Quote of the Week

There are only 2 ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is. ~ Albert Einstein

PSST Parent of The Year Celebration
Posted by:Brigitte--Monday, October 05, 2015

At Saturday's PSST meeting, Steve and Tammy (their blog names) were celebrated as the 2015 Parents of the Year. They will receive their award on Thursday, October 8 at the Allegheny County Awards Ceremony. The event starts at 6 p.m, and is held at the Family Court House, located at 550 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh (the Old Allegheny County Jail).

Although divorced, these parents have formed a team who strive to assume a non-enabling approach to parenting. They have attended Parent Survival Skills training regularly to improve parenting skills. Both have progressed with increased communication skills, consistent limit setting, and relationship building.

Both have participated in role-playing designed to help increase skills. Both parents have helped other parents in PSST to improve their parenting skills. Additionally, they have worked and significantly improved their relationship with their son through therapy provided by Wesley Spectrum.

Five months ago Tammy and Steve were proud that their son, after completing both an intensive placement program and a halfway house program, was receiving clean drug tests, doing well in a part-time job, and getting excellent reports from High School. It appeared that their son had turned the corner. Then, Tammy became aware that their son was still participating in serious criminal activity. Working together they confiscated illegal material, took pictures of the evidence and reported him to the Probation Department.

Their son is now undergoing additional treatment at a new placement facility. Both parents continue to work closely with the Probation Department concerning discharge planning and continued relationship building. Both are anxious to have their son returned home and believe that this time he has really turned the corner; however, both also remain cautious that cutting his treatment short now might interfere with the hoped outcome.

From all the PSST parents and professionals, we congratulate Steve and Tammy on a job well done. Although they still have an arduous road to travel with their son, the skills and commitment they have developed at PSST will help them continue to support their son's efforts while remaining strong and unenabling.

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"Parent of the Year" Celebration Meeting
Posted by:Brigitte--Monday, September 28, 2015

Please join us on Saturday, October 3rd at our Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg from 9 - 11 a.m. as we announce this year's Allegheny County Parent of the Year

We all know that each and every one of the parents who regularly attend PSST are real-life Parents of the Year, but only one family can be officially recognized at the annual awards ceremony. The Parent of the Year is selected for their acts of bravery in addressing their child's drug use and/or criminal behavior, demonstrating non-enabling parenting skills, and for being a role model to other parents.

At the PSST meeting, there will be cake, of course, and a very special guest speaker who will talk about his experience in the justice system and his life in recovery. We hope all PSST parents, old and new, will be able to attend. 

The official award will be given at the Family Court House, located at 550 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh (the Old Allegheny County Jail) on Thursday, October 8. The event starts at 6 p.m. (try to get there at 5:30) and runs about 2 hours. Please come if you can and support our PSST Parent of the Year and to hear their personal story.

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Our Son is in Jail
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Narcotics Anonymous tells us that continued drug use is a sure-fire path to institutions, jail, and/or death.  Our son Dylan is continuing to follow that dangerous journey.
After 4 years of spending a high percentage of his time in juvenile placements, it appeared that Dylan was trying to turn his life around.  He expressed interest in going to college.  He spent 6 months in ¾ housing and accepted his 6-month clean tag with pride.  Unfortunately his 2 separate attempts at college failed, due to drugs (alcohol, marijuana) and poor choices for friends.  And now, his most recent actions have landed him in the county jail for assault and attempted robbery.  We expect that he will serve some prison time for these felony charges.

How are we reacting to Dylan’s actions? 

After our initial shock, we were left with strong feelings of disappointment and sadness that he would make such choices, choices that are so completely foreign to our family’s values and beliefs.  We are so grateful that no one was badly injured or killed.  We still love Dylan, and will help him when he gets out of prison, but only if he commits himself to making serious lifestyle changes.
Are we obsessing over what he did?
We refuse to drive ourselves crazy by obsessing over what he did, why he did it, and how much time he will spend in prison.  As one of our PSST parents said at a recent meeting, we are not distancing ourselves from our son, but instead, we are separating ourselves from his actions and his drama. 

Did we post bail? 

Dylan is angry with us because we are not willing to post bail.  The judge said that he would require Dylan to live at home if he were out on bond, but if Dylan keeps the same circle of friends, as well as his adventurous spirit and lifestyle, it would put significant strain on our family.  We know that following our rules just isn’t part of Dylan’s current playbook.  We believe that he would skip bail to avoid doing prison time (he ran away from juvenile placements twice), leaving us stuck with a huge bill. 

Did we hire a lawyer?

After much deliberation, and talking with many people in our extended support group, we decided to hire a lawyer.  The charges against Dylan are serious felonies.  A public defender would probably do just fine, but we feel more comfortable with a private lawyer of our own choice, who will keep our family’s best interests in mind.  We know that there will be consequences for Dylan’s actions, but we’d like them to be as fair and reasonable as possible.

Are we sorry that Dylan is in jail?  Do we worry ourselves sick every night about his safety? 

