Quote of the Week

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

Listen To One of Our Parents on KDKA
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, December 15, 2007

Left click any place in this sentence to hear one of our parents on the Marty Griffin show - You can also right click and "save as" to download the mp3 file to your computer.

Providing MP3 audio is something new for us. Please leave a comment if you like it, hate it or have difficulty using this feature.

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We are opening our meeting this saturday at 8 AM!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Its our holiday meeting. People may want to come early. We will attempt hot coffee by 8:00 AM. Come in early and help us celebrate the holiday.

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Ask me again. Ask me again! (who is the big dog?)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, December 10, 2007

This role-play or technique if you will, comes up again and again at our meetings as parents discover it's effectiveness in stopping teens from debating and pestering. It came up at our Alliance Meeting on 12-8-07, as one of our parents reported again on how effective this has been since he heard about it from one of the other parents.

Teens have learned that they can sometimes wear parents down by constantly badgering them. That especially, if parents allow themselves to engage in the big "debate" over whether or not a teen should be allowed to do a certain thing, that eventually they become weary of the discussion and may weaken to the point of saying something to the effect of, "oh it's on you- go ahead, remember I told you this was a bad idea," or "OK, but just this once don't ask again." This approach reminds me of a persistent hockey team playing against the best goalie in the world. Their game plan is to just put enough traffic in front of the goal so that something can slip in. Likewise, a teen is just going to torture his parents until he gets the answer the he wants.

Parents can declare freedom from this pressure when they admit a couple of things to their teenager.

1st. We are not going to convince our teens that we are right when we say "NO." We can sit there all night and debate and our teen will only get more annoyed or angry with the parent. The teen does not wish to understand. The teen wishes to have his own way. There is a big difference between wanting your own way and wanting to understand.

2ND. Some times our teenagers need to ask us a million times if they can do something. This is partly because they may have learned that it is one way to get their own way.

3rd. If we try to leave the teen to his own struggles, the teen might just stalk us around the house until we give in. Don't run if you think you will pursued. Stop. Face your stalker. Use strong body language and show your teen that you won't run from the issue. Exception; if you have opportunity to retreat to part of the house or to the car where there is sanctuary- then that's fine- however, often there is no safe haven and we must stop running if we can't get away anyhow.

Teen: Mom can I go out tonight.

Mom: No.

Teen: Please.

Mom: No it's late. Stay home.

Teen: Why? Give me one good reason why not?

Mom: It's too late.

Teen: I'll be home by eleven. That's not too late. You let me stay out that late before.

Mom: Not tonight.

Teen: Give me one good reason.

Mom: No

Teen: What do you mean "No."

Mom: Look, [leaning in closer and lowering voice]. I will never convince you that you should not go out tonight.

Teen: What does that mean?

Mom: Just this. We could discuss this all night. Come morning, you would still think that you should have been allowed out. I don't have the power to convince you that you should stay home.

Teen: Right. I know. So let me go.

Mom: No.

Teen: Just like that. Just because you say so- is it one of those again?

Mom: Yes.

Teen: I don't understand.

Mom: I know. And that's my point honey. You won't understand - no matter how long we talk about it, no matter how many reasons I give you- it won't be enough to convince you. So, I'm not gong to try to convince you. It's just the way it is. Deal with it.

Teen: You have no right to treat me like I'm 14.

Mom: Nevertheless, stay home- do not go out.

Teen: You don't even know where I want to go! I want to go over Laura's. You KNOW she's a good kid, Mom.

Mom: Regardless, stay home.

Teen: Mom, you have to let me go! I have to go. I have to see Laura. I have to talk to her tonight- you don't know how much this means to me!!!!!!.

Mom: OK, I can see where this is going.

Teen: You can? So you'll let me go? I love you- I promise I won't be out past 12.

Mom: That's not want I meant.

Teen: What do you mean - you see where this is going? It's going to where I wanna know why i can't go out- that's where it's going.

Mom: Like I said, I can't convince you honey but I can see that you need to ask me repeatedly about this. OK, lets get it over with. Ask me now.

Teen: What are you talking about?

Mom: Well you need to ask me, I suppose, 20 or 30 times to try to get me to change my mind. Go ahead. Ask me now. [mother moves closer.]

Teen: Can I go out tonight?

Mom: NO- ask me again.

Teen: Can I go out tonight?

Mom: No- ask me again.

Teen: This is stupid.

Mom: Yes - I agree. But you need to get this out of your system so go ahead. Ask me again. Ask me now.

Teen: No. [walks off angry.]

The idea is that once you give the teenager permission to ask you- it somehow becomes a "paradoxical task," or "reverse psychology." In any case it seems to take the wind out of the sail of the teen and they no longer wish to do it once they have permission to "fire away." The teen can sense the futility in the exercise.

The other thing that often happens is that the teenager pursues the parent into different corners of the house continuing to torture the parent who will not relent.

If you were in group in Wexford on Saturday or at Greentree last Tuesday, you may remember me telling about the time when I was small and I tried to outrun a dog who had jumped over a fence. I couldn't out run the dog. I got bit on the rear end. Stitches and everything. Very traumatic. What did i learn? Don't show your rear end. Keep good solid eye contact. Don't back down because if you do retreat you will get bit. The exception of course is if you can get away- then that is a different story. So many times, however, the parent knows that in their home for various reasons, there is no where to hide.

The remedy for this is to face the teenager. Bridge the gap. This is often a tactic that we recommend in group. Get closer. Face to face. Take a wee bit of their personal space away. Don't become their prey. If you are being pursued in your own home as you run from room to room, then it is clear who has all the power. If you allow yourself to become the prey then you are fast on the way to loosing any position of power.

Once you face down your teen you may sense the shift in power. In fact, with strong body language, you can now allow yourself to be conciliatory. This is often a very good way to take the offensive.

Mom: [trying to get away from teenager she starts walking away still saying these words] I'm done talking about this- this conversation is over.

Teen: [raising voice] Don't you walk away from me you little Ho, I'm not finished discussing this one. There is no reason - you can't give me one reason -that you have to treat me like this. I did nothing to you. I even helped you with the laundry today, and now you won't give me the car to use? What kind of shit is that?

Mom: [reverses direction- faces teen- moves into personal space of teen but keeps voice very low and very measured] OK- I can see that you still have things to say about this.

Teen: [startled with the reverse direction and the teen backs up a step to try to keep things more in her comfort zone] You're damn right I've got things to say.

Mom: OK, well I want to hear what you have to say. In fact, I'm going to give you the last word. Go ahead, you take the last word. I'll shut up and listen.

Teen: I want to go out.


Mom: Keep going.

Teen: I am going out. I need the keys to the car tonight. It's very important. If you knew how important it was to me you would let me go out.

Mom: Keep going. I'm listening.

Teen: Please Please Please let me have the car tonight- Please Mom I swear I'll be home by midnight.

Mom: Keep talking- let me have it.

Teen: Mom! Answer me.

Mom: No- I've said my piece. This is your chance to have the last word. You can tell me off or say anything you want. I'm listening.

Teen: That's no fair.

Mom: What's not fair?

Teen: You aren't going to let me go-it doesn't matter what I say.

Mom: It apparently matters to you - that's why you follow me around the house with this stuff- lets just get it out of your system. I'm not arguing - I'm giving you the last word so that we don't compete to see who gets to have it. You can have the last say. Go ahead- tell me what you need to tell me. I'm listening.

Teen: Can I have the car tonight please?

Mom: No you may not. Ask me again if you need to- go ahead.

Teen: Fu$& you. [walks away]

Both of these situations involve the parent giving permission for the teen to continue to ask or to have the last word. But now, to the teen, there appears to be no point.

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A little holiday fun
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We had a suggestion (good idea Barb!) at our last meeting to share some holiday treats and joy during our 12/15 meeting at the Eastern Probation Office. Purely voluntary if you want to bring something. We will have a regular format meeting, just more to eat!

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Report on recent meetings and Holiday Vist role-play.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We had four parents two weeks ago at Eastern, 12 parents this last Saturday at Eastern, and three parents at Gateway Greentree. At the 12-parent meeting we also had two guests from Wesley-Spectrum Family Therapy.

