Quote of the Week

I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders. ~ Jewish Proverb

National Drug Take-Back Day: April 26, 2014, 10am-2pm
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, April 21, 2014

On Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 10am-2pm, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will hold its 8th national “Drug Take-Back Day” to enable patients, caregivers and pet owners to properly dispose of unwanted prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications at no cost.

Since launching the nationwide Drug Take-Back Day effort in 2010, the DEA has collected more than 3.4 million pounds (1,733 tons) of prescription medications. 
Help to protect our young people (and others) from overdoses and/or accidental ingestion of prescription medications.  Help to keep our water supply safe – don’t flush unwanted medications down the sink or toilet!  

For a searchable list of collection sites nationwide, click here.

The following additional information about the importance of proper disposal of unwanted prescription medications is taken from the Pennsylvania Resources Council websiteThe mission of the PRC is to lead and promote individual and collective actions to preserve Pennsylvania’s environmental resources for each generation.

There are numerous reasons why prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals become unwanted or unneeded. Many people stop taking drugs due to side-effects, their lack of effectiveness, or quicker recovery periods than anticipated. And medications often reach their expiration dates before they are completely used. But people are also being prescribed and buying more drugs, per-person, than ever before in this country.

On a national level, estimates point to upwards of 200 million pounds of pharmaceutical waste being generated each year. Over the past few years, pharmaceuticals and endocrine disruptors have been detected in growing amounts in surface and drinking water sources around the country. This issue has been increasingly covered in scientific literature and the mainstream media. A series of Associated Press stories brought the issue to the national spotlight in 2008.

In addition, prescription medications have become the drug of choice for teens and other age groups. Each year, tens of thousands of our children and adults die or become critically ill from overdoses and/or accidental ingestion of prescription medications. Citizens, scientists, political leaders, law enforcement, and health care professionals are expressing concern about the proper disposal of pharmaceuticals; the old, widely-touted advice to flush these materials is no longer acceptable. But few practical and readily-available solutions currently exist for the safe disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals. As early as 2006, however, some waste management boards and sanitary and wastewater authorities began offering pharmaceutical collection events in states around the country including Maine, Washington, Minnesota, and California among others.

President Obama signed the "Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010" into law on October 12, 2010. The law removes a key barrier to creating statewide programs that allow residents to safely return and dispose of leftover medications. The legislation is intended to support the creation of medication take-back options that reduce prescription drug abuse and reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals getting into the environment. Once the new law is implemented, providers of medication take-back programs will have more options for where and how they set up programs that accept controlled substances, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and Ritalin.

Currently, only law enforcement can accept narcotics and other controlled substances from residents. The intent of this federal law is to authorize other convenient community return locations – like pharmacies – for secure disposal of controlled substances. Currently pharmacy take-back programs (the legality of these vary from state–to-state) around the country can only accept the return of over-the-counter medications and prescription medications that are not controlled substances. However, controlled substances make up about 11% of prescription drugs sold.

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Presentations on Addiction Prevention & Treatment - Tuesday, April 29
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Power of Intention, Wisdom & Hope

You are invited to attend an evening of presentations, specifically designed to educate and support parents (and other family members) who are dealing with the challenges of adolescent drug and alcohol abuse.  Sponsored by the Pittsburgh-based Little Wings of Hope charitable organization, this event features speakers from Caron Treatment Centers, Gateway Rehabilitation Center, Little Wings of Hope Foundation, and Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST).  Topics include: Recognizing the Face of Addiction, Signs & Symptoms, Prevention, Tips for Parents, and Treatment Options.

Lloyd Woodward and our 2013 PSST Parents of the Year (“Jim & Cheryl”) are among the presenters at this event!  

Date:  Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Time:  7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location:  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church Hall, 330 3rd Avenue, Carnegie, PA
Notes:  Parking is available, and light refreshments will be provided.

If you plan to attend, click here to go to the Little Wings of Hope website, where you will find the Registration Link. 