No, instead we are grateful that he is safe, because at this time in his life he is a danger to himself and to others.  We know where he is.  He is safer in jail than he was on the streets.  Dylan is fun-loving and generous and intelligent, but he also thinks that he is street-smart and (of course) invincible.  He has no idea how na├»ve and impressionable he really is.  

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And the Countdown Begins . . .
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, September 22, 2015

As part of the annual Allegheny County Juvenile Probation awards ceremony scheduled for Thursday, October 8th, a new Parent(s) of the Year will be announced. Will it be a PSST parent this year?? 

The awards ceremony begins at 6pm, and lasts about 2 hours. It is held at the Family Court House, 550 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA (the Old Allegheny County Jail) on the second floor. In addition to various awards presentations, there will be a keynote speaker for the event. Speeches from the Parent(s) of the Year and the keynote speaker are always well worth the investment of time. Hope you can make it!

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Relapse is a Part of Recovery
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, September 09, 2015

If an addict relapses, does that make him/her a failure? 

Science says NO.  In fact, research shows that relapse rates for chronic diseases such as asthma, high blood pressure, and diabetes are very comparable to those for drug/alcohol addiction.  Just as patients with asthma and diabetes relapse, by failing to take prescribed medication or engaging in behaviors that are risky in light of their disease, so do drug addicts.

It is common for addicts to relapse, and it may happen multiple times.  Literature about addiction tells us that the best way for an addict to avoid relapse is to understand what his/her personal triggers are, then try to avoid or minimize those triggers, while reinforcing new recovery-focused behaviors.  Common triggers are emotional stresses (such as frustration or anxiety) and being around people/places/things that remind the addict of using.  If an addict has already relapsed, s/he may need help to accept what happened as a temporary setback, to view it as an opportunity to examine what triggers caused the relapse, and to put renewed emphasis on treatment (such as support group meetings or therapy). 

Click here for an article published in everydayhealth.com that gives excellent advice to family members on how to support the addict who has relapsed.  One of my favorite quotes from this article is Hold addicts accountable for their recovery from the relapse, just as it was important to hold them accountable for their addiction in the first place.

Click here for an article in Psychology Today entitled “Why Relapse isn’t a Sign of Failure” that discusses how drug-related cues can lead to relapse.  The author also explains how being in recovery creates new habits/triggers for recovery, and how Over time the addict subconsciously dissociates the cue from the past reward of using and associates it with the new reward of sobriety.

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YES, We are Meeting on Sept 5th !!
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Give your weekend a powerful start!  We will be OPEN for our regular PSST meeting in Wilkinsburg on Saturday, Sept 5th from 9-11:30am.   There will still be plenty of "weekend" left to enjoy with family & friends . . .

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Truths about Addiction
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, August 22, 2015

Click here for an insightful blog posting about one family’s experience with their son’s heroin addiction, titled “7 Truths About My Addict That Took 5 Years To Learn”.  Although the family clearly went through many years of heartbreak, the good news is that their son has been clean and sober for the past 5 years!

Below is a synopsis of the father’s “seven truths”, but I highly recommend that you read the blog posting to get the full effect of his insights.   

Parents Are Enablers
I Cannot Fix This
My Addict Is A Liar
My Addict Is A Criminal
Others Don’t Want Them Around
Life Will Not Be The Same
Homelessness May Be The Path He Chooses

A sample from the author's commentary:
I once wrote a letter to my son about using drugs. I used the analogy of him standing on the railroad tracks and a train (drugs) is blasting down the tracks and blaring its horn but he hears nothing. I told him it was my job to knock him out of the way and take the hit, that’s what fathers do. I understand now, I was wrong. All that would do would leave me dead on the tracks and he would be standing on another set of tracks the next day.

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Apartment Hunting
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, August 12, 2015

My 19-year-old son Dylan is looking for an apartment, and is hoping to share with a friend who is 20.  Both of them have juvenile records - neither has any credit history – and both have spotty work histories at minimum wage jobs.  Neither of them has a car, so they need to be near public transportation.  Dylan plans to get a job, but does not have one yet.  His friend just got a full-time job at a fast-food restaurant.  Both of them drink & get high (marijuana), but seem to be functional – they don’t live with me, thank goodness.

I suspect that many of you have had experience with your own children leasing apartments, and I’d love any tips from you.  I definitely don’t want to co-sign for a 12-month lease.   Do you have suggestions/warnings?  (And wouldn’t you just love to be their landlord?) 

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Addiction ~ a Family Disease
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Following are excerpts from Lisa Frederiksen’s interview with author Barbara Cofer Stoefen about her experiences with her daughter's drug use.  Click here for Lisa’s full interview with Barbara.  

Having a child in the throes of addiction is to experience profound grief.  . . .  We lose what they used to look like, smell like, we lose their health, we lose their companionship, we lose the pride we once had in them, we lose the very essence of them… because they truly have become someone else. Also, parents are often the target of a great amount of wrath coming from their addicted child, and it often feels we’ve lost their love too. But maybe most important of all is we lose our dreams for our child… our hope for their future. Because we doubt they have a future. And we lose all of these things over and over and over again. It’s like a wound that never heals and continues to split open.

