0:00:00 – Speaker 1
nextTalk contains content of a mature nature. Parental guidance is advised.
0:00:30 – Speaker 2
Are you ready for the nextTalk?
0:00:34 – Speaker 1
Here at nextTalk we focus a lot on pornography and tech-related addictions. I mean, that’s kind of the core of where we focus. But we all know about drug and alcohol addiction too. There’s still huge problems in our community. But I think a lot of times we have taken that and put it in the back seat because of what’s been in the forefront with media. But it’s still a big deal. In fact, according to the CDC, teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year. That’s more than all illegal drugs combined.
0:01:02 – Speaker 3
It’s a lot, it’s a big deal, and kids are even using media to sell drugs now, absolutely Like on Snapchat, on Instagram, and so the drug dealing has kind of changed a little bit. But we do need to talk about the actual addiction, like the drug and alcohol addiction, and Kim and I are not equipped for that. We are not.
0:01:20 – Speaker 1
So we brought in a professional licensed professional counselor. Jamie Mershan is joining us again, which we just love having you on the show.
0:01:28 – Speaker 4
Thank you all. It’s such an opportunity to be here. I’m grateful for nextTalk And what a resource you all have been in my counseling office. Oh, wow, legit. We’re like referring everybody Exactly.
0:01:38 – Speaker 1
Well, you are so good at what you do and you really make people feel at home and able to open up and really get some answers and move forward in their struggles. We love having you on And you know I will tell you, jamie. we want to address the families that, like right now or last night or recently, they found pills in their kids’ drawer or maybe they found some empty alcohol bottles in the trash or they just have. you know that gut feeling where you just feel like something is not right, absolutely. We want to start there in the show today because we want to address the concerns of the immediate need for a parent.
0:02:11 – Speaker 4
Yeah, i think that’s a great place to start And I think the first thing to just remind yourself is not to go into panic mode, because we look at our families and we think this happens to other people not us, i would know And so we first of all just go there Like with the guilt or I should have known when our anger and whatnot. So I think it’s important that you have grace for yourself in knowing that drug and alcohol addiction does not discriminate. It happens in all demographics, yes, so we’re seeing it more in homes that are just shocked, like what us. And when thinking about that, i think that you have to just look at the big picture and think okay, do we have a family history about this?
Is my child struggling with depression? Have they been suicidal? Are they struggling with friend groups? Or just kind of think about some struggles that they may be already experiencing, because lots of times it’s not that they’re just doing it because they’re curious anymore. It’s being used as a coping mechanism, as an escape or as a way to fit in. So when you can think about okay, what are some reasons maybe why my child has won this direction, it really gives you a heart of compassion that your child is hurting, that your child is not trying to be rebellious, that your child is not trying to be destructive. Chances are, you know, it may be started out of curiosity, it may be started out of pain, and then it grew into an addiction. So I think, when we prepare our hearts in the right place, that, like I was saying earlier, it’s not our child trying to be rebellious.
It’s truly it’s become an escape. So I think we need to recognize that.
0:03:51 – Speaker 3
Well, and I love that because you know, typically when we find out our kids have done something, anything, it automatically goes on us Yes, what did I do? What did I miss? Why didn’t I? you know? and you’re saying just stop a minute, take yourself out of the equation and think about what has your kid been through? Have they experienced trauma? Have they lost someone close to them? Have they has something happened to cause this? because we need to be empathetic before we approach the situation.
0:04:16 – Speaker 1
Before we go to the empathy, though, I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here. I’m thinking of myself walking and I’m thinking of my kids. like walking in and finding pills, or finding these empty, and like in that moment my heart is literally dropping and I feel like the world is ending And I’m probably sweating and shaking In that moment. what should I not do as my child walks in the door from school or when they wake up the next morning, Because I think my gut reaction would be like what are you doing? How could this happen? Yeah, Can we rewind just from it? Tell me, like, how can we prepare ourselves for the shock moment first, before we move into the, you know the background of why it’s happening.
