Quote of the Week

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

July-9-2005 Meeting Summary
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, July 09, 2005

Four parents representing four families attended our last meeting on July 9. Probably, our attendance has dropped a bit due to summer vacations. However, it gave us a chance to have a more intimate group. As usual, we took a break after going around the group for introductions and updates. Then, we arranged the following three role-plays based on a real life scenarios presented by parents.

A 16-year-old boy on probation in the D&A unit has refused to give up his two closest friends who use drugs and alcohol. He has apparently stopped using marijuana but he has begun to drink alcohol more often. He is concerned about passing his urine screens. His two friends are very old and dear.

A 16-year-old boy whose case was just closed with Probation has been drinking and smoking weed and hanging out with peers who his mother deems to be a bad influence. When he stays overnight at his friend’s homes, he has trouble making it to work the next day. His mother is happy that Juvenile Court closed her son’s case. She admits that she did not fill the PO in on the extent of the problems; now she struggles with having the parental control necessary to keep her son free from further drug and alcohol abuse.

A 16-year-old boy is pending a Petition Hearing in Juvenile Court. He has been outside of parental control recently. He also has several close friends from which he refuses to disassociate. At least one of these friends is known to use drugs. At one point the mother told her son that if he was not home by curfew time that she would lock the doors. After doing this once or twice he has begun to come home by curfew time.

All three of these role-plays were similar in that they all involved close friends that the teenager refused to give up. Lloyd played the parent in all three role-plays and each parent who provided the role-play played their own sons. Each role-play was lively and authentic. In the last role-play the teenager quickly got up and said that he wasn’t talking any more and he stormed out of the room. For this role-play, we attempted it a second time and we were able to structure things so that the teenager did not storm out. More on that below.

Point 1: If your teenagers are going to associate with peers that use drugs, sooner or later he will use drugs too. While it can take a lot of work and backbone for a parent to address this problem, a parent can address this problem. Failure to do so is certain defeat. Therefore, the parent has nothing to loose by addressing this peer group problem.

Point 2: Let us examine why Parents often do not address this peer group problem: There are certain myths, or exaggerations involved in negative peer group problems:

A. “We can’t pick his friends for him.” True. However, parents can pick his not friends for him. In fact, when drugs and alcohol are involved parents must pick their Not Friends because this is a life-and-death situation.

B. “If he doesn’t hang out with those guys, he won’t have any friends at all.” The presumption is that he must have friends or he will suffer in some way. No, he does not have to have friends. He can temporarily go without friends. That is his choice as he can decide to choose other friends.

C. “I can’t be with him all the time, so I can’t stop him from having the friends he wants. He’ll go ahead and see him them anyway.” This one is true. However, we can still make it unacceptable that he chooses friends who use drugs and alcohol. He can sneak around, but eventually the parent will find out and at then should hold him accountable. It will take the fun out of hanging out with them and it shows the teenager that the parent DOES NOT APPROVE of the choice of friends. This disapproval is important even in cases where complete 100 percent enforcement is not possible.

D. “He is going to pick his friends no matter what I say or do.” Probably true in many cases. However, it is simply not always true. Parents usually have much more power if correctly used than they realize. We simply have to care enough about the problem to be prepared to do what is necessary to hold them accountable. This is a problem that is large enough and devastating enough to our teenager that taking a real stand is worth it. There is so much that can be done. Each teen is different and the accountability that parents choose should be appropriate for their particular teenager. Let us look at some of the possibilities.

a. Tell the Probation Officer or Intake Officer that your child is out of control. Tell your child that you hope that you can work this out with them but you are prepared to involve the Probation or Intake Officer.

b. Ground them until you believe that you can trust them not have this association with negative peers.

c. If you know when they are over a negative peer’s house and if you know where they live, go there. Collect your teenager and let his peer’s family know that it is not permissible for your teenager to be at their house. Tell them that your son has a drug problem. If he refuses to come home, take him home anyway- call the police if necessary.

d. Take all privileges away until your teen is ready to follow these new rules. TV, radio, phone, computer, allowance, and everything else that you can think of that might motivate him. Shopping can be put on hold. Even buying snacks that your teenager likes can halted until you feel that you are getting control of the situation. You can even take the door off the bedroom, remove bedroom furniture and remove other things that they like until you think you are getting the cooperation that you need. If your child has a Probation Officer or Intake Officer, insist that they become involved with this problem. Remember, if your teen continues to hang out with old friends that use drugs, he will too.

