Quote of the Week

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

No Meetings Until 2009
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The meeting between Christmas and New Years is cancelled.  The next meeting is Jan 3, 2009.  

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Is every moment a teachable moment? - The Mom Song
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One of the topics we talked about in group on Saturday was reminding our kids. How it drives them crazy and how it makes us insane. Take three minutes to check out this little video. I think it shows the good, the bad and the reality of what we do in a very funny way. Do you see yourself in here? Do you think our kids really see us this way?

Lloyd demonstrated the once-a-day planning technique to help planning that moves the focus of the planning to the child.

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Holiday Party Alert: December 20th 9:00 AM Eastern Dist Office
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, December 11, 2008

Please help us celebrate the Holidays at the Eastern District Office on December 20th at 8:30 AM. Bring food if you like but if not that's OK. We are opening the doors a little early but probably won't start the meeting part till 9:00 or a few minutes after.

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Posted by:Ken Sutton--Friday, December 05, 2008

Is there a magic cutoff period when Offspring become accountable for their own Actions? Is there a wonderful moment when Parents can become detached spectators in The lives of their children and shrug, 'It's Their life,' and feel nothing?

Click the READ MORE link for the wisdom of this unknown writer

Is there a magic cutoff period when Offspring become accountable for their own Actions? Is there a wonderful moment when Parents can become detached spectators in The lives of their children and shrug, 'It's Their life,' and feel nothing? When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital Corridor waiting for doctors to put a few Stitches in my daughter's head. I asked, 'When do You stop worrying?' The nurse said, 'When they get out of the accident stage.' My Mom just smiled faintly and said nothing. When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little Chair in a classroom and heard how one of my Children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, And was headed for a career making License plates. As if to read my mind, a teacher Said, 'Don't worry, they all go through This stage and then you can sit back, relax and Enjoy them.' My Mom just smiled Faintly and said nothing. When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime Waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come Home, the front door to open. A friend said, 'They're trying to find themselves. Don't worry, In a few years, you can stop worrying. They'll be Adults.' My Mom just smiled faintly And said nothing. By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being Vulnerable. I was still worrying over my Children, but there was a new wrinkle. There Was nothing I could do about it. My Mom just smiled faintly and said nothing. I Continued to anguish over their failures, be Tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in Their disappointments. My friends said that when my kids got married I Could stop worrying and lead my own Life. I wanted to believe that, but I was Haunted by my Mom's warm smile and her Occasional, 'You look pale. Are you all right? Call me the minute you get home. Are You depressed about something?' Can it be that parents are sentenced to a Lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another Handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of Human frailties and the fears of the Unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue That elevates us to the highest form of life? One of my children became quite irritable Recently, saying to me, 'Where were you? I've beenCalling for 3 days, and no one answered I was worried.' I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passed. PASS IT ON TO OTHER WONDERFUL PARENTS

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Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, November 30, 2008

"...I have a tendency to talk too much; which turns my daughter off.
But that night, I vowed I would keep my mouth shut, not judge her, criticize her, or inject my comments. Only when she asked for my opinion did I give it to her. I just listened."

click the READ MORE link to read the rest of this mother's story.


My daughter has been an addict since she was 13. She’s been in recovery now for 9 months, living away from home and doing very well.

One evening after not hearing from her for a while, she phoned me. She had been going through some tough times and wanted to come home and stay overnight. She wanted me to hold her and watch a move like the old times. So I picked her up and brought her home.

That night she talked, we cried, we laughed, and I held her. It was like giving birth to her all over again. I hadn’t felt so much pleasure with her in a long, long time.

I have a tendency to talk too much; which turns my daughter off. But that night, I vowed I would keep my mouth shut, not judge her, criticize her, or inject my comments. Only when she asked for my opinion did I give it to her. I just listened.

Sometimes listening can be more powerful than anything. It’s surprising how much better I got to know and understand my daughter. The gap that was beginning to form between us had gone away. BECAUSE I LISTENED.

It was a learning experience for me. There are times when it’s necessary to listen. That night was one of those times. Listening was the best help I could have given her.

