Quote of the Week


"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.



Big Interest in Technology post by Ralph Kramden and K2 post by Rocco still all time tops
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 29, 2011

I am rewriting this post after somehow by adding another graphic I ruined it. So, if it looks a bit different there you have it. I cut out the middle graphic because it gets too complicated for me to keep it straight.

The first graphic shows How the Technology post by Ralph Kramden soared to the top of the hits list this week with readers. First, it is well written and anyone can understand it because it is not written "technical" even though it is about technology.

Second, people want to know this stuff. I know I had no idea how cheap this tracking technology has become. In face, I had opportunity to be at Ralph's house and he showed me how cool it is that he can see exactly where his son's vehicle is parked in a large parking lot and he can view logs of his son's destinations and stats about his speed. Click on the graphic to enlarge.

Find original post here: Technology and Your Teen by Ralph Kramden



The Second graphic shows our all time posting list. The K2 post by Rocco is still king of posting reflecting also on the interest of our readers and how well organized this clearing-house of information post was put together. It is so easy from that post to jump to the sources.

Find original post here: K-2, Spice, Yucatan Fire, Sence, Chill X, Genie - What is it?




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Bam Bam's Third Week in Placement ~or~ When Do I Get to Relax?? written by - Wilma
Posted by:Sally--Friday, May 27, 2011


Tuesday evening we went for our weekly family meeting with Bam Bam's counselor. As usual we have to talk about when he comes home. Then he started talking about things he deserves such as getting his ears pierced, getting a tattoo ( he is 16 and needs parental approval for this!), He said I'd probabaly say no since I go to Lloyd's classes (his rep reaches far and wide!) and that the mother of his new friend at Bedrock Manor also goes to Lloyds' classes and that we are learning all kinds of stuff to make their lives miserable (thank goodness for PSST)!!!

The counselor pointed out that he has to follow our rules and that me and his dad have to discuss these issues and he will have to abide by our decisions. The friend thing came up again which is always stressful. Then we find out that Mr. Jackson agrees that Bam Bam gets a 2 hour off-grounds pass the next day. What?? I'm not ready for this. Since its only two hours we can't come home so the plan is to have lunch close by, maybe shop and then go back. After the family meeting it's time for family programming.

The topic this night is emotions. I have to tell the counselor not to call on my husband or single him out in any way or he will leave and go sit in the car. She has to know that we are trying to show a united front for Bam Bam but since Fred is pathologically uncomfortable in these types of situations he will bolt and doesn't care what anybody thinks.Thanks for the stress, Fred.

The kids are brought in and we are told to sit in our family units and given groups of index cards with emotions on them. We are to discuss among ourselves when we last felt the emotion which included sad, happy, guilty, etc. Then we would have a group discussion. We talked a little but then Bam Bam decided he needed to badger us (especially me) about getting his ear pierced, tattoo and then he told us how when he comes home he'll be getting a new phone! Well... I told him that when he comes home he won't have any phone, he was going to have to earn that privilege back. Bam Bam is mad!! He starts on how that is not fair, he deserves it since he's been locked up, he had to do this before and he shouldn't have to do it again and on and on. He got up and left so we left too. I thought for sure he wouldn't get his pass but he did.

Now its Wednesday and we pick Bam Bam up and go to the restaurant. Its tense, we all order, and then it starts again. Same topics as the night before and then he adds that he'll probably get 4 hour pass next week so he wants to come home for a couple hours (travel time is usally 1 hour one way). Starts dictating what he is going to do on the pass-listen to music, surf the internet, buy Lil Waynes cd on-line. Well, I tell him he won't have access to the internet so now he's mad. I'm telling him no way, Fred says I'm talking a little loud so I told them I'm not talking about anything at all. More tension.

Bam Bam then asks us if he tells us something would we tell the counselor and I tell him of course so he shouldn't tell us. He does anyay. He also takes this opportunity to tell me yet again it's my fault he smokes. Now this is the place where in hindsight I think we should have cut the visit and taken him back. But we didn't have a plan before the visit since it was so unexpected ( I didn't think his % was high enough). And only that morning I searched the blog and found the post with baker's dozen list of pointers. And so we give him the control and torture ourselves.




Bam Bam is complaining that his shoes are tight so rookies that we are we go to the store. I have to take Bam Bam myself as Fred has a bad knee so I told him he could stay in the car. We are just going to measure for shoes and I was getting him a pair of shorts. however, in the store he starts again!! All the same stuff but then he adds how I owe him a shirt for the drug shirt I threw away, and I owe him more for his birthday and he deserves more-I felt like I was about to have a stroke. I tell him to stop but of course he can't/won't. We left the store, going back to Bedrock and as we are passing a different store Bam Bam says can't we stop and see if they have the shoes he wants and tell I him NO I already said we ARE NOT GOING INTO ANOTHER STORE!!

I couldn't get back fast enough. He knows I am pi$$&*d so on the way back and while we are walking through the parking lot at Bedrock he starts back pedaling and says he doesn't need that particular shirt, and oh I did get him enough for his birthday, etc,etc. I think he realized I'm reporting back to Miss Margarock exactly how things went even though of course its all my fault -as usual.

I decided that if Bam Bam is eligible next week for a 4 hour pass I am not taking him out for it. I told his dad if he wants to go for it but I am not comfortable taking him out and subjecting myself to 4 hours of badgering. I'm not doing it.

After we take Bam Bam back and we are on our way home I have Fred stop so I can get some water to take something for my breathing and anxiety. Am I having a stroke, heart attack or anxiety attack? I can't stand this and will it ever get better? I hope so. I'm thinking on the ride home that I am absolutely not going back to the life that was like this all the time and usually worse. We'll see what next week brings.

I did call the counselor to just let her know that Bam Bam confessed to calling a friend from the facility and punching a hole in a wall. Not sure if he is telling the truth or not but I am not keeping secrets with the counselor. He had also told us another kid gave him a stamp so he wrote a letter to his drug dealing friend "Eddie". I also told her I wasn't comfortable with taking Bam Bam out again next week. I did tell her about how he thinks he can call the shots on the home pass and of course she says no way. However, I want to be prepared for the next one and have the rules spelled out IN WRITING for Bam Bam so there are no surprises and that he knows if he can't abide by the rules he can choose to not take the pass or if he is on the pass it will be cut short.

WHEW! What a couple days. At least today was quiet with no phone calls. Maybe I'll get to relax for a little bit after all! I decided to go to our family (immediate and extended) weekend in Cook's Forest next week.

Wilma
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Comment on Feeding the Enemy by Wilma
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 26, 2011


I just found this post while looking for off-grounds passes and find it very interesting. When I say during our family meetings that i'm not comfortable with my son's friend's especially a certain one I know is selling drugs out of his basement my son's counselor will tell us it is up to the friend to prove to us that he can be trustworthy. That we will have to compromise when my son comes home. However, I agree with points in this post that the friend's are triggers.



I know this as fact. The minute my son got out of the house the first time we had him in treatment (3 weeks in psych hospital, IOP , then partial) he was with his old friends and using. My husband would drive him to a friend's house and then he would always end up somewhere else. He was forbidden to go this particular friend's house and we busted him there. The only way to keep them apart is basically to keep my son on house arrest. We are early in the second round and I don't know what we are going to do.