E. Warn your teenager first that “there is a new sheriff in town;” you want them to have this new information so that they can choose their path wisely. It is hard to argue with someone who lets you know as FYI that things are changing. “I wanted you to know this because it’s only fair that I warn you that things are changing around here.”

F. Only make this rule regarding unacceptable peers if you are willing to enforce it. You at least have to enforce it when it comes to your attention that your teen is still associating with old peers. If you are not willing to enforce this rule in a CONSISTANT manor, then do not make it a rule because you are wasting your time. We enforce this rule 100 % of the time (that it comes to our attention.)

G. When you teenagers who are likely to walk out of the meeting angry keep this in mind:

a. Let them know before you start that you think they might get angry and walk out. This becomes a “paradoxical task,” and we all are a bit to oppositional defiant to allow people to predict what we will do. We want them to be wrong.

b. Let them also know that if they walk out such and such will happen anyway, e.g., you will schedule the next “talk” with Probation Officer Smith or Intake Officer Jones.

Remember, when it comes to peers who abuse alcohol and drugs, you have nothing to loose by making it a big battle. If you do not, you have lost the war anyway.

Special thanks to all three parents for providing and participating in these role-plays. For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on July 23.

If you have any questions, please call 412-580-4051 or 412-247-6359 for more information.


Lloyd Woodward, Probation Officer
Drug and Alcohol Unit

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Summary of 6-11-2005 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, June 11, 2005

Nine parents representing seven families attended our last meeting on June 11th. As usual, we took a break after going around the group for introductions and updates. Then, we arranged the following role-play based on a real life scenario:

An 18 year-old boy has been in a halfway house for several months after completing the Gateway YES inpatient program. Gateway YES represents the fourth inpatient drug and alcohol inpatient program that this young man has attempted. In fact, he spent 10 months at Abraxas I and still he was not able to successfully recover from his drug problem.

The teenager just met his new Probation Officer a few months ago. He told his PO that he voluntarily came to the halfway house. He lead his PO to believe that he did not want to go home upon his discharge from Gateway YES because he knew he could not stay clean. However, his mother told the PO that when Gateway YES was considering his release the parents refused to take him home because they could tell that he had not really changed.

The young man was very upset but finally agreed to enter the halfway house. The PO told the teenager that he knew that the teenager did not really enter the halfway house “because he wanted to be there” Since then, the teen has told his mother not to speak to the PO. He also told Liz not to go to those “meetings.”

In the role-play, the young man is attempting to convince the mother that if she would tell his therapist that she thinks that he is ready to come home that it will happen. In spite of much advice at the halfway house to the contrary, he wants to return to the local high school and finish 12th grade even though he can pass his GED.

Parent1 provided the scenario and she played herself in the role-play. She chose Parent2 as her coach. Lloyd played the 18 year old and Valerie played Lloyd’s coach. Lloyd came on pretty strong with Parent1, accusing her of screwing his life over and telling her that it was her fault that he was not at home. He used some colorful language and an aggressive tone. Parent1 was tough and did not give an inch. She showed real strength of character. It is not surprising to think that the biggest reason her son is in a halfway house now is that she and her husband were strong enough not to let him come back home.

Point 1: Pay attention to Affect: The turning point in the role-play was when Parent1 told Lloyd that if he did not change his tone that the interview was over. Lloyd believed her. He suddenly managed to show some respect because if he did not he believed that Parent1 would end the interview. This was excellent. Often parents continue to talk about content, when they should be talking about affect. If the teenager is not respectful, the rule of thumb is to not talk about any of the issues until the teenager becomes respectful. If the teenager becomes respectful, continue the interview as we did in our role-play. On the other hand, if the teen refuses to show respect, point out that he is yelling, name calling, swearing, or otherwise disrespectful. Then, end the interview after a few warnings. Failure to pay attention to affect ends in loss of parental power. Remember, others treat us the way we allow ourselves to be treated. This applies to parenting and other relationships.