0:04:56 – Speaker 4
Yeah, i think that’s a really good point to make And I think it’s just again recognizing that you need to look at the big picture, like we talked about earlier, but then also find somebody that you trust and that you can seek for wisdom in this situation, that can just come alongside of you, talk it through with you, pray with you or even just give you another way to look at it. Because if our child is the first person that they’re the response person to this, they’re going to probably get the panic side of us. They’re going to get the I can’t believe you did this, what were you thinking? side of us. And so if another adult or somebody that we trust can come alongside of us in that first response, then we can process it and we can, you know, work through it ourselves. So that way our child gets to calm us, which they will be more open to talking to you about it and just being feeling more safe.
0:05:53 – Speaker 1
Like, take a minute and find a sounding board.
0:05:55 – Speaker 3
Yeah, I think that’s great advice that they are not. our child is not the first person we talk this over with. Right, we’ve got to have a trusted, whether it be a spouse, a best friend, a mentor, something like that, a pastor, something like that, Yeah, I think that’s great advice And because we always tell parents, you know, even when we they find porn on their device. don’t approach your kids, right away.
It’s the same kind of concept, because you are just going to go ballistic on them because you’re mad and instead you need to take a step back and process all of it.
0:06:21 – Speaker 4
Right, and so it really is practicing that you know self-control, because in the moment we’re reactive you know, and so it’s practicing that self-control.
Okay, i need to process this myself and I just need time to, like, like we talked about earlier, look at the big picture. Like, especially like, if your child has on-doubt trauma and you know they have trauma and they haven’t processed it correctly or they haven’t found healing from it, drugs and alcohol really make sense. They’re trying to numb themselves, they’re trying to numb it, they’re trying to quiet it down. And lots of times if kids have chaos going on within, they’re going to replicate it on the outside, meaning they’re almost drawn to it. Or if they’re in a place where they’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, along with that goes very reckless behavior where they just kind of get a screw it out.
0:07:09 – Speaker 3
They don’t care Right.
0:07:10 – Speaker 4
They’re not going to actually like, kill themselves, but they just kind of have a screwed attitude Like I don’t care if I drink too much, yeah, i don’t care if I do this, so it’s just kind of like I don’t care. So it’s not like they’re intentionally trying to, you know, harm themselves, but they don’t have a lack of care for their personal safety.
0:07:27 – Speaker 3
Okay. So I’m just thinking about this and I think it’s great advice, but I know that there’s somebody out there listening who has said I went off on my kid, like I slapped my kid, i threw the pills at my kid, i, you know, broke the beer bottle over their head or something like some parent responded badly And I think we need to just Say to them that that we all mess up, yeah, and yeah, i get an apology. I mean, how do they approach that? Yeah, what I, what they would do.
0:07:52 – Speaker 4
I love that question because I think it’s a great way to model grace And I think it’s a great way to just model forgiveness, like hey son, hey sweetie, you know I handled that in a way that I’m not proud of or that did not reflect grace like help me understand What’s going on with this, you know, and don’t be afraid to ask a simple but difficult questions Are you using drugs? What drugs have you used, exactly You know, and so lots of times we’re afraid to go there because we’re like I don’t even want to know. Sometimes we want to just stay in denial and just like tell me.
You’re not using it anymore, You know so I think that if you did go off on your child Model, the grace model, forgiveness, and then go into the hard questions, because your child’s gonna have that heart like, okay, you’re for me, you were humble enough to come to me and say I didn’t handle that correctly, i’m sorry, will you forgive me? and then from there you can have the hard Conversation it’s almost like it could even be a better conversation.
0:08:51 – Speaker 3
I mean, god could really like turn things around, because you have an opportunity to open up a dialogue by apologizing, absolutely, and so I don’t want parents to lose hope because we’ve all responded badly to all sorts of things.