I don't know if the counselor wants my son to think we are compromising on "Eddie" when the reality is that he probably will never try to meet with us to prove himself. I just don't know what is going to happen but the friend's issue is so important as from what I can gather he has used with every single one of them. I'm not moving so my plan right now is to keep him away for as long as possible. And I don't see why I should be expected to compromise on friends that I know are completley untrustworthy. Thanks for the helpful information.

By Wilma on Feeding the Enemy.
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Technology and Your Teen by Ralph Kramden
Posted by:Sally--Monday, May 23, 2011


Alice and I continue to help our teen son, Ed, through his recovery. He still has that “drug mind”, as I have come to call it, but is building up clean time and collecting key tags from his NA meeting.

One thing that helps us to help Ed is technology. However, I want to say right up front: technology is not going to save your teen, or in some cases even make a difference.

Do not use technology to become more co-dependent with your teen’s problem, either. But instead, think of technology as a tool, like a fork or hammer, which can sometimes help you. (Getting food to your mouth or hitting your thumb so hard it turns purple are both good examples of tools helping us?)

Why am I even writing about tools and technology?

We all know that cell phones for most of our teens are just drug deal paraphernalia. Teens can easily use technology to enable their addictions or as a tool of bad behavior, and use it better than we can. On the surface, it would seem that technology is a losing game and we should shun it.

However, it is, once again, not our fault.

Consider this:

- Your teen has never lived in a time when cell phones were not everywhere. Your teen has never lived in a time when the Internet did not exist.

- Your teen has never lived in a time when banking and financial transactions were not performed “on line”, instead of waiting “in line” at the bank.

- Your teen has never lived in a time when multiple layers of communication satellites didn’t circle the earth for commercial and retail user purposes.

In short, your teen knows today’s technology because she has always lived with it. So, let’s explore a few technologies that we can use to help us or help our teens!


BANKING

I have written before about Ed’s restriction against carrying cash.

His contract says that he is not allowed to carry ANY cash.

Some other parents and PO’s have cash amount restrictions in their contracts too. Such as, “may not carry more than $20 cash” can be found in the sample contract on this site.

It’s based upon the principle that drug dealers still want cash or merchandise for drug purchases.

It’s a false sense of security, but is a retardant for the easy drug deal issue – “the guy was just there and I gave him $20 and he gave me this baggie; honest dad”.

Alice and I also restrict ourselves from holding or keeping in the house any significant cash. But, Ed is a micro entrepreneur, running his own business. How can we restrict his cash to $0?

Technology has come to our aid. Ed has a credit card that we fund and control. Any cash from his business is turned over to us, and any purchases Ed wants to make for personal use or business are put on the credit card.

Today’s technology is also helping us. A credit card is accepted in millions of locations today: McDonald’s and every other fast food store, Sheetz (all gas stations and convenience stores), Home Depot and hardware stores, movie theaters, arcades, game stores, movie rental stations, XBOX live, restaurants, grocery stores, vending machines, and many other places that Ed likes to visit.

We can see every purchase amount, store, and location. We can put a hold on the card or only fund it with as much money as Ed needs, also. It is working well.

Ed doesn’t like the restrictions and having to ask for his own money. We do have to initiate transfers and controls. But, Ed does not have to worry about carrying any cash. And Alice and I feel better about Ed not being tempted by cash in his pocket.

I can even fund his card from a smart cell phone or the Internet when he frequently runs out of money.

There are a few small caveats still with this technology.

First, some companies charge expensive fees to use or reload credit cards. Stay away from these.

Also, having a credit card makes it just a pinch easier for Ed to “social engineer” the retail staff into thinking he is an adult.

But if your teen is like Ed, he is already really smart at both “socially engineering” people and business. It just may not be manipulating the parents and selling drugs anymore for Ed. So, we let that slide.

I only know about two banks that are really good at teen credit cards, so I will only mention those two. There are probably others out there.

One of these two has recently won awards for its customer service, so I stopped looking when we found a winner. If you know an institution or retailer, please add to this article. If you are a bank or organization and want the PSST parents to test your card on our tough teens, also help us to help you, by recommending your card.

It is worth repeating: Stay away from cards that have fees!

There are many of those kinds of cards out there, but that is not what you want. Both of these sources are reliable banking institutions, are free, and specialize in teen cards.

Both of these also allow the parents to turn off the ATM/cash feature of the cards.

USAA Federal Savings Bank youth prepaid card at https://www.usaa.com/inet/pages/youth_prepaid_spending_card_main

Wachovia student banking Visa Buxx card at https://www.visaprepaidprocessing.com/Wachovia/VisaBuxx/Pages/Home.aspx


CELL PHONES

As mentioned above, if you read this web site or come to PSST meetings, you know that almost every parent has discovered that their teen’s cell phone is a D-D-D: Drug Deal Device.

Teen addicts use them to make deals, learn to talk in code, and use them to hide their location and activities from their parents.

Again, natural parenting says, “Danger! Danger!” But, this piece of technology has also weaved it's way into our lives. We “need” these devices to communicate with the family or arrange family schedules or, in Ed’s case, receive business calls!

Not to fear. I have learned from my friends at PSST some valuable technology tips. And we now welcome Ed to use our/the business's cell phone. We even pay for the non-business calls.

What technology is helping us to help Ed? Two important things:

First, Ed’s phone is fixed (no, not like the dog that can’t have puppies). Well, maybe a little like that. He can’t call or text anyone that we don’t put into the phone’s “fixed dialing”, OK-to-call list. This frustrates Ed sometimes, even legitimately when he can’t return a call to a business prospect.

But that is too bad.

We will add any legitimate number to his callable list whenever he asks. And that way, we always know who he can call on the device.

Some wireless companies provide this and some do not. Several pay-as-you-go services do. But most importantly, it is often not documented. You may have to call your phone’s customer service to find out or activate it.

It is often called “fixed dialing.”

Second, if you know of, or suspect dangerous activity on your teen’s cell phone, report it lost or stolen.

The wireless telephone company will suspend all activity on the phone, making it worthless to your teen and the drug dealers, until you call and report it “found” again.

This is a WIN all the way around, if you ask me. You can ground the phone with one quick call. With some providers, you can do this by making a simple call from your own cell phone or on the provider’s web site.

More family-friendly or parent-friendly features are coming from some wireless companies, as younger and younger children are getting cell phones.

Uploaded pictures, phone call records and the like are available on most major wireless companies’ customer web sites.

One feature that I have not been able to find anywhere, and may only exists for the wireless carriers or law enforcement: copies of text messages.

If anyone knows how to get these routinely on-line without needing to look at a cell phone that may have been erased, please reply to this article.

Still, expect more technology to come with cell phones, including pocket computers in the phone.

Of course, some of the new technology is not going to benefit us, but rather the teen addict or drug dealers. So, be sure to look for ways to turn off features that are dangerous or avoid phones or features that are unhealthy for your teen.

As always, reserve the right to have the phone stored in a known place in your house, check the call logs and texts, prohibit private calls, prohibit the erasing of texts or logs, and ground the phone, if needed.

Remember, it’s your phone. And, “No, you cannot buy your own phone while living in my house, either.” is OK to say, if you need to.

It’s your house and your rules.


TRACKING DEVICES

This technology may seem to be a bit far out for some parents, like the hover craft or jet rocket backpack in the 1960’s.

