Jill: I am, single mom, three kids, and my oldest son is the one that I am. I joined the Stream for. He is 17 now, but it was we were divorced back in 2018 and. That was when he was in eighth grade.
And it was, you know, a couple rough years leading up to that as well. And right around the spring of his eighth grade years, when I noticed I started finding evidence of vaping and marijuana use and alcohol, you know, I would cringe every time I went in to like, get something out of his room because I would find an empty bottle or a pot pipe or something, you know, there’s always some kind of indication that and it was mostly just his behavior that it was just obvious what was going on.
He was depressed and withdrawn dropped out of sports. You know, he loved sports up until then completely dropped out of that. Just kind of holding up in his room and angry and you know, it’s not, it’s no mystery. Why divorce is, it’s a huge thing. and it was coming out in the form of anger and running away.
And I, you know, made a few attempts to get him into like an outpatient treatment program. And that failed pretty quickly. Like he just drop out after the first day because the rules are very strict and like, you know, you’re limited and who you can talk to you’re limited and how often you can have a phone or use a phone and, you know, he’s just like, Nope, I’m out and would run away and it’s gotten better.
It’s gotten a lot better. I think time has helped maturing, just growing has helped. And still, I know that he uses regularly, but he’s also more engaged with school. He’s in his junior year. Now he’s more engaged with school. He works in a job. He’s very responsible about getting to work and having everything he needs.
For work and he’s does things around the house. He’s, he’s calm, he’s found music. And so, you know, that is kind of where he is channeled a lot of his, his energy and he’s using the guitar to comfort himself mm-hmm and so we just kind of nurtured that. Yeah. I’m trying to nurture the things that I can, and just sort of gently working to try to plant the seeds of thinking about change and thinking about, you know, how is this serving you?
That kind of thing. But I I’m always on the bubble of, should I be doing more? Is this the right approach? You know, because it feels like I’m not doing enough and the clock is ticking right now. He’s 17 and a half. I’m running out of time to kind of make the, make any big moves that would force him into treatment.
[00:09:37] Brenda: It’s hard to know what’s the right thing to do. Yeah. That’s a tricky spot to be in. So it has been so great to have you in the community and to kind of follow your journey because everybody’s journey is so different. Right. We have some who are in this like serious crisis and we’ll get to Sarah. Who’s been through that and, and Elizabeth also, but yours is a different, and I think they’re, it’s, they’re all really hard because you’re feeling like, okay, you’re on that cusp of, do I, do I do more?
Do I do less? Like, how do I manage this? So thanks. Yeah. For sharing all that. 
[00:10:14] Jill: When I hear, like, when I hear some of your podcast, guests say something like you know, like the, the kids who have been in it, who are now adults thriving and they say, yeah, that tough love that my parents gave me back. You know, that I was so mad at them at the time.
That was what did it for me. And mm-hmm I always have that in my head. Like, am I not doing enough? Am I, it is my son gonna look back and say, mom, why didn’t you step in? You were the adult and I’m the child, you know? Right, right, right. So yeah. Well we should do a coaching episode cuz I have some thoughts on that.
okay. you know, you know me, I’m always up for being coached. Every question I know. 
[00:11:02] Brenda: Well, that’s why you’re so awesome. Yeah. Because and we’ll get into in a little bit kind of the ways that you feel like you’ve changed, cuz I’ve seen a lot of change in you, so we will get to that. Why don’t we move on to Lynn?
Why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and, and what’s going on with your, your share? 
[00:11:20] Lynn: Sure, sure. So I’m a single mom. I. One son. And it was probably when COVID started in 2020 that summer, it was the summer between his eighth grade and freshman year. He had gone from kind of being involved in school and involved in things to like being home for virtual more isolated.
He began experimenting with alcohol first and then marijuana. I did not find anything at first, but I, I, I smelled it, I could smell it. And I just noticed he was very depressed and sullen and angry his dad and I we co-parent very well. However, at the time he, his dad and I saw it very differently and it was Rocky.
It was very, very Rocky. That first year was, was really, really hard on all of us. But I think through it, I found the stream I found. And then you all led me to the partnership groups and that was super helpful for me and finding ways to regulate and his dad and I began to get on the same page, which we are definitely.
Now. It’s definitely been a journey. He we’ve, he’ stayed outpatient. We’ve done. We, we did meet with an education consultant but decided to start with outpatient. He’s meeting with a therapist now who is amazing, who he really connects with. Well, and I’ve seen a shift in him since he started meeting with this therapist, which has been really encouraging to see.
