Eps 378: Talking to Brenda Zane About How to Be with Teen Substance Use

Episode 378

My guest today is Brenda Zane, and we are digging deep into teen substance abuse. 

Brenda shares about her son’s drug misuse & what got her started in this work.  We talk about teens who are exploring risky behavior and teens who are using drugs regularly/daily.  Brenda shares tips for having uncomfortable (and ongoing) conversations about drug use with your adolescent and how to come from a place of curiosity (not judgment).  We talk about why the confrontational, punitive approach does not work & to consider drug use as a solution for a problem you don’t know about.  Brenda and I also dig into how to share information about drugs with your kids & how to stay calm when you’re freaked out.  Brenda finishes up teaching me about fentanyl & when overdoses don’t look like what you’d expect.  

Guest Description

Brenda is the founder of Hopestream Community, a collection of support and educational services for parents of adolescents and young adults struggling with substance use and mental health challenges. She is a CRAFT Parent Coach, Volunteer coach and facilitator for The Partnership To End Addiction, a Mayo Clinic Certified Health and Wellness Coach, and Board Member for Sky’s The Limit Fund.

Brenda’s mission is to provide parents with evidence-based tools that help create conditions for change in their families. Hopestream Community comprises the Hopestream podcast, private, online communities, The Stream (for moms,) and The Woods (for dads.) Parents can also find educational offerings to learn about The Invitation to Change Approach which guides them through the experience of having a child misuse substances and struggle with mental health.

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Takeaways from the show

  • Novelty seeking as part of teenage brain development
  • Substance use & responding as a parent 
  • Alcohol & marijuana use 
  • Covid, anxiety, isolation, & devices affecting drug use 
  • Experimenting vs. problematic use 
  • Uncomfortable conversations & coming from a place of curiosity 
  • Drug use as a solution for a problem you don’t know about 
  • Confrontational, punitive approach does not work 
  • Information as harm reduction 
  • Information about fentanyl & overdoses

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kids, parents, conversation, substance, fentanyl, weed, people, happening, mom, pills, hear, community, addiction, smoking, alcohol, families, podcast, party, feel, son
Casey O'Roarty, Brenda Zane

Casey O'Roarty 00:04
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together, while parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people and when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent needed spreadable. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you and I work really hard to keep it real, transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported today as an interviewer and I have no doubt that what you hear will be useful to you. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around snap a screenshot posted on your socials or texted to your friends. Together we can make an even bigger impact on families all around the globe. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 01:26
Hi listeners. Welcome back. I am so excited to introduce you to my guests today. Her name is Brenda Zane. Brenda is the founder of Hope stream community a collection of support and educational services for parents of adolescents and young adults struggling with substance use and mental health challenges. She is a craft, parent coach, volunteer coach and facilitator for the Partnership to End addiction a Mayo Clinic certified health and wellness coach and board member for sky's the limit fund. Brenda's mission is to provide parents with evidence based tools that help create conditions for change in their families. Hope stream community comprises the hope stream podcast, online communities, both private and public the stream for moms the woods for dads, parents can also find educational offerings to learn about the invitation to change approach which guides them through the experience of having a child Miss use substances and struggle with mental health. Hi, Brenda, welcome to the

Brenda Zane 02:33
podcast. Thank you. Hey, this is yeah, this

Casey O'Roarty 02:36
is such a long time coming. I know. And I will say if you're one of my listeners who's like, I like to listen because I want to get ready for the teen years. This might not be the conversation that you might want to listen to a different episode if you're in it. And ready to hear some real raw conversation around substance use and addiction then you're in the right place. Yeah, this is a long time coming. We met and she podcasts. When was that?

Brenda Zane 03:05
Like January of 2021? Yeah, yeah. And I

Casey O'Roarty 03:09
knew I was so drawn to you anyway. But then when I found out what your podcast was about, I was like, oh, I need you. We need we need a doc, let's talk your work is so important. Will you start by sharing some of your personal story that brought you into this field of supporting parents and addiction? Currently,