However, let me tell you that I can find the truck that Ed uses for his business any time of the day, including latitude, longitude, speed if moving, and street address while I’m on the Internet, or check the electronic bread crumbs that it left for the last day or week.

What’s more, Ed knows this and helped install the device that does this. And it costs me less than a cell phone bill.

Obviously, the price of personal, cell phone assisted GPS tracking devices has become reasonable as more people start to use them to safeguard their cars, trucks, personal items, pets, and, yes, hunting dogs, all the while basic cell phone technology keeps dropping in price.

What is this thing?

It’s a device smaller than a pack of cigarettes containing a GPS (global positioning system) which knows its exact location and speed at all times.

It also has a cell phone text message system. When asked by a central computer, the device texts its information and the computer stores it for the owner to query.

If the device’s battery is unplugged or powered off, the device sends its information and alert status.

All the rest is just pretty maps, location and power alerts sent to my cell phone, and logs of the bread crumbs.

These devices won’t be right for everyone, and never use them to become more co-dependant upon your teen’s problems.

But for Ed, I described it as an additional “trust” mechanism. He has the freedom to go any place that he tells us (and any other place, but I don’t remind him of that). If he says he is at certain place, the tracking device can verify it for him.

Of course, I am reminded of when President Reagan said, “Trust but verify.”

There are a number of companies selling these types of devices.

Of the two big names, you will need to skip LoJack. LoJack does not support coverage in Allegheny County.

The other big name is Zoom-bak, and has good coverage in Western Pennsylvania.

Look for sales or heavily discounted devices from retail outlets instead of purchasing on the web site.

Devices retail for $100, but I have seen them discounted to $50.

The service plan is around $13 per month. The Zoom-bak web site is www.zoombak.com .

A company called Live View GPS also makes these devices and has reasonable service plans around $20 per month. Their devices, however, are around $250 to $400. Their web site is www.liveviewgps.com/ .

There are other vendors in this market, and I want to make the same offer as above: If you have experience with these, please add to this article.
If you are a vendor and want PSST parents to test your device with REAL teens, bring it on.

Finally, a section on tracking devices shouldn’t go without a mention of cell phones.

All modern cell phones have a cell site positioning system in them.

Yes, your teen’s cell phone knows where it is even if you don’t know where your teen is or he doesn’t remember where he left it.

Some bigger cell phone providers have picked up on this and have family or phone location services. These services are usually $5 to $15 per month per family or phone, and provide very good location services.

Sprint and Verizon both offer this service, and maybe others.

One caveat with these services is that most teens know about cell phone location and either disable the phone’s location service (which can usually be disabled for all but 911 calls) or forward their phone and leave it in a safe location to circumvent truly nefarious activity location. This service may still be helpful to some parents and can be a less expensive alternative.

I hope you have enjoyed this technology side track.

It isn’t your fault that your teen knows more about this technology than you do, NEVER-THE-LESS, you can use it too, when you need it.

Do you remember vinyl records and tapes? Your teen probably doesn’t. But they were once cool, new technology, too.

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Town Meeting at Ambridge High School ~ Post provided by Wilma
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, May 22, 2011


I live in Allegheny County but tonight I attended a program entitled "Drug and Narcotic Identification Evening" which was held at Ambridge Area High School ( I was invited by a friend). It was sponsored by the Beaver County District Attorney's Office and The Beaver County Anti-Drug Task Force. The Drug Alliance
http://www.drug-alliance.org/ was also there and a representative from Gateway Rehab.
The meeting was very informative.

We got to see actual drugs and paraphernalia. For some parents in the audience this was all very new to them including the lingo. I mentioned my favorite resource, urban dictionary.com.

One parent commented that she wouldn't even know what weed smelled like. (I felt like a veteran). Seeing how common things we have in our homes can be used to manufacture drugs or be used as other kinds of drug paraphernalia was very scary but also helpful so that parents would know if items are missing or even finding things they know they hadn't purchased as red flags that there is a problem.

The officer talked about the effects of drug and alcohol on the developing brains of our teens as well as what they will do to get the next fix. One thing I hadn't thought of was how diseases such as HIV can be spread not just from sharing needles but passing around a joint with who knows how many people and sharing saliva. I'm sure our teens don't think of sharing a joint as risky behavior.

A mother who lost a son to a heroin overdose and the aunt of girl who died from taking ecstasy also spoke. Their stories were very sobering.

One thing a couple of the speakers spoke to, though, was the fact that there were so many empty seats in the auditorium (though it could have had something to do with the Pen's game) and how sad (might not be the word they used) it was that the people who know our kids the best (parents, grandparents, guardians ) weren't there learning things that could ultimately save a teen's life.

I just wanted to mention this meeting as I know we may have readers of the blog that may not live in Allegheny County to know that there are resources out there in surrounding communities that could help them on this roller coaster ride of their child's addiction.

Wilma

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May 14 Wexford PSST Meeting Recap
Posted by:Max--Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 14 Wexford PSST Meeting Recap

We had a great PSST Meeting in Wexford. Today's meeting was led by PSST power couple Cheryl and Jim, assisted by Kathie T and Justin from Wesley Spectrum Services and by Val and Lloyd from the Probation Office.

We had a slightly smaller group (13 parents and 1 older brother) so we had a little more time to share.

Cheryl and Jim’s son Andy was asked to leave his ½ way house, due to some inappropriate behavior. He spent time in Shuman, then transferred to another ½ way house that caters to adults. Now that Andy is 18, being around adults seems to suit him very well; Cheryl and Jim are optimistic that some good changes can occur in this placement.

Cheryl and Jim, I appreciate the difficulty you have with Andy – his physical health, his mental health, and if that weren’t enough, drug use. I have never seen either of you be anything but strong and positive when speaking of Andy’s situation. We all can really learn from how the two of you deal with adversity. Thank you for being an important part of PSST.

Angela’s daughter Samantha had been doing well after discharge from her inpatient treatment. She was attending school there, as she was not ready to return to her regular high school, and was being monitored at home by her parents, following the home contract, and using the P.O. as back-up.

The other week, her dad went away for business and her mom was sick in bed. Samantha took this opportunity to hook up with some old friends and used.

She was immediately “outed” by Angela, taken to Shuman for 10 days, where she fared better than last time. This time, having accumulated more clean time, Samantha noticed more of the chaos she was surrounded by. She was scared, hiding under tables when fights broke out.

Angela and Tony hope this experience sticks with Samantha and acts as a deterrent. It was suggested that Samantha go to an inpatient facility for 6 – 9 months.

Angela and Tony were not ready for this – they wanted to try another way, so for now they are doing an intensive in–home therapeutic recovery program. Samantha works with staff daily in the home, as well as other related appointments her parents have to take her to. She is also under house arrest.

Despite all the restrictions, Samantha is not unhappy. Maybe she was “asking” for some limits to be enforced. Maybe she was testing. Whatever you call it, this was still a relapse, and Tony and Angela went into action immediately, using all their new PSST skills.

Angela, what you are doing isn’t easy. Many of us would welcome the break from the chaos an inpatient placement brings with it. You are to be commended. We are all very interested how the in-home treatment works.

Please keep us posted, or maybe write something for the blog, as this may be appropriate for other families.


Kitty’s son Carlyle
“coined out” of his outpatient treatment. He actually thanked his mom for the help! He is doing well now.