I know he’s still using however he is talking has a lot of change talk, talking about using less and wanting to use less. If you would’ve asked me two years ago, I would’ve said Nope. Like you can’t use never. and I’m learning. We just have a lot less control and there’s, you know, there’s different routes to recovery and he is he has a job that he is re responsible and, and showing up.
So I feel like we’ve been working on our relationship and that’s felt really encouraging and positive. So it’s been now almost two years that we’ve been going through this, you know, it’s funny, I went from a place of feeling high, high amounts of shame and also feeling like I’m gonna do this the right way.
I’m gonna do this the right way, and we’re gonna get him fixed and it’s all gonna be good, cuz I’m gonna do the right thing. Right. And now I, I have much more self-compassion and less shame. And I also am like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know if this is gonna work. I don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow.
I just know that I’m just putting one foot foot or the other. Trying to rely on the support that I can and hoping this works out. Yeah. Amazing. Amazing. Yeah. I’ve also seen such a shift in you, so that’s been really beautiful to see. Thank you for sharing that. 
[00:14:27] Brenda: Mm-hmm Elizabeth, how are, how are your headphones working?
[00:14:33] Elisabeth: Can y’all hear me? Oh, good. Yay. . Well, I come from a blended family.
I’m remarried and I have my husband has two children and I had two children and I am. I became a member of the stream because of my oldest son, I think right when the stream started and yeah, you were pretty early on. Yeah. And I remember exactly where I was when I was listening to a podcast and just thinking, wow, maybe I’m not the.
Maybe there are other people out that there that are experiencing these types of things. But my oldest son is the one that struggled for majority of his life with depression and anxiety. And about seventh, eighth grade, I noticed started experimenting with substances, weed, alcohol maybe taking a couple pills from the cabinet.
You know, when we weren’t noticing but nothing major. But as the years progressed, he had some ups and downs and he was using the substances to cope with the anxiety and depression. And so, you know, there were just, there were a lot of Hills and valleys. There were times where he was doing great. And there were times where he was really struggling.
I think that probably COVID caused, you know, being closed up his senior year in high school. You know, we didn’t really know what was going on. He hid things very, very well. He ended up I knew he was smoking weed more than he should we ended up you know, trying to help him in different ways.
You know, he overdosed on L S D when he was 16 or 17, ended up in the ICU for five days, but we could not get any therapist to say he needed wilderness or he needed this or that. They thought he’s just experimenting. He’s gonna be okay. He’s a good kid. And so we sent him to some outpatient, but we never sent him to any sort of inpatient treatment or wilderness therapy.
So things. Progressively worse. And in June of last year, he died of fentanyl poisoning accidentally you know, bought a couple pills off the street when he was spending the night with a friend and thought they were well, they were Percocets. But knowing that there was probably, they weren’t real mm-hmm and and he fell asleep and never woke up.
Brenda: Yeah, that was I have to say that was the worst morning I’ve ever received a, a chat message in the stream was from you that morning. And I just I’m. So in awe of your coping skills that you’ve had and how you’ve navigated this whole thing, and I’m so glad that you clearly communicate fentanyl poisoning because that’s exactly.
What it is. I think when you hear overdose, it’s just in, in our minds, we think of the kid in the alley, right. With a needle in his arm. Yeah. And this was not Graham, this was the wrong pill because wasn’t it also that his friend also took one. 
Elisabeth: Yeah. And woke up. Yeah, she did. Yeah. She was fine. Yeah. But they said it was a, a lethal dose of fentanyl.
So you know, it’s, it’s just sad because at that time there was nobody really around here that had, had died from that. And you’re 18, you think you’re invincible. And I didn’t realize he was doing anything like that. I didn’t even have Narcan in my house. So, but you know, I, we didn’t send him to treatment because no one thought it was necessary because he was so good at just keeping it in.
So I kind of regret that, but you know, With with you. I mean, you helped me with so many, so many things, you know, we were, we were so hardcore , you know, we were like, you either follow our rules or you’re out on the street. And then as things progressed, we realized, you know, We need to try a little bit harder.
And I wish I had done that from the start, but you know, I, you have a lot of things you look at in hindsight, and I have a lot of advice for people going through the same stuff, you know, but I am, I don’t think I could have made it through all this as well as I have without y’all. And I know that sounds so crazy, but in where I’m from, nobody, nobody admits to going through these things.
Mm-hmm we live in a small community. We live in a town that hides things. And you know, we, we grew up in private school and, and everybody has the perfect child, you know, and I didn’t. And so it was to connect with people that were in my position, I think was instrumental in me getting through it and, and still is.
Brenda: Yeah, you’re not far out. You’re not even a year out. No. So that’s where I, I just, I think all the members that have supported you through that we even got to go to the retreat together last year and meet each other and hug each other, which was so incredible. And I mean, for me, it just made it so much more real.