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Sayings that Help
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, November 30, 2008

We learn a lot in the PSST meetings. Often, some of the key ideas get distilled into a sentence that makes complete sense in its conciseness and clarity. For example:

“Holding resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

Sometimes, outside of the PSST meetings, you may come upon a grain of wisdom that you are sure was about dealing with addiction, but in fact it is just a universal truth that applies. Some of my favorites:

“Actions don't spring from thoughts but from readiness for responsibility.”
-Deitrich Bonhoffer

“Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian.”
-Heywood Broun

OK. Time for you to get involved. Share the sayings that mean the most to you, that have been helpful, that turned on the light, that helped you “get it”. Share the one you cling to, the one that shows you due North in this struggle. Share it if someone else wrote or said it or if you thought it up. It doesn’t matter. It may help a parent in the group now or someone who reads this blog 10 years from now. Leave a comment or send an email and I will post it.

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Ken wins Meritorious Service Award for Whole State of Pennsylvania!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, November 21, 2008

From left to right: Judge Mulligan, Judge Clark, Supervisor Valerie Ketter, Ken, Deputy Director Juvenile Court Russell Carlino, Assistant Administrator Ted Kairys, and Director of Court Services for Allegheny County James Reiland.

Ken was honored on November 6,2008 at the Juvenile Court Jdges' Commission and PA. Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers Annual Awards Program with the Meritorious Service Award.

Both Ken and his wife Debbie have been tirelessly involved in efforts to help their teenager with drug addiction. This nomination focuses on Ken because of his volunteer efforts to help other parents, such as:

(1) Become a leader in Parent Survival Skills Training, attending Saturday morning meetings weekly for several years.
(2) Started and continues to edit the PSST blog, which carries helpful information from diverse sources. (www.gopsst.org.)
(3) Almost single-handedly started the North Hills chapter of PSST.

Ken also gives out his personal phone number to parents and makes himself available for phone calls and even home visits to distraught parents. When Ken gives advice it comes from the heart, because he knows the pain of having a loved one continually struggle with this life threatening disease of addiction.

Ken deserves recognition because of his work with his daughter but also because of his selfless volunteer work to help other parents in their struggles.

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Parent of the Year Award 2008
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 23, 2008

Contratulations to Beth and Erv who were chosen Allegheny Parents of the Year!

First, they had a big challenge with their son. They endured lots of difficulties as they struggle to help their son turn the corner from his poor choices that led him down a path of trouble. Secondly, they changed a lot of what they did and worked with PSST and treatment therapists to make those changes. Third, through it all they supported each other and presented a unified front to their son. And last but not least both of these parents reached out to help others. We saw it over and over again as they attended PSST, performed role-plays, led by example, and even participated in Coffee House Nation events (our positive peer group for youth sponsored by Juvenile Court) by not only being there for the teens but also by bringing hot dogs beverages and such for our Steeler Game event. Congratulations to Beth and Erv and thanks from all of us at Juvenile Court for your contribution.

Picture from left to right in the back row: James Rieland, Director of Allegheny County Probation; Judge Flaherty; Judge Woodruff; Anthony Madison #37 Pittsburgh Steelers; Judge Clark; Judge McVay; Judge Mulligan.

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Good article on relapse issues
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, October 12, 2008

Val found this article. It is well written and full of wisdom. Click here to read be sent to the article.

The problem for us in PSST is not always that we don't see the signs- it's what do we do about them?

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This Saturday, Oct 4th is a very special meeting!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, October 01, 2008

First, it's the second try at "bring your teen with you to PSST." Second, we are trying to help Laura Condos with her evalution of PSST and we are inviting parents that we have not seen for a while to come back and let us know if they feel that the whole PSST experience was worthwhile.

There will be a chance for everyone to meet with Laura, fill out the evaluation form (also available on this website- see post below) and also briefly interview with Laura. Any help either by coming in to see us or filling out the survey online is appreciated.

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Please help us to evaluate PSST!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, September 28, 2008

Our Masters Level Student Intern, Laura Condos, is working on an evaluative instrument. You can either fill this out on paper or you can follow the link below to fill it out. Also, Laura will be at the next meeting on October 4th at the Eastern District Probation Office to help distribute evaluations and to interview parents. Thanks for your support.

Please read:
The link below will take you to a survey that is intended to gather
information about your experiences at the PSST group. Your answers to all of
these questions will remain confidential.