0:09:02 – Speaker 4
Yes, and I think it also is an opportunity for vulnerability if you yourself have struggled there. I think it’s fine, so much comfort and safety nest when you’re like, hey, i get it, i was there too, i Experimented to, and so when it comes from a place of experience, or it just comes from a place of vulnerability, that gives the whole situation a different tone probably too, when you’re feeling or the kids are feeling helpless and hopeless And drawn into this, just hearing from their parent listen, no matter what it is, you can’t surprise me.
0:09:33 – Speaker 1
I’ve heard it all, i’ve seen it all and we’re gonna get through it together, because I think a lot of times, kids feel like they don’t want to Disappoint their parents or that whatever is happening, like they won’t understand it.
0:09:42 – Speaker 3
Right, and I think being able to just present that in a way that you’re on the same team right, we’re gonna get through it Well and I think I love you, no matter what I love you, no matter what that’s okay To my life right that you’re addicted to drugs. Uh-huh, i love you the same.
0:09:56 – Speaker 4
Well, and when we even take this, like from a Christian stance you know, I love you simply because your heart beats is how Christ looks at us right, oh, i love that So when we start looking at behavior and when, when it’s like feeling conditional for the kids. That’s not reflecting the gospel either.
0:10:12 – Speaker 2
So just from a Christian model.
0:10:13 – Speaker 4
It’s really looking at the heart behind your kid, because the symptoms are Rebellion, the symptoms are using drugs, alcohol, this kind of stuff, but the heart behind it chances are is that they’re escaping or they’re wounded or they’re hurt, and so it’s always looking at the heart. I think as parents we can be really quick to look at the behavior, but when we look at what’s behind that behavior, it cultivates a heart of compassion for us and points us back to Christ.
0:10:41 – Speaker 1
Jamie, can you share with us?
0:10:43 – Speaker 4
That’s so good by the way It’s still thinking in.
0:10:47 – Speaker 1
You mentioned undelt trauma, and that may be a term that some people just aren’t familiar with. What does that mean And what could some of that undelt trauma, be sure?
0:10:57 – Speaker 4
so Lots of times, if there has been undelt trauma in the past, maybe a child is Carrying a secret. So what we know a lot of times with trauma is that a child doesn’t feel like a victim. They feel more like a partner because of the manipulation and grooming that goes along with it.
0:11:14 – Speaker 3
So we’re talking about like sexual abuse, exactly.
0:11:16 – Speaker 4
Yeah so when you have been groomed and manipulated, you feel like you’re part of it. You don’t feel like you’re being sinned against. You don’t feel like you’re the victim, because you’ve been manipulated exactly exactly, and so when that happens, shame attaches.
And when shame attaches, lots of times you will see kids think I am bad, so if I am bad, that just means I do bad things, and so oftentimes you will see bad behavior Follow it. Either they’re trying to escape the shame or the disturbing thoughts that they have that are with the trauma, because they haven’t been able to process it, they haven’t been able to find freedom through it or just even recognize that they’ve been a victim in this, and So what they will do is use drugs and alcohol as an escape to numb the pain and quiet the thoughts, or just to match I am bad, therefore I just do bad things. Or, like I talked about earlier, we have the chaos going on within. So just peaceful, just non chaotic situations almost feel uncomfortable. So chaos almost is our normal.
It’s where we find our comfort.
0:12:27 – Speaker 3
Yes, it’s like peace is weird to them right.
0:12:29 – Speaker 4
Having a calm spirit is like what right because they’re living in that chaos. Right and dysfunction is almost their normal, and so they find you know connection there.