Kitty was worried that older son Kat was going to leave his 1/2way house, but he changed his mind and decided to stay. Whew!

Since things are going well, Kitty kindly as always, offered her share of time for others to use.

Thanks again, Kitty. We hope this is always your biggest problem – not much to say!

Joan’s daughter Melissa is in an inpatient facility in Ohio at the moment. The road there was circuitous.

Melissa had been acting erratically, breaking into her mother’s home, stealing things like a “Wii” to sell, using Joan’s credit cards to purchase an iPod for a friend, stating on Facebook that she was engaged but not to tell her mother.

Joan told us that this has become a pattern for Melissa – she acts out for a while, later calms down, then asks her mother for help.

When that time came, Joan smartly suggested they meet at RESOLVE, a safe and neutral place where they could make some plans, as Melissa wasn’t living at home. Joan suggested the inpatient in Ohio, which Melissa accepted.

Joan also has papers ready to file charges, to get Melissa into the system so she can have the back up of probation.

Joan realizes Melissa gets some emotional thrill from hurting her, then coming back to her. Therefore, Joan is determined not to enable or reinforce this behavior by remaining detached, choosing not to visit or interact with her. She will support only recovery and mental health related activities.

All your friends at PSST appreciate how difficult it is not to interact with your kid. But Joan, you realize when you react to Melissa’s behavior as she expects you will, it doesn’t help her; it just continues the crazy cycle. Great job, Joan!

Max’s older son Michael continues to do well, working 2 jobs, planning to take his GED next week. He has been pleasant to live with, doing favors for Max.

Typical teen behavior, such as playing too loud music (filled with profanity, but what the f#@k) or not cleaning up after himself are the things that get Max and Mel fighting with him.

However, they are actually thrilled to be having arguments over NORMAL things! Michael is very clear on the fact that if he “screws up”, any consequence is his alone to deal with. This doesn’t mean if he “falls” somehow we won’t be upset. Of course we will. But we are no longer filled with constant anxiety and worry about him. It is his life, and if he makes choices to put his freedom at risk, it is his problem. Detachment Accomplished!

Violet’s son Sal is struggling. Out of school for 2 weeks, his drug tests are clean, but Vi became suspicious and searched – and found- “potpourri” in his pocket.

There were also indications he has been drinking. Sal is going through a tough time, as it is the 3rd anniversary of his father’s suicide.

Has Sal ever really worked through this trauma? Really dealt with all his emotions? Could he be self- medicating?

Violet will be bringing Sal to Shuman for a meeting with his PO, and a temporary stay there until they decide what inpatient facility would be best.

Now that Sal has been clean from heroin for a long while, his mental health needs are becoming more apparent. The mental health component of Sal’s’ continued treatment will be crucial for his recovery. As usual, Violet is front and center, committed to helping find the best program for him.

A side note: many of us fear we will miss signs if our child uses K2 or Spice, as these things do not show up on a standard drug test (at this time). The window for a positive alcohol screen is also very narrow. However, we can look and learn from Violet’s situation. It was Sal’s behavior that alerted her – she knows her kid, and when he had too much trouble getting out of bed; her antennae went up, and she searched his room.


Know your kid -pay attention to your child’s behavior and habits; this is a healthier alternative to hovering and constant worrying about what you have no control over. Their behavior will most likely give you what you need to initiate a room search, or just a conversation. PSSTers are no longer naive. We know “not my kid” is a fantasy we no longer take part in.

Daisy’s son Ozzie is doing much better in all areas except school.

He is able to handle disagreements without getting violent, which shows much progress. He attends school but doesn’t follow through with assignments, which is part of the rules of his school contract.

He will probably fail some classes and will have to attend summer school, or be transferred back to the AIU, where he would most likely finish out the year with no summer school needed.

Daisy is unsure what would be best, as she is getting conflicting advice. Some suggest that his” natural consequences” of failing and having to attend summer school is what would “teach him a lesson”.

But Daisy wonders “why go through that exercise, when Ozzie would finish up 10th grade and move on” at the AIU? Also, Ozzie doesn’t seem to fear summer school as a deterrent; rather, he sees it more of a social opportunity with easier classes.

Daisy worries that if she chooses the AIU, it may seem as though Ozzie gets the easy way out. Lloyd stepped in and said he sees school choice as a family decision; probation really shouldn’t be a part of that choice unless active drug and alcohol use or serious behavioral issues are part of the immediate problem.

And now a word from Max about “conflicting opinions” from our professional teams:

We all get them here and there, and it can be confusing and anxiety producing. PSST parents have been through the ringer, and because of this, we don’t always trust our guts with our kids – after all, we obviously didn’t really understand their problems until they were already in trouble - what makes us think we’ll “get it right” this time?

And that is the conundrum – the feeling that doing what’s best for our kid equals getting it RIGHT. The truth is there is never only one way to solve a problem.

Try to see differing opinions as a bonus. From these opinions, make a pro and con list for yourself and your kid. You won’t make an incorrect choice, because the ideas offered are professional opinions.

You must do what will work best with your particular family dynamic.

You are the one who knows your kid best, but you also know what you can commit to in terms of time, energy, and truly feeling comfortable with your decision. When you believe with your gut you are doing the right thing, you will have more dedication to follow-through.

Sally and Rocco’s son Cisco is doing really well at his ½ way house. He has been demonstrating that he knows when he needs help. He will say “I need to go to a meeting”. He is also showing a sense of maturity and obligation to others besides himself. He wanted to return to his program after a weekend home because he knows it “isn’t fair to the other guys who don’t get to go out”. He is starting Community College on Monday. We are thrilled to hear about Cisco’s progress, and are looking forward to the school report!!

Word of the Day” offered by Jim: “Anticippointment”- anticipating the disappointment that may occur if “the other shoe drops”. It is in the same realm as being “cautiously optimistic”, but with the PSST twist of humor. Thanks, Jim!

Wilma’s son Bam Bam is now in placement due to act 53. It was a harrowing and long day in court, as many of us at PSST are all too familiar with. Bam Bam didn’t really think he would actually be placed, even though the independent court evaluator suggested in over out-patient as a first step.


Wilma felt vindicated in all her efforts. Things were very tense in the waiting room. Wilma was concerned that Bam would run - especially when he demanded she buy him cigarettes. Wilma simply said no, retreated to separate corners to hunker down and wait.

Finally Bam Bam’s PD had a meeting with him, and told him he would be going in-patient. Bam was irate, and yelled obscenities at his mother, calling her a liar. The PD told Bam Bam if he voluntarily signed himself into his placement, they could pass on the hearing, which he accepted.

The Staff told Bam he would be there “2 weeks minimum”, but like all our kids, Bam Bam only heard the “2 weeks” portion. He is pretty convinced he will be home soon, and doesn’t understand there will be a hearing in 45 days.

Wilma has already received calls about Bam fighting, and all are worried Bam Bam is intentionally “FTA”-ing himself so he gets kicked out and goes home. However, Wilma as usual is one step ahead. She has evidence garnered from Facebook that will help her in efforts to bring up charges against her son, so he will have a P.O. and will be court ordered to a second placement if he FTA’s his current one.

Brad and Jenn brought Dylan’s older brother Mark to our meeting. They felt it was important for Dylan’s brother to have an opportunity to share if he wanted, and to better understand the difficult situation his parents and brother are in.