Like it’s so real, but it’s just, when you can hug somebody and sit and have coffee in your jammies in the morning together, it’s just, you know, it’s irreplaceable. So thank you for being here. I know it has to be difficult and I know you feel awkward sometimes. Cause it’s like, I’m I know I’m the one that failed. 
[00:20:54] Brenda: No, you didn’t fail. You didn’t fail because you know what? You are not in control of the guys in the garage, mixing the fentanyl into the pills, right. That those are the people that failed. They are the ones who are failing our kids by poisoning them. And you are the one who is on the receiving end of, of that.
And so please don’t say that you failed, you did so much, right. And you had a good relationship with him that, that I think is the, the thing is this was a, a relationship that, you know, you were still talking, he was still living with you. This was not like, yeah. Oh, we had to kick him to, yeah, I couldn’t, I couldn’t get him out, you know, I think that’s important to mention, because I think people have this perception that, you know, oh, she must have kicked him out of the house and now he’s homeless and he is living on the streets. No, this was a kid who just finished his high school, you know, graduated from high school during COVID, which was just.
I know, impacted all of your kids. Mm-hmm and was still living in the home. You still had a relationship. Loved his dog, loved his brother. Like this was not one of those, you know, Ugh kind of thing. Yeah. So. . Yeah. 
[00:22:15] Elisabeth: It’s one of those things that know, you don’t think it’s gonna happen to your kid? No, you know, you don’t think you need Narcan. That’s you know, it’s not my kid, he’s not on the streets. He didn’t run away. You know, he’s not doing that, but oh yes, yes. Yes. Well we’re so I think he has a story. He, he has a story to tell, I think has helped a lot of people in our area. 
[00:22:38] Brenda: Yeah. For sure. So I, for sure, you know, hope. Yeah. And so thank you for being here because you do add a perspective that I think people need to hear.
You have the reality of what, what a lot of people are living in fear of. And so I think it’s incredibly valuable to have your voice here, so, oh, thanks Brenda. Yeah. 
Sarah, why don’t you tell us what’s what’s going on with your family and give us an idea of kind of your journey.
[00:23:10] Sarah: Sure. So I am the mom of two kids, my husband and I have a daughter who’s 17 and son who’s 13.
And our daughter is the one who’s struggling with substance use. Things are much better now than they were even four months ago, six months ago, certainly better than they were a year ago. Her. Problem ended up being fentanyl Percocets quote unquote, or Xanax quote unquote, you know, street pills probably about, I was trying to think back when, when I first noticed, you know, it was probably in seventh or age was starting to do, you know, I think there was some vaping, I think there was some weed smoking, but none of it seemed very it all seemed sort of on par with just eighth grade experimentation.
And then it might have been it’s, you know, it’s all a blur, right. But it’s such a blur. I know. Yes. I think it was probably the summer before her sophomore year. She’s a senior now that she came home one night and just started throwing up all over the place and it was. You know, out of the blue. And so I, you know, obviously took care of her and said, what’s going on?
Do you think he got his stomach bug or whatever? No, I’m fine. I’m fine. The next morning she was perfectly fine. Wanted to go hang out with her friends. And I was like, you, you were really sick last night, you know? No, I’m fine. I didn’t together that because it was the first time it happened. I didn’t put anything, anything together, but then about a week or two later she came home and the same thing happened exactly the same.
And that’s when I knew, I, I said, you’re putting something in your body that your body doesn’t want and no, I’m not. And she got really angry about it. And I think that is when I might have actually searched her room in earnest. I had never done that before. You know, occasionally we would find vape cartridges, you know, I had to learn what all that crap was like, they look like USB drives and you know, now I’m like, I know what it all looks like, but.
I searched a room and just found a cornucopia of stuff, empty bottles, empty everything a pill bottle. She had broken her arm and been prescribed some, some head duty pain killer, and I had kept it away. I didn’t keep it locked up. She was only 13, I think when that happened. So I didn’t, I mean, I didn’t even think about it, but that bottle was there.
I hadn’t even realized it’d been a couple years. The bottle was in her possession and empty, but even then, I didn’t know about ly. I, I, I didn’t, I, I knew that some kids were using pills from the street, but I thought they were probably real Percocet from parents. Let’s see. Then I don’t, I don’t know, flash forward to her, admitting to us that she had used Percocet and.