0:12:40 – Speaker 1
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0:13:07 – Speaker 2
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0:13:38 – Speaker 3
So we are in the studio today talking with licensed professional counselor, jamie Mershan, hi y’all, and we are talking about drug and alcohol addictions And we have been talking about what to do and really not responding in that knee-jerk reaction, but getting another adult to process it with before we approach our child and then really trying to figure out the why behind it. You know, i would like to know, jamie, as we have this conversation, you know, a kid comes in your office and mom is like we’ve got pills, we’ve got I don’t know what’s going on. So what’s your first? I mean, are you I know you’re probably trying to dive into the why behind it? Tell us what that looks like.
0:14:22 – Speaker 4
Yeah, You’re asking like when I meet with the kid what that looks like. So a big thing is, when I first meet with them, i love to know more about their world, like what kind of music do you like to listen to? Tell me about your friends, because oftentimes they’re coming thinking their identity as you see me as this punk kid who’s using drugs and alcohol And we’re not created for that. That’s not your identity.
0:14:46 – Speaker 3
So again they go back to I’m a bad kid.
0:14:49 – Speaker 4
Just like you said earlier segment.
0:14:51 – Speaker 3
So this makes me bad, and she sees me that way, and put a sign on a label and everybody’s- reading that Right.
0:14:59 – Speaker 4
So I just like to create that relationship. Just like you’re a person, i’m a person and there’s more to you than what you’re coming in for. And then the analogy that I love to use is just two $20 bills, and if you want to buy a pizza and you have one $20 bill that’s right from the money factory, and you have another $20 bill that maybe is ripped and maybe has coffee spilled on it, especially if it’s my 20.
0:15:22 – Speaker 1
Yeah, I’m buying two.
0:15:23 – Speaker 4
Kind of a coffee person, maybe some Chick-fil-A sauce too. But you have another 20.
0:15:28 – Speaker 2
that’s just been kind of you know through the ringer You’re just going to be used.
0:15:32 – Speaker 4
Yes, exactly. But if you want to buy a pizza, what 20 could you use Either?
0:15:37 – Speaker 3
0:15:37 – Speaker 4
Either one, because their value is the same. They may have different stories, they may have been through different experiences, but they’re both worth the same And that is how I love to see kids and I love for them to see themselves that way, because that’s how Christ sees us. Whether we’re the kid that you know is like I’ve never drank before, or we’re the kid like are you kidding? Like this is all the stuff I’ve done, you know what? Christ sees us exactly the same as the kid who’s never taken a drink. So I think it’s really important that kids don’t attach shame to just how they’re using to cope with their pain or maybe just a bad crowd they’ve gotten into and it’s led them down. You know, sometimes it’s not trauma, sometimes it’s not depression, sometimes it’s really just kids Trying, trying. They’re curious.
0:16:27 – Speaker 3
Or getting with the wrong group of friends, exactly And everybody else is doing it. So I’m going to do it too.
0:16:32 – Speaker 4
Right. So for me it’s really key building the relationship with the child and from there it just creates a safeness, it creates a non-judgmental place and then from there we’re able to just kind of dive in more as to what’s behind this. Because I mean, for a lot of kids drinking and drugs starts off as fun, so they don’t really see the consequences to it, you know, because they’re not losing a job over it and they’re maybe able to maintain their grades and you know, so it’s really hasn’t become a problem for them.
Yeah, i mean they might feel some consequences from it, but as a whole it’s fun and it’s not a problem, so they don’t really see the need to give it up and even meets a need you know, like with some of the drugs that they’re using to stay away.
0:17:23 – Speaker 1
Yes, and to be more work and to be more competitive like having kids. They’re thinking this is a good thing. It meets a need and helps me do better. Yeah.
0:17:29 – Speaker 3
Well, and I think, too, this notion that some kids think, well, it’s a prescription drug, so it’s okay. Yeah, we need to tackle that too, because I have even had conversations with my kids about, because they’ve been asking, like, what’s the difference, why are some drugs good and some drugs bad? Right, so I’ve been able to say, well, if you’re prescribed drugs by a doctor and they’re your medicine, then you can trust that doctor.