Point 2: Take the wind out of your teenager’s sail: Lloyd asked Parent1 several times to admit that he was doing well in the halfway house. When she seemed unwilling to do so, Lloyd was able to go into a tirade about how she has always only seen the bad things that he does, never the good. Think of an angry adolescent Rodney Dangerfield. It is usually a good idea to concede that the youth has done some good things. To admit that does not mean that you have to change your bottom line. You can still say “No.” You can say, “I am very proud of you for doing so well up here, but you know what? I don’t think that it is a good idea to come home.” You can still hold your teen accountable even though you might agree with him on some things. Sure, the teenager is bringing this up as a way to distract the parent from the main argument. However, once the parent admits that the youth has done a couple things right, it takes the wind out of his sail. The teenager cannot keep harping it about it if you have already agreed with him.

Point #3: Watch out for divide and conquer techniques: As we often say in these letters, do not allow your teenager to do that “divide and conquer” thing. If he can get his parent to agree not to tell the PO about stuff, then the teenager has strengthened his position. Meanwhile, the parent has weakened his position. How is the teenager supposed to see the parent as tough and competent if the parent allows the teen to make decisions about who they talk to and whether or not they attend certain meetings? Think about it. There is a good reason your teenager hopes you will not attend the Parent Survival Skills Training.

For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on June 25th.

If you have any questions, please call 412-580-4051 or 412-247-6359 for more information.


Lloyd Woodward, Probation Officer
Drug and Alcohol Unit

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June-25-2005 Summary
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, June 05, 2005

Four parents representing four families attended our last meeting on June 25. Probably, our attendance has dropped a bit due to summer vacations. However, it gave us a chance to have a more intimate group. As usual, we took a break after going around the group for introductions and updates. Then, we arranged the following role-play based on a real life scenario:

A 16 year-old boy was released from Ridgeview Drug Rehab about five weeks ago. A week after his release he got into trouble by slipping out the window of his home at midnight, a violation of probation for which he served a weekend at the Academy Sanction Unit. Since then, he has done very well. If fact, he has apparently made strong ties in the recovering community and enjoys the 12-step Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He has also completed Intensive Outpatient Counseling at Gateway.

This 16 year old has been looking for a summer job. His mother takes him around for applications. He has taken to wearing his clean key tags on his shoelaces of his sneakers. His mother confronted him about wearing his key tags so openly when job searching. She has told him that the prospective employer might not hire him if he sees and understands that the key tags indicate that he has a drug problem. The teen’s response is something similar to “I don’t want to work for here anyway if they feel that way about me.”

In the role-play, Parent1 who provided this scenario played her son and Lloyd played the mother. It was very authentic and some interesting points came out of it.

Point 1: Use positive reinforcement and “I feel” statements: His bonding with other recovering addicts might be the only thing that will keep him away from further drug abuse. It is a good idea for the parent to tell their son how proud they are of what he has done in recovery. “I know you are proud of yourself for building a strong recovery program. I’m so proud of you. I’m just afraid that you won’t be considered for this job if you wear those on your shoes.”

Point 2: Recognize that open advertisement of 12-step involvement is sometimes one of the best things that can happen: It may be the strongest way for an addict to save his own life. In addition, his open enthusiasm is often temporary and as he matures, he usually learns to use discretion and begins to value his anonymity.

Point #3: Be clear to your teen and to yourself about what you recommend and about what you expect. Only a handful of things are worth “going to the mattress.” As most of you probably know, this phrase originated as a mafia term meaning that the “Family” would retire to safe houses with mattresses put up against the windows and doors for protection. As parents we often have to “go to the mattress” on issues like curfew, peer groups, school attendance, drug use, etc. Other issues are “not going to the mattress issues.” Key tag wearing, small displays of attitude, haircut styles, spending money unwisely (as long as it is not on drugs or other illicit behaviors), choice of employment, girl or boyfriend choices (as long as the choice does not use drugs), choice of classes, choice of sponsor (within limits), choice of home group, etc. are examples. On the “go to the mattress issues,” we must hold our teens accountable. We must do whatever is necessary to limit these undesirable activities. However, on the “not go to the mattress issues” we only advise. As to advice, we should remember some important things.