Even just that, like that was like, okay, now it’s go time. Like, I, she already had a therapist, but she wasn’t really connecting with her. And so, you know, I, I found her a drug counselor who was awesome. He himself had been addicted to Oxycontin and had lost a best friend. I mean, he, you know, had been in jail, he had the whole thing and he said to me, you know, day one, like in the consultation call, he said, you gotta get Narcan in your house.
And I was thinking, what is that? And I probably don’t really need that because, you know, it’s like, she’s not, you know, she’s who knows, like I just, it just couldn’t penetrate my mind that she was addicted to this drug or any drug, so that my own like resistant to. Seeing it for as serious as it was, was probably part of the problem early on.
But I still took, I still took action as if I believed, even though there was some little voice in my head that was saying, ah, it’s probably not that bad, you know, but we’re gonna do all this stuff. So we got the drug counselor and we got anyway, it, it just got worse from there. It, she started using probably weekly, if not daily, then, you know, COVID happened.
So she was home from school super depressed, super isolated. At one point she told me she came home high and I asked her, why, why was she, you know, what, what was she. what was she feeling that made her wanna keep doing this? And she told me she wanted to die. So that was, I took her, I said, okay, we’re taking you to the emergency room.
Because at that time it was beginning of COVID or middle of COVID the hospital near us had told me if you want her to do inpatient, the only way to get her admitted is through the emergency department. You can’t, you know, because of COVID, they weren’t just taking people you had to. So when she came home and said she was wanted to kill herself and she was high, I took her thought that was a good opportunity.
She spent five days in the behavioral medical center, you know, the psych ward hated it, but when she got out, I thought, okay, maybe that’s, you know, and it was, it was a step in the right direction. But what I’ve learned from all of these from stream and partnership is that. There’s no one step you just, as a parent, you want it to be like, okay, that was the moment she she’s like, I’m not gonna do that again.
You know, lesson learned, let’s go have a sandwich. Yes. It it’s not like that at all. Like it, it wasn an important step and I think she like put it in, you know, her, her mind it’s, it’s something she has now as the foundation that she now stands on, but it wasn’t enough. And so from there, like she kept, I, I don’t know how long she, she stayed or didn’t use after that, but it was probably pretty quickly that she started using again somewhere right around there, she lost a friend the, the older brother of a friend she and her little friend group.
And he, they all had, would hang out together and stuff for a couple years and he overdosed. Or died of fentanyl poisoning. And about maybe a month later, she lost another friend. Same thing. Also also she had a couple of friends overdose, but not die. So, you know, now we’re at the point where we’re, we’re seeing friends, we’ losing people right.
Immediate to us. And when I saw that, that wasn’t a deterrent, you know, it’s it really, it just immediately plunges you into the understanding and compassion for people who are dealing with addiction, addiction, any kind of addiction, because, you know, everyone’s like, well, why don’t, why don’t they just stop doing it?
I understand that as, especially for a teenager in the middle of COVID who’s, who’s already has a depression and anxiety and is already feeling like hopeless. And it was also a really, I, I was looking back on my calendar. Because I was keeping at a certain point, I started writing everything down and I’m really glad I did cuz I can look back and see some patterns or benchmarks.
She was, you know, doing the therapy. We found new therapists. She had a psychiatrist therapist, drug counselor. Oh. And was doing intake intensive outpatient for about a week. We drove her to a daily thing that, that it was great. It incorporated family therapy as well. Parent groups was good, but again, another step on the right path, but not the silver bullet.
We we’ve had so many big setbacks that I think come from a lack of just a lack of resources, a lack of understanding on behalf of even providers care providers, people who frankly should know better. But I, I think I told her, you know, if you want to take a break from all the therapy for a while, that’s fine.
She was still talking to her drug counselor a little bit, I think. And. Things just kind of went along. She, I can’t remember when she started using again, but she, she eventually did. And, and then one night in September I heard a strange sound coming from her room. I was actually woken up to this strange sound.
I thought maybe it was our dog having a bad dream or something, but I went into her room and she was, it was, it was my daughter. It was her dying. She was, she couldn’t breathe. She’s making this very, you know, she was blue friend, something about, I don’t know if it was in one of your podcasts about our babies, not waking up, you know, you find ’em with their phone in their hands.
She was lying on her bed with her phone in her hand and you know, this close. and so thank God we had the Narcan in the house. Thank God I woke up. If I hadn’t have woken up that would’ve been it. So I yelled to my husband to, you know, call 9 1 1, get the Narcan he did. He gave it to me. I gave it to her.
I, you know how those things happened. They’re such a blur. Like I picked her up off of bed. I put her on the floor. The 9 1, 1 operator was telling me to start giving her CPR, but she was still breathing and sh and her heart was still beating. So I was trying to wake her up and it took, it felt like an eternity.
