Fighting Drugs With Bobby Newman
Today’s guest is on the frontlines battling the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. After going from a strong, moral upbringing in Southern Oklahoma to a drug-related downfall that had him facing federal prison, Bobby Newman now works as an interventionist helping turn situations from tragic to hopeful. Bobby speaks as a former addict, a professional who helps other addicts, and as a father guiding his sons on how to navigate away from the pain of substance abuse.
Bobby Newman: (00:00)
It’s always been grotesque, but it’s getting more and grotesque is the only word I can come up with. Even addicts that I deal with will say, “I’m not like so and so,” which is they mean down and out, living under a bridge type of addict. And the truth is most addicts are walking around, the bigger percentage of drug addicts are actually working.
Bobby Newman: (00:24)
I started when I was about 15 years old, abusing. The first time I got drunk, I was 11 years old. I didn’t want to do drugs. At the end, I didn’t want to do drugs. I’m like I literally hated my life and I did not want to be this way. I just did not know how to change. And I think how ridiculous was that, for me to expect anything to change when I wasn’t doing anything different. What you end up doing as a parent is you teach them what you think that they should be doing. And the truth is they need to figure that out for themselves. Me having helped hundreds of other kids, if not thousands of other kids get on the right path, when it came to my own kid, I wasn’t the best person to help him.
Mark Stanifer: (01:12)
We’re talking drugs and substance abuse today, guys, with somebody who knows this firsthand as a person and as a professional. Here we go.
Mark Stanifer: (01:20)
Well, hey, guys. Welcome to the Next Man Up Podcast. My name is Mark Stanifer, your host and I’m honored to be with you for another episode. Hey, whether you’re joining us today for the first time or you’ve been with us for a while, we are grateful you have chosen to be part of the community that is about being and raising healthy and godly men.
Mark Stanifer: (02:03)
My guest for today’s episode is Bobby Newman, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation specialist. After going from a strong moral upbringing in Southern Oklahoma to a drug-related downfall that had him facing federal prison, Bobby understands what those who are addicted feel and think. In the 18 years since completing a long-term drug rehab program, he has educated more than a hundred thousand youth on the dangers of drug abuse and helped thousands of people with drug or alcohol rehabilitation. Many of those as a substance abuse counselor and now, many more as a drug intervention specialist. Today, his focus is on doing interventions that turn situations from tragic to hopeful.
Mark Stanifer: (02:51)
Bobby and I talked about a number of things including why you should care about this topic, whether you’re dealing with it or not. Bobby speaks as someone who used to be addicted. He speaks as a professional helping those who are, and as a father guiding his sons on how to navigate away from the pain of substance abuse. The stakes are high here, fellows for our sons, for our families, and for our communities. And though I hope this is not your story or what you are walking through, I know there is something here for you to learn and to help you grow as a father. Okay, it’s time. Let’s do it. Here’s Bobby Newman and fighting drugs.
Mark Stanifer: (03:38)
Well, Bobby, thank you for coming on the show today and getting into this topic of drugs and substance abuse and addiction. It’s certainly not one that I would want to get into on my own, so I’m thankful to have someone who’s in the space and knows what they’re talking about. So, I appreciate you coming on today.
Bobby Newman: (03:58)
Yeah, you’re very welcome and thank you for having me.
Mark Stanifer: (04:00)
I want to just jump right in here to what is the problem and what are the stakes. So, you know who you’re talking to, men and fathers and these fathers have boys and other kids that are in the elementary through teenage years, in particular. What’s at stake here when we talk about a drug addiction or a substance abuse addiction? Frame the context and the scope here for us.
Bobby Newman: (04:34)
What’s at stake? Obviously, it’s our future is at stake. And that’s a very broad… it’s a good question, but it’s at the same time, there’s so many ways that different routes I could take. Y ou obviously look at your own family and you go, “Okay, my kids and what’s the stake for me?” But the truth is that we really ought to take broadening out a little bit and look at it like, “Okay, what’s the stake of even the neighbor’s kids or the neighborhood kids or the kids down at the school?”
Bobby Newman: (05:07)
Because those kids also are either A, going to be getting driver’s license if they don’t have them already, and they’re going to be driving around when we’re out to dinner on Saturday night and if they’re under the influence. That puts other people at risk. Also, they interact with our own kids, then there could be a negative influence. So, we really need to look at it from that viewpoint as well as the fact is that people sometimes will relate to, well, back in my day and the truth is they have more and more sophisticated ways of advertising, especially with social media.
Bobby Newman: (05:45)
Most kids are getting drugs off of social media now. You can order it. Also, you get a lot of misinformation about drugs. Marijuana is becoming more and more legal recreational use, medical marijuana use. There’s also laws that have been passed concerning hemp and the production of hemp that I just found this out a few days ago. A friend of mine is a drug presenter and he’s the number one presenter in the country. Millions of kids in the last 13 years and he talks about real hemp being sold, 95% THC content being sold over-the-counter in gas stations and they’re targeting kids.
Bobby Newman: (06:23)
So, those type of things are out there constantly, a constant barrage. And the older I get, I look at these things, I even see beer signs on the side of the convenience stores or the billboards under this. And I’m like, why can’t they just cordon those off to a certain section of, because the kids see those things. And so, I look at the scope of it. And then the mindset I hear as an interventionist people is saying, “Well, he is just smoking marijuana.” And it’s not just marijuana these days. It’s not. It’s like we need to get your head out of the ’80s, if that’s your viewpoint on marijuana. It’s not just marijuana, it’s the 95% THC content, plus all the chemicals are putting in it and things like that.
Bobby Newman: (07:10)
It’s always been grotesque, but it’s getting more and grotesque is the only word I can come up with as far as the scope. The overdoses are at all time high. And it’s actually the number one cause of accidental death now is overdose, which is it’s the first time ever that’s happened. So, that’s the magnitude of it.
Mark Stanifer: (07:37)
Yeah. Wow. You’ve introduced a bunch of different threads that I want to pull on, so we’re going to have to do this one at a time, which is good. I think first of all, what I heard you say speak directly to me as a father maybe 10 years ago. I’ve got two that are launched and another one that’s close to being launched, so I’m out of that. I shouldn’t say out. I’m toward the end of that active parenting season. And not that my kids are necessarily in the clear, but they’re making their own choices today. But if I go back 10 years ago, I would bet that if I heard myself say this, I would agree with it and that is, “Well, I’ve got a pretty good grasp on who my kids are, what they’re doing, who they’re with. Drugs are not going to be a problem for me.”