It was very nice to have guests at our Wilkinsburg meeting. Wesley-Spectrum therapists are involved with more and more of our parents in group and reports that we get are very positive about the great work they do.

All in all it was a great meeting. Even with 12 parents everyone finished updates by close to 10:30 AM leaving us time for an extra long break followed by role-plays. The smaller meetings that we have had lately have allowed more time for more intimate sharing and more time for longer role-plays.

At one meeting we explored how much power that teenagers still exert on the family even when they are in placement. How do they manage it? Mostly through the application of guilt. Parents are often particularly susceptible to these tactics because they already feel so guilty about having their teen in placement, even though it means that they are temporarily safe from continued substance abuse.

Add to this equation the fact that the holidays are upon us and you see tremendous pressure. For example, consider this exchange from a recent role-play.

Teen: Mom, you know you can have me home at on Christmas.
Mom: I thought you had to be here longer to get a home pass. You just got here a month ago.
Teen: No, Mom! That doesn't matter. All you need is a Court Order, and they say it's fine for me to go home at Christmas.
Mom: A court order?
Teen: Yes, you can do that Mom. Just call the PO. Tell them you insist, that you expect me to at least have a Christmas Visit. Look at this place Mom! And you put me here- the least you can do is spring me for one day!
Mom: Oh I don't know about that honey...
Teen: MOM! [getting a bit louder] it's Christmas! Oh my gawd, even Tiny Tim had a Christmas! You remember our favorite holiday movie we used to watch- or did you even forget what wonderful Christmases we had when I was little.
Mom: No honey, I didn't forget...
Teen: Then you'll call the PO and ask for the order?

We can see how much pressure this teen puts on the parent. Note that the natural tendency for the parent is to say, "no, honey. I can't do that." Or "I'll call the PO" and later say, "you Know honey, I called the PO and they say we can't do that. Sorry I did what I could. You know I want you home for Christmas and if I could have done anything at all- I would have."

But lets look at this reply. It accomplishes one thing. It keeps the teen in the placement where she is safe over the holidays. However, it does that without transferring any power to the parent. The power-players in this scenario is the Teen for applying a generous amount of guilt and the PO who says "no- way." The parent is correctly viewed as powerless. Also, the parent really does nothing to garner support or appreciation from the teen who could care less how much mom tried- the bottom line is Mom failed. Plus the teen might correctly assume that Mom didn't really try that hard. No, this is not what we need. What we need is for the Mom to be powerful, and in the beginning of the role-play you can see that the Teen attributes power to the Mom. The teen is more or less saying, "hey Mom, you are powerful." And Mom's response is "no, I'm not powerful." This is like throwing money away. Part of the problem that we are trying to address is the imbalance of power that happens along with Chemical Dependency. The addicted family person ends up with way to much power. When the addicted person is in treatment, we are trying to correct this imbalance. Consider the following wrap-up to the above role-play:

Mom: Honey, you are so right!
Teen: About what? You mean you will ask for the Court order?
Mom: Honey, what I mean is this. If we had a Court order you could come home for Christmas. A Court order goes a long way in this business, I'm learning that.
Teen: And?
Mom: Well, this is going to make you mad I'm afraid, but I'm not going to ask for a Court order for a Christmas Visit.
Teen: What!? You don't want me home do you.
Mom: No, not yet.
Teen: you bi%@*. You want me to stay in this hell hole that YOU put me in, while you out having a nice Christmas.
Mom: Yes, I want you to be here where you are safe.
Teen: Oh don't give me that s*&t. I have done really well here, and you know the staff spit on that one girl- what kind of place is this you put me in. You put me here. You don't even know what this place is like, do you MOM? You don't know a thing about this place. The things I could tell you about this place would keep you up at night if only knew what goes on in here...
Mom: Yes, I think it's bad here.
Teen: Bad? You have no idea. Did you ever have to stay in a place like this? Huh? Did you? No you didn't.
Mom: No. I don't' know what goes on in here.
Teen: So how can you say that?
Mom: I prefer that you are where you can not do drugs, stay out all night, go out with older men who give you drugs. That's all. And I want you to come home to visit only when you have earned that privilege here.
Teen: You don't have a clue. Give me one good reason why I can't come home for Christmas?
Mom: Honey, you know if we talk about this for hours, it won't matter. I can't convince you that you should spend Christmas in here.
Teen: You're right! You can't.
Mom: So, I'm not going to try.
Teen: Well, you just want me out of the way, don't you? Admit it. It's just "easier" for you that way.
Mom: Well, yes, it is easier for me to enjoy Christmas knowing that you are safe here from drugs and alcohol.
Teen: So, this is all about what is best for you, isn't it.
Mom: Yes, part of is all about me. I want you safe this Christmas. I don't' want to worry about you getting high, running off with that older man, stealing money from me and from our relatives, and hurting yourself in any of the ways that you have done in the past.
Teen: Why won't you trust me? I'm not going to do any of that this year!
Mom: Nevertheless, you'll be here for Christmas this year.
Teen: I hate you! Don't even come to visit me for Christmas. I don't want to see you anymore. I hate you.
Mom: You break my heart baby.
Teen: Oh sure. I don't think you feel bad at all. If you did, you would get me out of here for just ONE DAY!
Mom: Yes, you are right. I guess I don't feel as badly about it as I would have last year. I guess it's OK for you to be mad at me. I'm OK with that.
Teen: What do you mean by that? That is an ignorant thing to say.
Mom: Well, it use to bother me soooooo much if you were mad at me. Then, I would make decisions that maybe weren't good ones, just so that you wouldn't be mad at me. But I've changed. I have a job to do as your mother. Sometimes when I do my job you're going to be mad at me. I've accepted that.
Teen: Bi$%. Just don't visit me. You got that?
Mom: Yes, I got that.
Teen: Just think about me rotting away while you have your little Christmas, OK? Just picture me stuck in here with all these felons, rapists, and bank robbers. OK?
Mom: I confess that while I will miss you- and you don't believe that- my holidays will be happier this year just because I know you safe from Drug Abuse. That's the nicest gift I could get this year.
Teen: I hate you. Please leave now.
Mom: OK, I think maybe we covered everything. [gives girl a hug, which girl fights off.] Love you. [Mom walks away.]
Teen: [Wants to yell obscenities at Mom but mom is walking aways and is in ear-shot of staff who girl does not want to overhear their problems, so she fumes quietly.

OK, not a happy ending. Not yet. But in this role-play Mom is powerful. This isn't about the PO. Mom takes all the blame. With blame comes power. You don't get the power without taking the blame. Mom does a Harry Truman. The bucks stops here. Note that Mom may have not been able to get the order, however, that is not relevant. Mom does not wish to enable daughter anymore. She refuses to seek the order, preferring that her daughter stays where she is safe and that she "earn" her home passes the regular way. This Mom knows that being in the institution instead of at home is really part and parcel to the treatment that her daughter is receiving.

Will the girl make good on her threat not to have mom visit? Perhaps. Even so, mother can opt to visit or not to visit but her point is well-make. She will not be manipulated into making bad decisions because her daughter is angry and making threats. Period. This mother has made a statement that goes to the core of the daughter having too much power. The reaction of the teen is likely to produce one more thing. If she flips out over this, then Mom has provided "grist" for the "treatment mill." This daughter is blaming Mom and manipulating. This is important information for staff to have. This tells everyone that this young lady has a long way to go towards taking responsibly. No matter how excellent she may be doing inside, her interaction with her mother provides useful information on where she really stands on making changes.

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Cancelled Sat. Nov. 27th Alliance Meeting And Happy Thanksgiving from Val and Lloyd!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 22, 2007

This meeting is cancelled due to the holiday weekend.
At this time, Val and I want to take this opportunity to wish all parents everywhere a Very Happy Thanksgiving. We are grateful for all of you who have come out meeting after meeting. You are all making a difference in this world.
Each of us has a lot to be thankful for. Gratitude is an action word. We say it best when we show it. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Help us out by writing your gratitude comments after this post. You may do so anonymously if you choose.

