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

Summary 8-28-04 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, August 28, 2004

Ten parents (representing eight families) joined us for coffee, cream cheese and bagels on August 28th. Most of the families either have a teen in inpatient drug treatment or on Intensive Aftercare Probation.

We were disappointed that our invited speaker did not show; however new role-plays soon took center stage. The theme of our August 28th meeting was FAMILY SECRETS.

First, Parent1 volunteered to be a youth who is trying to get released from Abraxas. Parent2 volunteered to be her visiting father. Parent1 attempted to convince her father not to tell her counselor that on her recent home visit she contacted “Bob.” Parent1 has been told that contact with old peers and especially with this old boyfriend is forbidden. I (Lloyd) played the role of the Abraxas staff that came in halfway though the visit to find out how things were going. In spite of Parent1’s excellent manipulations and in spite of the fact that it very well could mean a drop in her level at Abraxas, Parent2 refused to keep her secret. Both Parent2 and Parent1 were very authentic.

Parent3 helped provide the next role-play. In this scenario, her son had been released from rehab several weeks ago. He appeared to be doing great especially in attending I.O.P. and attending meetings. She played herself and I played her son. My task was to convince my mom that she shouldn’t tell my PO that I had stayed out past my curfew. The 12-step meeting that I attended was over at 9:00 p.m., yet I had not returned home until midnight. Parent3 had been unable to reach me the whole time despite that she had given me her cell phone. I tried every trick I could think of to manipulate Parent3. I started with softer explanations, e.g., “I left the cell phone at home; I was with my sponsor; and we went to Eat & Park after the meeting.” Eventually when none of that worked, I got mad and said, “You’ll be sorry if you tell my PO about this.” Kathy was terrific and these are some of thing which she did extremely well.

1. She insisted on talking to my sponsor to verify my story.
2. She refused to keep the curfew violation secret from the PO.
3. She refused to escalate into yelling. I got loud but she kept her voice low.

We also did a min-version of a third role-play. Parent4 and Parent5 really hope that their daughter will talk to them about stuff like she did before she got involved in drugs. In this scenario her daughter had just been released from rehab and had bumped into an old using friend. She had lunch with her at the mall and “caught up on things.” But when telling the PO about it came up, their daughter (me) told both Shirley and Wayne that if they insisted on sharing that with my PO, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to share anything with them ever again. Since Parent5 and Parent6 want very much for their daughter to be able to talk to them about things, it presented a tough challenge. Time prevented us from playing it out.

The group came up with good discussion about keeping secrets. Most parents admitted that they have done it at some point. Some talked about how they do not report to the inpatient staff if their son or daughter has a cigarette while they are on home pass. Parents sometimes smoke and that may be part of the conflict.

If you have been keeping secrets for your teenager it is OK to admit to your teen that you have made a mistake. Admitting mistakes is also modeling good responsible behavior for your teenager.

Young people tend not to really listen to what parents say. They listen to what parents do. Therefore, in this fight to save our teenager’s lives, we cannot afford to miss opportunities to “demonstrate” our messages.

1 The secrets that you keep at first may seem trifling, but once you start keeping secrets, it makes recovery from drug addiction more difficult.

2 It is also important to sanction or otherwise hold your teen responsible for his or her actions. Telling the PO or therapist is very important, but also using a sanction or other assigned learning experience is another part of sending your teen a message. Note that If you ground you teenager, they can still attend 12-step meetings if parents provide the transportation to and from meetings. More ideas to come on this at our next PSST.

3 It’s a good idea to meet your son or daughter’s sponsor. However, as Ann pointed out, sometimes teenagers pick sponsors who are shaky in their own recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask the sponsor things like, “How much clean time do you have? How many meetings do you still go to in a week? Do you stay in touch with your sponsor? Do you ask your sponsees to write their step-work out or do you just talk to them about it? You don’t pick your kid’s sponsor, but just showing an interest in the person and asking questions is always a good idea.

With the group’s permission, we might start filming certain role-plays or group discussions to use in training others to run Parent Survival Skills Training Groups. Any films taken will be used for training purposes only.

If you have never been to a PSST meeting, we have missed you. Look for the enclosed insert which includes information and directions.


Lloyd Woodward
Aftercare Specialist Probation Officer
(412) 247-6365

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Summary 0f 8-14-04 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, August 14, 2004

Ten parents (representing eight families) joined us for coffee, cream cheese and bagels on August 14th. Most of the families still have a teenager away in treatment. One has a youth who was just apprehended on a Warrant yesterday. Three have youth who are successfully completing probation after ten days, after several weeks, and after four or five months.

Parent1, a veteran member of our group, provided one of the role-plays. Parent2, a first-time member provided another one. Both role-plays were similar. In one, the youth was dragging his feet on finding a job. In the other, he was dragging his feet on his GED. The outcome of both ended up with the parent either suggesting or insisting that they go to the library together or go look for a job together.


Lloyd Woodward
Aftercare Specialist Probation Officer
(412) 247-6365

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