They all visited Dylan in his placement, bringing along birthday cards. Dylan was choked up by this and cried for the first time in a long while. He knows he will be in placement a long time, especially since he has already been in trouble there.

Dylan decided to end his meeting early by saying he wanted to go to Math class – a confusing reason to his parents, but it might actually be a good thing. Mark tried to explain to Dylan not to try to be like him, that, Dylan needs to be his own person.

Brad and Jenn always come to these meetings with smiles and hopeful attitudes, even when they must be feeling down. You two are an inspiration.


Advice wanted!

Angela brought up that Samantha’s older brother is very angry towards her – Angela wants family counseling to deal with this. Lloyd suggested that her brother may be feeling protective of his mom and his younger sister – which may stem from traditional gender issues. Angela is concerned that his comments are harmful to Samantha.

Lloyd’s point is that this confrontation from brother can be a good thing. “Nasty” comments like “I’m going out tonight with my friends – too bad you have to stay home” may be rubbing Samantha’s nose in it, and may make her feel the sting. But that is basically part of the consequence – sort of a reality check.

As long as brother isn’t abusive, it may be helpful for Samantha to hear. Otherwise, if it really stresses the family, Angela can get family support from their program.

Next: Role Play

Starring: Max as Daisy, Justin as Ozzie, and sitting in for Deb Cohen, Violet.

As said earlier, Ozzie wants an extended curfew, but is not meeting school expectations. Also, Daisy is unsure of the best way to proceed with finishing out the school year. She plans to discuss it at Gateway with Deb Cohen present as mediator, so we used this scenario for a practice run:

Daisy: Ozzie, I want to get back to you about your curfew.

Ozzie: So what about it?

Daisy: I got an email from Mrs. Smith telling me you are failing math.

Ozzie: That’s not true! I’ve done everything I’m supposed to! She probably didn’t enter all the recent grades. And anyways, what does that have to do with extending my curfew!

Daisy: I’ve received one too many emails lately telling me that you are not turning in your homework and you are still putting your head down during class.

Ozzie: I’m tired and it’s boring!

Daisy: Well, when you came to me to ask for an extended curfew, I said no because I am not comfortable with you being out and about longer than necessary. And, I need to see you behaving in a responsible manner at school, making responsible decisions there, in order for me to consider extending your curfew. When you disregard your school work, it is clear you are not behaving responsibly by not taking your school seriously. So I feel good about my earlier decision not to extend your curfew.

Ozzie: I don’t get it!! I am doing everything else right! I’m clean on my drug tests, I am attending Gateway and not missing, I am better with you at home, I’m not even having a tantrum!!

Daisy: Ozzie, you are right. Sometimes I forget to acknowledge enough all the good things you are doing. Thank you for pointing that out. You have made some important changes. Never the less, taking school seriously is a way of showing me you are taking responsibility. So I am going to give you one last chance to jump back on track and work very hard at your current school, even though you will probably still end up in summer school. The other choice would be to go back to the AIU to finish the year out.

Ozzie: WTF! I can’t go back there! I don’t care if I go to summer school or not!! Summer school fun! No one works anyway!

Daisy: That is my point, Oz – you don’t seem to care, so I would rather you be someplace where I believe you will have more success and more support to finish out this year. If you stay where you are, it will just be more of the same. I am not being a responsible parent by letting things go on as they are. However, if your choice is to stay, I will be comfortable with you continuing there if we have a detention hearing, and return to an ankle monitor and house arrest until the end of school

Ozzie: (with attitude) I don’t care. I’ll wear the ankle bracelet.

Daisy: (pretty sure after he thinks it through, he won’t really want to do it this way) Hmm...well, I guess I didn’t realize how important staying where you are is! I certainly wouldn’t do it this way, but it’s your choice and up to you. Would you repeat what I just said back to me so I know you understand what you agreed to?


What we tried to do
– is help Ozzie make the choice, so he is more responsible for it. We also tried to connect earning the privilege of later curfew, with showing responsibility at school.

Good Point> Have your kid repeat back to you what he/she heard – yhis will help to clear up any miscommunication and misunderstandings during these talks. And finally, try not to LECTURE – get to the point.

And as one who lectures way too much – I am signing off.

Next week in Mount Lebanon!

REMEMBER PSST WORKS! THERE IS NO COST AND NO OBLIGATION! COME AND GIVE US A TRY! ALL YOU HAVE TO LOSE IS YOUR ANXIETY, ANGER AND CHAOS IN YOUR LIFE!

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A Heroin Addict Tells Her Story
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, May 19, 2011


This story will give you some insight into what a heroin addict goes through in one day. It is an article from the Sunday, May 15th Post Gazette. Click here for the link to the Post Gazette article.

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Second Arrest Made in Student's Killing
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, May 19, 2011


One of the mom's who attends PSST found this article in the May 11th Post Gazette. When ones child is using drugs this story hits home.

This is the story I mentioned at the meeting. It was so scary to me as my son was involved in a sketchy incident with his ipod and Xbox. He was threatened that if he told anybody they would come and shoot him and shoot up our house. We filed a police report mainly because of the threats. The police felt that it would be highly unlikely but when it comes to drugs and teens on drugs anything can happen. ~ Wilma ~ Click here for link to the Post Gazette article.
here

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Update on the Prodigal ~ By Joy Y
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, May 19, 2011


The Prodigal is not a "happy camper" today. I think he is starting to realize (duh!) that we are / may be actually serious that to live at home he cannot use drugs (even "just" weed), as a lifestyle.

Here is my take on what I think his thought process has been since coming home in January (after being out of the house for 2 months because of his drug use);
he didn't use drugs at first because he was given random drug screens and he was afraid of being thrown out of the house again. The rules were if the results were positive for any chemicals he would be thrown out immediately; and 3 sequential positive tests for weed / THC and he would need to find someplace else to live until the drug tests were negative, then he would need to re-negotiate the terms for coming home again.

Then, as time went on, he would probably take a toke or two of weed here and there and hope it was below the level to be detected on tests or that the tests would be far enough apart that the levels would go down before we asked for a test. That worked for a while.
he started blazing occasionally and diluting his urine samples (it took me a bit to catch on)
once he got caught diluting his urine samples, he tried to actually stop weed which lasted a bit
THEN he started taking a toke here and there, hoping the TCH was was below the level to be detected and acting civilized. He calculated that as long as he was "nice" we wouldn't do drug tests or if they were positive, we wouldn't make a big deal about it, because we kept telling him how glad we were that he was home (and in his mind the "real" issue that got him thrown out of the house in November 2010 was his bad behaviour, not his drug use).
THEN 10 days ago, he stayed out of the house for several days (first time AWOL since coming home). He didn't call, we had no idea where he was. When he finally did come home, he was given a urine specimen container and told not dilute it. He decided to tell us ahead of time that "THC would pop up" and had positive test #1. [He would have had previously positive tests but had been diluting his urine specimens for a few weeks. We started asking for morning urine specimens because they should be dark yellow in colour!] Note: he only told us that the drug test would be positive only because the contract we made with him to move home says that if he doesn't tell us before we do the test and the results are positive for any drugs, that he would be immediately out of the house.The test being positive was "strike one" of a "three strikes you're out" policy that was written into his contract when he returned home.
he knew he would be given another urine test this past Tuesday (1 week later), and did his best to stay off weed so he would get a negative test, but went AWOL again on Monday night. He didn't call, didn't message and we had no idea if was safe or what.
he came home yesterday, was given a urine specimen container, he decided to tell us (again) that "THC would pop up" (positive test #2).
He was told he needed to see his drug counsellor Wednesday or Thursday of this week AND that he was expected to get a negative drug test in 10 days to remain living at home.
He was told if that test in 10 days is positive (i.e. positive test #3) he would be asked to find someplace to live until he got a negative drug screen and we renegotiated the terms for him to move back home.
I think for the very first time, The Prodigal is starting to realize that we are prepared to (in his mind, "may") carry through with what we have been saying from the beginning i.e. "to live at home you have to (1) remain in drug counselling or be involved in attending a 12 step program AND (2) you need to continue to have and pass random drug screens