Val and I are thankful for all of you that have made it your business to come out and help the other parents at PSST. In 12-step they say that you have to "give it away, if you are going to keep it." We belive that dynamic is very much alive in PSST. The real pleasure for us is seeing the power of each parent to reach out and empower one another. We know that it is not what either of us do that presents the major power for change in this group. Not at all. It is what you each do with each other. It's our priviledge to be a part of it and to be able to witness the change that is taking place in you all. You are so inspiring. Words fail to express just how lucky we feel to be a part of PSST. Each and every one of you is a true hero!

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New Talking Points Brochure
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back in April, one of the meeting topics covered key "talking points" to make with our kids. The idea was to get these points into the conversation over and over again. With your input (and lots of editing by Lloyd and Val) we created a print brochure that covers the key points. Click the link below to download.

Download Talking Points Brochure in Word Format

Now, my memory is not that good that I could pinpoint the meeting in April that we started this project. All I did was use the search box in the top left hand heading of the blog and typed "talking points". Try it. It is very quick way to find topics that we have covered in the past quickly like curfew, Shuman, smoking.

Type rest of the post here

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INTERVENTION on A&E by Lorraine
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 23, 2007

There is a great show on A&E that deals with substance abuse. It is a reality TV show that proceeds through the intervention process with the addict and the family. It provides real life scenarios of families and how they deal with their addicted family member. It truly is a must see.

I not only watch every episode, I have it programmed on my digital cable to automatically copy into the DVR box so that I can keep all the episodes for awhile. There is one episode that is very close to my son's story and I will probably never delete that one. The new season will start on Monday, Nov 5th at 9PM. Their website is ... http://www.aetv.com/intervention/ It has information on the show, but is also a good resource for information on street drugs and treatment centers. Intervention is must see TV for anyone dealing with substance abuse within their family!!

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"The Real Deal” w/ KDKA’s Marty Griffin, Nov. 2, 2007 at Orchard Hill Church in Wexford
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This year, The Alliance Against Highly Addictive Drugs has invited parents from PSST to participate on the panel. This will broadcast live. The radio part of the show will begin at 9:00 AM and run through Noon. The booth in the lobby where we can pass out literature will start at 8:30 and also run though noon. Please click "Read More" for a listing of the other group participants. We are also invited to have a booth out in the front lobby where we can hand out pamphlets and get the word out about PSST. We need volunteers for both. Please click Orchard Hill Church for directions.

The Alliance Against Drugs
Invites you to attend an Open House Resource Fair to address


Featuring KDKA’s Marty Griffin & “The Real Deal”

Date: November 2, 2007

Location: Orchard Hill Church 2551 Brandt School Road Wexford, PA 15090

Time: 8:30 to 1:00 PM Resource Fair
9:00 to Noon Live Radio Program w/ Panels of Experts

Alliance Members, School Delegations, Faith Based Delegations, Law Enforcement, Government Officials, Medical Professionals, Business & Community Leaders, Concerned Community at Large. Adults only please

To discuss “What Help Looks Like” when dealing with drug use & addiction issues.

Agency Professionals will be on hand to provide materials and answer questions as they relate to prevention, screening/assessments, intervention, treatment, recovery and family support.

Marty Griffin & KDKA will broadcast a 3 hour program that will include live testimonials from recovering addicts and family members. Panels of Experts will discuss the various ways that concerned families can seek help for drug related issues. THERE IS HOPE.

This Event is an opportunity to meet and have conversation with your community leaders and numerous community experts who support the message that we share a responsibility to be part of the solution regarding youth drug use and addiction, and who support the work of our community coalition; THE ALLIANCE. There will be special messages from numerous community leaders and the Alliance’s Honorary Chairperson:

If you are from an Alliance Member School or from a Faith Based Congregation, the Alliance requests that you attend with a delegation of 10 or more people. Please consider inviting School Administrators, Board Members, Counselors, SADD Sponsors, PTA/PTO Members, Booster Parents, Youth Leaders, Pastors, Community Leaders, and Friends & Neighbors. All community members are invited to bring delegations.

Please RSVP your attendance and approximately how many delegates you will be bringing no later than October 29th to:

Debbie Kehoe, Executive Director
The Alliance Against Drugs
724 612-5554



Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office: Michael Manko
Allegheny County EMS Services: Knox Walk
Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office: Dr. Williams and Steve Koehler
Pennsylvania’s DUI Association: Catherine Tress
Allegheny County D&A Department: James Allen


The Alliance Against Drugs: Dr. Al Wille and Debra Kehoe
The Reality Tour: Norma Norris
Allegheny County Police: Michael Spagnoletti
ENCORE (Emergency Nurse Association): Donna Galbreath


Testimonial: Ryan
School Student Assistance Counselor: Jeff Longo
School Based Mental Health Assessment: Terry Reynolds
Treatment Assessment and Plan of Action: Josie Morgano, Pyramid Healthcare
Judicial Placement: Lynn Redick, Act 53 Program


Testimonials from panel of young adults and parents
West View/Ross Magistrate: Richard Opiela


Testimonial: Suboxone Patient
Testimonial: Patrick Boyle
Physician Authorized to prescribe Suboxone: Dr. Elizabeth Marsala
Allegheny County Medical Society President: Dr. Adam Gordon
Gateway Rehabilitation Director: Dr. Neil Capretto
Addiction Specialist: Dr. George Lloyd


Testimonials: Recovering addicts from Teen Challenge
Teen Challenge Counselor: Dave Louis
The Doorway: Joyce Erdner
North Hills Youth Ministry Counseling Center: Rev Ron Barnes


Testimonials from parents who attend a support group
Parent Survival Skills Training: Valerie Ketter and PSST parents.
Bridge to Hope: Joan Ward, Diane Clayton
Celebrate Recovery: Dave Herbert, Peg Schindler


State Representative Michael Turzai
State Representative Randy Vulakovich
Superintendent Dr. James Manley
Community Business Leader Robert Wright


Richard Opiela
James Manley
Pastor Kurt Bjorklund
Michael Turzai
Randy Vulakovich
Ben Roethlisburger
Robert Wright
Steve Zappala
Jason Altmire
Tom Corbett
Larry Bracko

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Letter from mother to daughter by Paula.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In a way this is a letter to the disease of addiction. It is powerfully written by a mother to her daughter, however, it is the disease of addiction that possesses our loved ones and creates the pain that everyone around the addict feels. Paula granted permission to post this actual letter that she wrote her daughter. Much thanks to Paula for sharing. Judy is not Paula's daughter's real name.

October 9, 2007

Dear Judy:

I hope this letter finds you are well and safe. I wanted to let you know what’s going on with me and let you know what my reaction to your behavior is.
First and foremost, I love you very much and I always will. Unfortunately, this is not a question of love. Instead, it is a situation that calls for strength and the ability to stand-by what I say. This situation that we are both in involves you---to stand on your own two feet, and pull yourself out of this abyss.

You are spiraling downward. You need to learn…I mean really learn and understand that you do not call the shots…you do not run the show. Ridgeview was a blessing in disguise. QUIT CALLING THE SHOTS, JUDY. I am you mother and I am weary of you. You deplete people –you suck them dry and put them aside…people are tired. I am tired. What is it going to take for you to realize that you are on the road to killing yourself!

This isn’t about marijuana or any other drug for that matter, Judy. This is about attitude, self-respect, humility, and honesty. Your attitude is one of righteousness and arrogance. Humility? Not even close. Honesty is not part of your vocabulary.

I am not going to be around forever. I am your greatest enabler. I am not going to do that anymore either. I am going to do everything in my power to help you get better…to help you want to live a lifestyle that is without drugs. Think about it, Judy. If this weren’t such a horrible way to live, no one would be clean. You must go through the agony of getting better before you are better. It takes time. It takes work on your part. It takes a desire where you will do anything to not use…just as you do anything now to stay high.

When you came in the house the other day with a bruise on your chin crying…saying someone punched you…you know, Judy, I don’t know what the truth is and what the lies are anymore. You intermingle them and so it is hard to determine. Anyway, at the time, your spirit was broken, you were crying, hurting and you said that you would do anything not to live this way. You asked me not to give up on you…and two hours later you were on the run again.