I, Laura Condos, am currently conducting an evaluative research project
concerning the implementation of the PSST group. My intent is to examine
your overall satisfaction with the group as well as elicit some suggestions
that you may have for group improvement or recruitment of additional group

The survey should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Please
answer the questions to the best of your ability and completely as possible.
Your participation is very much appreciated.

Thanks so much,


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Update on all the happenings at PSST.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, September 08, 2008

We had five teens and eight parents attend the experimental Teens and Parents meeting at Eastern District Probation on 9-6-08. It was the first time that people could put a face on some of the stories that we have been hearing about these fantastic teens.

All we did for the first half hour was ask teens how they managed to get thier clean time. Three of the five Teens had a year clean, one had ten months, and one is struggling to put some clean time together but even he had a great attitude as he was waiting for a bed to open at the Tom Rudder House. As for the parents they gave abbreviated updates. At about 9:30 AM the teens left with Kathy Tagmyer from Westley Spectrum to participate in a Teen Forum, and then we manged to get the real updates from the parents after they left.

We also had Laura, our Juvenile Probation Intern in attendance. She is working on a Master Degree in Social Work. As part of her internship with us, which is through December, she will be creating an evaluative component to PSST. As to that she requests that as many parents as possible attend the meeting on October 4th so that she can pass out questioniares and perhaps have mini meetings with parents. So please pass the word around that we need parents including veteran parents to attend on Oct 4th or at least to call in and tell how best that Laura can reach them.

However, one small problem at this point is that neither Val nor I can attend the 9-20-08 meeting at Eastern. Laura can not attend either. So, we are looking for another Probation Officer or somebody to lead our meeting that day. Please let us know if you have any ideas. Kathy Tagmyer has said that she is available, but she would be working with the teens on the first and third Saturday mornings. Therfore, we still need someone to open and run our parent meeting. Or we could cancel. Or we could ask Kathy to work with the parents on 9-20-08 and just not bring the teens in that day. What does everyone think? Leave a comment and check back to this blog for more information about just what we will do with the 9-20-08 meeting.

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When a relapse occurs
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What do we say? For example, you have just given your teen a urine screen and he fails it. What strategy to employ?

There are two primary tasks to accomplish. First, give your teen a chance to admit that he has relapsed. If he admits it- give him credit for being honest about it. If not, give a second test on the same urine sample. If the second test comes back positive, express confusion and express confidence that the test instruments are reliable. Don't expect an immediate confession but continue to express confusion and let your teen know that it is his responsibility to account for why his urine is testing positive.

At the point where the teen has still not admitted to a relapse, I like to ask him if he has been around anybody who has been abusing drugs. This question often provides me with more information. For example, if he reports that he has been inside a vehicle with others who were smoking marijuana and he thinks that he got an indirect dirty urine as a result, well now i know that he has been associating with drug abusers while they are getting high and that he is in some danger if he is riding in automobiles and smoking marijuana. This is important information but it does not necessarily account for why the THC is at a level for which it tests positive in his urine.

Keep in mind, that while an admission from your teenager is important, it is not necessary. Even without an admission you can move to the second task. Try to refrain from calling your teen a liar. Name calling can be counter-productive. Saying things like, "I am struggling to belive your story - it doesn't account for why this test is positive" is different from saying "I don't believe you- I know you are lying." Remember, we don't "know" anything, unless we were there when he got high. But he has to tell us something that makes sense, something that is credible, and if he tests positive on the second test as well as the first, then he has some explaining to do."

One question that comes up repeatedly is this: can a person test positive if he is just around others who are smoking marijuna? The textbook answer to this, which is provided by the drug testing companies is no. There is generally not enough of the substance second hand to provide enough THC to test positive. However, common sense will tell us that there can be exceptions to this. In the above mentioned example, you have teens smoking marijuna in a car with the windows up. If this goes on long enough, then of course a person who is not smoking it can get a "contact high." Or, at a party in a smaller room the marijuana smoke can become really thick so that your might hear people joke that all you have to do is go into that room and you will get high. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.

A good question to ask the teen who refuses to admitt it is this: "did you feel high?" If the answer to this question is a yes, then you have your admission because he certainly has relapsed, as he allowed enough marijuana into his body to feel intoxicated. Of course, he may still be lying. Still, an admission is an admission. If on the other hand, he denies that he felt anything, then that that denial constitutes an unacceptable explanation.