I don’t know. Right. That’s when the paramedics got there. She, she told me in the hospital, you know, hours after this happened, mom, thank you so much for saving me. I was not trying to kill myself. I don’t want to die. You know, at that point it’s an addiction. Like it’s not, she, she knew very well that those pills all have fentanyl in them.
She knew it. And she knew that any. Amount and any time could be her last. Yeah. But we’re still using. That’s how, I mean, in some strange ways, that’s how I’ve understood to give myself and my husband, all of us just give us grace because w we have no power over that. We are not stronger than, than that.
Yeah. Our love for her is as strong as it could be, but you know, that addiction is more powerful. So after a couple days in talking with her therapist, I don’t know what her therapist said, but, but she got my daughter to agree to go to residential treatment. She was there for six weeks, came back and she has used pills that I know of.
I think twice since she’s been home, I think she got home in November and she’s lapsed twice, but the last time was maybe six weeks ago. And. She’s still in therapy. We tried medication assisted treatment as you guys know, but it made her very, very sick. She was really, really sick and it, I mean, it was just not sustainable.
There’s, you know, the choice between yeah. You know, not being able to keep food down ever, or, you know, this treatment. So again, that was another setback, you know, we had to regroup again. But here we are a couple years out and she’s smoking a lot of weed. She has she does smoke a lot of weed. I, but it’s, I don’t know.
One of you was saying it it’s more out in the open, you know, it’s, it’s like it’s something that we talk about. I think, Lynn, you said how your son has the intent to change? Like she does too. Mm-hmm she said to me the other day, something like, yeah, I’m gonna start smoking a little less. My, my daughter’s found some new friends who are, they’re probably all potheads, but they also are all doing okay.
And so they’re on track to go to college. They’re, you know, have good relationships with their parents. Mostly like it’s, she’s found a, a much more she’s in the slow lane now as, as opposed to being on the fast lane. And so, so things are a lot better, even though they’re still like this, my better, you know, our better is like a lot of people’s.
Oh my God. right. Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmm mm-hmm yes. 
[00:36:26] Brenda: Well, I think that’s such a good point because as you go through it, you do start having a different context for what’s going on. And I think what I hear from a lot of you is that yes, things aren’t quote unquote. Perfect. But I’m learning a lot and I’d be curious to know if anybody wants to just sort of chime in with, what do you think has changed the most in you since you kind of embarked on this journey with your child?
[00:36:55] Lynn: Yeah. I, I would say, you know, when I first started this journey for me, because my son is, is still under 18. And when I first started this journey, I felt like, you know, we’re gonna do the right things and we’re gonna parent the right way. And then he’s gonna stop using because you know, when we do it right, then, then he’s gonna stop using, like, we can control this, we can fix this, we can control this.
And by, by all means, we tried everything to control it and fix it. And actually the more we tried to control and. The worse. It got, the more we said, you know, we’re taking everything away from you. The angrier we got, the more, you know, the more we like a lot of people think just put your foot down, right?
That’s gonna make him stop more discipline, discipline. You just need more discipline. And, and by, by all means, we tried all of that and it didn’t work. And so one of the biggest things I have learned is this is his journey. And the only person I can control is myself. And I’m committed to that. So this group is, you know, the stream is such a wonderful, wonderful, safe place to be able to grow and learn and educate on addiction, but also to, to not be alone and to have fun and to learn about self care.
And there’s just so many different things. And as I continue to care for myself, then I’m able to love him better. And that’s the only thing I can control. And, and we can. Not give up and continue to look for different types of treatment and, you know, set boundaries where we need to and take that one day at a time.
But there isn’t a magic answer. There isn’t a, I mean, you know, if anything, it’s kind of like our kids, they think that, that, that magic pill is gonna be what makes them feel better? Like that’s gonna be what, you know, that high is. What’s gonna fix things for them. And sometimes as parents, we think that right choice or that right wording or that right, is gonna be what fixes it for them.
And neither one of those work very well. . 
[00:39:08] Sarah: Yeah. I, I completely agree with that. I think that’s, I think as a parent for me and, and for my husband, that’s been the hardest thing to really understand on a visceral level. You can logically think, okay. Yeah, I get it. My oxygen mask first, blah, blah.
You know you, but when you’re in the thick of it, when you’re in the beginning of this thing, the learning curve is so steep and you’re just overwhelmed. And you just want the thing, like my husband said, I remember him saying to the drug counselor, when we first talked to him, he said, tell us what to do.
We need to know what to do. Like, whatever it is, step 1, 2, 3. And, and he said, you know, there’s a lot of frustrating moments with people who are much further down the road saying, well, there’s not really one answer or, you know, there’s I, I remember asking the drug counselor. I was like, I want to find the people who are dealing the drugs to my daughter.