Brenda Zane 03:33
it's a long story. So I will give you the very condensed CliffsNotes version. But I was your typical suburban Mom, I have four boys, two of my own two stepkids and going along with life. And then when my oldest was about 1314, started realizing that he was, you know, experimenting, we would find things here or there. In eighth grade, I got the call from the middle school saying he had weed at school, and he was giving it to somebody. And so that was sort of like the big red flag like, okay, we're in this now. So that was when he was 13. And then we went through years of him really struggling with not just substances, but a really high risk lifestyle. He loved, you know, thrill seeking, he loved risk. He loved all the things that boys typically love, but kind of to an extreme. And so his dad and I had gotten divorced when he was 10. And we didn't realize at the time that that was a huge trauma for him that really imploded his world. But on the outside, everything looked fine. So we didn't know really what was going on. And in his mind, he felt like his family was gone. His family had evaporated and so he took on a new family which was a group of two Kids at school and out of his school, who were, you know, the quote unquote bad kids, the drug dealers, the kids who, you know, parents weren't around, and they never went to school. And so we went through every imaginable situation that you can think of. And then some, we ended up choosing wilderness therapy for him when he was 16, because he had done an out of state drug deal with some guys who were over the age of 18. So that was pretty horrifying. And he went to residential treatment. After that he ran away from residential treatment, we went through a couple more years of craziness. And then in 2017, he overdosed on fentanyl twice in three days. And the second time he was on life support for three days. And you know, when the doctors in the ICU tell you get your family hear, that's not a really good sign. So, you know, we went through it all, he survived that second overdose, which no doctor can figure out, the doctors at the hospital would come back and do test twice, because he had been found in the backseat of a car with no Paul's foaming at the mouth. When the medics got there, they did CPR for 30 minutes, which is really unheard of, for them to go that long. And he still didn't have a pulse. And so they intubated him and brought him to the ER. So the fact that he survived that, it qualifies me my best credentials that I have our LMIW, which is luckiest mom in the world, because I still have my son. And there's a lot, you know, hundreds of 1000s that don't. So he's come full circle, he now works at that treatment program that he ran away from. So that was our journey with him. And during that time, I had a long career in advertising and marketing, which I loved. And then it became so irrelevant after seeing my son, dad, yes, kind of like, Oh, this isn't really anything that I need to be doing. So I left that career and decided that I really wanted to help parents navigate this time in life, because I learned a lot. And I did most everything wrong. And then I after the fact learned that there's a way better way to do this. And so that's what I do now. So I've podcasts and communities and education, and all I do all day is talk about drugs and alcohol and mental health. And so none of it bothers me. So I know it can be really crunchy for people, you know, especially if you're just getting into this age. But there's not a time where it's more important to talk about because of the situation with drugs and in the marketplace right now. So I'm just so thankful for you to have me on to talk about it, because it can be uncomfortable. I totally get that. It's not for me anymore. I have a lot of you know, calluses built up around it. But I know it can't be.

Casey O'Roarty 08:01
Yeah, well, I'm having the same experience as the first time I heard you tell your story about your son, and with even, you know, some more details. And I just am so grateful for your willingness to be open and to be vulnerable. And I'm so grateful for his permission for you to be able to tell the story that you both lived through together. And I'm sure that it is such a powerful offer for people who work with you. I know for me as a coach. You know, one of the things that draws people to me is they know that I've moved through some shit with my kids. Absolutely right. Not the same kind of shit as you have. But I imagine that your communities are just so grateful and that you and your son's story really kind of serves as this lighthouse of possibility. Yeah, right. And so thank you for sharing. Yeah,

Brenda Zane 08:59
it's an honor. I mean, it's a sacred place to work just similar to your work, right? You're working with people in a really delicate season of life, especially for kids today who are struggling in post COVID with mental health and, you know, substances do a really good job of numbing all of the discomfort that our kids are feeling today, regardless whether it's COVID or something else. And so I'm so honored to work with families when they join our communities or they listen to the podcast, because that is such a sacred time in life and to be able to come along you know, side somebody, I always say I'm sitting right next to you on the roller coaster because it is such a roller coaster. And you know, we strap our seatbelts and it's kind of like the ride where you have to have the seatbelt and the bar that comes down over you because it's so crazy, right? That kind of roller coaster we're talking about. It's a lot. You can't do it alone. You have to do it with somebody, you know.

Casey O'Roarty 09:58
Yeah. When it's So interesting. So I did a couple years ago, I had a summit that I ran about risky behaviors and teens. And going into it. I remember having a conversation with one of my guests about alcohol use. And thinking back to myself as a teenager who was like totally a binge drinker. And I went into this conversation thinking like, What about the kids that just like to party like, that exists as a thing, like the kids just like to party? And as I was talking to him, I was realizing like, oh, no, I had some shit going on. Like, I went, didn't just like to party like nobody really, other than my peers and peers, they don't know how to say like, Hey, let's talk about, you know, how you're showing up. And why you're showing up that way. My parents were kind of in the dark, and also maybe head in the sand, but nobody was processing my why? Or what was happening under the surface for me that I was, you know, binge drinking on the weekends. I mean, I was everything else I maintained. Yeah. So lesson here is like, that kid doesn't really exist. Although I did hear you say with your son, there is that temperament of the thrill and the high risk and the living on the edge that some of our kids embody? Right. And we get to recognize that and be with that. And we're going to talk about relationship and response in a little bit. I often talk with parents about checking their future tripping, meaning it's so easy to so quickly move from deadened ditch. Yes. Right. And especially when our kids start to get into some mischief, which novelty seeking is part of the teen brain development. Right, like, sure you are wired for novelty seeking. And that can look a lot of different ways. And I think parents, you know, we have this sometimes, and maybe you did prior to your son going sideways. We have this idea that there's a way to like tamper or circumnavigate the novelty seeking, like there's some formula, but really, it exists. And your story is the story of what we all dread. Yeah, right. Because we're scared and you, like, wasn't dead in a ditch, it was dead in the backseat of a car. Yeah. And so I noticed this is a slippery place. You know, a lot of parent educators, we just avoid, you know, like,

Brenda Zane 12:36
we've just talked about that the drug covers.