Mark Stanifer: (08:33)
And what I hear you say is, “While that may be true, Mark, drugs are a problem for all of us because they’re in the community and we’re in relationship with, even if it’s neighbors, we’re in the broader community. We’re in relationship interacting with people that have substance abuse problem and so, I need to care. Even if it’s not directly in my family, I need to care.” I’m not putting words in your mouth necessarily, although you can affirm that. I’m just I’m listening to it through the lens of 10 years ago, I would’ve had this perspective of, “Well, that’s not my problem, it’s somebody else’s problem.”
Bobby Newman: (09:13)
Well, yeah, and you’re right, even for me. You do as much as you can within the… or my outlook is you do as much as you can within your abilities. Again, my neighbors, we went over. We were just in my little area where I live and we know all the neighbors and first name and we know who’s who. And there was some, I forget what it was, I don’t know if our dog got out or something. But anyway, my son, who, this is a couple years ago, he was nine years old.
Bobby Newman: (09:44)
He and my wife went over to the neighbors and we smelled marijuana coming out of the… they had two little babies and my son was making a comment going, “They got two small children in there. They’re in there smoking. Was that funny snow, mom? Well, it was marijuana and what are they doing?” And so, he wanted to go put up… we had some drug pamphlets that he wanted to go over and put it on their front door.
Mark Stanifer: (10:06)
Bobby Newman: (10:07)
Just go over there and just leave it on their front door going. And that was his way of doing something. And so, we try to do as much as we can. Obviously, there’s limits to what we can and can’t do, but we at least should be aware, I think.
Mark Stanifer: (10:21)
Yeah, I know. I think that the older I get, the more I realize that it all starts with awareness. Whatever it is, that the change starts with awareness. And to that end, one of the other threads that I wanted to pull on with you is how to define drug. I’m a product of the ’80s. I remember the “Don’t do drugs and this is your brain on drugs,” as the eggs are crackling in the skillet. I got a full dose of “Don’t do drugs.” And for me in my story that was it was never part of my life. I know your story is quite a bit different and we’ll get some bits and pieces of that.
Mark Stanifer: (11:05)
But when you talk about drugs or substance abuse, what gets included in that? When I was growing up, it was cocaine. That was the big thing back then. But define what you mean when it comes to drugs or substance abuser, addictive substances.
Bobby Newman: (11:30)
A drug is essentially a toxin. Anything that it is a chemical that’s toxic to the body, so that’s going to include alcohol and of course, the harder drugs. But at the same time, if you look at nicotine, people usually start out smoking cigarettes, then they go to alcohol or marijuana and then they go on from there to the harder drugs. People will argue with me about whether it’s a gateway drug or not and I’m not trying to get into that conversation right now. I’m just saying that the decision-making about it being a non-survival solution to what some sort of problem.
Bobby Newman: (12:09)
You’re smoking cigarettes because you want to look cool with your friends or you want to fit in or you see your mom and dad doing it, who knows. I’m just saying you’re doing it for a reason. It’s not necessarily going, “Hey, I want to smoke cigarettes because I want to get cancer when I’m 50 years old.”
Mark Stanifer: (12:25)
Bobby Newman: (12:27)
“I want to smoke cigarettes because I want to or I want to smoke marijuana because I want to be with my friends, or I want to lose touch with reality or something.” You’re trying to solve some sort of problem. So, I define it, as far as drugs go, anything that’s leading, putting you on the path, so to speak, of self-destruction. And I don’t mean to leave that a wide open answer. But again, if you want to get technical about it, it’s alcohol and marijuana and the heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and pills and things of that nature. But now, that we’re actually sitting here talking about, it’s really somebody wants, they get on that path. It’s really, it’s a non-survival solution.
Mark Stanifer: (13:15)
Yeah. I hear you saying that it is anything that we use that has addictive properties to it, that allow us to escape or avoid or do something to fit in. Whatever that motive is, introducing us to something that has an addictive property. And then of course, the further down that path you go, the more negative and destructive the consequences become. But ultimately, yes and maybe the stronger the addictive property becomes, too, but at its foundation, it’s addictive substances that we use in a way that we shouldn’t. Either to escape or to participate to try to belong or fit in or whatever. That’s what I’m hearing you say at a big picture level.
Bobby Newman: (14:15)
You actually framed it very well. You’re spot on.
Mark Stanifer: (14:21)
Can I ask you? This is a bit of a tangent that I wanted to chase, but can you educate me, and my guess is the listeners as well, around fentanyl? It’s a word that I hear and I hear it associated with instant death basically for just a small amount of exposure. But what is it and how does it work into the drug context here that we’re talking about?
Bobby Newman: (14:51)
Well, obviously, fentanyl was the most potent. It had a medical use. I actually had it in 2012 when I had pneumonia and I had a lot of pain due the fluid on the inside and outside of my lungs and they gave me fentanyl as a means to relieve the pain. And I never had a problem with any that type of drug. But I was on it for a period of time and we were very cautious of the use and everything and following the doctor’s orders. But that was my first introduction to it.
Bobby Newman: (15:19)
But then since then, it’s now being manufactured in clandestine labs. The chemicals to do the precursors are coming over from China and they are being manufactured, compressed into pills and in Mexico and then brought across the border. They’re also putting in other drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, Xanax. Anything that they’re manufacturing, which they have nowadays, ways of manufacturing your own pills. You could literally order the machine, the pill press, that you could make and do it. You could order it online and make this stuff at home. That’s the other dangers of the internet and social media.
Bobby Newman: (16:13)
So, you don’t know what you’re getting with fentanyl. You literally can take the amount that you can fit on a pin, which is a clothing pin, like the head of a pin, and that’s enough to kill you.