That’s a no-brainer. You scored with some kind of drug and you went to who was providing it to you. When I spoke to you in the phone at 4:30PM the next day, you acted as if nothing ever happened. I understand. You got what you needed. You told me that “I’m fine, Mom. I’m fine.” You had a drug in you…and yes; it does temporarily make you “fine”. The problem with that is that it doesn’t stay forever and three hours from that point, chances are you will be running around looking for money, looking for drugs, once again. It never ends. It never ends. It never ends until you are so sick of the cycle that you would do ANYTHING to stop.

I am going to make this difficult for you, Judy. I don’t know what I would do if I found you dead, overdosed, beaten to death, getting HIV, which today is a death sentence many times…. I will be changing the locks on the doors. You are not wanted at my house anymore, Judy. If you are big enough and grown enough to quit school, to refuse to sign releases so you can be funded, to stay out all night and not come home, and all the other things that you do, then you are grown enough to find a shelter and some food. To eat, there are food kitchens all over the place. You can eat there.

The most I will give you is a blanket. Nothing more. O.K. so go be grown. Feed yourself. Shelter yourself. Pay for your gas, your light, your heat, and your phone. You have that phone only because I pay for it. I will not enable you any longer. You must learn this on your own, Judy. Even though I will hate to let it come to pass, I must let you suffer all these consequences. Then may be you will get tired of living as you are now living.

I want you to think back to when you were at Ridgeview. How adamant you were about leaving. How you told everyone to fuck off. How you were so tunnel-visioned about leaving-that was your addiction calling you, Judy. That’s all. You wanted to get loaded. And you did.

This is your trip, Judy…not mine. I already had my “fun”…. anguish, degradation, etc. You can save yourself from it…I cannot save you. You are the only one that can save you. It is all on YOU.
Need I go on?
Hopefully, someday, God willing, you have children. Only then will you understand this relationship…I hope that your child does not put you through the hell that I am now experiencing.

I do not intend to be dramatic…merely factual. The scenes that conjure up in my mind when you pull your MIA’s (Missing in Action) are frightening, horrible, but not outside the realm of possibility.

1. I see you dying, being used, raped, and beaten.

2. I remember the last thing I said to you, the last time you left.

3. I remember the first time I rested my eyes on you, when you were born, and all the happy flashbacks in between: building sandcastles at the beach, hiding from you in the store to teach you and your brother a lesson not to hide from me.

4. I remember Christmases of the past. All of these visions come back and I remember you as you were through each age period.

5. Now I see a transformation in you that hurts my heart to watch. You are slowing dying in front of me. I am not exaggerating. I’ve seen this too many times. I am beginning to notice hardness about you.

You know, Judy, after you experience so many of those bad scenes, you are no longer innocent…nor do you project that to others. You are taking on the persona of a hardened street girl. It is not attractive at all. Your softness is leaving you. You’ve been through some horrible circumstances at such a young age that your face, your smile…. it is all leaving, Judy. The innocence that you had is fading. You are more rigid…cynical.

I am, and have been watching this outward transformation for a while now. It rips my heart out as I continue to see flashbacks of my little girl who was so full of life and so wanted to live, my little girl who was overflowing with compassion and understanding. The little girl who whispered in her grandma’s ear and comforted her when she was dying by telling her that it was O.K. to go…that we were all O.K. My daughter, the one who treated the child with Down’s syndrome so kindly and so unselfishly, where is she? Where is she? Where is she?

Please, please, Judy. Don’t become another Jessie. She’s dead now because she didn’t stop…couldn’t stop. You cannot stop on your own. You need help desperately. You can just as easily become another Jessie.
I am crying for you Judy. Please, please cry for yourself. Then get up, brush yourself off, and run the other way. This disease will take everything…including your life.

I will love you forever,


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Ken receives Parent of the Year on October 4, 2007.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ken was recognized both for his outstanding parenting and for his generous volunteer work to help other parents. He almost singlehandedly started the successful North Hills PSST meeting. He started, maintains and edits this blog, the Relapse Blog, the

Coffee House Nation Blog, and the Bridge To Hope Blog. He shows leadership wherever he goes. Other parents often call Ken to ask his opinion and he has even done home visits to help identify drug paraphernalia.

Right Picture: Judge Mulligan, Judge Woodruff (Probowl Cornerback of the Pittsburgh Steelers), Judge Flahrety, James Rieland Director of the Juvenile and Adult Probation, and Ken.
Left Picture: Judge Mulligan, Judge Flahrety, James Rieland, Ken, Supervisor Valerie Ketter, PO Lloyd Woodward, Judge Rangos, Judge Woodruff, and Judge Clark.

Ken has tirelessly worked to help youth in Allegheny County by being of service to his community. His acceptance speach was so gracious and well done that I wish I had it recorded so that I could reprint it here. One point that Ken made was that the idea that a youth is "in the system" is not a bad thing: to the contrary. It is working in the system with Judges, Probation Officers, therapists, and caseworkers that can help save a teenager's life from this too ofen fatal disease of addiction. Hats off to Ken for a well deserved honor!

Probation Officer Jeff Nartowicz, Supervisor Valerie Ketter, and Probation Officer Lloyd Woodward all nominated Ken for this award.

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The Turn of a Phrase
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It was Sunday and I was visiting with my daughter J. at a half way house. The sun was warm, the weather was trying to decide if it was fall or summer and we were on the smoking deck outside. This place has been just one of many stops for her in the last 4 years as she tries again to arrest the drug induced downward slide of her life.

She had gone to church with some other women from the house that morning and our conversation somehow came around to how powerful words are. . .

. . .and how God used words to speak the world into being. I took the opportunity to talk to her about the importance of affirming self-talk.

Later, another young women came out to the smoking deck and told J. that she had just got word that two of her friends had overdosed. She said “.it should have been me..”. J nodded in agreement and echoed her words as if it was a ritualistic chant. After some hugs and lots of crying between day old friends who have years with the same struggles I pointed out to J. that there is no reason it should have been her and how saying so is not healthy. She seemed to understand, or at least her eyes sparked as she ran to comfort the other women.

So words are important. We all cringe when we hear “just marijuana”. Maybe we have to remind each other that the sentence “It was just marijuana that killed my child.” is a real possibility. I know that is harsh but how else to get the words right?

To appreciate the words we have to listen carefully and speak carefully. Look how different “relapse is part of recovery” is from the Lloyd Woodward version of “the consequences of relapse are part of recovery”. Or “this disease ends in jails, institutions or death” compared to “this disease ends in recovery, jails, institutions or death”.

I had come to believe that saying anything to J. would not help her with her struggles. It has never worked and all the platitudes, heart to heart talks, and emotional threats seem useless against such a huge problem. But when I hear Lloyd talk about our overall strategy of “buying clean time and waiting for a miracle” (miracle, now there is a word!) I have come back to the idea that the words, the right words, words with lots of thought and lots of love can be very powerful when spoken or prayed.

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Let's go out for Murder Mystery Dinner on October 26th.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 11, 2007

Here is a unique opportunity to support the work of one of the Coffee House Nation. Khalil has been working hard to change his life. He is the President of his Business Club at CCAC. The club is putting on a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre where the actors interact with the audience. All proceedings go to The American Cancer Society. Many of you have followed his progress at the Wilkinsburg PSST via reports from his mother.

Here are the details for the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre:
WHEN: Friday October 26th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
WHERE: Jones Hall CCAC Allegheny Campus (North side).
PRICE: $40.00 single or $70.00 for a couple.
WHO TO CONTACT FOR TICKETS: contact Khalil through his mother Sue at 412-726-8033.
I will be there. Sue will be there. Other parents have said that they are interested. PSST should be able to sit together. Khalil will be our waiter. Let's get together for a good cause and a good time!

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Bridge to Hope Video Premier
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our friends at the Bridge to Hope are premiering their new video and you are invited.
Click here for details.

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ADHD/Special Needs Parent Classes - Click Picture for Details
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, October 01, 2007

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Coffee House Nation visits Reality Tour 9-19-07
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, September 20, 2007

For more information about Reality Tour click candle. To read the whole story at Coffee House Nation click coffee cup to right.

Two CHN members spoke at the end. One of them publicly thanked his mother for having him arrested and therefore saving his life. His mother was present and she received a standing ovation and an invitation to speak next month.