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Reflections from Mother's Day by "June"
Posted by:Sally--Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Mother's Day found me - once again - in the car on my way to visit Beaver in treatment. The ride is just long enough that I can argue both sides of a story and come to a conclusion. I have to admit I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. "Why can't I just have a normal Mother's Day? I don't even have to have breakfast in bed. Just being able to be at home, and not visiting in a room with other parents. " Unfortunately hearing all their problems with their child just exacerbates my self pity.


Once off the highway, the traveling is actually quite pleasant. I actually came upon a Norman Rockwell scene--old, dilapidated but well loved farm, 3 horses in the front pasture and a colt snuggling up to it's mother's side, and 2 fat, white ducks with huge orange feet waddling along and taking a dip in the rain filled ditch. Okay, I've pulled my head out of my behind. "Enjoy the day, June" I say to myself.

I arrive at the facility and I'm surprised to see that there are not too many cars in the lot. What's up with this? Isn't it Mother's Day? Aren't you supposed to see the child you bore? After reflecting on the amount of hours labor took, the recovery time, and the 'deflated balloon' look to my stomach might put you off a bit, but hey........wasn't that all part of the deal?

Beaver came out to get me, and he was all smiles. I too was happy. My son, my baby boy!! "Happy Mother's Day" Beaver said. "Thanks Beav" I replied. We went in to sit down, with 3 other families and siblings. Family #1 is fighting with junior telling him there is no way in God's green earth are they taking him home. Family #2 is trying to deal with junior trying to escape a couple days ago. Family #3 is trying desperately to have a conversation, but junior has dug his feet in and is not talking, so there is a lot of awkward silences, throat clearing, and foot shuffling.

Beaver said "I'm sorry you had to come visit me here Mom". I replied "I'm sorry too, Beaver. I did my share of crying on the way up here, but I got to thinking [remember I said I could work through any problem?} and I figured the alternative was worse". "Oh" Beaver said laughing, "I guess it would be worse in jail. LOL" "Well, that wasn't exactly what I was thinking of when I said 'alternative'. I meant it would be so much worse visiting you at your gravesite and putting flowers there. Your drug of choice is a horrific one, and can kill you. If you had not been stopped from your downward spiral, you would probably be dead. So in that regard, I do not think it's too bad visiting you here" said June.

Beaver's reaction to my statement was as if he had been slapped hard across the face. He actually sat back in his chair as if to say "woah". I have never been so blunt to him before, and I suppose my words sound harsh to anyone else. But I hope that maybe, just maybe, he actually heard what I was saying.

When it was time to go Beaver said "I'm sorry again Mom that you had to visit me here". "Next year I want you to bake me a cake, because you'll be home and clean" said June. "And I'm glad to visit you because you are my son and I love you."

My last reflection...........is it just me, or is it the little boy in my head that I miss so much, or is it the one who sits in front of me now. At different treatment facilities--- at Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day, birthdays........... June will have to take another ride to ponder this.

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A Poem Dedicated to All Mothers Who Have Lost or Wayward Children - Discovered by Cheryl, A PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Mother of the Prodigal Son




This poem is dedicated to all the mothers who have lost and wayward children.

Don't loose your faith in God who can bring them back to the fold.



Where is the mother of the prodigal son
On that day so long ago?
What were her thoughts
And what were her fears
As she watched him turn to go?

How many times in the dark of night
Did the tears slide down her face?
Did she get out of bed
And fall on her knees,
Just to pray that her boy was safe?

How were the days when she did not know
Was he alive? Was he warm? Was he well?
Who were his friends?
And where did he sleep?
Was there anyone there she could tell?

But, oh, on that day when she looked down the road
As she had looked since her son went away,
Did love unspeakable flood her soul?
Did she cry?
What did she say?

I think when the father had welcomed their son
And the boy had greeted his brother,
That the servants made a path
For him to enter the door
And the waiting arms of his mother.





Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray,
and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
- Psalm 55:17



I hope and pray this brought comfort to those of you that have children that are away from God. Do you know someone that could use this encouragement? Please pass this along to them. God Bless you.

Love, Chris [AKA Momof9]


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Mom Files Act 53 to Get Her Son the Help He Needs - By Wilma
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, May 15, 2011


I was so close with my son, we did so much together-children's theater, the zoo, adventure guides, kennywood, family get togethers- In my wildest dreams I never thought there would come a day that I would be going to court to try and get my son into inpatient treatment......

Today is Mother's Day and I spent about two minutes of it visiting my son, Bam Bam, at the inpatient facility he is in.
It has been a stressful week but I am so thankful he is where he is.

We started the week last Sunday going to my nephew's first communion. I kept thinking back to Bam Bam's 9 years ago. My cousins daughter and he are the same age, same grade in the same school district. We planned on them making their communions the same day, she worked it out that they walked side by side. They looked so cute, so innoncent, so happy. How simple life was back then. I was so close with my son, we did so much together-children's theater, the zoo, adventure guides, kennywood, family get togethers- In my wildest dreams I never thought there would come a day that I would be going to court to try and get my son into inpatient treatment.

The day we planned on telling him I had filed an ACT 53 petition just happened to be 4-20. I didn't know the significance of this date until that morning when one of our PSST deputies texted and e-mailed exactly what was supposed to happen on this date! How ironic. We had already scheduled our in-home therapist to come to our house and we would tell him together. That day at work he called to tell me he wanted drug tested that day. Of course I wasn't going to- since he was asking I suspected he was probably taking something to mask the test and I don't have a test to test the masking agents! I had tested him a couple weeks before and he was POSITIVE.
When I got home Bam Bam kept saying he didn't want to stay for our appointment with the therapist he was going out with friends but we insisted. He laid on the couch completely disinterested in the meeing. Our therapist laid down some ground rules and then I told him about the petition I had filed and that the judge ordered a hearing. I had everything written down so I would remember to say everything I wanted to say and so that I would hopefully remain calm. And I did. I explained that I was doing this for him,to save his life. He was angry but didn't get out of control. He told me, his dad and our therapist that he was smarter than all of us. He said he would go back to outpatient but that this time he would be serious about it. (He had failed miserably going from IOP, to partial and the next step for him was in-patient-using the whole time.) He told us he wouldn't go to the hearing and we explained to him if he didn't show there would be another hearing and he would be forced to go. His dad told him that he would probably anger the judge but Bam Bam told his dad he was smarter than the judge and the lawyer that would be assigned to him. Through all this he did seem nervous and couldn't believe I took this step. Of course I'm crazy and everyone knows it!