Task number two: holding your teen accountable. Whether or not your teen admits to a relapse, you can move to the second task. While it is important to give your teenager a chance to account for why his urine is dirty, a chance to come clean so to speak, it does not change much in the way of the second task, which is to hold him acccountable for the relapse. State the accountablitly in simple business-like terms. Most of the accountability will involve restricting him from contact with peers, grounding, loosing cell phones, and perhaps an assessment from a local drug treatment program. If he has had outpatient treatment already, he may need inpatient treatment now. If your child is on probation or if you have filed an ACT 53 petition, then there may be legal consequences as well. Keep the second part short. Going on and on about a relapse is usually counter-productive.

Things to avoid doing:
1. Asking why they did it is usually counterproductive. Probably they like the feeling of being high. That's the real reason. This may feel like the perfect time to hit home a point about how bad of a decision it was to get high but it really is not the right time to make any points, except the two mentioned above. The problem with asking why is also this: there is no good reason and so you your question is a trap of sorts. Any reason they give you will not suffice. Mostly the reasons will be excuses, e.g., "I was depressed," "I was around my old friends," "you shouldn't have let me go over Sam's house," etc. We really don't want to hear the excuses, just skip that part and cover the consequences. However, there is nothing wrong with saying, "teel me what happened." Just don't expect much and don't make it the driving goal. He relapsed. Now, no matter what happened, you have to deal with it.

2. Asking how could they do this to you? Try not to take it personally. Probably it was not something they did to you- they just like the feeling of getting high. Creating a lot of drama over how horrible of a thing this was to do to you might feel like you are setting up a deterrant for the next time but we need to remember that we are powerless really to stop our teens from using drugs. We can only do our best to provide responsible pararent supervision and pick up the pieces in the best way that we can after it happens.

3. Don't keep this relapse a secret. Not from the other parent, the siblings, the counselor, or from the Probation Officer. This has to be exposed for what it is.

4. Don't try to "rip them a new one." That just doesn't help. Hold them accountable by restrictions, more clinical evaluations, or following through with Probation or Act business as you probably already told them that you would do. Let them feel the heat via consequences, not via your verbal tirade.

5. Your teen may lie about his relapse even after you see the result on the urine test. Be careful not to fall into the trap of making the primary issue his lying. The primary issue is continued abuse of drugs. They lying about it is secondary. So, lets assume that you go on and on about how important it is not to lie about these things. Finally, after a long session with you he admits that he relapsed. Now you move to the seond phase where you hold him accountable. Now he screems that he told the truth! But he is still being punished! See, he says, he knew he shouldn't trust you by telling the truth and he'll never tell the truth again now that he sees what it gets him. Just remember that the primary issue is his drug abuse and whether or not he admits to it- you can hold him accountable. If he admits to it- good for him- he told the truth- but he is still to be held accountable but now he can feel a small bit better because he got that off his chest.

6. It is natural to want to make your teen feel quilty about this. Stop it. They probably feel bad that they got caught. Maybe they do feel bad they they relapsed, but trying to heap on the guilt as a way of providing a deterrant against future drug abuse is not effective. We don't have the power to make them feel bad, except that they may feel bad for the consequences that they must now experience. Fine, lets go with that. Sometimes, we might hope that if our teen feels bad enough about what he has done, that we don't have to hold them accountable. "Oh, we talked about that- its' ok now." If you have not held your teen accountable, then the issue has not been delt with just because you talked about it and you might better now that you know how badly he feels. It's a trap. The primary issue is not his guilt- it's his relapse.

5. Remember that people learn from failure. Sometimes we have to fail and experience the consequences for that failure in order to learn. The old saying is: people change because they feel the heat- not because they see the light. Just remember that the most effective "heat" is consequences, not a verbal thrashing.

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All PSST meetings cancelled for August
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, July 28, 2008

This is just a chance for Lloyd and Val to catch up on things. We will be back in the Fall. Have a nice rest-of-the-summer everyone! You can call Lloyd at 412-861-6757 if you need some support or advice.

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Home Run Derby
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Thursday, July 17, 2008

This post was submitted by Mary C.