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PSST To be featured on KQV 1410 AM radio on 9-27-07
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On September 27th at 9:00 AM, KQV 1410 All/ News All the time radio station will interview Val Ketter, Lloyd Woodward and two parents from PSST. This is a live interview and it is intended to highlight Juvenile Justice Week that runs from September 30th through October 6th.

Type rest of the post here

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Good attendance at PSST on 9-1-07
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, September 04, 2007

14 parents attend at our Eastern Probation Office location. We heard something from everyone. We then did several role-plays for the second half of group. I don't know about anyone else but this group moved really went fast for me.

The cartoon is from "Today’s Cartoon by Randy Glasbergen", displayed with special permission. For many more cartoons, please visit Randy's site @ http://www.glasbergen.com/

I will post role-plays soon I hope.

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Got 3 minutes?
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, September 03, 2007

This is a little different than the usual posts. If you have the time, take 3 minutes and watch this little video and remember that we are all in this together.

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September 15th is Rally for Recovery Walk/Run
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, September 02, 2007

It was suggested that we cancel our September 15th meeting and attend the Message Carriers Rally For Recovery Walk/ Run from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM at North Park. If you think this is a good idea please post here. Unless we receive support for this idea, we will go ahead and meet on the 15th. Click here to be taken to the official Walk/run registration form.

Message Carriers 2nd annual Rally for Recovrey Walk/Run begins at 10:00 Am at the Boat House. Register ahead of time and indicate what size T-shirt you need. The donation is $10.00.

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Temper Tantrums
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, August 25, 2007

We had ten parents attend the Northhills PSST today! Instead of just performing one or two role-plays we got everyone involved in a group exercise role-play. I was the teenager for everyone. We did a lot of clapping as I went around the circle because all of the parents did a great job handling my whiny "I don't see why I'm on Probation" spiel.

The most impressive thing I heard today in group was from a couple who said that recently when their teen had a temper tantrum, they apologized to her. This was very effective and immediately calmed the teenager down. The apology went something like this:

Scenario: Teenager is acting out, having a tantrum because her car broke down.

Mom: You know, if If my car broke down I'd be mad too. In fact, I'm mad anyway cause if your car is down, now I have to share mine.

(Teen continues having temper tantrum, but comes up for air just before mother makes the following statement.)

Mom: I really just want to apologize to you right now.

Teen: What are you talking about?

Mom: Well, all these years, since you were little, we have been reacting to your temper tantrums. And we "get it" now that what we were doing is training you to have temper tantrums.

Teen: What do you mean?

Dad: Well, you would start throwing things, putting holes in walls, screaming or whatever- and we would both look for ways to make you feel better. You know, we would give you things you wanted or promise you that if you calmed down you could have treats, toys, or special privileges, so that you would stop the ugly stuff.

Mom: But all that did was teach you that having tantrums is a good way to get stuff and to get privileges.

Teen: Oh.

Dad: Yeah, I agree with your mother, we're sorry we did that- I'm sorry I did that- but I've changed, and I can't do that today.

Mom: Yeah, we both have changed.

Dad: We can't go back and change anything we did, but we can make sure we don't do it anymore.

Mom: So, go ahead and tantrum if you have to- but it's not going to fix anything or make anything better.

Dad: Right.

Both parents walk away- in this case teenager stops tantrum. Of course, that's not going to work that effectively in every situation - but it does several things extremely well.

1. Parents model taking responsibility. The parents put the focus on their role rather than on their daughter's role in the whole thing. The parent's model responsible behavior and at the same time they minimize the potential defensive-response from their daughter because the initial focus is not on the daughter.

2. Parents pay attention to what is the pattern or dynamic, i.e., teenager has tantrum and historically they reinforce that tantrum.

3. Parents clearly give the teenager permission to have the tantrum- (that is just taking ALL the fun out of it) so that it does not become a "control issue."

4. Clarifies- that there will be no more rewards for tantrums; parents will not engage in "How to make the teen feel better game." Parents state their intention to consistently refuse to reinforce that behavior. It's kind of like saying "the party's over."

5. Bonus: In the beginning of this role-play, Mom does a bit of "active listening" to set up the whole exchange. Active listening is often essential and Mom's statement that "I would be mad too if it happened to me," followed by the "I statement," "in fact, I am Mad now because now I'll be sharing my car with you," is priceless. This is a good example of (1) Active Listening followed by (2) Joining with the talker. This captures the person's attention so that they can hear what it is that you have to say.

6. Parents make their point and then walk away. Any prolonged intervention at the point of the tantrum continues to reinforce the tantrum because attention is the most powerful reinforcement.

My hat's off to this couple for their innovative approach to the tantrum problem. We can all learn something from this today. I know I did. ;-)

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Coffee House Nation (sober-fun club) receives 20 Steeler preseason tickets!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Steeler's have donated 20 tickets to Coffe House Nation on short notice for this Sunday!


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Northhills PSST 8-11-07 (Regaining Parent Power!)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, August 12, 2007

We ended up with 13 parents at our recent PSST. Even with all of us at the table (this is the one meeting where we actually meet around a table) we were able to hear something from everyone. We also welcomed four first timers to our group. We haven't posted a role-play for sometime now. Let's call this one Regaining Parent Power.

The Scenario: 16 year-old daughter is in a temporary psychiatric placement after her release from Shuman. She went to Shuman after assaulting her step-father. Her assault case is pending in Juvenile Court, he has been assigned an Intake Officer, and her parents have attended one PSST, at which time they found out that if a child is out-of-control and pending in Juvenile Court, the parents can request that a Walk-in Detention Hearing is held at Shuman Center.

Girl: Get me out of here. You have no idea what it is like to be in a place like this!
M: I'm sure it's not fun here honey.
Girl: No! Have you ever been admitted to a place like this?
M: No
Girl: Have you (looking at SF) ever been admited to a place like this?
SF: No
Girl: See! And it's your fault (looking at SF) that I have to stay here.
SF: Mine?
Girl: Yes, you told me to hit you!
SF: Yes, you're right. I said "if you had to strike someone, hit me, not you're mother.
Girl: Well I did what you said, so why am I in here?
M: You can't assault people honey no matter what they say.
Girl: Ok, I won't now let me go home- I learned my lesson- No you stop (cutting off a response that M was attempting to make) I have to get out of this hell hole - you can't keep me here against my will.
M: We came here to tell you what we have decided.
Girl: Tell me in the car on the way home- I don't give a sh*t what you decided anway. What do I care about you two? Decide away- just GET ME OUT OF HERE!
M: Well that's the thing that you aren't going to like.
Girl: What do you mean now? Do I get to go home or what?
M: We would like to explain what's going on- but you seem so upset- I'm not sure this is a good time to tell you and there's so much to tell you that has been going on- (looking at her husband) I'm not sure where to start.
SF: (also looking at mother now, not at Girl) I know I guess we'd have to start at the beginning, but I'm not sure this is a good time to tell her either- she seems to be ready to flip out again.
Girl: Whaaaaaat are you two talking about- oooooooo God I hate dealing with both of you- you are such morons- tell me what you are talking about- tell me NOW!
M: Ok, but not unless you agree not interrupt us- there is too much to tell if you are going to interrupt us though the whole thing.
Girl: Ok OK OK OK - just tell me.
M: No interruptions?
Girl: (glares)
M: (returns stare for a minute- then swiches to looking at her husband) what do you think honey? It's your call.
SF: (looking at his wife) I think you handled that pretty good honey. Why don't I start.
M: Please
SF: (looking at Girl now) OK, first of all...
Girl: (if looks could kill he would be dead for sure)
SF: We told the Intake Officer that we wanted to do this- but we know that it's going to really really make you mad.
Girl: What's an Intake Officer?
M: The lady that is scheduling your case before a Judge.
Girl: What for?
M: For assualting Dad.
M: Fine. For assaulting my husband, is that better?
Girl: He said to hit him so I hit him, kicked him, and bit him. That seems fair to me.
M: Well, you will have an Attorney and he can help you convince the Judge of that.
Girl: Ha ha. You think you are so funny don't you?
M: No- I don't think any of this is funny. (looking at SF now) Do you honey?
SF: Nope (looking at M)