1. Advice is cheap. We all give it and most of us have trouble taking it.

2. Teenagers have a developmental need to establish themselves as individuals apart from their parents. Drug abuse is only one of many ways that teens attempt this. Drug abuse is not acceptable. Therefore, the teen has to find some other ways of establishing an identity. Sometimes parents are not comfortable with the ways teens choose to identify themselves. As parents, we realize that this is all part of growing up.

3. Likewise, making bad decisions is part of learning. If we are allowed to learn from the bad decisions that we make we develop better coping skills.

4. Having confidence in our teen’s decision-making ability is our job as parents. Even if we think they will screw it up, we can have confidence that that is what they need to do in order to learn whatever it is that they need to learn at this stage in their life. “Well, I’m sure you’ll do fine at solving that problem, honey. If there’s anything I can do to help you with it- let me know.”

5. There is nothing wrong with advising our teen that when it comes to getting a job- discretion may be the better part of valor. Like all “not to the mattress issues,” our teenager may not be open to the advice. That is OK too. All parental advice is stored in a special place in the teenagers mind and is withdrawn throughout the teenager’s life when he most needs it.

For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on July 9.

If you have any questions, please call 412-580-4051 or 412-247-6359 for more information.


Lloyd Woodward, Probation Officer
Drug and Alcohol Unit

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Summary of 5-28-2005 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nine parents representing six families attended our last meeting on May 28th. It was a good turnout for a holiday weekend.

As usual, we took a break after going around the group for brief introductions and updates. Then, for the first time we a did a special type of role-play that we call The Three Minute Drill. We passed out the following real life scenario:

The 18 year-old boy has been home on Probation for about three weeks after successfully completing Ridgeview inpatient. He was released on Home Detention because on his last home-pass his parents let him leave the home unsupervised for a few hours and he failed to return home by the specified time.

He has only been off Home Detention for about a day when the mother allowed him to take the family car to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The mother got off work early and went to parking lot of the church where the meeting was being held. She did not see the car in the parking lot. She sat there long enough to convince herself that he did not attend the meeting.

After the meeting the son did not come straight home. He contacted his mother by phone and she told him to come straight home. He did not come straight home. He was about a half-hour late on his curfew. In addition, the son rarely calls his sponsor. He states to her that he gets nothing out of the 12-step meetings and will not go to them at all once he is off probation. In summary, he is violating his Probation Contract in several ways and he is not invested in his recovery program.

The young man does not want to be held accountable for his behavior. Even more importantly, he does not want the mother to report what happened to the Probation Officer. Also, he does not admit that he was not at the meeting; he says it got out early.

The Three Minute Drill is one continous role-play where different parents take the hot seat, changing every three minutes. Rather than start each segment of the role-play over, when a new parent takes the hot seat the role-play continues where the last segment left off. In this role-play, Lloyd played the 18 year-old and Valerie kept track of the three mintues intervals.

Point #1: As the 18 year-old son, one of Lloyd’s primary goals was to convince the parent not to tell the PO about these problems. In an effort to drive a wedge between the parent and the Probation Officer, Lloyd acused each parent of “wanting my PO to take me to Shuman.” Lloyd was not successful in getting any of these tough parents to agree not to tell the Probation Officer. Parent1 especially took a very strong approach. Instead of denying the accusation, she agreed with her son in what turned out to be a stunning reply.

Son: If you tell my PO, he’ll take me Shuman. MOM, you know what he’s like. That’s what you want isn’t it? That’s what you’ve wanted all along, to get me taken out of here.

Parent1: “Yes. If that’s what it takes to get you to straighten up, then that’s what I want.”