During the next two weeks we worked at keeping things as calm as possible. I kept waiting for uncontrollable anger and outbursts but they didn't happen-just some arguments that didn't escalate to where we had to call the police. We had some curfew issues but he did come home before we had to call for reinforcements. Periodically Bam Bam would tell me he wasn't going to the hearing and I would just reiterate that if he didn't show there would be another one and a sherrif's deputy would be escorting him to the hearing. For two long weeks we all had to live together with the upcoming hearing always there with us. The tension was awful. My husband wasn't completly on board and of course Bam Bam doesn't think he has a problem.
The day of the hearing arrived and Bam Bam told me that he wasn't going. I told him he was and then proceeded to get ready. I thought I'd be calling the therapist but he did get dressed and just before we left he started again but did get in the car and off to court we went. at court our team consisted of my lawyer, our therapist, our agency case manager and the wonderful act 53 coordinator. I briefly met with my lawyer, Bam Bam met with his, we all met with act 53 and then Bam Bam had his d&a assessment. The person who met with him didn't have any prior information about him and hadn't seen the petition so she was completely objective. The recommendation was in-patient. Now Bam Bam had to go for his drug test. By the time all of this was done, we are ready for the judge and then LUNCH TIME. I was devastated. He was becoming more agitated and I didn't know what would happen, if we could keep him there. But he went with me, our agency coordinator and therapist to lunch. When we went in the restaurant he asked me to buy him cigarettes, told me I should give him the money but I refused. He stayed with us and we went back to court. there were two trials ahead of us and we were told it was going to be hours before it was our turn. my lawyer had one more case and then was going back to her office to wait for the judge's tipstaff to call when it was our turn. everyone else is making phone calls since they don't know how long they will be here. It was proposed to Bam Bam to agree to inpatient and the judge would sign the order without everyone having to wait the several hours for a hearing. He refused. At this point he had a conversation with his lawyer and after what was said to him he came up to me and called me a f#$%% liar so I went and sat in another part of the waiting area. This was the first time our agency svc coordinator and therapist had heard Bam Bam speak to me this way. His true colors were coming out and we were at Juvenlie Court! Act 53 coordinator came back and seeing the changed seating came and spoke with me. She then spoke with Bam Bam.
After about a half hour he was more agitated and said he wanted to know what he could do so he didn't have to wait. So now lawyers, kid, act 53 all confer. He agrees to go to inpatient to be assesed and agree to the facility recommendations. (I know he's thinking he will wrangle his way out of it somehow) so we get the court order without having to wait at least 2 or more hours for a hearing. By this time it is about 2:30 p.m. and we have been here since 9:00 a.m. After his outburst I have been waiting for wall punching, more swearing, explosive behavior. I didn't really think he would run because he doesn't know his way around the city but you never know. He asks for a notebook to write down stuff he wants us to bring to the facility. After the order is signed by the judge he waits for transport to the facility and we get to leave finally! It is raining and gloomy. The first thing I do when we get home is report his phone as lost or stolen to turn off the service as he told me at court he gave it to a friend to hold for him in case he was going to rehab. When we take his stuff to the facility I meet the person who brought him from court. I am surprised that it wasn't some gigantic vin diesel look alike escort. I'm told he was very polilte, no problems and told them he would be leaving in two weeks. By thursday his therapist tells me understands he will be there longer than two weeks!!

So today is Mother's Day and we go for a visit. Since there is a 5-day no contact rule and today is day 5 I had confirmed with the therapist that he could have visitors but when we get there we are not on a list. We wait about 20 minutes and it is o.k to see him. We are taken back to a classroom with other parents and kids and Bam Bam comes in. He is surprised as he didn't think he could have visitors. He asks us if we mind but he doesn't want to visit. When his dad goes to shake his hand Bam Bam winces. His knuckles are bruised and he tells us he was punching things yesterday but didn't elaborate. When we are leaving they ask us to wait he wants to see us. He came out and wished me a happy mother's day, gave me a hug and of course asked us to bring other clothes when we return on Tuesday.
I am not completely relaxed (yet) but I am happy knowing where he is and that he is safe. I have been told to enjoy this time that he is away so I have been doing some "normal" things. I don't know what is next but for now I know that I don't have to worry 24/7 about where is, with whom and what he is doing.

Wilma

Act 53 Information for Allegheny County

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Pierre Has A Relapse - By Brigitte, a PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Monday, May 09, 2011

A DARK WEEK - By Brigitte, a PSST Mom

Thanks to all of you at today's PSST meeting for your encouragement, support and hugs. Francois and I were feeling pretty low by the time we got to the meeting. We had to leave before elaborating, so here's the "short form" of what has transpired these past two weeks:

As most of you know, Pierre (16, weed) spent two weeks at the YYAP program and we reported he was doing well the first three weeks at home. We were "cautiously optimistic".

Week 4 rolled around and it was as if a switch had flipped--behavior and attitude had started to change. When I found out Pierre had skipped a few classes, I gave him a drug test, which he failed. He told us he found some weed in his room and that it was only one time. (Um, sure)

After 2 days of searching, we found 2 new bongs in the yard and 4 baggies inside his couch. His PO Sean gave him house detention for 2 weeks and his last opportunity to turn it around.


DAY 3 OF HOUSE DETENTION: I awoke at midnight, spider senses tingling, and walked into Pierre's room. I thought I smelled weed. Next morning, a search of his room uncovered….electrical tape. Electrical tape = trouble. Pierre has become the Master Bong Maker and I'm entirely sure he could put a Third World assembly line to shame. After an exhaustive search, we found a bag of weed, taped with electrical tape, to the inside, top of his dresser. A call to his PO followed.

Pierre was picked up at school, handcuffed and taken to Shuman where he was held for 5 days. This was the scariest time for us. When we saw him, his knuckles were swollen and bleeding, he had been crying, and he told us repeatedly he was going to kill himself. An alert to the staff and several texts to Pierre's PO assured us he would be safe.

While at Shuman, Pierre told us that his relapse was due in part to his younger brother Jaques drug use in front of him. We confronted Jaques who denied involvement, and gave him a drug test (it was positive, imagine that!). We called three of his close friends' parents and they screened their kids who also tested positive. We held a meeting with all the kids and parents, set up consequences and made a plan for going forward.

As an added caveat, Pierre's youngest brother Louis, who was adopted and has a myriad of emotional issues, had a horrendous week emotionally. It ended with him being bullied and punched in the mouth during an encounter at school. We have stepped up our search for an alternative school for him.

Pierre is now at the Gateway YES program for the next 3 months. His counselors reported to me that he is respectful and following the program. Our first two visits have revealed the other side of him--angry and defiant. We left today's visit early after he became verbally abusive. It's early in the program and we are hopeful that we will see meaningful change as the program progresses.

THE SILVER LINING:
Although we are tempted to wallow in how bad things seem, we are sincerely thankful that all three of our boys are alive and safe. That means there is hope for recovery.

Because of the support we received from Pierre's PO Sean and his therapist Danielle, we were able to remain calm and focused throughout most of this ordeal. Because of the ongoing support we receive from PSST, we feel we can continue providing Pierre and his brothers with the help they need.