quiet now between all three

Girl: Well, what's going on- tell me (voice sounding a little more cooperative now)
SF: OK, try not to interrupt?
Girl: Yes I Won't Interrupt. (facesious comment)
SF: Like I said- you are going to be pretty unhappy with us- but we want you to know what's going on. But listen. If at any point, this information make you so angry that you feel you are going to flip out- just get up and go back to your room, right honey (he looks at M) it's ok if this is so upsetting that she needs to just get away from us.
M: Of couse. We really don't want to upset you honey but we have made up our minds about some things is all.
Girl: what is making me mad is younz not telling me- that's what I'm about to go postal on you both for- so get on with it.
SF: We admitted to the Katie Jones, that we can't controll you. That's the main thing.
M: Right- that's a good place to start- honey, we haven't been able to controll what time you come in- where you go- or who you hang with for some time.
Girl: So what- that doesn't make me mad.
SF: Katie agreed with us, that having a Walk-in Detention Hearing is a good idea. So, when you get out of here- you will go to Shuman Center to have a Walk-in Detention Hearing.
Girl: What? What kind of sh*t is that?
SF: When you have charges pending, then in Juvenile Court you have to be under someone's control up until the hearing- but your mother and I can't controll you.
Girl: What's going to happen at the hearing.
M: One of two things. Eigher you will be released home with us until your hearing, or you will be detained at Shuman.
Girl: You can't be serious.
M: Yes we are.
Girl: I'll get you both for this.
M: Is that a threat?
Girl: Does it sound like one?
M: Yes, it does.
Girl: Ok, then if it walks like a f**$&*g duck, then MOM it's a f**$&*g duck!
M: Thanks. I'm glad you said it that way.
Girl: Why?
M: Because it makes things clear. It make our point for us doens't it honey (looking at SF).
SF: Yep- it's hard to say you can control someone who threatens you, especially after they have already assualted you.
Girl: You told me to do that!
SF: Nevertheless, you injured me- i received medical treatment, and we have decided that we won't live under those conditions anymore. You tell her honey (putting his arm around his wife.)
M: We have a contract that we made up (pulling a piece of paper out of her pocket.)
SF: Right, this is what we need to agree on before you come home.
Girl: I'm done with both of you get out of here- now!
M: (Standing up) OK, I know you are angry, we can talk about this some other time.
SF: Yes, we will talk about this again.
Girl: Wait. Leave the paper.
M: Sure thing.
Girl: I see what's going on- you two want to get rid of me dont' you?
M: We want you where you are safe and unless we come to some understanding- that is not at home.
Girl: Just say it. You want to get rid me so you dont' have to deal with me. Right?
M: Yes, OK, if that is what it takes to keep you safe- then yes, that is what we want, right honey?
SF: Right, we know we can't control you. At 16, you have to go somewhere else where you will have supervision- apparently it's not with us- but just for the record- I wish we could work things out.
Girl: Oh sure, and I have a bridge to sell you in New York...
SF: Nevertheless, this is what we told Katie Jones, and she agreed with us.
Girl: (looking at contract) What if I agree to all this sh*t? Why can't I just come home? Give me one good reason why I can't just come home?
SF: Because you probably won't agree to this contract.
Girl: Why do I have to agree with this?
M: Because we said so.
Girl: That's not good enough.
M: Regardless, this is the deal- you can take it or leave it.
Girl: (Gritting teeth- jaw jutting out) and if I agree to all this?
SF: If you are sincere, we will give it a try.
M: Yes, we'll try it again if you think you can live with these rules.
Girl: (jerks herself up and storms away)

Wondering what the rules might have been like? Check out Ken's Rules of the Road for some ideas that help young people avoid going back to drugs and alcohol. http://nevertheless-psst.blogspot.com/2007/07/rules-of-road.html

Wondering what these people would have done if there was no Juvenile Court involvement? Check out information on ACT 53. http://www.alleghenycounty.us/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=11904&FolderID=364&terms=act+53&searchtype=2&fragment=True

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Post Addiction Stress Syndrome
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Friday, August 10, 2007

(This was written by John Clayton a member of the Bridge to Hope Family Support Group. The group meets 7 PM every Wednesday in the Donor Hall Conference Room at UPMC Passavant Hospital - all are welcome)

No, there’s really not a recognized syndrome by this name….but maybe there should be! Families of loved ones who struggle with a member’s addiction issues operate on adrenalin for months, and even years, as crisis after crisis is discovered, addressed, endured, and moved toward resolution. Every imaginable threatening circumstance is on the list of potentially devastating outcomes…from loss of life due to overdose, violence at the hands of drug dealers, criminal charges resulting in incarceration, financial loss and possible ruin, mental and physical exhaustion, fear, depression, dashed hopes, societal contempt and isolation….to name a few.

But what happens once the road begins to straighten out? . . .

What happens when the crises have passed, the outcomes are known, and genuine recovery is underway? How do we return to a normal life where the sight of a police car does not emote a feeling of dread, where a ringing phone is welcomed rather than feared, where we can actually lose something without fear that it has been stolen, where we can leave our keys on the table, our checkbooks and wallets on the dresser at night, and feel confident, secure and happy as we go about our daily lives? And how much time must pass without crisis before we really believe that life has returned to normal?

Drawing on my own life experiences, I have concluded that it is possible to be restored to normalcy after a number of years under great stress; however, “normalcy” needs to be redefined. Following my service with the Marine Corps, during which I spent a year in combat, I was able to transition back to civilian life quite quickly with very few symptoms of post-traumatic stress…..but my life had been forever conditioned to the “fight or flight” fears that had been so deeply imbedded in me from that year of constant danger and trauma. “Normal” for me when I came back home meant that a loud noise would only terrify me for a few seconds; the sight of an Asian American would only momentarily cause me to bristle and go into defense mode; life and the pursuit of happiness took on a whole new meaning; I appreciated my freedom and the security of our civilization at a whole new level; I learned to appreciate and celebrate every day of my life with optimism and appreciation. I was one of the lucky ones. “Normal,” though, had changed. My new “normal” didn’t look much like my pre-combat “normal,” nor has it ever looked like that in the 40+ years that have passed since that trauma so deeply impacted me.

Likewise, I am convinced that a return to normal is possible for the families of loved ones who have struggled with addiction. As with my pre-combat vs. post-combat experience, though, “normal” will never again look like it did before the addiction and its associated stress entered the picture. Our senses will have been sharpened and our knowledge of the issue will have deepened. The addiction and all of its associated trauma will always be in our minds, but not necessarily “top of mind,” once a genuine recovery is working its magic. Time is the most influential element in our return to “normal” and it is also the most difficult to quantify.
How much time without trauma must pass before we are comfortable allowing other life issues to dominate our thoughts and actions? How long must we wait before real FUN enters our lives again? When will it be ok to go into a deep and relaxing sleep at night, feeling confident that no horror will occur and that our slumber won’t be interrupted? How long before a routine telephone call from our affected family member elicits joy instead of concern? At what point do we transition from receiving support from other affected families to providing support?

These are all very difficult questions to answer except to say that it is different for everyone. In our family’s case, the absence of crisis is about to enter its third year, our son’s recovery appears to be genuine, and we have indeed returned to a more normalized life. Did it happen after two years? Or one year? I’m not sure when we hit the pivot point, but I do know that we are happier now than at any time in the past ten years. We have successfully “returned to normal” with its new definition. We survived.

With that said, though, here are some of the differences in our “new normal” from the life we had before addiction entered the picture:

-We still react with a nanosecond of panic when the telephone rings.
-We feel a very brief moment of apprehension when we see a police vehicle on patrol in our neighborhood.
-We occasionally doubt our son’s word, even when he’s telling us the absolute truth.
-We do occasionally wallow in the fear that “this is too good to be true….when will the other shoe drop?”
-We overlay our son’s name on the names of the characters in drug-related news stories and shudder to think that it could be us who are dealing with whatever tragedy has been described.
-We consider Bridge To Hope family support group to be an important part of our lives and feel compelled to help others find hope, encouragement and ultimate success in the recovery process while we continue to receive benefits for ourselves.
-We acknowledge that relapse could occur at any moment which never allows us to totally drop our guard.