Point #2: All these tough parents had good body language and eye contact when talking to Lloyd. However, Parent1 chose to move her chair in closer to Lloyd so that when she confronted him it appeared more powerful in spite of the fact that she never raised her voice even one notch.

Point #3: Lloyd wanted to get a lot of credit from his parent that he had at least called home. As if the “call” made eveything all right. “You know I called you. Would I ever have called you before I went to Ridgeview?” The parents in the group did great at not letting that one call change the fact that during the call the Lloyd was told to come home immediately and he failed to do that. Then, he didn’t even make it home by curfew. Remember, when teenagers cry out for credit it is usually a good idea to give it to them. Tell them that you are glad they called. Let them know that you would have been even more worried about them if they didn’t call. However, it does not change the fact that you will hold them accountable.

Point #4: Do not confuse telling the PO with accountability. Yes, telling the PO is a type of accountability and parents should not agree to keep secrets from the Probation Officer (none of the parents in our group fell for that one.) However, the parent does not have to wait for the PO to hold the teenager accountable. Take the car keys immediately. Ground this teenager until further notice. If possible, start to drive him to his 12-step meetings and pick him up. Do this until you can start to feel like you can trust him again. As everyone in the group realized, this is not a situation where the PO would take a teenager to Shuman, and parents can often be more effective than the PO in holding their the tenager accountable.

Special thanks to the brave parents for participating in this drill and for granting permission to allow us to video tape the role-play for training purposes only. For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on June 11th.

If you have any questions, please call 412-580-4051 or 412-247-6359 for more information.


Lloyd Woodward, Probation Officer
Drug and Alcohol Unit

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Summary of 5-14-05 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, May 14, 2005

Thirteen parents representing ten families attended our last meeting on May 14. It was great to see some new members in the group.

As usual, we took a break after going around the group for brief introductions and updates. Then we came back to group with the following role-play.

The teenage son (played by Parent1) faces off with his mother (played by Parent2.) The son has been placed at Abraxas I and he blames the mother for everything. He says that if she had not said what she said in Court then he would not be placed at Abraxas I. If she had let him come home after Ridgeview, the Court would not have committed him to Abraxas I. The teenage son believes that it is the mother’s entire fault.

It was a good effort by Parent2 and Parent1. It was the first time we had a husband and wife face off against each other. Parent2 was firm and did not allow Parent1 to manipulate her with GUILT. Of course, that was Parent1’s primary weapon. Parent1 kept harping on this refrain, “Why can’t you just admit that you put me here?” Parent2 pointed out that Ridgeview staff and Lyn Redick also recommended Abraxas I. Parent1 responded, “If you didn’t tell Lyn Redick and Ridgeview what you told them they wouldn’t have wanted me to go to Abraxas. It’s all your fault. This place isn’t going to help me.”

Point #1: Often the dialogue becomes dead-ended:

Mother: “You put yourself here.”
Son: “No, you put me here.”
Mother: “When are you going to wake up and take responsibility for your own behavior?”
Son: “Why can’t you admit that it’s your fault I’m up here? You know if you hadn’t said all that bad stuff about me in Court I wouldn’t be here! You just don’t want me at home.”
Mother: “You put yourself at Abraxas by failing at Ridgeview.”
Son: “The people up here even say I don’t belong here- I should be home! But you just don’t want me!”

Note the difference when a parent models the “taking responsibility” approach.

Mother: “You blame me, you think it’s my fault that you are at Abraxas.”
Son: “Yeah. You put me here- you know you did.”
Mother: “Yes, I had a lot to do with it.”
Son: “A lot to do with it my as&. If it wasn’t for the stuff you said in Court, I’d be home now.”
Mother: “Yes. You are right. I did everything I could do to see that you get the help you need. And I’d do it all again for you.”
Son: “Help? This place can’t help me. I don’t belong up here. Even the people up here say that I don’t need this place. I should be home.”
Mother: “I think you should be home too.”
Son: “Then why did you put me up here?”
Mother: “I’m afraid you’ll kill yourself with drugs- that’s why.”