Casey O'Roarty 12:40
In the meantime, I think that continues to make families feel siloed. Yeah. And they do have kids that are experimenting or, you know, have some more regular use. And, you know, as the facilitator, as the leader of the conversation, yes, it feels really slippery. So for this conversation, I want to leave listeners, one with practical knowledge, and tools. And I'm curious to you, I mean, you're working with parents who are in it, right? They have landed in addiction land. And they're navigating, am I I'm here to say

Brenda Zane 13:17
yes. And I would say some are noticing experimentation. And they're a little bit more brave than I was because I did the head in the sand and the justification and the rationalization for about a year. And I think because there is a little bit more awareness today about fentanyl and other really, really scary things. Some parents are hopping on the bus a little sooner, which is awesome. So we have in our communities, and I think my podcast listeners range from what I call the deer in headlights, which is oh my gosh, I just found this baggie of weed in my kid's backpack, or I just found a couple of pills next to his bed, all the way through to we have warrior moms group within our community in the stream for moms have adult children. And we have moms who have kids in their 30s. So it really ranges. The people that I work with are to a point where they're concerned enough to say, Hmm, I think we'd better get some help with this and figure out what's going on. So yeah, they're in it for

Casey O'Roarty 14:21
sure. Yeah. Well, and I love that awareness. Right. And I love what you said about, you know, 2023, right, we're in a different place than we have been as far as being real and being willing to share what's happening in our families. And so I would love to share how I think about things and get some support around fine tuning and noticing where my blind spots are from you because you're an expert. Sure, and it's kind of like that interview I did with the guy like what about the party your kids so I love like, you know Yeah, so I feel like like I already mentioned, there are the kids that are the risk takers and they try things, maybe they dip their toes in to the substance experimentation, and then they move on, right. And then there are kids that get a little bit more wild and perhaps have some underlying beliefs that exist that have them using substances a little bit more regularly. I'm thinking about kids that maybe have a little anxiety and they find why if I go to this party, and I have a couple drinks, man, I can really loosen up and talk to people. And then they might be writing that line, right. And then there's the kids that have crossed over the line and are in that problematic use misuse is the language that you use that I would love for you to kind of tease apart what that is. And perhaps even in the early stages of addiction, I feel like there is a continuum of use. And there is a continuum of response from parents. I'm seeing you nodding, yes. Is it always linear? What are your thoughts about this? And what can we kind of pull apart?

Brenda Zane 16:06
It's not linear? Unfortunately, wouldn't that be lovely? If life was linear in any way, shape, or form? Right? Um, but you're right, in that there are the kids who try substances, and they go, Yeah, you know, like, with me, I tried weed in middle school or in high school. And I was like, Yeah, I don't really like how that makes me feel, right. So there is definitely that kid. And then there's the ones who try it. And whether they know they're looking for a solution or not, it becomes a solution. So they might not go into it saying, oh, gosh, I feel really anxious, before I go to a party or before I go to school, and we'd really helps me with that, or alcohol really helps me with that. They just know that something's wrong, and that they found something that works. And I've talked to kids who are like, Oh, I didn't even know that that was really a problem. I figured, like, what's the solution, which it is? And so they're like, Well, why would I stop doing this thing, if it's really helping me, you know, feel like a normal person. And that's what my son always said, his mom is the only time I feel normal. Yeah, I'm smoking. There's definitely those. And then there are the kids who have, you know, really been soaked in substance use and addiction and their families, you know, are really struggling their parents or siblings or whoever, and it's kind of a part of life, substances are part of life. And that definitely occurs. And what we're seeing today, which is why I'm just so passionate about getting the word out to parents is that what kids are doing today is alcohol is obviously alcohol. And it's very readily accessible. It's hugely dangerous, obviously. And then the other close second to that that's most uses marijuana, which is not the marijuana of the sandy Maxi, now. 80s. So the potency high potency THC today is basically a different product, it really needs to have a different name. And what we're seeing is when kids are using heavily, which means they're using daily, they can see psychosis setting in within months, this is not like, Oh, my kid's been smoking for a couple of years, I think maybe they're having some problems, it is really, really fast. And so, you know, in the 70s, and 80s, if you were smoking weed, you are not going to become dependent or addicted in the same amount of time that you would now. And so it's really, really problematic. And kids aren't realizing that that this is something that is not just oh, but it's just weed. So you get into that, like you said the problematic use the dependents, and then really serious, you know, side effects and conditions very quickly, which is terrifying, as a parent who's watching it. But it's not a straight line, because you'll have kids that try it and leave or they are really functional. And they can, like you said, when you were younger, you know you were holding it all together, and then the weekend would come. And so there is no way to just like take a snapshot and see this is what's going on, you really have to look at that spectrum of what's the timeline looking like like when are they using? Are they using a loan in their room? Are they using out partying? Those are very different scenarios. So there's just a lot to kind of pick apart if you know that they are using

Casey O'Roarty 19:37
so as I hear you say alone in their room, I'm thinking about the shift in how they be with each other, interacting through like multiperson video games or through the social media like it doesn't seem like they're all congregating the way that we all congregated back in the day. Yeah, and I'm wondering like just thinking out loud how that contributes to knowing that our kids are smoking alone, and here and there, or like you said daily if it's heavy use? Are you noticing anything? Like, is there any correlation with that?