So how did our family get to this point—this point of normalcy? Time passed, recovery started, crises ended and peace and tranquility were restored to our family. Underlying this progression of events was a resolute faith in God and His plan for our lives, inspiration and shared experiences through the Bridge To Hope family support group, an unrelenting positive attitude, tenacity, cessation of enabling, an effective rehabilitation program (Teen Challenge), and an unconditional love for our son that never wavered. Ten years ago, recovery (a return to “normal”) was the goal and today it has been achieved. The journey was arduous and at times seemed impossible to navigate, but the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was visible all the way. Today, having emerged from that tunnel into bright sunshine, the flickering light that was so hard to see a decade ago has blossomed into an awesome landscape of possibilities, opportunities and happiness.

I believe that the old saying, “Time heals all wounds,” is true for the most part. What we must remember, though, is that even healed wounds leave scars. The same is true with our return to normal….the burden will be lifted, joy will return, life will go on…but the scars of our trauma and the determination with which we confronted it will be with us forever. It would be na├»ve for us to believe otherwise and it would be unrealistic to expect “the perfect life” after what we have been through. The good news, though, is that it really is possible for us to recover from this stress and to lead happy, productive, fulfilling and “normal” lives once again!

June 2007

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What I accomplished by attending psst meetings by Robin.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, August 06, 2007

This year Juvenile Court featured PSST in the Annual Report Card. Some comments from PSST members were published. Here is one, although the actual comment used in the report card may have only been a line or two off of what you read below:

"What I hoped to accomplish by attending psst meetings was to develop some coping skills to deal with the constant battles my son and I engaged in. It became so frustrating finding myself constantly arguing, gritting my teeth, throwing and often breaking things to the point it was literally damaging my health, and I'm certain it wasn't good for my son either. Although I haven't made as many meetings as I would like, the ones I have attended have helped me more than I can even explain.

"By listening to other parents (who all share similar problems) and by role playing (which is always quite funny) I have learned unique ways of cutting off a confrontation before it ever has a chance to get off the ground. What I didn't expect was the calming effect it left on me afterwords. Yes, the arguing has just about stopped in my home, because I have learned to change the way "I react." Role playing with other parents and acting out your teen can be so funny, (but always totally voluntary). But when you bring this home alone and get a chance to use what you have learned, it is so rewarding.

"What would have been a big blow-out, now feels like a small victory for me. Instead of walking away with clenched teeth and high blood pressure, I often have a hard time holding back laughter. So not only do I deal with difficult situations better, my stress level has been cut down to near nothing!

"I also see a huge difference in my relationship with my son, now that the yelling has stopped, and he sees who is really in control. We seem to be able to communicate better and I also see my calmer behavior overflowing onto him. If you can spare the time, a PSST meeting is a lot of fun and will be beneficial to you, your child or any other family member who has been worn down by the arguing. It is also a great place to just vent, because everyone in this room understands exactly where you're coming from and knows how it feels to have been pushed too far from the stress of a teen." Robin

Thanks very much for sharing Robin. Your comment means a lot to us.

We would like to hear from as many parents as possible. What has PSST helped you accomplish? What has the group meant to you? Please share your comments about PSST here, or if you would like email lwoodward@court.allegheny.pa.us with your comments and I will post. Each comment is priceless and may help other readers decide to take in a PSST meeting.

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Thanks everyone for the Birthday Cake!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, August 04, 2007

I was so surprised to see a Nevertheless Birthday Cake today! What a wonderful surprise and a perfectly stunning and delicious cake. Yummmmm.

And boy did that cake go fast. I had one piece left to take home to my very cake-critical wife, and she even said it was compellingly delicious, including the icing. Very moist- it was just so good and it's a toss up between this one and her regular bakery, which is the only place she ever buys from.

Those of you that know me, know that I was easily as excited by the appearance. Who thought of putting one of my favorite words, "Nevertheless" on my cake is a genius! Thanks a Million! I was thinking- "Wow- the Power on the Cake!

Speaking of power, boy could I feel it at the meeting today! Today, we had three new parents. Our veteran parents really reached out to the newcomers and shared a message of hope and optimism. Yes, it can be a long fight- but things do indeed get better as time goes on. Several parents shared a testimony of how our recommended techniques work to help deescalate arguments, avoid distractions, and keep us in control. The technique that seemed to get a lot of attention today was Agreeing With And Adding Your Own Twist.

"Yes, you are right, I do want the Court to place you because as long as I can see that you might hurt yourself with drugs and criminal activities, I will always want you in a safe place." Or "Yes, you know, maybe you can't trust me- Nevertheless, I"ll change my mind and whenever I get new facts to take into consideration. In fact, probably the only thing you can trust about me is that I will always act to keep you safe if I think you are in some kind of danger, and if that means calling the police, your Probation Officer, or your school- then I'll do it even if it means I've changed my mind about things."

Anyway, it was a good meeting, a nice role-play albeit the juvenile portrayed was a tough nut, but with all the help of everyone in the room, we came up with a good plan. And boy that cake was great!

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Gratitude (and the three things you might owe your child.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, August 03, 2007

The last time we met at Eastern, the theme of the group was Gratitude. A lot of good things were said. Mary suggested that I post about it- I thought it was a good idea- but here two weeks have flown by, we meet at Eastern again tomorrow, and I'm just now getting to it...

Time really does fly by, don't you think? In no time at all, our situations will have completely changed. Our teens will no longer be teens. We will be significantly older. And all the memories that we are making now will be just that- memories.

Recently, I turned a year older. These last few years, I have not enjoyed seeing the next birthday come. I think I'm just way to old to want to be a year older. This year for me was different. Maybe I am over the hump now and another year just doesn't matter. When you are my age its' like if you are really dirty, covered in mud, and wet down to your bones, and you see a mud puddle coming up. Why even walk around it? With all the dirt I got on I figure I'll just walk right through. Maybe another birthday just doesn't matter if you are already in your late fifties. What's one more?

On the other hand, maybe that's not it at all- forget the mud analogy. Maybe it was all the gratitude talk at that meeting two weeks ago that did it. Anyway, I felt grateful for this birthday. It means that I got to enjoy another year on this earth. That's not something that is given out to people each year. Some of us will never get another year. For some of us- our time has run out.

And as I mentioned on the Coffe House Nation blog, I felt Jessica B's presence at the Pirate Game. The empty seat was next to her closest friend. And she was only 18. And she will not be around another year. It's just hard for me to regret getting one more year older, when that intelligent, beautiful talented young lady will never see 19.

So, lately I think I have been thinking a lot about my blessings. About my grandchildren for example. And about my grown up kids. And about my family. Don't get me wrong- I have regrets- but they don't really seem as big as they did last year.

Of course, we want our teenagers to be grateful. It's important. For one thing, look at all the damn stuff we do and we did for them! They ought to be grateful! They owe us that, don't they? And secondly, we know if they loose their gratitude, they can't stay clean. So, we get scared when they show this sense of entitlement- that the world owes them everything! Just because. Just because we brought them into this world I guess.

But where do they get off with that sense of entitlement anyway? Where did they learn it? Who did they get that off of? TV? Friends? Drugs? Wonder if they get any of it from us? You see, many of us have that sense of entitlement too. We have it when we face our kids. "After all I've done for you- you do this to me?" For example, when a teen relapses, this is often what parents say or at least think to their kids.

I wonder sometimes if it would be easier to have a oppositional defiant child who grows up to have many issues including drug addiction or if it would be easier to have a Downs syndrome child who lives to teen years. Either condition can lead to fatality at an early age. Both conditions must cause a lot of stress on the family. Apples and oranges? Perhaps. But I think for some people, the Downs baby would be easier even though it would in so many ways be more heart-breaking. The difference, I think, is that a parent would know that the Downs baby did not choose to be that way. They are innocent. But the drug addict- he chooses to hurt his family, the same family that has given him so much and sacrificed so heavily. He can go on to live a normal life - but he chooses to be a drug addict.

So, I don't have an answer to that one. I know, I know, I have the radio shack reputation- you got questions- Lloyd has answers. But some of this is just hard to wade through. What are we grateful for when our oppositionally defiant drug addict teenager just won't get it? How do we keep the focus on our own gratitude, when he keeps relapsing?

