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

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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