0:17:51 – Speaker 4
0:17:52 – Speaker 3
So you don’t take mommy’s, you don’t take anybody else’s, because it can negatively affect you. I mean, i think those conversations are important.
0:17:57 – Speaker 4
Yeah, and I think it’s also important to recognize that the trends within the schools like it’s cool to be on ADHD medicine or you know so it’s even that kids have their own medicine that’s been prescribed to them And it’s important to recognize that as a parent, to be really discerning, like okay, are these like legit symptoms, or are you wanting a prescription for this because the other kids are on it, or you want a legal way, you know?
0:18:25 – Speaker 1
to do something. You know that’s an important conversation too, for sure, and I think kids, you know, if they’re feeling a certain way and they relate it as positive, they may want more of that.
0:18:36 – Speaker 3
0:18:36 – Speaker 1
And so, even though it comes from a doctor, and it has their name, on it they may be taking more than what’s prescribed.
0:18:40 – Speaker 4
0:18:42 – Speaker 3
Or that’s what I was going to say They may say, well, these meds help me so much here and they have a legitimate need. Yeah, and they’re so excited about that because the drugs help them that the kid at school says, well, these will help you do this. Yes, and if there’s been no preventative work there, the automatic thing is, well, yeah, drugs help me, right. So there’s just a lot of, i think, preventative conversations that we need to have. Let’s kind of go into that now because, you know, as with anything here, we want to be a preventative type organization, like what can we do with our seven and eight year olds now to help this situation? so it doesn’t get to the point where we’re finding pills.
0:19:20 – Speaker 4
Absolutely, and I think a big part of that is, you know, when you look at nextTalk. It’s creating that culture. So it’s starting the conversations where you just talk about everything. You work on emotional regulation. You work on helping kids identify their emotions so that when they are going through hard things that they can process them Appropriately, versus escaping them because it’s uncomfortable.
So if we don’t teach little ones how to label their emotions or how to appropriately talk through things, then they don’t know what to do with those scary feelings, unwanted feelings, uncomfortable feelings, and then we escape to drugs and alcohol and porn. The list goes on, right. So I think it’s emotional regulation. I think it’s just helping them understand just their emotional expression, problem solving, judgment and all that kind of stuff. Because when you think about like those formative years when they’re itty, their prefrontal lobe is developing And so that’s your control panel And that helps you with a lot of problem solving. And so when you don’t know how to problem solve, you get stressed, and when you get stressed you escape to drugs and alcohol. So I think there’s just a lot of healthy habits that we can start.
0:20:32 – Speaker 3
Yeah, you know, one of the things that I’ve been seeing too, as I’ve been working with some families now for years, is, you know, sometimes it will present in middle school with like self harming or whatever. And then you know we try to get the kid in counseling and figure out what’s causing that, what’s the root cause, because again they’re wanting to numb themselves. And then if we never get to that root cause, then we’re seeing a couple years later now they’re dappling in drugs, right, and I’m always like to the parent okay, did we find out what was going on with the cutting? And they’re like no, and I’m like we got to find that out because it’s now elevated to. And I know in middle school it was a big deal. I mean my daughter’s in high school now, but there were a lot of kids who were cutting and she would come to me.
I mean it was like quote unquote, normal right in her life that you just do that when you’re feeling stressed, and so there were real conversations about how, hey, when you get stressed and you don’t know how to communicate, just come to me, because I feel like these kids may not have that Right And they’re stressed out and they don’t know what to do. But even then I was talking to her about in high school you’re probably going to see more drug and alcohol and sex and because they’re going to another level of numbing themselves.
0:21:40 – Speaker 2
0:21:41 – Speaker 3
And so I feel like we need to paint those pictures for our kids to know. This elevates.
0:21:45 – Speaker 4
0:21:46 – Speaker 3
If we don’t get an under control. And it all goes back to that emotional. What did you say emotional?