Brenda Zane 20:12
Well, I definitely think coming out of COVID, you know, I was just at a conference with all of the young adult and adolescent treatment programs. And what they were mostly concerned with was the post COVID effect. The fact that right now we are seeing the tip of the iceberg because kids were alone in their rooms with their devices, without social interaction with a lot of anxiety because nobody knew what was going to happen. Parents are anxious, which makes kids anxious. And so you know, with the availability today, when you can go on Snapchat, in order Percocet or Xanax or whatever you're wanting to buy. And then you hop on your bike and say, Hey, Mom, I'm going for a bike ride. And mom's super excited, because son's gonna cry, that's awesome. We'll do we know he is going to pick up the Percocet. So we don't totally know. But obviously, the more they're alone, isolated with a device, the screen in front of their face, not good, not healthy. And so those are some of the signs that, you know, if you're having a hard time getting them out of their room, getting them away from the device, obviously, something to really pay attention to.

Casey O'Roarty 21:26
And I was telling you before I hit record, sometimes, because we've got that done in a ditch, quick tendency to go to worst case scenario. It seems like sometimes parents and I've noticed this with my clients, they go in on a kid that's experimenting with a fear that's better suited for more problematic use. And I say better suited, like, what I mean by that is, will yield more useful results. Yes. Yes. Good

Brenda Zane 21:56

Casey O'Roarty 21:57
right? Because I think that there's that continuum of use, there's that continuum of response. So can we talk a little bit about, you know, what you learned, what your clients and the people you serve, are learning and playing with around like, okay, you know, that they're experimenting, or you know, that sometimes they use, you know, sometimes they're out in the world or in their room? So how do we have conversations with our teens? In a way that's an appropriate response? What are your kind of like talking points for parents with that,

Brenda Zane 22:37
you really have to start before you even start having that conversation is to get okay with yourself having the conversation and knowing that it's going to be uncomfortable, and being okay with the fact that it's going to be uncomfortable. So, before even embarking on that adventure with your child, to say to yourself, Okay, I can do this, I can have a conversation and know that it's probably going to be uncomfortable. And, you know, like, you always say, the best way to go into it is with curiosity. This is not a judgement conversation. I'm not trying to shame you. I'm just genuinely curious, what is your relationship with this substance? And that's where I always try to have people start is to say, I'm really curious, I noticed that before you go out with your friends, you know, that's typically when I see you, you kind of look different. I'm curious about that, what's going on? Or if you know that, you know, like, if it is kind of out there smoking or whatever, to say, you know, tell me about this relationship you have with weed? What is it doing for you, because like I said, it is the solution, it is not the problem. The problem is the anxiety, or the problem is the depression or the problem is whatever they're dealing with. And so, the substance doesn't become the villain. When you as a parent can say, Okay, I see that this is a really important relationship to you, you really depend on this weed or whatever it is, to get you to school and to be okay. There's so many kids who like after COVID the thought of going into a school building, and then you add on shootings, like Hello, yeah, I wouldn't want to go it right. So if you could approach it from that way and say, you know, it seems like where I see you know, using those open ended questions when 100% curiosity you can freak out later with your therapist or your coach or whoever it is that you you know, turn to and processes with, but not with them. And you will be surprised what they will tell you if you approach it in that way.

Casey O'Roarty 24:45
What I really appreciate and I'm gonna say again, and I really want you listeners to hear this is their use is a solution. Yes to a problem that perhaps you don't know about like that. It fits so perfectly in what I share all the time on this podcast, which is that iceberg metaphor, right tip of the iceberg, what you can see is often a solution to a problem, which is under the surface that you may or may not know about. Yes. And I'm active in these conversations. Brenda, so right with my own adolescence, yeah. And I also appreciate you saying not to villainize right, we're not going to villainize their solution. Instead be really curious. I appreciate this on so many levels. Because I think about how, and I mentioned this already, like, what would have happened for me, if somebody had been able to come to me with curiosity and non judgement, and asked questions, so that I could connect some dots. I mean, because it wasn't just like binge drinking, it was a lot of drug use. It was like a lot of like, one night steroids. I mean, it was risky behavior across the board. But nobody knew how to process that with me. And I was, you know, 1920, I didn't even know I needed to process anything. I was just like, look at me, I like to party. Right? Right. And the guys are sleeping around, why can I, you know, totally justifying? So I really appreciate that, you know, this comes back to, as it always does, relationship, right, being able to say, Hey, I'm curious about your pot use, and I loved your language. I'm wondering about your relationship with this substance. I think that is such a powerful question. And again, hopeful that I can in my questioning that we can, in our questioning, support our kids in developing a sense of Oh, yeah. Is this enhancing my life? Or is this getting in the way of the things I want? And again, a conversation and my listeners hear me talk about this all the time? Are they aware of what they want are their conversations around like, this is what I want for this quarter at school? This is what I want for my friend group. This is like encouraging them to talk about what they want in their life. And then it's like a home base or a compass. Right? So you want to point the compass towards that? How is your relationship with weed or with alcohol or with pills? How is that supporting your compass?