Like I am going to go on her phone, get their numbers, you know, act like I’m her have them come, and then I’m gonna beat the crap out of, and you know, he’s like, well, you could do that. That’s, that’s one I’d like you to think about what are the, you know, what’s your goal and what would the result be and how much would that change your situation?
You know, I think if I had to just define it, the, the overarching word would be acceptance and it’s as, as ridiculous as it sounds to say, I have accepted that my daughter has this issue. I’ve accepted it. And so whatever that means for us, I’ve accepted that I can’t control it. I can’t change it. I’ve accepted that all I can do is care, you know, take care of myself and be strong and be.
Loving and kind to my whole family and, you know, to both my kids, cuz there’s a sibling there and also just accepted that sh that she’s, you know, as hard as it is for me, it’s harder for her. She’s this, she’s the one going through this. So accept all of it. I accept the good and the bad. And I try not to put, you know a huge amount of weight on any of it.
So like if she has a lapse, it’s not the end of the world. If she, you know, if she has some big success in some other direction, it’s also not like, oh, everything’s fine. It’s like, everything is just what it is. Yeah. And that’s, that’s a hard thing to learn, but that acceptance is that’s, what’s changed in me.
[00:41:47] Cheryl: I think for me, the biggest lesson has been not living in the past and not living in the future. Mm yes. Cause that’s where fear and anxiety live. And it’s being in this moment and just taking the steps in this moment, because, you know, there was just a lot of PTSD with everything that happened with knocks on the door, from the cops and running away and just, you know, being sued by parents.
Like there was so much of that in the past. And then when you came back, like we were on edge about all those things that what if that’s repeated again and it was coming back. to the moment and being like, well, look right now, he’s in, you know, the TV room with his friends, you know, great kids and they’re just playing video games.
right. And that’s a blessing and you know, they’re gonna go out and that’s okay. and, you know, just taking it an an hour at a time instead of like looking too far ahead and that’s, that’s been the biggest lesson for me and my husband and we are constantly reminding each other of that whenever either of us get into that fear and anxiety of what could happen.
[00:43:20] Jill: I just wanted to say that, like, I think that the biggest thing that the biggest benefit I’ve seen is just. Finding the balance. Like you don’t wanna be putting your head in the sand, but at the same time, there’s always something positive you can find.
And then nurturing that like watering, watering, the things you want to grow and not the weeds. Cause there’s always gonna be weeds in every situation. And I like my daughters have other issues that, that are causing problems too. So, you know, find the good and throw all your attention that way. Yeah. My daughter accused me the other day of having toxic positivity so I don’t know what that is.
I have to dig into that a little bit more and see if that’s something I should be worrying about now, too. but but it’s because there’s conflict that comes up there will always be some kind of conflict about something, but where’s the good find that and just. Put all your energy there. . Mm, yes. I love that.
[00:44:31] Brenda: Yeah, that’s so true. Elizabeth. I would love to ask you, because you have such a different experience and, and a different perspective on things. If you were gonna provide somebody with one or two insights, given what you’ve been through and, and the horror that you’ve lived, what, what are some of the things that you would share?
[00:44:56] Elisabeth: Oh, that’s a hard one. Well, one would be definitely to have Narcan in your house. yes. No matter who you are, no matter if you think your kid is perfect or not because you don’t know if, if it’s not your kid, it could be someone else that’s in your house and you could save a life. I feel like if, you know, if my child wasn’t at my house, but you know, if.
If the parents of where he was. Yeah. You know, if they had had Narcan, you know, you just don’t know what could have happened. And, you know, I just, I, I was one of those moms that was so on top of, of him. I mean, his friends would make fun of, you know, him because I was on, I was on it and he knew it. And I still, I missed that boat completely, even though you had said it so many times I just didn’t think it really applied to me.
Mm-hmm so I think that’s, that’s probably huge. Another one is probably that, you know, one size doesn’t fit all. I think each child is different and the old school hard ball way of parenting is doesn’t work for a lot of kids. And I tried it for a long time and I wish I had tried the craft method or tried.
Maybe a little more empathy which I did at the end, you helped me with that. And we were working on it and but I think, you know, I just had this feeling that, you know, your child should fit in this box. You check all the boxes as they grow up. Mm-hmm that. You can come out, we will produce a child, an adult that is perfect, you know, and that is not true.
Par you, you could be the best parent ever, and it could, and I, and I wasn’t, but, and, and your child can still come out with, with issues. I mean, genetics plays a huge part. And I, I heard someone say, I’m glad I had more than one child, or I, I would think I was a terrible mother , you know, but I think genetics plays a bigger part than, than we give it credit, you know?