Mark Stanifer: (16:27)
Bobby Newman: (16:27)
So, usually, it could take like a salt packet or a sugar packet full of heroin or other drugs and nothing. You’d get high, of course and you could take that periodically that amount, but you could take one little spec of fentanyl and it could kill you. And they’re putting it in other drugs, even marijuana. They’re sprinkling in marijuana. And I always thought, I was a stimulant, addicted to stimulants years ago. And I always thought, “What the heck would they put fentanyl in with methamphetamine for?” Because it seems to have opposite effects. It actually enhances what the methamphetamine provides as well as causes the person become more physically addicted to it, as if it wasn’t already enough.
Mark Stanifer: (17:18)
So, is the danger in bad fentanyl? Like it’s been manufactured wrong or it’s tainted or it just seems like a bad business idea to-
Bobby Newman: (17:33)
Mark Stanifer: (17:33)
Bobby Newman: (17:34)
Mark Stanifer: (17:38)
Bobby Newman: (17:39)
Well, it’s highly addictive. The thing is, it’s highly addictive. So, that’s the reason why. And so, they’re going to get far more people addicted than they are going to get kill them. But it’s also, there are people dying from either too much of the fentanyl or a bad batch because you never know. It’s like a box of chocolate, as Forest Gump said. You never know what you’re going to get.
Mark Stanifer: (18:11)
Yeah. And that’s why we’re reading over and over and over, people thinking they’re getting just the next high and they end up dead or they end up in serious condition in the hospital because you just never know. It’s not as if this is an FDA-regulated industry that you can trust for quality and content.
Bobby Newman: (18:33)
Well, the truth is even those are questionable.
Mark Stanifer: (18:37)
Bobby Newman: (18:38)
There’s a lot of people dying from those, too.
Mark Stanifer: (18:41)
Fair enough. Yep. Fair enough. Let me ask you one other question before I change gears a little bit. Again, back to the context to the scope, you work with a lot of young people in this space, both with education and with intervention. Would you say that there is a stereotypical drug addict?
Bobby Newman: (19:07)
I would think that, again, that’s another great question because most kids, even addicts that I deal with, will say, “I’m not like so and so,” which is they mean down and out, living under a bridge type of addict. And the truth is most addicts are walking around. The bigger percentage of drug addicts are actually working. They have jobs. That’s the unfortunate part about it is that.
Bobby Newman: (19:36)
Unbeknownst to me, I had friends that wedding pictures and things that would look at them in the pictures and you would think, “Oh, what a happy couple. Great pictures.” And me knowing the people, they’re raging drug addict, but you couldn’t tell it from the pictures until about 10 years later. And then you would look at that same person, you would say, “Oh, well, that’s a drug addict.” Well, the truth is that 10 years prior, they were just as bad, if not worse.
Mark Stanifer: (20:07)
Yeah, so that’s an excellent point because by the time we see somebody homeless and strung out, we don’t realize that there’s been probably a long history of addiction leading up to that point. And during that period, they looked like just you and I, except they had this destructive habit and secret that they were keeping from everybody on the side.
Bobby Newman: (20:30)
Exactly. Yep. That just made me think of there’s a documentary that I just saw. It’s called The River and it’s on Netflix, I believe. And there’s a girl in that documentary that I did an intervention on and her family were all from Texas. Part of them were from up there in that area, part of them were from Texas. The whole family flew up there. We met with the girl.
Bobby Newman: (20:54)
And she’s in the documentary as being homeless, but she had many options of not being homeless, but she chose to be there with the homeless people doing drugs. Beautiful girl, very smart, tall. She looked like… she actually, you could see if we could get her cleaned up, she was very attractive, 20 years old. And I’m thinking to myself, now, people are going to get the idea that this she’s homeless, she has nowhere where to go.
Mark Stanifer: (21:27)
That she’s been abandoned by loved ones or friends or whatever.
Bobby Newman: (21:30)
Literally, yeah. She’s got family that are more than willing to take care of her, give her a nice roof over her head, 20 miles away. And not to mention the whole, and she’s got… anyway, it’s very interesting about. And I’m not saying everybody’s like that. I’m not saying people that are… there are incidents of people being unfortunately having problems. But you’re right, as far as it being a long history, 10 to 15 years at least normally for people to be in that situation. There’s a backstory to every one of those guys.
Mark Stanifer: (22:12)
How long was your battle with drug addiction?
Bobby Newman: (22:16)
It was… I wouldn’t say that I was… I started when I was about 15 years old abusing. The first time I got drunk, I was 11 years old, but it wasn’t habitually. And when I was about 15, I started going out purposely going out and getting beer and stuff like that and I moved on to marijuana. And then went to college and got introduced to stimulants or methamphetamine and then it went from there. So, it was about it was 20 years, I would say start to finish, 20 years. But I would have told you right up until probably the last five years or maybe the last two years, “Oh, I can stop anytime I want.”
Mark Stanifer: (22:53)
Sure. Yeah, yeah.
Bobby Newman: (22:55)
And then I found out that I couldn’t, so yeah. That was when it became a battle. For me, now I know I’m in a fight that I don’t think… I don’t know if I’m going to win it or not. Before it was just like, “Ah, you’re in total denial.”
Mark Stanifer: (23:11)
That’s interesting. So, you were abusing but didn’t see it really as a fight. And the moment you say, “No more” is really when the fight begins, the gloves come off and you’re really scrambling to survive and change at that point.
Bobby Newman: (23:30)
I didn’t want to do drugs. At the end, I didn’t want to do drugs. I literally hated my life and I did not want to be this way. I just did not know how to change.
Mark Stanifer: (23:40)
Bobby Newman: (23:41)
And it put me in 1990… that was in the year 2000. 1993, I had four attorneys for four different issues in two different states, all from substance abuse related. I would have told you then, “Oh, I don’t have a problem.”
Mark Stanifer: (23:57)
Because you weren’t-
Bobby Newman: (23:57)
But I obviously did.
Mark Stanifer: (23:58)
And you weren’t a homeless guy, strung out. You weren’t that guy. You got it under control. You’re managing it. It’s not that big a deal.
Bobby Newman: (24:08)
Yeah, I had a job. I had two homes at that time. I had three vehicles, travel trailer, making good money. I had a land, but I still had all these other things going on, too.
Mark Stanifer: (24:24)
What was the ultimate inflection point for you, where you said, “Okay, I’m done. I’m going to engage this as a fight and I’m going to fight to win now?”