Brenda Zane 27:38
Right? Definitely pointing to that, and also just being open to saying, this goes back to motivational interviewing, but you know, what are the upsides of weed for you? Oh, well, you know, I fall asleep, or I'm just so much more relaxed when I go into school or when I go to a party, and right, are there any downsides? Have you noticed any downsides? And if they're early in their use, if they're in that pre contemplative stage and Stages of Change? They're gonna say, No, it's all good. Right? All good. If that's where they are, you just have to not try to solve the problem. Because there's no reason that they could see like, why would I rip off this band aid that is working so well. So what you just need to do in that stage is just to keep probing not is this helping you get to your goals? Is this going to help you make the football team? What do you think would happen if the coach found out that you know, this was something that you're using to fall asleep? So really pulling it out of them? Because people believe what they hear themselves? Say, right? So they're saying, Well, you know, sometimes I get a little worried because if the coach found out, I'd probably get kicked off the team, or, you know, I can't really study very well. And so I'm probably not going to be able to get a good LSAT score, whatever it is that they're working on. So yeah, definitely point in the future goals. And the other thing I would say is that if parents are listening and going, Oh, crap, that is not how I've been talking with my kid about their substance use, what you can do is go back and say, Hey, I think I was approaching this a little bit in the wrong way. I think I came at you really hot and heavy about this, because I'm scared. But what I really want to know is what is this relationship that you have and what is it doing for you because you know, people don't touch a hot stove unless you know if it's hot to them, we look at that and we're like, that's a hot stove. Right touch it for them it's not and so it's just going to be a mismatch. If you're saying don't do this, don't do that. And if you smoke weed, I'm taking away your phone. It's like well, wait a minute, where is the connection between the weed and the phone? Right? It's like if you're going to be like my mom is insane or my dad is crazy,

Casey O'Roarty 29:51
right? And not reflecting at all on gosh, maybe I should think about how this is affecting my life. Yes, set all their energy is on like Got my mom's a psychopath. Exactly. And something that you know that I've heard from one of my kids is her pot use was her self harm. Yeah, you know, it was really something that had she not had space for it, it could have looked very different for her. And it's so interesting when we find out that our kids are cutting or doing some other kind of self harm. I mean, it's still scary, right? And oh, God, but it is a different, we don't go and say, I'm gonna ground you, right? If you keep doing this, or I'm going to take your phone away. Like, I feel like this conversation and your work and where I stand in all of this. It's a radical shift away from the idea that I can somehow control whether or not my kid is going to play around with us or even slide into, you know, addiction. Yeah.

Brenda Zane 30:59
Oh, for sure. I mean, there's so much research out there that shows now that the confrontational punitive approach does not work, all it does is it pushes it underground. So now they're gonna get way more sneaky about it. Whereas if you can say, and really start as young as possible to say, hey, you know, we need to make sure that you have some coping mechanisms, and that your distress tolerance is really strong, because life is going to cause you distress, and substances, unfortunately, work extremely quickly and extremely effectively. And so, if that is their go to coping mechanism, it's going to work really well until it stops working really well. And then at that point, the impact of substances on a developing brain are pretty crazy, I'll just leave it at that. You do not want that brain being impacted by these substances, it does cause long term damage. And so the more we can just have that conversation to say, yeah, I get it. You know, if you have anxiety, man, we can work really well for a while, and then it actually makes you more anxious. So what's another way that we could find to deal with your anxiety? Oh, and by the way, why do you have anxiety? Like, those are the things that you need? You need to ask the second why I say the first why is why are you using live anxiety? Okay, well, why do you have anxiety? If you're 15? Or why do you have anxiety? 26? Or whatever it is?

Casey O'Roarty 32:30
Yeah, let's explore that. And, you know, I'm also thinking, since you brought up, like, starting young having these conversations, you know, I feel like there's so much harm reduction that we can kind of hold space for. Recently, I've been talking a lot in my communities around the kid, you know, we did an activity just last night on a call, or it was like a Venn diagram. And one circle was, here's the kids lane, here's your lane. And what's in the middle of the overlap are the tools and strategies and resources that we can provide, with some non attachment around how our kids are intersecting, with those tools and resources and ways of being that we show up with, you know, and really looking at, again, where do we have control? And I remember watching some show with my kids, and they were having jello shots. And the kids weren't terribly young. They were like, middle school ish, older Elementary, and they were like, what is that? And I was like, oh, jello shots, they're actually jello made out of alcohol. And so they're sweet and kinda tasty. And so sometimes, when a tray of jello shots shows up at a party people, because they're little and they're sweet, can have a few at a time. But here's the deal. You know, it's usually an alcohol that hits you really fast and really hard. And you don't realize it's happening because you're consuming it so quickly. So I mean, in that conversation, I think I ended with so let's all just avoid jello shots.

Casey O'Roarty 34:05
But now, you know, it's like, hey, there's a difference between a beer in a red solo cup. And, you know, bourbon, right? Or some kind of hard alcohol, they're gonna hit you differently. And so, and also having conversations which I've had and shared on the podcast around like, you know, you might be in a situation where you're a yes. And so what are the situational awareness questions that you're gonna want to ask? Like, everybody's got a smartphone, everybody's got a camera. So if things get weird, can you trust this group of people that have your back? Yeah. And instead of like, broadcasting your shame, right? Or do you have an out kids want to save face? Just say no, and walk away is not useful? No. So what are the outs that you kind of role play and play with with your kids? I do this. So yeah, Like, what can you add to that around kind of the harm reduction? And even as I say that I'm thinking about the listener who's like, wait, wait, so you're just gonna be like, so when you do smoke weed? And I'm here to say like, aren't we talking about condoms and birth control? Right, right? Are we making sure that our kids understand situational awareness? And consent? I mean, it's the same kind of thing. We can't control when they're going to lose their virginity. Equally, we can't control whether or not they're going to dip their toe into experimenting. So let's Yeah, don't give them some tools that feels kind of

