Quote of the Week

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. Buddha

The Detective & the Addiction
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, January 30, 2015

My husband and I enjoy watching crime-solving television shows, and the CBS series Elementary is at the top of our list for its interesting characters.  The detective Sherlock Holmes has been cast as a recovering drug addict, and the writers have used this to add some compelling insights to the program.

Click here if you want to read a Los Angeles Times article about the series and its addiction sub-themes.  Here is a particularly interesting section from the article:

. . . at one point [Sherlock’s partner Watson] sums up not just the truth of recovery, but also why it is so difficult to depict on television. "I'm sorry he's gone but his relapsing doesn't change a thing for you," she says. "You woke up today, you didn't use drugs, just like yesterday. You know what you have to do tomorrow? Wake up and not use drugs. That is just the way it is. That is just the way it's going to be."

And to take down a beloved myth of recovery. Many of us find strength in the days and months and years we have stacked between ourselves and self-destruction, as if they form a wall that, if tall enough or thick enough, cannot be breached. We look to others whose stacks are higher and seem stronger to assure us that this is so.

But there is no wall, no number that will magically hold true any more than there's a "cure." Recovery is a strong but slender thread spun daily. There is only this day without a drink, without a drug, and then, with work and luck, there is the next.

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In Remembrance: Martin Luther King Jr 1929-1968
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, January 18, 2015

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More Recovery Slogans
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, January 09, 2015

Slogans are wisdom written in shorthand.
  • Although we are not responsible for our disease, we are responsible for our recovery.
  • Don’t quit before the miracle happens.
  • Change is a process, not an event.
  • I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
  • You can only keep what you have by giving it away.
  • Recovery doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Nothing changes if nothing changes.
  • Learn to listen and listen to learn.
  • It is possible to change without improving, but it is impossible to improve without change.
  • An addict cannot be grateful and hateful at the same time.
  • If you expect respect, be the first to show some.
  • Recovery is a journey, not a destination.
  • Most things can be preserved in alcohol; dignity, however, is not one of them.
  • Progress, not perfection
  • Just for Today

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Meeting cancelled. Sorry for last minute notice. Roads are still treacherous and advisory is to stay home this morning
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, January 03, 2015

Type your summary here Type rest of the post here

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Meeting cancelled. Very sorry for late notice. Roads are treacherous
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, January 03, 2015

winter advisory icy roads Type rest of the post here

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Recovery Slogans for the New Year
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, January 01, 2015

Recovery slogans are deeply rooted in the real life experiences of millions of recovering people.   Although often overused and sometimes not fully appreciated, they do not lose their truth.  The following recovery slogans have been found useful in the personal recoveries of many people.  

A good way to start off the new year, by thinking uplifting thoughts!

  • First Things First
  • Live and Let Live
  • Let go and let God
  • Time takes time
  • One day at a time
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
  • Misery is optional
  • God never made no junk
  • Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less
  • Live life on life’s terms.
  • You can’t think your way into a new way of living . . . you have to live your way into a new way of thinking.
  • The key to freedom is in the Steps
  • If you don't want to slip, stay away from slippery places
  • If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got.
  • If you sit in the barber's chair long enough, you'll eventually get a haircut.
  • Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.
  • HALT = don’t get to Hungry, Angry Lonely, Tired
  • Your worth should never depend on another person’s opinion

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Well-Deserved Recognition!
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, December 22, 2014

The PA Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission recognized the Allegheny County Drug & Alcohol Unit with an award for the county's court-operated program of the year!  We applaud the group for their services to the community, and personally appreciate all they have done for our families.

Our own Val & Lloyd are in the center of this photo.

Congratulations to all!

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A bakers-dozen to keep in mind before taking your teenager on a home pass
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, December 09, 2014

How to Search a Teen's Room
(originally published Thursday, March 24, 2011)

A bakers-dozen to keep in mind before taking your teenager on a home pass from an inpatient drug treatment program.

1. Friends: Home passes are not to spend with friends. They are for family. Make that clear before you start the home pass. If your teenager has a problem with that then don't take him on the home pass. Some institutions make this clear to parents and some do not. This is a chance to flex some parent-muscle and demonstrate that things are going to be different from now on. If your teenager won’t commit to making this a family-only pass then postpone it until he is ready to make that commitment. This is a powerful way to send him the message that he is not in charge anymore.