Bobby Newman: (24:36)
Well, I think that, I don’t know that that moment ever happened until I was in rehab and I had a life changing experience in rehab. And it was like stepping through a portal. And it was like this, literally the sky opened up the sun, the heavens opened up and the angels were singing and I was like, “Wait a minute, I’m not going to go back to that lifestyle anymore.” But I had handled some underlying issues, but I had started… anyway, it’s a long interesting story.
Bobby Newman: (25:11)
But I remember wanting to quit and I couldn’t quit and then I realized, “Wait a minute, but I didn’t realize that there was anything out there that could help me.” At the same time, I wasn’t doing anything different. I look back now and I think how ridiculous was that. For me to expect anything to change when I wasn’t doing anything different. So I’m like, “Well, that didn’t make sense. That was dumb.”
Bobby Newman: (25:35)
But there was the moment when I was in, I’d been in a program for a couple of months and I realized and I had dealt with some underlying things that I had. Those things that you do when you’re addicted that you didn’t think you turn into a person you never thought you would be and I felt very bad about it. And I was able to come to terms with it and put it behind me and then start looking forward. And that’s when I realized, “Wait a minute, I’m actually getting somewhere.” I felt so much better.
Bobby Newman: (26:07)
I said, “I don’t know exactly what’s happening here. I just know I feel better and I know I’m not going back.” And that was the minute that I started. Then I was not just coasting along at that point, but then I started basically peddling myself. I put my feet on the pedals and I started peddling along and going, “Wait a minute, I can actually get somewhere here.” And then I really started putting the work in at that point.
Mark Stanifer: (26:31)
I’m curious. I have no idea what your answer is going to be to this question, but I’m curious if looking back on your experience from 11 to 15 into college, is there something that your parents or other trusted adults in your life could have done that would have prevented, would have shortcut the 20-year journey for you?
Bobby Newman: (27:04)
I think, yeah, there’s a lot of things and I don’t want, just to come across as a bat, as casting responsibility for my outcome and my decisions onto anyone else.
Mark Stanifer: (27:17)
Bobby Newman: (27:17)
Because at the end of the day, it’s mine. But there’s a lot of things that I was confused about life. My father, hardworking guy, but he never really had an example to follow at all, his dad. I didn’t even know my grandpa at all. So, there was things there that happened that caused me to be misguided. But I look back down going, “If I had just done this differently and I’d done that or I had done this differently and not made that decision.”
Bobby Newman: (27:54)
But I would say that the one thing that my dad, he would always bail me out. My family would bail me out when I’d get in trouble. I would get thrown in jail or wreck a car or get this or that or they’d loan me money. And then I’d end up paying him back. I never stole from them. I did a lot of things I shouldn’t have done, but there were boundaries because they would have never, they would have said if I’d ever messed them over, they would have said, “That’s it no more.”
Bobby Newman: (28:23)
I’d always do what I needed to do as far as that goes, but he stopped paying the fines. I was in trouble the last time was major, big deal. It landed me in jail for a long time. And normally, he would pay the fines and I’d have to pay back, so that would get them off my back long enough. And he didn’t pay the fines and he would usually yell, scream, “Yeah, yeah.” And then he would end up paying the fines. We’d go through dance, whatever you want to call it, then things would settle out. I’d pay back and we’d be right back to, but he stopped doing that. But he also didn’t yell. He didn’t raise cane about anything. He just didn’t pay the fine.
Bobby Newman: (29:06)
He said, “Well, I guess it’s going to go however it goes.” Like, “This is on you now. I’m the one steering the boat here. If it crashes into the shore, it’s on me.” But it really, really hit home. I look back at those moments going, “Dad didn’t yell, didn’t scream, but he also didn’t pay that fine.” And he just let it go, like this is going to go, however.” But then they presented me with an option of going to rehab soon thereafter, so he was getting coached behind the scenes. I didn’t know of it. I didn’t know.
Mark Stanifer: (29:41)
Bobby Newman: (29:43)
Somebody was, because his impulse was to go ahead and pay the guy. Somebody was telling him, “Don’t do it,” which was good advice.
Mark Stanifer: (29:50)
Interesting. Thank you for sharing that. I didn’t know and yet, I was curious. And it leads into another line of questioning here and that is, how do you see parents getting it wrong today? And not because they don’t care, I don’t mean that. With good intent and they’re well-intended and they want to help their kids, but what are some of the things that you’ve observed that parents with good intentions do that actually are getting it wrong?
Bobby Newman: (30:36)
Well, obviously, parenting is a very, very tough job. And so, people are going to make mistakes. We’re not perfect. It’s like the addicts will tell me all the time, “Well, my parents did this and my parents did that.” And I said, “You know what? Just thank the high heavens that you have them there to blame because what if you didn’t? What if they were gone? Who would you blame then? Because tomorrow, who are you going to blame? Because now they’re here trying to get you some help. And so tomorrow, who, for your predicament, you’re not going to be able to blame them tomorrow. Today, you might be able to.”
Bobby Newman: (31:14)
But they’re a piece of advice I would make it safe for my kids to come and talk to me. And it’s very hard thing to do when your kids… and watch who your friends are hanging out with because if they’re hanging out with a bunch of goofballs, guess what? If they’re hanging out with pretty high standard, high motivated, ambitious kids that are going somewhere and you could tell they’re going somewhere, great. That’s the type of crowd they’re going to be around with. But if they’re around a bunch of goofballs, dead beats that aren’t going anywhere, guess what? That’s their mindset. It’s like my grandmother used to tell me, “You are who you run with.”
Bobby Newman: (31:56)
And you surround yourself with people that are hopefully better than you. You’re surrounding yourself with people that are going somewhere, that are motivated, that are trying to make a difference. You know what I mean? That’s who I want to be around. I want to be around people that are uplift me and really held me accountable. My wife and I both are. We have a lot of fun, been happily married for 15 years, but we held… there’s no… we keep… It’s not strict. It’s not a strict thing because it’s fun. We like being around people that… and that’s the thing, so that would be one thing.
Bobby Newman: (32:36)
Look, see who they’re around because that’s their mindset. If they’re isolated, if they’re introverted, try to figure out how to get them where they’re out and about, they’re engaged. Social media and video games being locked away. Sometimes, it’s more convenient for them to be out of your hair, so to speak. But it’s not a good idea. It’s not good for them in the long term because they’re going to have to engage with life and reality at some point.