Brenda Zane 35:37
weird to say, yeah, no, if I get you know what I mean? I totally do. So if you are talking about harm reduction, sort of, in what I call like the drug world, it's a very different thing than if you're talking about reducing the harm, kind of conditionally with a young person who maybe is in high school or early in college. So okay, kind of traditional harm reduction would be, I used to smoke heroin, or inject heroin, and now I am smoking weed. So that's a big difference from talking to your teenager or your college age students who say, Hey, have you heard of fentanyl? Do you know that it looks like a pill that is going to be stamped exactly like a Xanax or Percocet. So harm reduction can also just be information. And so that's what I would say is, you know, I don't think we want to ever encourage a young person, you know, to smoke weed, but like you said, we can't control what they do. So we can say is to have a conversation and say, what we call the information sandwich, would this be a good time to just talk for a minute about some things I've been seeing in the news, or what I've listened to on Casey's podcast, or whatever it is to say, you know, I heard that there's these pills that look exactly like whatever, and blah, blah, blah, right? And you can sort of share that information. What do you know about that? Like, are your friends talking about that? And then that way, you're kind of testing the waters, what do they know? What information are they working with? And then, you know, to be able to counter that, they might say, oh, yeah, mom, everybody knows that. Okay, cool. I just wanted to make sure that you're aware, because I didn't know. And so this is really important. And you know, the thing with weed, a lot of our families end up in a situation where the kid says, Well, you know, I have a medical marijuana card. So I'm fine. You know, first they get a fake ID. Yep. And then they go in to get the medical marijuana. So

Casey O'Roarty 37:36
as if, like, I've had this conversation, I'm like, It's medicine. Well, and usually when you're prescribed something, it's like, take this this often, right? Like,

Brenda Zane 37:46
right. So obviously, that's not ideal. However, if I had a kid who was smoking weed, I would rather that they're getting it from a dispensary than getting it on the street. I don't want either clearly, right? I don't want to either. But if they are going to get it, there's less likelihood that it's going to have toxins beyond what's already toxic in it, if they're getting it from a dispensary. So usually, that doesn't happen, because it's expensive. And our kids typically don't have a ton of money. But some kids do have a lot of money, right? Some kids have endless amounts of money. So there's that to think about, but it really is preparing for, like you said, hey, you know, we have one mom in our community who she said, you know, text me an apple, if you ever want to get out of a situation, yes. And we'll figure it out. And she also said that because her daughter is unfortunately, addicted to fentanyl. And she said, you know, if you ever want to talk about this, and you're even thinking about getting some help, text me the apple. So that's sort of their language, to be able to say, for the daughter, hey, I'm reaching out, I really need you without having to say, Mom, I really do. That's hard. I mean, from a harm reduction standpoint, at that stage, it is information. And it's again, being able to go into it saying this is going to be super uncomfortable. And I know you're a fan of this tool, just calling that out and saying to your kiddo. Dude, I feel really weird talking to you about this as your mom, right? This feels really weird. But I love you and I want to keep you safe. And so we can have these conversations. It's not going to break us. Yeah, so let's just do it. Let's just go into it. And we're going to have a conversation. Because if they know that you are the safe place to have the conversation, then you're going to be the one that they come to when they say, gosh, you know what, I'm starting to really freak out. You know, this weed is not making me feel great anymore. And if you're the scary person who's going to freak out and yell and threaten to send them off to treatment and all things you're not going to Be the person they come to. So being able to say, it's awkward, I get it. But we're going to have this conversation. And you can always come to me, it's just going to, in the end, be a better situation, because there will come that day when they say, like, last night, I was feeling really paranoid, right? This, what the high potency THC is doing today is paranoia, and, you know, ending up in psychosis. And from the conversations I've been having with all the doctors, just because they stopped smoking, the weed, if they're having those symptoms does not mean it's gonna go away, there can be permanent schizophrenia, from the high potency that they're using today with shatter and dabbing and all that stuff. So it's not a conversation that you want to avoid, really, and we haven't even talked about fentanyl, but at the stage, if they're just sort of experimenting, dabbling here and there, or if you're starting to see some patterns, find out what that relationship is, and just be hugely curious about it and know that it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Like just because your kids smoking weed, does not mean your world is, you know, imploding and your family is terrible. And you're a terrible parent. It's okay, you can get through it, you just have to be able to have the conversations.

Casey O'Roarty 41:27
Yeah, and I want to be clear to, you know, my kids, no, I'm not a fan of them using. And I also want them to like even in said, because I always say the, you know, the more teenagers, the dumber you get, and he was at a swimming Hall up here in Bellingham. And there was a couple little platforms that they could jump in the water. And I met up with him after he was like, Mom, I gotta tell you, you are in my head, more teenagers, there are the stupid or weekend, I was like, You know what, I'm not gonna jump off the highest one. I'm good right here. And it was music to my ears, right? Like, ultimately, we want to, I think that there's a misguided idea that if we say that or not do this, and if you do it, you're gonna be in a lot of trouble that somehow in the moment, our kids are like, I don't want to get into trouble right now. You know, I'd much rather have them be thinking things like, is this a good idea for me? For me? Is this a safe environment to try this for me? Are these people safe people and people that have my back? Like, I want my kids to be thinking like that? I definitely didn't think like that, and somehow managed to not end up in really horrible situations. Anyway, so yeah. And I mean, I had a conversation with one of my kids last fall, where they were letting me in on some things. And, you know, I was really in my skills. And I was really curious and presenting very calm. And then I said, I don't want you to be confused by how calm I am. Because this freaks me the hell out. Yes. Yeah. Right. And so I think it's comes back to like, being real and authentic and vulnerable with our teens. Right? Kind of partying that curtain of, I don't know, that space that can get in the way of real, honest conversation.