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Lives in the Balance
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, April 14, 2014

The FDA recently approved a new opioid pain medication called Zohydro ER, which is intended for patients dealing with chronic pain.  It is the first prescription narcotic that provides a pure dose of hydrocodone.  Already there is controversy surrounding this new medication, given its potential for abuse. For an article from Forbes.com about this topic, click hereBelow are 2 quotes from the article that highlight some of the major issues fueling the controversy.

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who is fighting the FDA’s approval of this new drug, states:
“The prescription drug epidemic has already damaged and destroyed the lives of far too many individuals and families, and hydrocodone is one of the most abused substances out there. The last thing we need is a drug on the market with 10 times the hydrocodone of Vicodin and Lortab, with the capability of killing an individual in just two tablets.”

Dr. Ethan Weiner shares an opposing opinion, saying:
“Although these drugs have significant abuse potential, that does not negate the fact that there are significant numbers of people suffering chronic pain who cannot live a functional – or even a remotely tolerable – life without them.

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Starting Over, One More Time
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, April 04, 2014

As a short recap, Dylan was released home in January from a placement (his fifth), soon after his successful graduation from high school.  At home, he began to struggle.  He was hanging around with friends he shouldn’t have been seeing, ending up at places different from his agreed-upon destinations, sneaking alcohol, becoming verbally combative with his parents, and otherwise having difficulty dealing with his newfound “freedom”.  Within 5 weeks, he found himself back in court.

At court, Dylan was offered the opportunity to come home, but instead he requested a halfway house.  Maybe he knew that he would not be successful at home.  After working with Dylan for the past 3 years, the judge seems to have a pretty good handle on what’s right for Dylan, and she ordered him to be placed at “Halfway House”.   

Dylan has been at Halfway House for 6 weeks now.  We think of it as supervised independent living.  He is doing his own laundry, keeping his room neat (what a concept!), and helping with the cooking.  He got a job right away at a fast food restaurant.  He was worried that he wouldn’t like it (i.e., that it would be “uncool”), but instead he finds that he is happy to be working, enjoying the people interactions, and excited about the prospect of earning & saving money.  He enjoys his coworkers, and even says that almost all the customers are really nice.
His therapist at Halfway House is fantastic, and the therapeutic environment seems to be stronger than at his other placements.  Intervention seems to focus on more than just correcting the immediate behavior problem, but also on discovering the underlying issues behind the behavior, and tackling those issues head-on.  For a teen who normally can barely sit still, it’s amazing to learn that Dylan is now using meditation and writing to deal with his anger/resentment issues.  He also found an NA sponsor that he seems to be happy with, and he’s attending a local church on Sundays.  Naturally, his irritation with authority and difficulty in abiding by rules has not disappeared, but he seems to be handling himself better.
Usually when Dylan starts at a new program, he is angry & uncommunicative with his parents, but not this time.  He has been calling us regularly, and we have visited him quite a few times.  He doesn’t think he wants any home passes, but he is interested in having offsite passes to play soccer for the local travel team, where we will watch and cheer on the team.  That’s good enough for now.

Much as we’d prefer that Dylan live at home, that option is only truly possible in some alternate universe.  It’s not what will work for him right now.  Dylan will be 18 years old in another month, and we realize that he may never live at home again.  Attending PSST meetings, where we have learned so much from the experts as well as other parents, has helped us to accept that reality.  We are so grateful for the progress that Dylan has been making towards becoming independent, responsible, and free of drugs/alcohol.  He has had a lot of crucial help and guidance along the way.

Brad & Jenn      

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Finding your own Path
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Click here and here to read the story of a father’s struggle to deal with his son’s heroin addiction.  Below are two quotes from David Cooke’s story.

When it comes to addiction there are two victims, the addict who battles with their disease and the families who struggle to understand, cope, and live a normal life.  Many parents commit every ounce of love, time, energy in their quest to save, help, and cure their child to the point where they often have so little left to give themselves or to the point where it nearly destroys them.  It is as if the addiction has taken control over two sets of lives.