Bobby Newman: (33:06)
Also, make it safe for them. Make it safe for them to talk to you because if they feel like they’re going to get in trouble, they feel like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t go and talk to my parents.” Who else are they going to go to? You got to be able to. It’s like I have a deal with my youngest son now. If I ask him a question, I wanted him to be honest with me because I was like, “Look, I’m on your team, dude. We are on the same team and we’re in this together and I want to be the best dad that I could possibly be. But at the same time, I’m not perfect. I’m not going to pretend that I am. I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m here for you.”
Bobby Newman: (33:40)
“And so, if I ask you a question about something, I want you to be honest with me and I’m going to do my best not to get mad or get upset, but we’ll talk about it. We’ll figure it out.” If I ask him, “Did you break this?” He’ll say, “Yeah, I did break that.” And then he’ll tell me what happened and it’s like you can tell by the way he’s talking to me that there’s no hesitancy about it because he feels like it’s going to be okay to tell me.
Bobby Newman: (34:05)
And if something happens with some of his buddies, then we’ll ask, “What’s going on?” And he’ll be honest about it. Now sometimes, we have to put in a little correction and going, “How could we do this differently or how could we do that differently?” And give them some examples. The third, the other thing that I would say is try to do your best to set a good example because they’re emulating you, whether you want to think they are or not, they’re watching. They’re watching every move.
Mark Stanifer: (34:32)
Bobby Newman: (34:33)
And we try to do our best to, you know. I know probably very transparently talk my driving.
Mark Stanifer: (34:45)
Hold on a second. Hold on, now. You’re stepping on toes there.
Bobby Newman: (34:48)
Don’t go there. The speed limit. I say sometimes, “Son, this is what you’re not supposed to do.” I’m trying to set an example of, “Don’t do this.” So, that’s about the worst to the extent for me, but I’d say, again, be aware of who they’re around because that’s their mindset. I used to say, “Oh, I’m not like Steve,” or “Oh, I’m not like this one or that one.” And the truth is I was. I was just like my friends.
Bobby Newman: (35:16)
And you want to surround yourself with better people. You want to surround yourself, the friends I have now, they’ll help me. They’re very capable, very motivated people out there that are successful. But at the same thing… and if I have something comes up, I need help with, of course, they’ll help me. But they’re not going to be just be a handout because it’s the same thing. We were helping each other along. You get the idea. And then also make it safe for them and then set a good example.
Mark Stanifer: (35:48)
I hear the relationship theme loud and clear and what you have with your son is an investment. It’s a return on the investment that you’ve made in that relationship, so it’s such that you’ve got the transparency. But Bobby, I can hear the listeners reacting in their own minds to their son or their daughter coming home and being busted with drugs because no dad wants to experience that. It’s one thing to say create a safe space, but it’s another thing to implement that safe space when you’re getting the bad news. And of course, we’re talking about drugs here or substance abuse, in general.
Mark Stanifer: (36:37)
But how do you as a dad in that moment, how do you receive the bad news, so to speak? And this is going to apply well beyond the context of this conversation here, but how do you create that safe place and receive the news that you don’t want to hear, whatever that news is?
Bobby Newman: (37:00)
Well, I can give you firsthand experience. I have a 30-year-old son. I have 11-year-old and I have a 30-year-old, so my previous marriage, previous wife, my son, I went to rehab when he was eight years old and I got involved in treatment and prevention at that time. He used to go with me to talk to young kids and do prevention work and he worked. Literally, we worked at one of the largest rehab centers in the country at that time. And we lived there at campus. And he was there and he had other friends with staff members that kids, they were all the same age that were a whole group of, so they were around that whole environment.
Bobby Newman: (37:40)
Yet when he was 15, he started going down that path and he created some situation. His mother and I were divorced, but we actually did really well as far as he’s concerned, as far as keeping the common goal of doing what’s best for him in mind. But she had tried to help him, steer him around in the different direction through her resources. And then, it came to me and I was not the non-custodial parent. So, she had the authority to decide what she thought was best. And she, of course, would consult me in things.
Bobby Newman: (38:22)
Well then, she finally said, “You know what? I’m just going to turn him over to you.” I said, “Okay, so here’s how we’re going to handle this.” And I expected him, I told him. I got him on the phone and I said, “Look son, between your mom’s parent family and my family that we’d do anything we could for you. But you’re in a position now to where you’ve painted yourself in a corner and you got to do something. This is not.”
Bobby Newman: (38:44)
And he didn’t really have a substance abuse issue, he just had a bad decision issue. And being a teenage, very outgoing, very energetic teenager, making some bad decisions. And I said, “So, here’s how this is going to go. Either you’re going to go to a juvenile detention home or you can go to a program that I have picked out for you and you can hopefully figure out what you’re going to do with your life. Because I can’t do it for you. Your mom can’t do it for you. All we can do is provide you the resources for you to be able to do that.”
Bobby Newman: (39:20)
Because what you end up doing as a parent is you teach them what you think that they should be doing. And the truth is they need to figure that out for themselves what they should be. Like you said, earlier in our conversation about they’re making their own decisions. Let them make their own decisions about what’s good for them. And if it’s a non-survival thing, obviously, you’re going to have to step in. “Oh, well, it’s a good idea for me smoking weed because it helps with my anxiety.” That’s a dumb reason and it’s going to cause… I could go into all that, so that’s a non-survival.
Bobby Newman: (39:56)
They’re underage. They’re not able to make those decisions. You have the parental authority to make that decision. “Nope, it’s not okay. And you’re not doing it. I don’t care if you think it’s a good idea or not.” For him, I just said, “Look, you’re going to do one or the other.” And he started arguing with me and I said, “Look man.” I said, “You know me.”
Bobby Newman: (40:15)
I said, “It’s come to me now. It’s in my lap and here’s how this is going to go. Either A, you’re going to go to juvenile detention or B, you’re going to go to Florida to a program that’s about three miles from the beach in Florida.” Throwing it out there.
Mark Stanifer: (40:31)
Did I mention Florida?