ADVICE?
Does anyone have advice/experience on alternative schools for Pierre to finish out his senior year? We've heard of Community in Schools, cyber school, 4th Quarter (?), Presley Ridge. Pierre has also mentioned getting his GED, which we aren't the least bit excited about. He doesn’t want, and we don't want him, to go back to Bethel Park High School. Most of his contacts and friends there are users.

We are looking at ACLD Tillotson for Pierre's youngest brother. Does anyone have any experience with the school?

What is your opinion on underage addicts smoking cigs? Although we are both opposed to smoking, Francois and I initially allowed Pierre to smoke after leaving YYAP. Our thought was that it was asking too much to quit tobacco and weed at the same time. However, Pierre relapsed with weed after continuing to smoke cigs. We are thinking about banning tobacco altogether.

Finally, Happy Mother's Day to all you fabulous PSST mothers. We marvel at your strength, humor, and tenacity; you are the ultimate "Tiger Moms".

Brigitte and Francois

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POWER TO THE MOMS! (Happy Mother's Day!)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 08, 2011


A Happy Mother's Day to:

To mothers everywhere who fight the good fight.
To mothers all over who live with the fright
that their teenagers might die from this deadly disease...

To mothers who try so hard to fix things up so that their
teens won't suffer when they screw things up.
To mothers who cry at night for all that they have lost
To mothers who cry for what they fear they will loose.

To mothers who know that every time they say goodbye
It could be the last time they look in their children's eyes.
To mothers who take matters into their own hands
who decide to do whatever it takes.

To mothers who come to awkward meetings with strangers
if they think they might learn some important new thing
To mothers who think that now armed with this new knowledge
they can make a difference.

To mothers who strive to use the Courts, the police, the school,
the parents of their teen's friends, ACT 53,outpatient, church pastors, family therapists, support group meetings, (who turn over every last stone.)

To mothers who refuse to give up on their drug-driven teens
but who refuse to enable one more month, week, day or even minute
because they know how horrible each enabling act can be.

To mothers who rise above the fear- who stand up to their teenager
even though they are scared - scared of death but scared of more-
scared that teenagers will love them no more.

To mothers who agree to be the bad guy
and stand up to their teenagers every time they get high.
To mothers who have from time to time seen their teen get it together and experience the sober-mind.

To mothers who have seen some great turn-around
and this brings about the joy you have sought.
And yet even so- this is to you mothers who still live in fear
that even when things are going good that the disease is still there.

Happy Mothers Day as you strive to make things right,
because you fight this fight at great sacrifice.
There are no greater heroes, be they large or small,
who can hold a candle to you all.

Wishing you all the happiness and success with your teen even beyond your hopes.

Originally Posted by:Lloyd Woodward on Sunday, May 09, 2010

NOTE: we had 17 parents yesterday meet at Eastern Probation Offices. Thanks to Kathie T for facilitating the second part of the meeting. And thanks to Max for running it.

In the first part of the meeting we did a role-play that really hit home how difficult it is to STOP the ARGUING. Jessica was good sport and thanks to Jessica for providing the scenario. It was a great one to learn from.

It was difficult to know what issues to address first. We decided that the first thing to address was to put a boundary down, where Herman was not allowed to have veto power over the words that his parents decided to use, especially in regards to the R word and the D word and the A word (Recovery, Disease, Addiction). Parents can have no real power as long a teen is powerful enough to choose his parents words. Of course we don't want to call our teens names, belittle them, yell, or otherwise abuse them, but other than that we can use the vocabulary that is available to other citizens. GO PARENT EMPOWERMENT. POWER TO THE MOMS!

We are no longer allowing our teens to play the "That's disrespectful to me" card whenever they want to control something. For example, is it disrespectful to search a child's room? Maybe. But do we do it? Sure. Is it disrespectful to call their friend's peer's parents and let them know what's doing on? Sure. But we do it. Is it disrespectful to call in a drug dog from the police and have them search your child's room? Sure. But when we can, or when we think we need to do it we do it. Is it hurtful?

Well, I think anytime parents encroach on the enormous amount of power that their drug using teenager has acquired it can be hurtful. "Hey, mom, it really hurts me that you won't let me have an unsupervised party here at the house where my friends all feel safe enough to drink and do drugs!" Let's fry this red herring in a pan and eat it up cause it's time parents saw through this respect and hurt my feelings thing. We need to say, "nevertheless" and "regardless" get over it!!

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The Art of agreeing with someone.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, May 06, 2011


You know that you are working with someone who is oppositional when you are trying to agree with a part of what they are saying and it's not going well. I'm not just talking about teenagers. Teenagers learn it from us. People seemed programed to argue. More and more I believe that we talk to much anyway. Sometimes no response at all is called for- just good eye contact- good body-language is the key to good listening. Then sprinkle in some words here and there. Sort of like that poster from World War II where it says, Have a Cup of Shut The (heck) Up.

When parents begin using this on teenagers there are a couple of things to watch out for. First, the "but." It's natural when you start to do this to lay down the horrible "but," after-which you make you're point, and the agreement is washed away. Erased. Didn't even happen. It usually feels like a manipulative ploy by the teenager and it tends to make him angrier or more annoyed. Just make the agreement and pause. See what happens. Wait till he asks you if that means blah blah blah. Then you can say, "well, no the price of tea in china hasn't changed, but I see that it's not your cup of tea is it?"

The second thing to watch out for is that your teenager will catch on easily that you are doing this and will protest. When that happens, you've arrived! This means that he is acknowledging that you are changing, and since that change gives you more power, he doesn't like it. Now you can have a cup of Way To Go Joe!

This happened to me recently with a 16 year-old we will call Johnny. I was meeting with Johnny and his mother.

Johnny: I can't stand it when she agrees with me. I hate that. I just want her to talk normal. That's that psychology stuff she learns in group. I can't stand that.

Lloyd: You can tell she's doing it and that's pretty annoying.

Johnny: Yes, and you're doing it now- stop it- I hate that.

Lloyd: It does suck. I mean, it's so easy to spot it- you can see right through us when we do it- it's like we think we're being slick or something and really, we're not slick at all!

Johnny: Yeah, and oh [Glares] you're still doing it aren't you?

Lloyd: Yes.

Johnny: [- get's up and walks away; however, he returned after five minutes and he seemed more accepting that we will choose our own words.]

You see- this is listening- but not allowing the teenager to choose what words come out of our mouth. That's important. In many homes, parents have surrendered the power to decide what words will come out of their own mouth. It's more like they have given the teen veto power over their phrase making. The rationale is that if I say it this way or that way, it will upset him- so I'll say it a different way. So, the parent completely takes on the responsibility that if the teen is angry it is their fault that they said things the wrong way. Once this is set as the norm- the teenager has maneuvered into a very powerful position. Imagine dealing with someone at work, or even someone you know socially, who has veto power over the way you say things!

We cannot give up the power to decide what words come out of our own mouth. Yes, if we are name-calling, yelling, belittling, or verbally abusive then we need to change that. On the other hand, we are free to ask our son about his "recovery?" Especially, if he is in a halfway house anyhow that should be acceptable; however, he replies, "that really hurts my feelings that you would say that I'm in recovery!" Oh well, have a cup of that's Just Too Bad. We decide what words to use as long as it's not abusive because otherwise we have given up too much power and we can't govern our homes without power.

More on this who decides how I say thing in the next post.

For more on this oppositional stuff click the link to the right (there's another role-play too :-): Are We As Oppositional As Our Teenagers



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