I learned how to build boundaries around [my son’s] addiction and define a path for me that helped me live, celebrate, and enjoy my live.  Though I may never be a complete peace with the threat, pain, and loss of his addiction all around me, I have learned that his choices do not define me, his decisions cannot stop me, and his addiction will not destroy me. 

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Bridging the Communication Gap with your Teen
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thanks to Mary Canary for sharing this article about talking with your teenager.

Psychologist and author Dr. James Dobson tells parents that the teenage years can be filled with uncomfortable silences. He writes, “the same kid who used to talk a mile a minute and ask a million questions has now reduced his vocabulary to nine monosyllabic phrases- "I dunno," "Maybe," "I forget," "Huh?" "No!" "Nope," "Yeah," "Who--me?" and "He did it." Giving teens non-threatening opportunities to talk is the key to conversation.

Read the rest of this article by clicking here.

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The Link between Struggle & Codependency
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Butterfly

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly.

One day a small opening appeared in the cocoon.
The man sat and watched the butterfly 

for several hours as it struggled
to squeeze its body through the tiny hole.
Then it stopped
as if it couldn't go any further.

So the man decided
to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and snipped
off the remaining bits of cocoon.
The butterfly emerged easily
it had a swollen body and shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch it,
expecting that any minute the wings would enlarge 

and expand enough to support the body.
Neither happened.

In fact the butterfly spent the rest of its life
crawling around.
It was never able to fly.

What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand:
The restricting cocoon
and the struggle required by the butterfly 
to get through the opening
was a way of forcing the fluid from the body into the wings
so that it would be ready for flight.

Life is full of struggles.  These struggles hone our skills and make us strong. If we enable someone else, we take away these challenges, and unknowingly perpetuate codependency.  We may be well-meaning, but our good intentions rarely result in good outcomes. 

It is painful to watch a loved one struggle with drugs, alcohol, and/or life's daily challenges. However, it’s not our job to solve their problems.  It is their job. Our job is to stand by in support and love.

Thanks to "Mike & Carol" for recommending this story!

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Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, March 11, 2014

There will be a public meeting of the Allegheny County Drug and Alcohol Planning Council on Wednesday, March 12 at 5:00 p.m. at the Allegheny County Human Services Building, One Smithfield St, Pittsburgh, PA. 

Guest speakers on the topic of Vivitrol will be Dr. Chris Davis, practitioner from York, PA and Joanne Komer from Alkermes (the biopharmaceutical company that makes Vivitrol).  Vivitrol is a prescription injectable medicine used to treat opioid and alcohol dependence.  

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Heroin Use is on the Rise
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, March 08, 2014

Thanks to Mary Canary for sharing the link to a Diane Rehm radio show segment titled “What’s Behind The Sharp Rise In Heroin Use In The U.S.”  By clicking here , you can either listen to the show or read the full transcript. 

Below are some excerpts from the show’s transcript.  In this show, host Diane Rehm interviews Dr. Wilson Compton (deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health), Barry Meier (author of "Painkiller: A Wonder Drug's Trail of Addiction and Death"), and Jeff Deeney (a social worker and recovering heroin addict).


 . . . heroin's one of the most addictive substances that we know. All substances that are abused can be addictive. It's remarkable that people don't think marijuana's addictive, and yet something like 9 percent of people that start smoking marijuana will end up being addicted to it. For heroin, it's more like about a quarter from the studies that we've seen so far.

   . . . over time people develop a habit to that, so they enjoy it. And they want to do it again. So what we find is that the behavior patterns get set up over and over. People form memories, and their judgment changes. Their decision making changes. So they make decisions that they never would've made elsewhere in their lives because of the drug seeking and the pleasure that these drugs start out with.

. . .  there are cross effects among the different substances. It's not at all unusual for a heroin addict to also have problems with stimulants like cocaine or amphetamine. And alcohol would be very typical. We also see tobacco use being an extraordinarily common addiction among substance users. And it turns out that the tobacco is what will kill an awful lot of them.