Brenda Zane 43:31
Yeah. And we don't have to have all the answers. I think that was one of my biggest mistakes was I thought, I had to have all the answers. And I had to know exactly what to do. And I didn't have a clue. And so I kept putting up these walls, I was not the curious parent at all. And it just drove this huge wedge between us. And so it's really part of why I now do what I do, because I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I know, my son. And I know if I would have approached him with that heart. And with that mind, he would have responded differently. I can't say that what happened wouldn't still happen, it may have, but what you can do is keep that relationship between the two of you. So that, you know, like, there was a day when he called me and said, hey, you know, he was homeless. He was I don't know, where he was living. We hadn't talked for weeks. And he, you know, call me He texted me and he said, I have to go to court, will you come with me? And I was so glad to be the person that he was coming to, to ask him, you know, to go to court with him. And so I think we just have to say, I can do this. And that's why you have to have a community like your community or my community or whoever it is that you know, maybe it's in your faith community or whoever to hold you up. Because yeah, when we're with them, we gotta keep it together and be curious and we can be freaking out in the inside and then you have to go to that company. Unity and say, Whoa, I did not want that information. I'm freaking out about this. Have you ever dealt with this? Right, but we, and like, I'm glad that you said that about, you know, just don't let my presence indicate that this doesn't bother me because this does bother me. But I'm more interested in really understanding what's going on with you. And to make sure that they understand that I think is super important.

Casey O'Roarty 45:27
You mentioned fentanyl. Fentanyl. So what do you have? I mean, I feel like most I mean, I don't know, in my thoughts, my brain. It's like everybody's like fentanyl is, you know, being talked about all over the place in your community? And like, you've got your finger on the pulse of what's really happening? Do you feel like there's still a lot of gap between people understanding one? I mean, it's amazing to me that someone can be addicted to fentanyl, because I thought you miss read what you're getting, then you're in fentanyl is in there? And you're a goner?

Brenda Zane 46:05
No, not necessarily. So that's the tricky part is, first of all, I think it's important for people to know that fentanyl is a perfectly legal drug, it was created for stage for cancer pain back in the 50s or 60s. And it wasn't until it started to be made illicitly in China, that and then shipped over to the US that we really started to have this problem back in like 2014 15. So what's happening with young people is Yes, they've heard about that. No, but young people don't have fully developed brains. And so they think it can't happen to them. Yes. And so even if they are at a party, and there's pills going around, and in the back of their mind, they might be like, Yeah, I've heard that thing about fentanyl, but everybody's doing it or, you know, you know, your friends are doing this. And so there's just not the same, like, it's just not registering with them. Some legitimately don't know that they're taking it, I think there's some kids that are a little bit less, you know, on the edge of a AP and AP. Yeah, but most of them do know that there's risk in that. And the problem is that these pills are not being made in a lab, like nobody's measuring anything. So you might get a pill and you know, 1% of a dismantle, and then you might get another pill and 70% of it is fentanyl. So there, it's just because these clandestine labs are just pumping out millions and millions of pills. There's no consistency. And there's, I'll have to send it to you, maybe you can put in the show notes. But basically two grains of salt is the amount of fentanyl that can cause an overdose. And so oh my god, you you know, we've lost four kids in our community in the last three years. And the last one, he ordered some Percocet off of Snapchat, knowing that it was going to happen all and it because it gives you a better high. And so that's the other thing that the kids are like, Well, yeah, but it's cheaper, and it's a better Hi, oh shit, why would I do that? I thought they were all just in the dark. They can, I'm gonna take this fun thing. And then like, oh God, and so he actually cut the pill in half and took half and did not wake up in the morning. And so that is what's happening. So you know, if you're hearing about fentanyl in the in the news or whatever, it's not the guy in the alley with the needle in his arm. This is our 17 year olds or 18 year olds or 23 year olds with an iPhone in their hand laying in their bed. They look like they're asleep, because what it does is it depresses the heart rate depresses breathing, and then you eventually just stop breathing. And so sometimes people think overdose and you think someone's acting wild and crazy and running around in the streets yelling, right? Like that's kind of what you might think. And with phenol, it's like, they're just asleep. And so there will be gurgling there will be like their skin can start to turn blue. But a lot of times if kids are at a party, and this is going on, they're drinking so Alcohol is a depressant. So it's also going to depress the respiratory system, then you add in some weed, right? And then at midnight, somebody decides oh, we're gonna order some Percocet. We're gonna order some Xanax.

Casey O'Roarty 49:20
And is it that quick? Like DoorDash? Oh, yeah.