“To let you know how far I've come, let me tell you where I've been.
Not that long ago, there were nights I went to sleep in strange places praying I wouldn't wake up. After another night of bad decisions, I'd lie down with my heart speeding inside my chest like it was about to burst through the skin. My thinking was clouded, and my talent was one day closer to being totally wasted.”

Josh Hamilton is a major league baseball player. In last week’s Home run Derby contest he set a record with a 28-homer outburst in the first round. Unfortunately, I did not get to see this. My son told me about it a few days later. The fact that he had hit 28 homeruns was impressive but that wasn’t what impressed my son the most. Josh Hamilton is a recovering crack addict. He has turned his life around. He is an inspiration for many recovering addicts. His story is remarkable. The title of an ESPN article says it all, “'I'm proof that hope is never lost”. Click here to read it.

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Sorry, our Tuesday, July 15 meeting at Gateway is cancelled.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sorry, our Tuesday, July 15 meeting at Gateway is cancelled due to lack of interest. We are not sure that we will continue this meeting as interest is very low.

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Crisis Network kicks off
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, July 12, 2008

Starting July 1, re:solve Crisis Network began operating its phone and mobile crisis services. By calling the re:solve Crisis Network phone number (1-888-7-YOUCAN). . .

Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC and Allegheny County have partnered to bring new comprehensive behavioral health services to the residents of Allegheny County. re:solve Crisis Network kicked off July 1 and is a 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year crisis service available to any Allegheny County resident regardless of age, ability to pay, or history of using behavioral health services. The network is designed to help anyone deal with everyday stress so it does not become a crisis. Whether you are feeling depressed, bullied, experiencing grief, or troubled by day-to-day tasks, re:solve Crisis Network can help.

Starting July 1, re:solve Crisis Network began operating its phone and mobile crisis services. By calling the re:solve Crisis Network phone number (1-888-7-YOUCAN), you can speak to a trained counselor on the phone or in person through the mobile crisis services. If mobile services are requested, a counselor will meet you wherever you are or wherever you would like to meet in Allegheny County.

Phase two of the re:solve Crisis Network will roll out this fall. This phase includes walk-in and overnight behavioral health services at its new location being built on Braddock Avenue. The development of this network will create more than 120 new jobs in the Pittsburgh area and provide a confidential outlet for residents of Allegheny County to seek help.

re:solve Crisis Network’s goal is to help you resolve your crisis before it becomes a crisis. Step one to feeling relief starts with picking up the phone. Help is available any day, any time, for any reason. Contact the re:solve Crisis Network at 1-888-7-YOUCAN or 1-888-796-8226.

Continue to use the WPIC Call Center and admissions number, 412-624-2000, to arrange transfers to the WPIC emergency room, schedule inpatient admissions and outpatient appointments, obtain information about WPIC’s services, or reach directory assistance.

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A chance to help.
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Friday, July 11, 2008

Join Together is an excellent national advocacy group that monitors and gets involved with the problems and issues surrounding drug and alcohol abuse. They make it easy to stay informed with their daily email newsletter. You can find them at http://www.jointogether.org/ and subscribe.

They are currently asking for our support in an effort to stop MillerCoors from marketing an energy/alcohol drink. Seeing corporate America trying to turn a profit on the backs of our children really just sets me off. This is a national email effort and they have made it extremely easy to participate. Just go to the website or click the picture above.

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Quote from 21 year-old recovering addict
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 29, 2008

The therapist asked this young man who had recently celebrated two years clean what his plan was if he relapsed. The young man responded, "You mean if I don't die?"

Often we find that the miracles in recovery are people who never let themselves forget that the disease is fatal.

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Letter to the Disease by Mary Chalburg
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Realizing I was powerless over you empowered me. I have learned that I can not control you, I did not cause you and I can not cure you. I will continue to live my life even if my son decides to use drugs again...

Intro: Lots of changes!! The first letter I wrote was an assignment for family members attending family night at Gateway Rehab. Writing that first letter helped me tremendously while my son was in the Intensive Outpatient program. The assignment was designed to help family members put all of their thoughts on paper and to express their feelings toward addiction-not the addict in their life. This writing assignment was extremely therapeutic for me.