Point #2: Now that the mother has taken responsibility for her role, it opens the door for the son to begin to take responsibility for his actions. If the above conversation were to continue…

Mother: “You know, at some point I’m hoping that you can learn to take responsibility for your behavior.”
Son: “What are you talking about? I always take responsibility for my shi%.”
Mother : “Oh, I think you are busy blaming everyone else.”
Son: “Why, because I blame you for putting me in this Hell Hole?”
Mother: “Sure- that’s part of it. You always see yourself as a victim.”
Son: “Well, you know you put me here and I should be home.”
Mother: “There- you just did it again. You are a victim. And you can always find someone to blame for the stuff that happens to you. You choose to do drugs. You choose to break the law. In addition, you refused to accept any responsibility for your behavior when you were at Ridgeview. That is why Lynn Redick, Ridgeview, the Intake Officer and I all worked to put you here.”
Son: “That sucks. You just don’t want me.”
Mother: “I want you- but I want you when you can learn to take responsibility for your own actions and when you can quit blaming others for your problems. And as far as I’m concerned you need to learn to do that before you come home- no matter how long that takes.”

Clearly, in this last example we can see that guilt will not work to move this mother. Nor can the conversation be dead-ended because she will admit that she worked to give him more treatment. Now the mother is going to label his victim stance behavior in real time as it happens. Therefore, the son discovers that his manipulations will fail because not only does mother not work to get him out sooner (because she feels guilty) but also she wants him to stay until he can take ownership for his problems. No matter how long that takes. This becomes a clear message to this young man that he had better get to work at Abraxas and not waste anytime.

For anyone that was not able to attend the meeting this week, we missed you. We are looking forward to seeing everyone again at the meeting on May 28.

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Summary of 2-14-05 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, February 14, 2005

Eleven parents representing eight families attended our last meeting on February 19. We were happy to see one first-timer and always glad to see so many regulars keep coming back.

We spent the first hour catching up with each family’s situation. After that, we launched into the following role-play.

An 18-year old is no longer on probation. The contract that the parent set up with the young man prior to his Probation ending calls for random drug testing, or at least called for drug testing by the parents if they have reason to believe that the teenager might be using. When the two actors playing the parents asked “S.” for a drug test he balked.

The parents persisted, even when “S.” wanted to change the subject into one of “trust,” rather than one of compliance and responsibility. “S.” wanted to know the reason that his parents were suspicious and he clicked off a litany of things that he had done to earn their trust since the Court released him from Abraxas I. Due to the persistence of the parents, however, “S.” finally agreed to a urine screen. The parent playing the father insisted on accompanying his son into the bathroom. When the two returned to the role-play, The parent playing the father informed his wife that that he caught “S.” attempting to put tap water in the urine cup instead of urine. At this point “S.” all but admitted that he would have been dirty.

Then, “S.” wanted to know what they were going to do about it. He refused to accompany his parents to a rehab for evaluation. As the role-play ended, the parents seemed unsure how exactly to proceed. One good thing, however, was that due to the diligence of the parents in insisting on the urine screen they had uncovered important information and got the issue out. Knowing what actions to take now that the information is out is the next step. It can be a different action depending on the situation. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Parents must have a zero tolerance level for dug use. Eventually, if the teen continues to use he must live somewhere else.

2. If the teenager is unwilling to be drug tested and unwilling to accompany parents to a rehab for evaluation (as was the case with this role-play) then the parents know that the youth probably will continue to use.

3. At this point, consider calling the local police and have the youth’s car and/ or room searched. If they find drugs or paraphernalia, the police should arrest. Do not bail them out of jail. Jail is often the best place for the active addict. If the police do not find anything the parents still will have sent a strong message to their teenager.

4. Whether or not the child is cooperative or remorseful, removing driving privileges is one of the first things that should be done. At any point where you have reason to believe that your teenager is using drugs, you know that a car is simply too dangerous. In fact, removing a car even for a short period is a good idea whenever irresponsible behavior rears its ugly head. Driving is optional, not necessary. Why do we want to put irresponsible teenagers behind the wheel of a car?

5. There should be no money given for anything unless absolutely necessary and then the parent should pay for what the teenager needs rather than giving actual money.