Well, unfortunately, heroin overdose is remarkably easy, and it's unexpected. Very few people intentionally are trying to kill themselves.  So they use either a larger quantity, or heroin may be mixed with other substances that can make it more potent and more likely to stop your breathing.   . . . Fortunately, if medical care can be received at that time, there are potent blockers of opioid receptors . . . that can reverse the effects within seconds and wake people up.

Relapse & Recovery:

But what happens when people relapse are a number of factors. It can be stress in their lives, whether that's social stress or emotional stress or physical stress.   One of the main predictors of relapse though is sampling the drug itself. So people think, oh, I'll just have one, and that might be safe. But it turns out that even a very low dosage can prime the body and prime the brain to want more and more.

So what would you say to someone out there who is currently in recovery, but tempted?  I would say to reach out and use whatever your networks of recovery support are.  . . .  rely on the people that you have in recovery to go to meetings, to seek support, to share what you’re feeling. 

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"Wax Weed"
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thanks to Wilma for sharing this information about wax weed. 

Experts warn parents of a new form of marijuana that is 10 times more potent than your average marijuana. It’s called butane honey (or hash) oil, BHO, wax, or dab. It is extracted from the most powerful part of the marijuana plant, and can be made using common household items. 

" . . . the amount of THC it contains makes it powerfully psychoactive. Although not life-threatening, a very large dose of BHO can lead to vomiting in addition to anxiety, paranoia and other psychological issues that can persist for days." 

The process of extracting BHO is also very dangerous. " . . . fires and explosions caused by these makeshift labs have become so common that the U.S. Fire Administration issued a warning about . . . the BHO labs’ threat to public safety." 

For more information, click here and here.

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The End of a Chapter
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dylan is back in Shuman.

Dylan was home from placement for 31 days.  Apparently that’s all he could take.  Maybe he hasn’t changed (for the better) as much as we had thought.  Maybe home was the wrong place for him to be, with the lure of old friends and old habits, and a strong desire to “make up for lost time” while he was in placement.

As soon as he came home, he started bumming cigarettes from friends.  He was hooked immediately – the draw of nicotine was like a siren’s call.  We were not overly surprised by that, and thought at least it was better than weed or pills or alcohol.

Dylan met many of his Probation & home contract conditions.  He spent more time at home than we expected, generally with one friend who we think was a reasonably good influence.  He quickly found a part-time job at Hollister at the mall, although we were disappointed at how slowly they were bringing him on board.  He did relaxing teen activities such as playing basketball at the rec center, playing videogames, watching movies, texting and skyping his friends.  He was also doing some more “grown-up” activities, such as very basic cooking, doing his laundry, and doing some chores around the house to earn some spending money.  Surprisingly, he met curfew, except for the night that he was 3 hours late, and we had to pick him up in Bridgeville under questionable circumstances.  On Super Bowl Sunday, someone posted a video on his Facebook page, showing Dylan drinking a shot at a friend’s house, which Dylan denied until his P.O. pointed out that the video was public.  The P.O. placed him on 2 weeks’ house arrest.
At home, Dylan was generally busy, and did his best to avoid or ignore us most of the time.  It was difficult to get his attention to talk about his future plans.  He became an increasingly reluctant participant in family therapy.  He had occasional outbursts of anger when he didn’t get his way, at times becoming verbally abusive as he had in his past.  As the judge said at his hearing, he is a little too old to be having temper tantrums.
We had a few nice moments as a family during the past 31 days.  There were some casual conversations during car rides together, and once he even voluntarily joined us for a movie we were watching at home.  We all shared in his high school graduation day – he was happy, and we have smiling family photos to remember the day.  It was still a mixed-message day – during dinner after graduation, he was distracted and impatient, and spent half of the time outside the restaurant talking to friends on his phone.
For his father’s birthday, we enjoyed going out to a movie and dinner.  At home we sang “happy birthday” as we shared our traditional birthday cake, a chocolate chip cookie cake.  We felt like a normal family that day.  The next day, Dylan turned into a monster.  He wanted to go to a high school basketball game with his father, who said that he would take him, but only if he left his cigarettes at home since tobacco products are not permitted on school property.  Dylan insisted that was not acceptable to him, and it escalated from there.  He became demanding, unreasonable, threatening in posture and language, and verbally abusive.  We called the police, who took Dylan to Shuman.