Bobby Newman: (40:34)
I’m giving you these two options. It’s up to you. Your future is in your hands. And he luckily took the option to go to Florida. But we’ve gave it to him to let him figure it out and he did and it helped him. That for me is, it was tough being in that position. But I had to realize at some point, “Am I helping?” Even me having helped hundreds of other kids, if not thousands of other kids get on the right path, when it came to my own kid, I wasn’t the best person to help him. I was not, because my emotions were involved and I’m not… and I get that whole dynamic going on.
Bobby Newman: (41:13)
So, the best thing for me to do is put him to another professional that can help him and then I could be in assistance with that professional to help get him on the right path and help him, guide him that way. So, I had to… again, sometimes parents want to say, “Well, I want to do this.” Well, the truth is there’s a reason why it’s in the shape it’s in right now. And I have to look at that for myself going, “Wait a minute, this is not going well. I’ve been here the whole time, so maybe I need to bring somebody else in.”
Mark Stanifer: (41:49)
Yeah, it’s a good answer because I’m hearing a couple of different things. And I’ll just do what I do, and let’s play back some themes here. I hear the theme of boundaries. I hear the theme of as parent, acknowledge that you need help in the situation or acknowledge that you’re not the best person to provide the best assistance or help in the situation. But I hear something that you didn’t even say. It’s implied in your answer further upstream and that is stop denying that there’s a problem as a parent.
Mark Stanifer: (42:32)
And obviously each situation is different and it’s contextual, but you as a parent can ignore the behavior. You can ignore the signs because you don’t want to know or you don’t want to deal with it or you’re disengaged or whatever. But at some point there’s this requirement of you as the parent, you as the dad stop denying that there’s a problem or that you need other help or that “boy, he’s in trouble” and get over that hump, so then you can move towards a solution that’s beneficial.
Bobby Newman: (43:14)
I did not say that, but it’s definitely very important that you pointed that out because that’s the worst thing you could do. And I give the example of driving down the road. You’ve seen the orange marker, you’ve seen the sign, you saw the flashing red light, then you’ve seen the cones on the side of the road. And now, you’re at the brick wall and you’re like, “Wait a minute. You’ve had the signs all along here, why are you surprised about it?” And people go, “Well I just thought I’d go away.”
Bobby Newman: (43:48)
And those are honest mistakes, but at the end of the day, like my son, I knew how it was going to go. I knew it because that’s about the time I started making these bad decisions. When I was 15, 16 years old, we flipped upside down in a car. Back then, you go to the drive in. We loaded up on beer. We’re racing back to our hometown 20 miles away and we had a wreck and went 300 feet on the cab of a truck, through a barbed wire fence and through a plowed field. That’s how fast we were going, in a plowed field upside down. It’s still 300-ft. length. The length of a football field. And we all still played the football game on Friday and be “Ha-ha-ha. Oh, did you see what we did on?”
Mark Stanifer: (44:28)
Boys just being boys, right?
Bobby Newman: (44:30)
Oh, yeah. And my dad scolded me a little bit, but that was it. That was a pretty… it could have been a life ending right there. So yeah, that would be one thing that pay attention to the signs. And definitely, don’t just take it for granted because those are indicators for what the future is going to be like. And if something’s not done, it’s only going to get worse. The likelihood it’s going to get worse is tremendously high.
Bobby Newman: (45:01)
Between my wife and I, I’m the bit of the authoritarian. It’s like when my son, my 11 year old gets into a little bit of a jam, “Don’t tell dad.” Because [inaudible 00:45:11].
Mark Stanifer: (45:11)
I grew up in that house, too.
Bobby Newman: (45:12)
I would carry the hammer. I’m going to be like, “Okay.” But at the same time, when I see my son, I want him to come up to me. I see him anywhere, hey, I want him to come and get me a hug. I feel like if he’s not, what’s going on where he doesn’t feel like he’s glad to see me. You know what? I want him to be glad to see me and glad that I’m walking through the door. That’s what I want to see.
Bobby Newman: (45:35)
I want him to, “Hey, man.” And I want him to come and want to tell me about his new thing or his new, whatever. If I don’t have that going on, I’m going to reevaluate my approach to this thing because not that my dad was a bad guy at all, because he was hardworking. We had things that a lot of kids didn’t have. But the same time and whether it was because I had done things I shouldn’t have done or whatever, I didn’t have that.
Bobby Newman: (46:05)
But again, I could call my dad up and ask him for something. If I needed help, he would be there. Trust me, he would come. He would be there. So, I don’t want to get there, but as far as me as have an interaction, but I want to have that. I want my son to feel like they’re happy if I’m there.
Mark Stanifer: (46:23)
Yeah, yeah. It seems to me that there’s a couple of fronts that parents engage here. There’s the education front, which is on the front end. And I’d like you to share some best practices around how dads can be smart and strategic about the education and the prevention side. And then of course, we’ve been talking about more the intervention side in these last few minutes. But when is a good time and what is a good way for dads to engage their kids on this topic?
Bobby Newman: (46:59)
My mantra is it’s never too soon, it’s always too late. And obviously, even when I did prevention, we would start out with the kids that are around eight, nine years old, third grade or so. We’d never really go to third grade or lower. And we would always keep the presentations. We’d keep this one key piece of information we’d want the kids to learn, but we’d do it. One key, we would surround about 20 to 30 minutes of presentation to one key piece of information we wanted to learn. We’d make it fun, keep it light.
Bobby Newman: (47:29)
At the same time, I could walk back into the class months later and ask them the question, the one key piece of information. And they would be able to give it to me. If you want to communicate to them in a fashion to which they can understand you. A lot of times I see this with younger teachers, they want to communicate to kids using five syllable words. And the kids, they don’t have it. It’d be like me talking to an orthopedic surgeon or something and him using the same nomenclature, same language, and not change.
Bobby Newman: (47:57)
I’d be like, “What? So, what are you saying? I don’t even want to talk to you anymore.” But he’s kind enough to be able to speak in a manner to which I could understand it, then it’s a different, And we have to do the same thing with kids and understanding that all drugs, although sometimes are necessary, are toxic. All drugs are. It doesn’t matter, even aspirin. Aspirin is the number one. Obviously, sometimes you need aspirin, sometimes people, so they have to understand that chemicals, that the drugs have a specific purpose for whatever they’re used for. But at the same time they’re all toxic and they’re all alike.