And I, and I think. Empathy for our kids, you know, instead of just being so hard on ’em trying to work with them and, and help them find a better way to to help them, you know, just not be so one sided on everything because it just, it takes, it makes them not wanna talk to us. Right. You know, it makes them close up.
And if I, if I could have just gotten my child to talk to me, , you know, even though he knew he could, they, they don’t like to, you know, so that relationship, I think, is just so important to have that empathy and understanding and openness with your kids. If, if you can have it, you know, it’s just, I don’t know.
One thing I’ve learned when something like this happens is that you’re either scared of nothing or you’re scared of everything. And. I’m really not scared of anything anymore. , you know? Sure. I just am like, sure. I’m all in, whatever it is. And, and, you know, I wanna help other people, you know, avoid this. You know, I don’t have a strong, strong feeling that, you know, I want Graham’s story to help other people because I do believe that good things come from bad things.
Yep. You know, I think I don’t necessarily believe there’s a big plan or there’s a big reason, but I know that I’m a better person because of him. Yeah. Yeah. And I, and I hope his story can help others, you know, it’s helped me. It it’s you, you have helped me. Thank you. You and I, I have a friend who’s who lost her son and that, that fearlessness that you have.
Because you’ve been through the worst is something that I, I am trying to, trying to take on now, having not been through the worst, you know, so, so that I, that, that I’m prepared if it happens. And if I’m not that I’m still living in a way that’s. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, I think that you know, my one regret was I didn’t send him to wilderness.
I had one therapist that said he should go and then the other one wouldn’t sign off on it. And, you know, I wish I would’ve, you just always wonder what if, what if, but I think, I think you do what you can, my big piece of advice, you do what you can with the information you have at the time and the resources you have.
And that’s all you can do. Right. And then you just, you just have to give the rest to. That higher power, whatever it may be for you. 
Yes. I, 1000% agree. 
[00:49:57] Lynn: I would agree, Elizabeth. I, your story has moved me and I, I really admire your willingness to stay in it. Stay in the mm-hmm you’re here, you’re in the groups.
You’re talking about it. You’re sting in it. And I know that takes a lot of thank you emotion to do that. It takes a lot of willingness to be present in the hard, and it’s definitely, like Sarah said, it’s helped me. It’s helped her. It’s helped so many people. I’m sure it’s gonna help so many people, you know that have heard your story.
[00:50:30] Elisabeth: Thank you. I’ve made some great friends. 
[00:50:33] Brenda: I’m so, so grateful Elisabeth, that you’re still in the community because of your perspective. And you’re just a joy to always talk with as well. But I think having someone who you’ve, you’ve been through so many situations that we can all relate to and that’s really important.
And the other thing, and I don’t, I don’t know how to say this. It’s always kind of weird, but it’s like, you’re just like everybody else, like mm-hmm, I look at you, I know what you do for a living. You’re highly educated, like way super educated. Like you’re, you’re just like everybody else. And so I, you know, when, when I hear you say well, it doesn’t happen to families like ours and you can’t, you know, if you check all the boxes, like if you do this and you take ’em to church, and then they play soccer, they play golf or they play, you know, they do all of the things.
Then that equals. Healthy. Great well adjusted kid and it does not. And it’s, so I think we take it on, we take our kids status or their, their progress as our report card. Like, oh, well you must have done something really. Right. Because look at this kiddo. So I, I appreciate that perspective. Cause I think a lot of people have that 
[00:51:55] Cheryl: yeah, for sure. Yeah. And I wanted to add to that when I met you in person Elizabeth and I heard your story, cuz I knew about you before through our group, but like meeting you and then afterwards leaving, like I took that strength that you had with me and it helped me in so many ways in my journey with my son.
Your story always brought things back in perspective for me. So I thank you for showing up because I know it’s challenging and I know it takes so much, but I do appreciate it. And you just have this beautiful spirit and loving energy and I feel Graham spirit and what a wonderful person he was. And you’re just an amazing mom. And I hope you know that. 
[00:52:56] Elisabeth: Well, thank you. I, I think, you know, going to that retreat was such a life changing experience. That sounds so silly to say that like, I’m on a commercial, but like, I’m not like that I’m an introvert. I don’t like being around a bunch of people and it was really a push. To get me to go, I mean, if my friend hadn’t encouraged me, I would not have done it for sure.
There were several factors that played in and, and so I went and it was just really, it was, it was life changing for me. And you know, I met y’all and, you know, Cheryl is now you know, painting a picture with Graham’s ashes. I would never have done that. I would never have trusted someone. And it all came about because of that retreat.