We really thought that we could provide an environment where Dylan could succeed.  We also thought that Dylan was committed to succeeding, and that he had learned the skills to do that.  What we found is that we were working at it much harder than he was.  Not that we were perfect, or as strong as we would have liked to be.
As a wise PSST parent shared at one of our meetings, change only takes place when the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of the change.
We go back to court next week to find out the next step in Dylan’s journey.  We think that supervised independent living will be best for him.  As some other PSST families have learned, sometimes our teens just cannot live at home.

At this sad juncture, as we clean up Dylan’s room in preparation for the next step in his future, I find this quote comforting:

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." ~ Seneca

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Mental Health, Addiction, & Free Will
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, February 06, 2014

Thank you to Cheryl and Roxie for sending the following links: 

Cheryl sent the link to this blog, provocatively titled "Phillip Seymour Hoffman did not have choice or free will and neither do you". When forwarding the link, Cheryl said, "This is one of the best written blogs on mental health & addiction I have ever read.  It is lengthy but well worth the read and complete understanding that addicts need treatment without shame and blame."

Roxie’s recommends Acrobaddict. Roxie writes, "With the onslaught of the fentanyl-laced heroin-induced deaths in our region, and the recent overdose of iconic actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an eye-opening book has come to the forefront that helps non-users understand the addict and his demons entitled Acrobaddict."
Roxie reviewed the book this way: "The title is self-explanatory. The athletic author, acrobat Joe Putignano, pours out his heart and soul to describe his descent into Hell and eventual rise to Heaven as a recovering heroin addict. His strive for perfection led to him use heroin obsessively, with the inability to function on a daily basis without the substance. His sobriety eventually resulted in his career as a clean and rising star of Cirque du Soleil. He briefly talks about his book on YouTube at the link: Acrobaddict."

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An Open Letter to My Family (from the drug addict)
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, February 01, 2014

I am a drug user. I need help.

Don’t solve my problems for me. This only makes me lose respect for you.

Don’t lecture, moralize, scold, blame, or argue, whether I’m loaded or sober. It may make you feel better, but it will make the situation worse.

Don’t accept my promises. The nature of my illness prevents me keeping them, even though I mean them at the time. Promises are only my way of postponing pain. Don’t keep switching agreements; if an agreement is made, stick to it.

Don’t lose your temper with me. It will destroy you and any possibility of helping me.

Don’t allow your anxiety for me make you do what I should do for myself.

Don’t cover up or try to spare me the consequences of my using. It may reduce the crisis, but it will make my illness worse.

Above all, don’t run away from reality as I do. Drug dependence, my illness, gets worse as my using continues. Start now to learn, to understand, to plan for recovery. Find NAR-ANON, whose groups exist to help the families of drug abusers.

I need help — from a doctor, a psychologist, a counselor, from an addict who found recovery in NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS, and from God.

Your User

Thanks to "Carol" & "Mike" for sharing this.

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Molly is the new Femme Fatale
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Would you take a pill when you have no idea what the active ingredient is or what effect it will have on your body?

Would you be a guinea pig for drug traffickers?

Some of our kids are doing just that. They are taking big risks by experimenting with Molly and it is a growing concern for parents and drug officials.

From the Daily News at The Partnership at Drugfree.org, “Emergency room visits related to Molly, or Ecstasy, rose 128 percent among people younger than 21 between 2005 and 2011, according to a new government report.”

It was believed that Molly was pure MDMA, the active ingredient in Ecstasy, but the drug has now become a toxic mixture of lab-created chemicals, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration."

For the rest of this article, from Cathy Taughinbaugh's website, click here. 

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