Bobby Newman: (48:37)
So, I would caution people to look at if your son is experiencing or any type of mental-emotional issues, it could be, there’s a number of things that could be causing that. It could be food allergies, it could be nutritional deficiencies, it could be food allergies, or whatever. There’s a number of things, so there’s a whole baseline of things you would want to look at to see what those things are before trying to integrate drugs into the scene.
Bobby Newman: (49:11)
Look at somebody who’s going to consider all those things or find a professional that’s going to deal with those things and not just, “Oh, well let’s put them on medication.” Talk to them for five minutes and ask five a few questions. And here, here’s a prescription. It’s just not. Again, sometimes drugs are necessary, but not to the degree that they want you to feel like that they are all the time.
Mark Stanifer: (49:38)
That’s an interesting point, Bobby, because what you’re saying is frame it for these younger minds in a bigger picture that this is an artificial substance that we’re putting into our body and it does have toxic impact, but sometimes that toxic… those toxins, that’s a better way to say it. Those toxins, the danger is outweighed by the benefits, but we’re placing it in the context of anything that is artificial or foreign or “drug” into our body has impact.
Bobby Newman: (50:20)
It does. And talk about, like me, I used to say people back in the day that there’s a scripture in the Bible that says, ‘All seed and fruit-bearing plants for the benefit of man.” Now, I don’t even know, to be honest with you, to be totally transparent, I don’t even know if that scripture’s in the Bible or not. But that sounded good and people go, “Oh, well.” And people, it grows out of the ground, it’s natural. And God. And I’m like, it’s not a true statement. God never meant for these things.
Bobby Newman: (50:54)
Alcohol kills more people than… all drugs are made by something that comes out of the ground except for methamphetamine. And even the compounds that it comes from are organically based, but they are synthesized or they mix them up and change the molecular structure, create other things. But gasoline, people would say that to me, all comes out of the ground. It grows naturally out of the ground. I’m like, “Well, so does oil.”
Mark Stanifer: (51:26)
And it’s not good doing-
Bobby Newman: (51:26)
You could actually get high from oil. But well, no, that didn’t make any sense. So, you’re basically just using as an excuse. The truth is, and it’s a mind-altering substance and so, you just have to be smarter about them. Unfortunately, for people, particularly with marijuana, you’re not going to convince them, otherwise. it really is hard argument to ever win with someone, who is emphatically enamored with that particular drug.
Bobby Newman: (51:54)
It’s a different argument than most. And so, it’s not like… I will give them the facts and I say, “Look, I’m not going to argue with you because the likelihood I’m going to change their mind does not look great.” So, it’s like I might as well beat my head against the wall, but I would let them. It’s just not a good thing. I had a friend of mine and was talking about this with someone else earlier, that I knew since grade school. His parents and my parents were friends in high school and then we grew up together.
Bobby Newman: (52:31)
And then later on, I went to his dad’s funeral. I got up there at his dad’s funeral, he said, “My dad always told me, why start something that you think you’re probably going to have to quit later.” It was like you could hit me with a ton of bricks. I’m sitting there and I’m obviously been sober for a very long time, but that was like, “Man, I wished I would’ve been.”
Mark Stanifer: (52:55)
Right, I could have used that a number of years ago.
Bobby Newman: (52:59)
I could have used that. Because it makes so much… why start something that you know you’re going to have to quit later, so anyway.
Mark Stanifer: (53:08)
I can imagine that there’s someone listening who I is having some trouble with his boy. Maybe there’s some concern, maybe there’s evidence, maybe it’s just suspicion, maybe it’s to the point of like you and your son. Dad’s got to make a decision about how to proceed forward. Are there some suggestions or some ideas if that person were sitting right across from you today, again, not having all the specifics, but picturing that scenario, What would you say to that guy?
Bobby Newman: (53:48)
Well, there’s a couple, a few things. Now, sometimes when I would talk to my son, it would be like, my oldest boy. And I would say to him when he was a teenager, “Son, I’m going to get really stupid for the next seven to eight year. Then start smartening up a little bit and then as you get older, maybe your mid-20s, I’ll get a little smarter. And then by the time you’re 30, you’re going to look back at these moments. You’re going to think, ‘Remember, dad when you told me this and this?’ So, we’re about to enter that phase. All right, so just bear with me will get through it.”
Bobby Newman: (54:21)
And I would find out that the way that I would speak to him and I would try to tell, I don’t know if it would be enforced or not, but I did give him some information. And talk to him in a manner because even my dad would try to help me, but sometimes, he would be yelling and I would never listen to him. Now, sometimes he would make statements that were a very matter of fact, just in conversation, normal tone. It would be like he was hitting me with a ton of bricks going, “Wow, that’s a pretty good piece of information.”
Bobby Newman: (54:52)
But, he would just matter of fact, say, “Blah, blah, blah,” but if he was yelling at me. And obviously, given probably the information in the message was good, but the way it was delivered was not, and that’s a hard part. But I could tell, whether he was listening or not. And so, then sometimes I would go to, if I found an opinion leader of his, someone who was a good influence on him, I would go and talk to that person. And I would say, “Hey, and I have a discussion.”
Bobby Newman: (55:22)
Unbeknownst to him, then we eventually get that information in front of him to where he could think with it for himself. Because he’s more than smart enough and smart kid just making bad decisions. And so, if we could give them the information and let them think with it for themselves and let them make it, makes it more real and not let them. Like you talked about earlier, let them make their own decisions. It empowers them.
Bobby Newman: (55:48)
And then validate the heck out of them when they’re right. And then try to, “You did that great.” And then say, “Well, maybe we want to go back.” And if they did something wrong, so “How can we fix that? What could we have done differently?” So, I used to funny joke and maybe, I don’t know, some people would take it. But my son would call me every once in a while and I got so many stories I could tell about that. But he graduated in 2010, it was right after they found Osama Bin Laden. And of course, everybody wanted to go. Great recruitment tool for the newbies.
Mark Stanifer: (56:22)
That’s right. Right.