Brenda Zane 49:24
Oh, yeah. They're pulling up the kids. You know, the drivers pulling up outside mom thinks it's an Uber or whatever. So then you add, you know, fentanyl, and whatever else is in that pill. There could be rat poison. There could be whatever you don't you've no idea what else is in that pill. That is what's going on. And so there really isn't time to not have these conversations with your kids. You know, I don't want anyone sitting in the ICU like I did, looking at my kid on a ventilator and doctor saying, Get your family here. Are you? Because I didn't know I was clueless to that? Yeah. So kids know, most of them they know, but they just don't have the brain development to know that. It's actually real. Like, this isn't just something that you see on the news. And you know, sadly enough of them have friends who are dying, they're becoming more aware. But they still just don't think it could happen to them. So just the ongoing conversations in a non threatening way, hey, you know, what do you know about fentanyl? What are you hearing? What are you seeing? Because, you know, as a parent, I could say to my kid, well, I see it on the news, you're probably seeing it a little bit more real, like what's going on? Tell me what's happening. And if you're doing it from that place of curiosity, and you're not the like, you better not be delusional. Yeah, like, that's just going to push it underground.

Casey O'Roarty 50:54
Well, and also, there's like, there's a lot of respect, I think being received from a kid whose parent is like, I'm guessing you probably know more than I do about this. And I'm they do?

Brenda Zane 51:07
Yeah, they know, even the parents who say, Yeah, but my kids just smoking weed and drinking. No, they're not.

Casey O'Roarty 51:15
They're not now that we're all freaking out, Brian. I know.

Brenda Zane 51:17
I know. And I hate to say that. But on the other hand, I hate to have you sitting in the ICU like I was. So it's better to have the conversation than to not. And you know, kids really do under report at a rate of about 80% what they're doing. So if they're not doing it, they know about it. And they know people who are and that can also be a good in to say, gosh, are you worried about any of your friends? Because a lot of them are? say like, oh my gosh, Mom, I'm really worried about Jill. She's taking pills. And then you're in right then yeah, and have the conversation. So sometimes going in from the side with a friend conversation can be a little bit less crunchy.

Casey O'Roarty 51:59
Yeah. Well, as my son was leaving today, I told him, I'm having doing this podcast with my friend, friend, I'm sure there's going to be lots of conversation that I'm gonna want to have with you, you know, Oh, brother. Yeah. Well, you and I both are friendly with Amy Lang. And after I interview her, I'm always like, all right. Let's see.

Casey O'Roarty 52:20
Like, oh, god, yeah. And one of the things that I take away from her conversations always is it's not one conversation that we're having with our kids. It's frequent, and short. And I think there's really something to be said, for pulling back your shoulders, but you started with like, get yourself together, feel your feet on the floor, manage your nervous system, because the message there is I can deal with this conversation, I can show up to this conversation. And that's what they need if they're going to turn to you when they need you. All right, so good.

Brenda Zane 53:01
Every time people talk to me, I feel like they leave and they're like, Oh, no.

Casey O'Roarty 53:10
That happening right now, like I said, I'm excited. I think I might even send this to my kiddos. And just as like, think about this, you know, but Yeah, is there anything else you want to make sure to leave listeners with before we wrap up?

Brenda Zane 53:26
I just think, you know, I think when you do start to realize that your kids experimenting, or they're using regularly, it because there's so much stigma around addiction that it can make you feel like a really subpar parent, like Oh, I did something wrong. And that is not the case. So I would say just don't feel that way. And, you know, just lean into the experts who are there to help and get some help around you and know that it doesn't have to go where my story went, I'm sort of the extreme case. And you can there are just so many tools that you can use, just like you guys use. So many tools of positive parenting are so many tools. And that's what I didn't know is that specifically around substance use, there are so many tools that we have to really create conditions for change in your home and in your relationships. And they're simple to learn. So I would say you know, just dive in and attack it like any other thing that you would don't think of it as like this. You know, this is the end of our world, because it's not.

Casey O'Roarty 54:32
Thank you and I love that your son is in service to other people that are struggling. I think that's so powerful. Yeah, what does joyful courage mean to joyful courage

Brenda Zane 54:42
to me means that we get to choose joy. Even when shit hits the fan. We get to choose joy, and it's not always easy, but, you know, there's so many difficult things that we have to do as parents, like who knew right When we signed up for this gig, we thought the baby years were hard. But, you know, I think it is possible to choose joy. And I love the distinction between joy and happiness. Because happiness is so conditional. It's like, oh, I'm happy my kid got into college. Joy is that more consistent, just way of being, and we get to choose that, no matter how much courage life requires of

Casey O'Roarty 55:26
us. Right, and it will require it will require an abundance and abundance for sure. Remind us again, I mentioned your communities and things at the top, but just remind people how they can find you and follow your work.

Brenda Zane 55:39
Sure, hope stream that community.org So we're a nonprofit collection of services for parents, specifically with kids struggling with substance use. So we're the drug people are the ones you can come to and you don't have to hide anything or be ashamed. So if you go to upstream community.org you'll find our communities podcast and all of our workshops too.

Casey O'Roarty 55:59
Right? And are you on social other places people can find you on social?

Brenda Zane 56:03
Yes, right now it's at the dot stream dot community. And we're gonna be switching that over to hub stream community but yeah,

Casey O'Roarty 56:12
okay. Thank you so much for spending time with me. Thank you

Casey O'Roarty 56:23
thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners, as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at beasts brothel.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace

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