6. Take other things away. Things that you as a parent know are motivators. Examples are TV, telephone, mobile phones, game systems, and doors to bedrooms, beds and even unnecessary clothes they may like to wear. Remember, it is not the sanction levied that is going to make the change, but the message that is sent with a sanction is important. It says, “it is not acceptable that you use drugs. Period.”

7. When the teenager is able to be honest about his drug use, take him or send him to a clinic such as Gateway for an assessment. If he is honest and cooperative he will tell you what, when, how, and with whom this relapse happened. People, places and things need to be looked at all over again.

8. One of the things that I learned though this role-play is that if the parent makes sure that the teenager puts into his After Probation Contract that he will submit to random urine screens, then that helps alleviate the whole issue of “why don’t you trust me.” If it has been clearly stated in the After Probation Contract that there will be random urine screens, and then a parent asks for one, it is a very bad sign if the teenager replies “why don’t you trust me?” On the other had if the contract states that parents will do urine screens if they have reason to be suspicious, then that leaves the door open for exactly that kind of smoke screen to be thrown up later.

Thanks, to all three parents who participated in the role-play. It was really a composite role-play from all three families. Acting on the problem, now that it is out in the open, is the next step.


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

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Summary of 2-5-05 Meeting
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, February 05, 2005

Fifteen parents representing ten families attended our last meeting on February 5. We were happy to see some first-timers and always glad to see so many regulars keep coming back. This was our best-attended meeting to date. Thanks everyone for your support.

We spent the first part of the meeting catching up with each family’s situation. After more coffee, donuts, and toasted bagels we launched into the following role-play.

An 18-year old is home for his thanksgiving visit from Abraxas I. Unbeknownst to the parents and the Probation Officer, he has been writing his old girlfriend. He denies that she is his old girlfriend but he admits that they have done lots of drugs and drug selling together.

She calls him on the home pass. He wants the mother to take him to the mall to meet her. The parents know who she is and they confront the youth for being in contact with her at all.

The real father played the father. A first timer volunteered to play the mother. I played the youth. Everyone chose a “coach.” My coach was the teenager’s real mother. She called “time out” several times and provided strategies for me. Even with that excellent coaching, I am afraid that I was no match for these parents. They simply were not buying any of what I was selling.

At my coach’s suggestion, I finally gave up on that whole “take me to the mall” approach. I told them they were right and I had to rethink that one- blah blah blah. However, could they at least talk to my PO about mandating the Christmas visit because I am trying so hard? They saw the switch immediately and they were still not buying. In fact, that just gave them the chance to point out that they are not rescuing me from the consequences of my behavior any longer. I would have to earn my next visit home.

Well, I did not want to hear that! So I told them they can just stop visiting me at Abraxas until I have earned an off grounds pass because It was just too hard for me to see them up at Abraxas. I was tired of my family seeing me in “jail.” My dad said, “Ok, son if that’s the way you want it.”

Drat! Darn it! I wanted to punish them for not allowing me to get my own way. I wanted them to be hurt. I wanted them to try hard to convince me that it was good for me if they still visited me twice a month. I wanted to see them beg! I was going to be as unmovable as they were when they would not give me my way. Let them squirm; if they were not going to budge, neither was I.

They only thing is- they did not take the bait. Dad said “OK, son if that is the way you want it.” Now, I really kind of want those old visits. But I can’t let them know that. Crap. Nothing seems to work with these people anymore. Maybe I will not even come home to live with them when I leave Abraxas I. That will hurt them plenty. They will see.

My hat is off to two sharp parents. These parents were taking the opportunity to show me that when I get home things will be different. Valerie and I are very proud to have such strong parents in our group.

Lots of good discussion followed. Apparently, many of the teens use the “switch” when they cannot get their own way with their parents. Buy me new shoes seems to be a popular last resort for teens as a way to at least get something out of the deal, even if they have a ton of nice shoes already.

If you have any questions, please call 412-580-4051 for more information. If the weather is very bad, you can also call that number early on meeting morning to hear an outgoing message that training is cancelled. (Valerie will have my cell phone while I am off.)


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

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