Bobby Newman: (56:24)
Everybody wanted to go be a Seal and he wanted to go be a Seal. And I just said, I talked to him about it. I didn’t want to squash his ambition. And I said, I just would think about that as to who’s pulling, who’s deciding whether we’re going to go to war and for what reason. The idea of being a Navy Seal and all that that stands for and accomplishing that would be awesome. But I don’t know that I personally will be put in a position to where I’m going to go fight a war because somebody else thinks it’s a great idea. Maybe it would be, but I would want to.
Bobby Newman: (56:56)
I just dropped a little, some frame to think about, leave it up to him at that point because he’s going to do what he’s going to do anyway. He decided. He didn’t go into the Navy. He didn’t go to college. He figured out, he made great use of it, but he decided he wasn’t going to go into try to go into Special Forces or anything, but anyway. So again, I would just try to give him the information and deliver it to him in a fashion in which he could take it and then maybe even if I had to use somebody else.
Bobby Newman: (57:28)
Because my son would come to me back to me and he’d go, talking about a friend of ours, “You know what? He said this to me, blah, blah, blah.” I’m like, “Yeah, that sounds awesome.” And I had told the guy that. So, it was like, “Okay, good. That I’ll check that one.”
Mark Stanifer: (57:45)
Yeah, I’ve seen that in my own kids. They hear something that I’ve been saying or mom has been saying for some time from somebody else through a different means, maybe through some different words. And all of a sudden it clicks and it’s like, “I’ll take it.” We laid the foundation so that he was ready or they were ready and someone else can get the credit, that’s fine.
Mark Stanifer: (58:12)
Bobby, I know the work that you do today is in the intervention space. And so, talk a little bit about what that looks like. And for parents that are interested in learning more about what you do specifically, how can they reach out to you? What resources do you have and recommend and speak to that person who is like, “I need some help. And I think Bobby might be the guy.”
Bobby Newman: (58:46)
Well, I appreciate that. What I do is a live intervention and people see the show on TV, which what we do is very similar to what you see there, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into this. There’s a lot of planning and preparation that goes into this, to an intervention of that magnitude. And there’s six parts to that. And I can go onto that more in a one-on-one conversation with somebody if they’d like.
Bobby Newman: (59:12)
But there’s all different forms, levels of intervention. And what we talked about is there’s even sitting down and having a conversation with someone about a behavior or a thing that’s going on that’s non-optimum, that’s an intervention. You’re trying to stop the destructive behavior, so even if the, “Hey, I just want to talk to you about,” that’s an intervention. You’re trying, that’s a level, that’s a degree of trying to stop that.
Bobby Newman: (59:41)
And obviously, a conversation of that nature would be desirable to start. Unless, it’s a glaring, like the kid gets arrested for robbing a liquor store, then that’s a different story.
Mark Stanifer: (59:59)
Sure. Yeah, yeah.
Bobby Newman: (01:00:00)
Then, oh, I caught you out with your buddies and I smelled some alcohol on your breath type of conversation. Those are two different types of conversations, but still. So, you want to have a conversation with them, make it safe for them, and then go from there. Because by the time that I’m dealing with them doing a live intervention like I’ve mentioned, it’s usually been going on for 12, 15, 20 years.
Mark Stanifer: (01:00:23)
Wow, so it’s pretty desperate.
Bobby Newman: (01:00:25)
Yeah, a wide swath of chaos and problems and I’m talking like bad. And it’s very, very hard to handle somebody at that stage than it is to hit it off at the pass. And then if anybody has any questions for me, they can all go to my website at newmaninterventions.com, which is N-E-W-M-A-N interventions, with an S, .com. They can go in there, fill out the form, or they can call me at (866) 989-4499.
Bobby Newman: (01:01:03)
I have people that answer my phone, so you can just say, “Hey, I heard about it mentioned at this podcast.” And then just, “I’d like to talk to Bobby.” And they’ll give you my email address, which I don’t care people. I’ll give it to you right now. It’s B-O-B-B-Y@newmaninterventions.com. So, they can call me at (866) 989-4499, they can go on the website or email me at B-O-B-B-Y-N@newman interventions.com.
Mark Stanifer: (01:01:36)
Great. And just to recap, what I’ve heard throughout all of this is are some themes consistent to what we’re talking about on a regular basis, which is a dad engaging early. And engaging in a way to foster a relationship, so that dad can speak into that child’s life when needed with a minor intervention or maybe a greater intervention. But also, recognizing that there are times when we’re out of our league and we need some help.
Mark Stanifer: (01:02:14)
And it’s good to know that in this situation, there’s at least one, my guess is there’s more than just one. But there’s at least one guy out there that is willing to come alongside us and fight the fight in that moment to hopefully save somebody’s life. So, thank you for what you do. Thank you for giving us your time today, for your willingness to share your contact information and be open to people. And Bobby, I wish you all the best in this fight that you find yourself in because as you know better than any of us, there are real lives on the line and you’re making a difference.
Bobby Newman: (01:02:55)
Thank you for having me, and I hope that your listeners have found the information of use, and if anybody needs any help, please don’t hesitate. I want to be a resource.
Mark Stanifer: (01:03:07)
Sounds good. Thanks, Bobby.
Mark Stanifer: (01:03:10)
Well, as I said in the intro, guys, I hope this is not your story or the challenge that you are walking through. But if it is or if somebody who would benefit from this information, once again, you can find Bobby online at newmaninterventions.com. And know that you don’t have to go through this alone. There are resources out there like Bobby and plenty of others, and it may be that what you need in the situation, whether it’s substance abuse or some other challenge, is to just reach out and ask somebody for help. Like Bobby said, he realized that he was not the best person to guide his own son through the challenges that his son was facing.
Mark Stanifer: (01:03:55)
Guys, I don’t know how you heard this episode. Hopefully, you came away with some new information, some new intel that you can use to improve as a father or help those around you. But as I always do, I just ask that you would take a minute to pause and reflect on what you heard and what you can put into action. There’s likely something that has surfaced for you. And so, let me challenge you to not just let it be information, but put it into action to work for your good and your transformation and for the benefit of those that you lead.
Mark Stanifer: (01:04:33)
Okay, that’s all for today’s episode, guys. We’ll be back next week with another guest and another great conversation. Same bat time, same bat channel. Until then, adios.
Mark Stanifer: (01:04:45)
To send us your comments or questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The theme music is by Jacob Stanford at Jacob Stanford Music, and this show is part of the NRT Podcast Network.