So the family lives with daily grief, with daily loss. The family also lives with constant upset because of the havoc someone in the throes of addiction can wreak on others. There’s often middle-of-the-night phone calls, angry rants, demands, interrupted holidays, and of course the criminality that often goes hand and hand with addiction.
Oh, and there’s drama. Lots and lots of drama.   

Barbara’s recommendations for families of addicts:
1.   Know they didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it. (Al-Anon slogan)
2.   Get support. We can’t go through this alone.
3.   Work on their own recovery. The person with the addiction isn’t the only one with problems. Everyone in the family needs to do their own part to heal.

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How to Talk with your Teen about Marijuana
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, July 30, 2015

Developed by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the Marijuana Talk Kit helps parents have meaningful, productive conversations with their teens about marijuana use.  Click here to view the talk kit.  

Inside the Marijuana Talk Kit, you will find:
·      Facts about marijuana
·      Why weed is still risky for teens
·      Ways to talk with your teen about marijuana
·      What you should - and shouldn't say - when talking with your teen
·      How to respond to your teen’s questions and arguments
·      Resources to help

To be added to their email list, or to make a contribution to support similar community awareness aids, please visit the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

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K2 & your Teenager’s Heart
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, July 24, 2015

If synthetic marijuana is sold in stores, it can’t be all that dangerous, can it?

New research from Children’s National Health System Synthetic has shown that synthetic marijuana, known as K2 or Spice, decreases the flow of oxygen to the heart in teenagers and can cause serious heart complications. Decreased oxygen levels to the heart can have serious consequences in youth, from shortness of breath and chest pain to the pediatric equivalent of a heart attack.

Synthetic marijuana is unacceptably readily available for purchase by children and puts them at risk of serious health issues including cardiac damage,” says Dr. Berul, a nationally-recognized pediatric heart rhythm expert.

Click here for the full article.

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Miracles DO Happen
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, July 12, 2015

Click here for an uplifting story posted recently in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “Mission Mahi food truck serves up more than tacos”.   An alcoholic who also also became addicted to pain medication, his life spinning out of control, Jimmy Woods had a spiritual experience in rehab that gave him a clear focus on his own recovery.  In April, he opened a food truck business selling his signature fish tacos in the Pittsburgh, PA area.  In addition to serving tacos, Jimmy is also happy to share his recovery story.  His main goal is “to give others hope and a safe place to talk and not be judged.”

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No Enabling in this Family!
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, July 09, 2015

Thanks to Lorraine for sharing the following story.  She has maintained clearly defined boundaries with her son, refusing to enable his (former) drug-related behavior, and continuing a healthy relationship by encouraging appropriate activities.

My son moved to Miami when he was first on his own. He was almost 21. Immediately before that, he was at First Step Half Way house. He was having some level of success with regard to drug use, in that he was functioning, but he was still using. He was not yet convinced to come completely clean. That sometimes takes awhile.

He was attending Allegheny Community college, transferred his credits to Miami Dade Community, and continued at Miami Dade when he arrived in Miami.

I did not give him any money for rent. I never co-signed anything. I did make the mistake of having a joint bank account with him since that saved him money in checking account charges, but after the issues with banking fees due to him using his debit card when he didn't have any money in his account, I removed my name off the account within 6 months.

When he finished Miami Dade within a year after arriving in Miami, he was accepted into University of Miami for a 4 year degree. At that point, I co-signed a school loan, because that was the only way he could continue to University of Miami. At this point, with his success at Miami Dade Community college, exercising a level of responsibility for himself in Miami, maintaining a full time job as a server in a restaurant, I felt that he deserved this chance to get a 4 year degree at University of Miami. However, even though he was functioning well, he was still using. I did co-sign that loan with some level of expectation that I would be paying off the loan myself. 

He still lives in the Miami area. He just turned 29 and has been completely clean for 3 years. No drugs, alcohol or tobacco. He works as a computer programmer and earns a fair salary. And he is in the process of paying back his school loans. 

And I still do not give him any money for anything. And I still would never co-sign anything. As he has his successes, I will buy him things, which is mainly related to his athletics. He participates in triathlons, which is an expensive sport. And I will indicate to him that the reason I buy him whatever it is I am buying him, is due to his success in staying clean. I make sure he understands the association between me buying him expensive things for his sport and him continuing to stay clean. 

When he first went to Miami, he had his issues with his drug use and we were at the point in our relationship that we could discuss such things. He once told me, "Mom, The only thing that works is having $100 in your pocket and having to choose between a bed to sleep in and drugs." I still keep reminding myself of this statement to this very day .... years later.

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PSST on July 4th? YES, of course!!
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, June 22, 2015

PSST on July 4th?  YES, of course!

Let's celebrate our INDEPENDENCE - from enabling, from being fearful, from being manipulated!  (See the helpful post below for more information on parents' rights . . .)   

Come to our Saturday, July 4th PSST meeting in Wilkinsburg for the perspective, friendship, insights, and shot-in-the-arm that we all need to maintain our sanity.

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