So I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve made. I feel like I’m so close to these people closer than like people that are my friends, you know, with the air quotes around it. Yes, there are the, there are the friends like we have, and then there’s the air quote, friends. And, and it’s not that that one is right or wrong either.
Right? It’s it’s just different. Mm-hmm . And what I love about this group is that we, you know, we log into a call and immediately we are in like the serious, deep stuff of life. 
[00:54:19] Sarah: You said in one of the calls, like who else talks about Suboxone before nine o’clock in the morning? 
[00:54:29] Lynn: but what I love about it too, though, is, is also, you know, we can, we can go deep and, and grieve with each other, but then also, you know, a couple minutes later laugh and find the joy and celebrate something and, and get silly and talk about silly things.
Like you can have both, both can coexist. And that is what I feel in this group too. Yeah. Not have shame, right. Talking these issues. Because there was a lot of that for me. And you just think you’re the only one or like everyone else’s kids are doing so well. And they’re so perfect. And yeah. Yes. It’s not the case, so yeah.
[00:55:11] Brenda: Yes, it is, it’s an incredibly special group. When you can talk about Suboxone or, you know, all the things that we have. And then in the next breath, it’s like, oh, I found this really awesome glass cleaner and it doesn’t leave me streaks on my mirrors. , that’s, that’s kind of how we roll. It’s like, because that’s life for us.
And I tell you all, all the time, and I tell everybody I can, when I’m talking with them, is that you are the seal team, six of parents, like you are special ops. So amazing. And I think that a lot of times. parents with these kind of kiddos feel this shame, or they feel like, oh, I’ve done something wrong. I’m the lesser parent.
And I’m like, oh no, you are not. You are the elite team of parents because you do things that most people can’t fathom. They can’t even wrap their head around the things that you all do. And the emotions that you deal with. We talk about the roller coaster a lot. And so anyway, I just, you know, I know that it can feel, and, and for Elizabeth, you know, like you said, I’m the one that failed you.
You’re. So not the one that failed think about the impact that you’re making with all, with all of the members in the community. But also, you know, we did, I did a podcast episode about, I made an honor of Graham and it is always in the top five of a hundred and something episodes. It’s always because people.
Need to hear that. And so you are making this lasting impact, so, well, I wish I could give you all a big hug. Anybody have any last words before I let you go on with your days? Cuz I know you are busy women that have lots going on. 
[00:57:04] Jill: Just wanna thank you, Brenda, for, for creating this space and just making it so welcoming and amazing.
[00:57:11] Brenda: I love doing it. I love it so much. And I really, you know, I, I do, I host the platform, but you are the ones that make it, the community. I can’t do that. Right. I can’t make it into something that is so organic and beautiful and dynamic. And you know, people are on at two o’clock in the morning and people are, you know, meeting each other and, and sharing these experiences.
So I’m very happy to, to put the platform out there, but you are the ones that make it, the magic that it is. So I appreciate you. Yeah. Being part of. 
[00:57:45] Jill: I’d like to just say too, that, you know, if there’s, I, I think about people listening to your podcast, who might be just at the very beginning of this journey and feeling all the things we’ve been talking about, the, the chaos and the fear and the wanting to know what book is the book to read and what steps are these steps to take that I, I just wanna say, I know it’s so frustrating to hear like, well, there is no book and there is, but you’re in the right place.
And if you keep listening and you keep following these threads, there is hope. There’s always hope. And I just hope that that you’ll keep searching out podcasts like this communities like this and the partnership to end addiction. That’s where you’re gonna find the help. 
[00:58:34] Brenda: yes. Agree. A partnership is amazing, If you’re listening, what I love about them is they have absolutely nothing to sell you. So you can get free parent coaching. You can get free zoom support calls. You can get their helpline. The content on the site itself is amazing. There’s like modules that you can work through sort of like online courses.
So, yes, I’m glad you mentioned that Sarah, because it’s such a good resource. It’s like the most hidden best kept secret. Yeah. I just wanna like put it on bumper stickers or yeah. It’s it’s great. Wrap my car with it. . Yes, exactly. And I’ll put, I’ll put all that in the show notes. Thank you. Thank you ladies.
You’re all amazing. You too. You too. Good to see a great one. Bye too. Bye everyone. Okay, bye. Okay, that is it for today. If you would like to get the show notes for this episode, you can go to Brenda All of the episodes are listed there and you can also find curated playlists there. So that’s very helpful.
You might also wanna download a free ebook. I wrote it’s called hindsight 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 Brenda 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 >