And now I am reminded again of what Ed B http://relapse-psst.blogspot.com/2007/07/if-addict-is-going-to-relapse-there-is.html said at our Greentree meeting about a month ago. He asked himself what it was that he owed his son, who also struggles with this disease of addiction. He only came up with three things. First: unconditional love. As Ken mentioned at a recent meeting, this really means that one refuses to withhold love in an effort to control his addicts drug abuse.

Second: Responsibility. I like to think of this as accountability. The parent refuses to enable his son out of the consequences of his addicition. Consequenes help us learn. We learn from failure in a much more effective way sometime than we learn from success. So, a Parent allows their child to fail especially if he is active in his drug addiction.

Third: lead by example. Indeed, demonstrating a good example of a healthy person in pursuit of happiness is a gift to your child. A gift that by the way, may keep giving long after you are dead, because we never really forget our parents and we study them with an intensity that we usually do not show for other people.

This last is where we can demonstrate gratitude. It is so much more powerful to be grateful and to show your teenager that you are grateful for whatever your blessings are, than it is to motivate them to be grateful by lecture or talking them into it.

As Mary pointed out, Gratitude is contagious. So, is a lack of gratitude. They are both contagious. Let's decide which we want to attempt to pass on to our teenagers. And then let's get moving. We have today. Tommorow isn't promised. Either we might not be here- or our teenager might not be here.

If you have read all this, you may be saying "that's easy for you to say, you don't have the cross that I have to bear." Well, you don't know the other person's cross though do you? We all have them. They just come in different forms.

Anyhow, let me close this by telling one really big thing that I am grateful for. YOU. All of you. all of you have taught me so many things in our meetings and outside of our meetings too. As your child's Probation Officer I keep learning off of you all daily. People sometimes ask me why I choose to work every Saturday morning when I don't have too. They might not understand. I love going to work on Saturday Mornings. It's the best part of the week, and I am very lucky to get to work with all of you wonderful people. You are all the best- you are my heroes. You toil endlessly to save your children's life. What better thing is there to do? Yes, they pay me- but if money was no object- I would do this just for fun and for personal growth. So, to all of you terrific parents out there- thanks.

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Reality Tour site at Mars Home for Youth
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Thursday, July 26, 2007

CANDLE, Inc. is pleased to announce the dates for our newest Reality Tour Drug Prevention program site at Mars Home for Youth on Route 228. www.realitytour.org
Upcoming dates are: August 9th, Sept. 13th, Oct. 11th, Nov. 8th, Dec. 13th.

The program is suitable for parents with children ages 10+. We do accept groups and you are welcome to call our reservation number 724-679-6612 to make arrangements. Registration forms are online at www.realitytour.org.

We could use a few more volunteers at this site: . . .

Call 724-679-6612 to volunteer
Group Leaders are needed and the duties are that of an 'usher'. (Teens or adults - 1x per mo. 3 hrs.)
Butler and Mars sites are looking for addicts in recovery (1 yr min.) for speaker opportunities in our Q & A session. Parents of those afflicted by addiction are welcome to volunteer as well. We have 6 active parents in our Butler programs and several have been with us since the beginning ('03), stating that working with the program empowers them in the battle against addiction.
Over 2500 Butler residents have attended the program to date. We are working with 3 schools that are dedicating a grade level to the Reality Tour experience by promoting attendance to parents. In coming years all the upper grades of these schools will have a significant percentage of students and parents that have attended the program. Surveys show the experience is long lasting. We also now accept a school's disciplinary action students on a priority basis through our at-risk access. Schools must notify CANDLE of their intent to use the at-risk access.

By the end of the year the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacology will have completed their research study of the Reality Tour for submission to the national registry of evidence-based programs in '08.

We have also opened a Reality Tour site on campus at Slippery Rock University, so in Butler County there are 3 locations. Across PA 16 communities are presenting the program and 4 are pending. We hope to bridge the gap between Butler County and the Reality Tour in downtown Pittsburgh in '08 by adding more sites in communities along the Rte 79 corridor.

Please fwd this notice to anyone you like. Call if you have questions.

Norma Norris

Norma J. Norris
Executive Director
Ph: 724-679-1788

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Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, July 21, 2007

Click above link for more...

Type rest of the post here

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New Post on Relapse Blog by Ed A.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, July 21, 2007

Click the link above to go to Sister-PSST Blog on Relapse Issues.

Type rest of the post here

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Rules of the Road
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Thursday, July 19, 2007

My child has returned home recently from a 1 month rehab and 4 month stay at a halfway house. As a condition of returning home I suggested some changes to the baseline Conditions of Supervision that the probation officer (Lloyd) usually uses. We reviewed and adjusted the rules together to get to this final document before it was presented to my child. Names and specifics have been changed.

A lot of these changes were gleaned from other professionals and parents over the years who have shared their wisdom.

I have used a planning methodology called SMART in the past. It was an acronym for Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Timely. I tried to apply these principals to all of the goals.

One of my favorite quotes is "Men plan, God laughs". I have annotated the rules so you can see how it is going so far.
These conditions of supervision my be amended at the discretion of the Probation Officer. We are expecting changes to be made in the short term (this leaves the door open if you forget anything)

1) Obey all laws.
2) Do not leave Allegheny County without the permission of the probation officer. Exception: in the company of his parents or with parents permission to a border county.

3) Advise the probation officer IMMEDIATELY of any change in address or telephone number.
4) Do NOT possess or employ firearms, fireworks, weapons, or other instruments of crime.
5) Adhere to the following curfew: 24 hour house arrest until further notice. Travel only with parents.

6) No driving until further notice. (this one is tough, it takes a lot of driving to support all of meetings and therapy and the house arresst means no rides from friends to meetings. It does help in establishing the goal of what do you need to do to get a car)

7) Socialize only with peers that the parents and Probation Officer approve of and DO NOT socialize with those that are known to use illegal substances or those who are known to commit crime. No phone, letters, email, IM, facebook, myspace messages or face-to-face with unapproved peers. Unapproved peers include but are not limited to: LIST UNAPPROVED PEERS HERE.

a) Males-until further notice (this one is very difficult to enforce - in discussions with the PO we decided to drop it after two weeks)
b) L
c) C
d) S

8) Call sponsor every day during the first phase of Probation; call other recovering peers each day; join a Home Group and attend Home Group Meetings.

9) Make contact with the Probation Officer daily including holidays and weekends via phone. Report to the probation officer as directed and agree that the probation officer may visit at any time.

10) Notify the probation officer within forty-eight hours of being questioned or arrested by a law enforcement officer.


12) Do not possess or consume alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, or any other illegal drugs.

13) Submit to random Drug & Alcohol Urinalysis or saliva testing by parents or Probation Officer.

14) Submit to search by Probation Officer or parents if requested.

15) Complete community service at the mission trip 7/23-7/27.

16) Attend at least one recover related activity per day. Attend 12 step meetings from Prayer to Prayer.

17) Follow all discharge recommendations of

18) Make sure that a parent approves of all activities and plans. There should be no unapproved or unaccounted for time. Treat Parents with respect.

19) Accomplish the following educational and/ or vocational goals: to be determined

20) Complete a D&A Intensive Outpatient Counseling Program:

21) Enroll in and participate in an therapy or counseling approved by Probation Officer and Parents. Develop a written plan by 8/7/07 and review that plan with your support team. (this was designed to make sure they own their own health issues)

22) Attend one church service on a weekly basis at .

23) Establish a workout plan and visit the gym minimum 3 times per week.

24) Attend the drama workshops on Thursday night at .

25) Cell phone is only to be used for recover activities. Do not erase phone numbers from phone memory. Do not accept restricted calls. Provide phone to be reviewed when requested. Leave phone on kitchen table at night.

26) Do not use the house phone.

27) Do not use the Internet.

28) Asleep by midnight and up by 8 AM or as needed to make recovery commitments.

29) Make and keep all Dr. appointments. Take care of health needs.

30) Keep a day timer of daily commitments.

31) Move property from halfway house to home by 7/15

32) Assist with moving to upstairs bedroom. By 7/23

(these two were included so the child could own all of the responsibility of moving back home. This worked well - it gave a great focus for the first two weeks)

33) Help with weekly house chores and home repair projects as needed.

34) Keep your room neat and do your own wash.

35) Your are not to have more than $10 cash on you at any time.

36) Any cash you receive is to be transferred to your parent’s custody.

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