2. Home passes are triggers for teens. Supervise your teenager every minute or as close to that as you can: Consider that some teenagers are going to get high on home passes and some will even smuggle drugs back into the placement. One girl that I used to work with went was on a home pass from Abraxas. She went out to get the mail. Unknown to her parents, she had already arranged with a friend to have some Heroin dropped off in the mail box. She went back to Abraxas high, smuggled heroin into Abraxas and got busted. The Mom was shocked. "I was with her every minute." Going out to the mail box has happened on other cases as well. Ask yourself this, “My teenager never used to want to go out to get the mail- wonder why he wants to do it this time?” Don't underestimate your teen. A home pass is a big relapse trigger.

Some institutions drug test after home passes and some only do it if it is requested by the PO or by the parent. Request one.

3. Check your teenager’s bedroom and other areas of the home with a fine tooth comb before you bring him back home: Often this is when parents find drugs and money. Not only drugs but money should be confiscated because it was probably drug dealing money. Sometimes they hide things in the basement too. If you can arrange with your local police to do bring a drug dog into your house that is a huge help. You might be surprised even if the dog doesn’t find anything he might “pause” at certain regular hiding places. Now you know where your teenager used to hide drugs.

Especially, if your pass is rather short and your teenager insists that you bring him back home even if for only a brief time, perhaps because he is home sick, be suspicious. Be very suspicious.

4. Take him to a 12-step meeting: Choose a meeting labeled "Open." This means that non-addicts (probably that describes you) are also allowed in the meeting. Go into the meeting with him but if he chooses a discussion group then let him enter that himself. Be there when he comes out of the discussion group. Ask him what he liked about the meeting. Try to get him to chat about his experience. See what your teens reaction is towards the meeting in general because this is a good way to get a read on how serious your teen is about his recovery.

5. Don't allow your teen to be in charge of the home pass and this starts with written expectations: Show your teenager that you are not afraid to assume some leadership. You don't have to go the mall and walk around aimlessly. That is where he will run into peers. Anytime you suspect that your teenager wants to go to a certain place because he will run into peers, don't agree to go.

In fact you don't have to listen to loud music in the car unless you really like that kind of thing. Who is really in charge? If your teenager insists that you do what he wants because he has been cooped up in a rehab and it's only fair tell him he doesn't have to come on the home pass. Once again, it's time to show who is in charge. If you allow your teenager to be the one in charge on the home pass he has every reason to think that once he is released back home he will be in charge then too.

Write down all the rules of the home pass and review them with your teenager and his counselor before you begin the home pass. If your teenager balks at your rules then postpone the home pass. The very act of postponing the pass will send a strong message to your teenager that he is not in charge of you anymore.

6. Decide whether or not you are going to let your teenager smoke cigarettes on the home pass and stick to your decision. This is a values thing. For example, your teenager is not allowed to smoke cigarettes in the institution where he is placed (unless he is in an adult rehab or over 18 and placed in a halfway house); therefore, don't allow him to smoke when he is off grounds because he is still a resident of that institution and he should continue to follow the rules. This is often a big point of contention. It is another place that parents can flex some parent-muscle.

Exceptions to this smoking rule might be if one of his family smoke and plan to smoke in front of him. That might be cruel. Also, if he is 18 or over, the placement might not care if he smokes on his home pass. Check with his counselor and see how the institution views this before you decide.

If it has been bothering you that your teenager smokes cigarettes, especially if he is not old enough to purchase them himself, then this is not the time to go soft and buy him a pack. Send him a message that says, "I don't approve and I will not enable you to smoke. Don't smoke on the home pass and if that is going to be a too difficult rule for you to follow, then don't take the home pass- just stay here in the placement where you can follow the rules."

7. Don't try to make every moment a teachable moment: Your teen gets plenty of that in the placement. Give him a break. Relax. Try to have a little fun. It's OK if you do something that he likes to do, like a movie or eating out at his favorite place. This might sound like a contradiction to #5, the "don't let your teen be in charge" but it's not. You are in charge and you should certainly plan to do some things that your teenager likes to do but, once again, if it looks like he is trying to use that to hook up with old friends or if they think they can torture you with some sort of music in the car that you hate- that's a different story!

8. Consider the music your teenager is listening to on the home pass- does it have a negative message? Then don't permit it. Confiscate it. At an outpatient drug treatment program teenagers formed small groups and were asked to come up with relapse triggers. While they all came up with somewhat different lists, one item that was on every list was music. Music generates powerful memories and emotions, which can lead to relapse. If the message of the music is pro-drug abuse then it is the last thing to which your teenager in recovery needs to be exposed. It’s also another chance for a parent to send a powerful message about who is in charge and by so doing flex some parent-muscle.