0:21:49 – Speaker 4
regulation? Yes, exactly Because, like you know, what emotional regulation is is when we get stressed out, we know how to help ourselves get back to just like everything’s okay. So if we know like, if we can use positive self-talk, if we can use prayer, if we can just go to a trusted adult and process our thoughts, those are helpful. You know self-regulation things. But if we get worked up and we’re like, oh, i just had a shot of vodka, i feel better, i just did a hit of marijuana, then we use substance to self-regulate Instead of natural things we have in our body, which is talking things out or just being able to help our brain calm down.
0:22:28 – Speaker 3
Or a pint of chocolate ice cream. Amen, chocolate chip cookie dough. Ben and Jerry, my best friends. We’ve got our stuff though, right, right absolutely, you know.
0:22:38 – Speaker 1
I think this goes back again to being transparent with your kids, because there’s been so many times when I’ve been sitting at the table or in the car and I’ve been stressed out or overwhelmed or worried or fearful, and being able to say that out loud is very humbling because you want to seem like you’ve got it all together for your kids. But those, i feel like, are our best conversations, when I’m just transparent and I’m like mom’s falling apart right now because I did this, this and this, i said yes to too many things or whatever like lay it out for your kids, and here’s what’s helping me deal with it No.
0:23:12 – Speaker 3
You’re teaching them how you’re regulating your reactions. Yes, yes, yes, out loud.
0:23:16 – Speaker 1
Or running Right getting on the treadmill.
0:23:18 – Speaker 4
I need to do that? Yes, but you know Too many of these bounce.
0:23:21 – Speaker 2
I can’t do that, yeah, but walking, walking I can do, yes, or whatever it is.
0:23:26 – Speaker 1
Whatever your thing is, i have a friend that plays tennis. She’s like I got to get on the courts, yeah, and so, whatever it is, i feel like that’s a great way to teach our kids. Just process out loud with them, it really makes a difference.
0:23:37 – Speaker 4
I know we’re running out of time, but I think it’s really important if you’re a parent that’s listening and you’re like you’re talking about the younger kids, what if I miss those opportunities? What if I haven’t created that culture in my home? And so I think it’s really important that when you see your kids struggling with this stuff, you say, hey, i just want to ask you if anything confusing has happened in your life or if anything has happened that’s made you feel uncomfortable. I know we haven’t always had that relationship where we talk about everything, but help me understand what’s going on behind this, because sometimes kids use alcohol and drugs as an escape, And I’m learning you know just how to be a better parent And what I’m learning that sometimes behind drugs and alcohol is trauma. So you know, i’m just going to go there. Have you had anything in your past that has been trauma that you feel like you can’t tell me? Because lots of times you know you will hear from adults for the first time ever they’re saying out loud something traumatic And kids are crying out. So you see the behavior.
But we need to be asking the hard questions And we just need to go there. Has something confusing happened? Has something uncomfortable happened. Have you ever been sexually abused? And so? and just say I’m only asking that because I’m trying to help, or I’m trying to understand the behavior. I know that might be a hard question, but it’s a root. And if you don’t feel comfortable with that, take your child to a counselor. Talk to the counselor beforehand. I don’t understand what’s going on behind this behavior. I want to make sure that I’m not overlooking something And it doesn’t mean that we need to create problems that aren’t there, but I think it’s definitely to be on our radar So we don’t miss something and that the coping mechanism doesn’t keep getting greater.
0:25:24 – Speaker 3
Yes, well, again, it all comes back to open communication and creating that culture. Thanks for being here, Jamie.
0:25:30 – Speaker 2
We can go on and on on this As always. Thanks for joining us on nextTalk Radio with Mandy and Kim on AM630, the Word. You are not alone trying to figure out how to parent in this digital world. We are here with practical solutions to help you. Follow us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter. Find our video series and podcast at nexttalkorg. Are you ready for the nextTalk?
Transcribed by https://podium.page