9. Don't be afraid to make your teenager angry. This is the time to take the bull by the horns. If your teen can't handle a bit of supervision, and he flips out, then you carry that information back to the counselor. Now you've generated some therapeutic grist for the therapy mill. In other words, now the therapist has something important to discuss with your teenager. Likewise, if your teen decides not to go on the home pass, then the therapist can raise his eyebrows and pay attention to the fact that your teen doesn't even want to go off grounds unless he can call the shots. Oops, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready for release, does it?

Some teenagers assume that they can treat their parents disrespectfully on a home pass. Stop that behavior if you can and report that information back to his counselor following the home pass. For example, sometimes it happens in the car right after the parent picks up the teenager. It might involve yelling, screaming, name-calling, or using an inappropriate tone of voice. Stop the vehicle. Don’t start again until there is an understanding that you are NOT comfortable driving the car with that kind of behavior going on. Consider returning your teenager back the institution early if you cannot trust that they will conduct themselves appropriately.

10. Don't keep secrets.  If your teenager asks you not to tell his therapist that he has done something, e.g., smoked, saw a friend, has a fight with you, ran off without supervision, failed to attend a 12-step meeting, or just about anything else that he thought it important enough to ask you not to report on- DON'T do it. Secrets keep us sick and, once again, if you keep secrets on home passes, he has every right to expect you to keep secrets once he is released back home. This is where he will try to guilt you. "Awe you're going to ruin everything! Just when I worked so hard! You don't want me to come home at all, do you?” Teenagers put a guilt trip on parents in order to get their own way. Maybe that worked before he went away to placement. Now it’s time to show him that doesn't work anymore.

Sometimes it seems like keeping a secret will help you and your teenager to become closer. Perhaps. However, it is comes with a price to high to pay, e.g., you won’t be the one in charge anymore. Instead you’ll be a co-conspirator. Ask yourself if your teen needs a co-conspirator or a parent willing to be the unpopular adult in charge? Harry Truman is quoted as saying, “The buck stops here!” The secrets should stop here too because they only hurt your teenager and your relationship with him in the long run.

11. Teenagers sometimes engage in sex. Make sure it isn't happening on your watch. I once had a girl return to placement after a home pass and she told the staff that thought she was pregnant. She wasn't (phew) but it brought the whole matter up of what she was doing on her home pass. Her mother said that she knew her boyfriend didn't use drugs and she thought it would be nice to give the couple some alone time. Not! Her pass was deemed unsuccessful and her mother, who had assured everyone that she supervised her daughter 100 percent of the time, was embarrassed.

12. Put your big ears on. While you don't want to allow your teenager to be "in charge" of the home pass, neither do you want to be in charge of what he is saying or what he is feeling. Try listening closely and rephrasing what it is that you are hearing so that your teenager can hear what he is saying. This is a chance for you to get a good look into what your teenager is thinking and that kind of intel is invaluable for the entire team that is working with your teenager. If you come off the home pass with new information then that home pass was probably worthwhile.

Be in charge of the comings, goings, tasks, and activities performed on the home pass. Don’t try to be in charge of everything your teenager says or thinks. That will backfire.

A good phrase to remember is this: "Tell me about that." Follow that up by actually listening. Caution: The more you listen the more you may wish to debate. Don't debate with your teenager. Let your teen know before you start the home pass that you are not interested in debating. Listening is not debating. Following the rules is not debating. You can stick to the rules, listen to your teenager and then follow that up with "I'm glad you told me your side of that. Yes, you make a good argument but you know you have always been able to make a good argument. This home pass is chance to show us that you can follow the rules, so we are going to stick to the contract that we have prepared and that we all have agreed."

13. Give some positive feedback to your teenager if you find that he is acting more grownup. Sometimes the behavior on a home pass is so nice that you wonder who this teenager is and what have they done with your real teenager! That’s great. Mention it. Tell your teenager that you see big changes in him. Label his behavior “adult.” Tell them that you respect all the hard work that he has done in placement and really like the changes he has made.

Summary: Teenagers use guilt, intimidation and lying to vie for power. If you want be the one in charge of your teenager don’t wait until he or she is released from the institution. Start being in charge on off grounds passes and home passes. Let your teen find out that you are not as easily manipulated anymore. Let him know that the buck stops here.

Other home pass posts:

Home for the Holidays by Rocco and Sally

Scoring the Home Pass by Lloyd

Rocco's comment below suggested Where's Wendell's/ Wendy's stuff post.

or just put "home pass" in our search window in the upper right hand corner of this blog.

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Don't beat yourself up
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, December 09, 2014

This came up at group last Saturday. I just want to post this link.  In general, this approach works well with complainers because, when we complain about everyone else, underneath this we are upset with ourselves.

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The Dangers of Sizzurp
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Doctors are warning of a cough syrup concoction called "sizzurp" that young people are abusing to get high. The addictive mix is made using soda, candy (often Jolly Ranchers), and prescription cough syrup.  Also known as “purple drank,” “syrup” and “lean,” the mix has been glorified in songs and internet videos.

“This is a very dangerous drug,” says Dr. Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “It can lead to seizures and essentially lead you to stop breathing.”

Thanks for sharing this information, Wilma!  (Wilma said that her son's friends post about sizzurp.)

Click here to read more.

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Finding Hope ~ written by Jim
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Despite life’s everyday trials and tribulations, Cheryl and I (Jim) have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Our entire family is enjoying good health. Our granddaughter (who became the glue in repairing several family “tears” that addiction had ripped open) is now a beautiful toddler. Our third son, a Marine, is safe on U.S. soil for this holiday season.

In particular, we are so blessed our son, Andy surpassed his thirty-ninth month of sobriety. We are living a reality that at one point we would not have allowed ourselves to even dream it would come to pass. When your addict emerges from the darkness of addiction, everyday is a blessing.

For anyone reading this that has an addict still struggling, remember to just work to keep him/her alive for another day. Even in the face of overwhelming despair, there is always hope…always!

I saw recently saw this poem online and thought it was appropriate for the journey of an addict and hope.

Recovery Poem

There's a time I remember, A time I had Fun
No stress and no worries, When I was Young
Many moments of joy, Hanging out by the Sea
Many moments of Freedom, Many places to Be

As I grew Older, Some friends that I Met
We all started Using, For that I Regret
As Time went by Quickly, I used & Drank More
I soon Realized, It's the Booze I Adore

Problems with Family
And friends all the Time
My pain and my suffering
These faults are all Mine
The fun I once Had
Seems so distant and Far
My reality of Life
Was a lost distant Star

My pride and my Ego, So shameful to Be
This life I Created, Just wasn't Me
Relapse and Rehabs, Were right in my Sight
My future I Created, Did not look that Bright

My soul wanted Out, Like a cough from my Breath
Jails, Institutions, And then there is Death
I woke up one Day, To get the help that I Need
To start from the Beginning, Just like a Seed

To Grow more in Spirit, Have faith and I'll See
The true unseen Beauty, That lies inside Me
There's a time I Remember, A time I had Fun
I want that all Back, It has to be Done

With hard work and much Effort, The future I See
My reward for not Using, HAS NOW SET ME FREE ! ! !

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Holiday Celebration - Dec 6, 2014
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, November 23, 2014

The PSST 11th Anniversary / Holiday Celebration will be held on Dec 6, 2014 at our Wilkinsburg meeting.  Invitees include all PSST parents (both current attendees and alumni), in addition to all Wesley Spectrum therapists and Juvenile Probation staff who have been part of the PSST family.  

Please put the date on your calendar, and plan to join us!  Feel free to bring a food item to share - in the past, attendees have brought holiday goodies, pastries, a hot breakfast/brunch item, fruit, crackers & cheese, chips & dips, chili, etc.

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I Feel Alive
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Feel Alive

I feel alive when I want to die.
The drug enters my veins,
I can fly.
Heroin turns life around in the blink
of an eye.
Steals your confidence, worth, dreams,
your future.
It’s like torture.
Everything I said I’d never do.
Break all my morals, so do you.
Whenever you feel like it’s under control,
the voice says “I’m not done.”
And you’re screwed.
First thing on your mind
when you wake.  It’ll have your skin
crawling until the next hit.
It’ll turn you insane,
fill you with pain.
They say it’s progressive, sometimes fatal.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough for the battle.

Torrian R.

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Role-Play Saturday - Sat, Nov 22
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Role-Play Saturday . . . coming Saturday, Nov 22nd!

November has 5 Saturdays, so that means 2 Saturdays in a row without PSST, & that's a long time to go without great PSST support.  In addition, there are meetings where we just don't have as much time as we'd like to spend on role-plays, practicing our PSST skills.  Here's our chance!

There will be a special PSST meeting, focused on role-plays, scheduled for Saturday, Nov 22nd at the Wilkinsburg Probation Office.  The meeting will be held at the normal time, 9am-11:30am.  This is the regular meeting site where we hold our first PSST meeting each month; the address is 907 West St., Wilkinsburg, PA 15221.

Hope to see you there!!

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