Dear Addiction,

I felt you were to blame for many problems in my life. I came to realize I was not angry at my father for being an alcoholic or my brother for being an addict; I was angry at You. I was not angry at my brother when he was diagnosed with lung cancer so why would I be mad at him for being addicted to drugs? Along with many people in our society I used to feel that addicts chose to do drugs; therefore, it is their fault when they eventually become addicted to drugs or alcohol. While individuals are responsible for taking that first drink or illicit drug, some people are luckier than others. The fortunate ones can stop after a beer or two or try marijuana and never pick it up again. My child was not able to stop after one or two and he did make bad choices about drugs and alcohol. Fortunately, he is alive today and has learned from his choices. Other kids have not been as lucky. The harsh reality is kids CAN and DO die from using drugs.

My son dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player not a heroin addict. However, experimenting with drugs and alcohol at a young age can ruin plans and in some cases, even take a life. I can only speak from my experience with my son’s drug use. I am similar to many other concerned parents. We find ourselves constantly worrying about our children’s health, social life and where he or she will attend college. My worries went from what colleges will he attend to HOW I CAN HELP SAVE HIS LIFE from drug abuse… Playing in a championship game or attending the prom seems so trivial to me now. Teenage experimentation with drugs quickly progressed to drug addiction.

The night my 18 year old son came to me and told me he was addicted to heroin changed my life forever… my son is 21 years old and recently celebrated 2 years of being clean and sober. He has been able to keep you away. You have not taken his life. I am grateful for this miracle everyday. You have changed my life dramatically. I feel free. I feel alive. I feel emotionally stronger than I have ever felt in my life. Realizing I was powerless over you empowered me. I have learned that I can not control you, I did not cause you and I can not cure you. I will continue to live my life even if my son decides to use drugs again. I will still wake up each morning, thank God for another day, and put a smile on my face. The thought of you does not scare me or control my thoughts. Ironically, the most stressful situation in my life has brought me the most peace.

Sadly, my family was broken into pieces because of you. Five lives took on very different directions because of you. Regardless of an impending divorce, the five of us still celebrate special days, such as birthdays or 2 year Anniversaries together. Parenting children together is an unbreakable bond. It is the strongest connection two people can share. We will continue to keep our three beautiful children our primary focus, nothing can or will change that!

We all dealt with the after affects of you differently. I can only speak for myself and how I dealt with you. Dealing with a loved one’s addiction is complicated. There is no right or wrong way to living with you. There is only the way that best suits each family member. Dealing with you is very personal and no two people deal with you exactly the same way. It is not uncommon for family members to be angry, embarrassed or in denial of your existence.

As a mother, there was only one way for me to deal with you. I looked into my child’s eyes with tears running down his face as he asked for my help and I promised him I would stand by him forever and ever as he worked on his life without you. He needed support and love from his family. He needed to know he was loved unconditionally. This came naturally to me; he was my child, my first born, my flesh and blood. This was not something I had to consider, it was instinctive.

My son is a remarkable young man. He has traveled across the country to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He has shared his story at meetings in front of hundreds of people. This is the same person who years prior had a difficult time looking someone in the eye when he spoke to them. That was when he was using drugs and had a secret… He is open and honest now. He has a passion for life. He lives each day to the fullest!

My message to parents is never give up hope. NEVER. If there is a heartbeat, there is still hope that an addict can change. As for parents, now is the time to change YOUR LIFE, regardless of your child’s drug use. Learn to live again, learn to love and trust again. This is not easy to do especially if a child is actively using drugs. Talk to other parents, join a support group, Parent Survival Skills Training PSST, HAS HELPED NUMEROUS PARENTS TAKE CONTROL OF THEIR LIFE AGAIN.

I learned about addiction and that has changed me. I feel blessed with this knowledge and have returned to school so I can learn how to help others. I have been able to share my personal experience with addiction in the hopes of helping another parent. Along with my personal experience and a degree in Social Work I will be able to help many more people.

In order for change to occur in our addicts, it helps if we parents are willing to make changes. We need to stop allowing the addict in our life to manipulate us. Conversely, we need to stop enabling them. There were many times when I thought I was helping my son and in reality I was doing more harm than good. Whether it was helping with homework (more or less doing the homework!) or not confronting him when one of his stories seemed suspicious; I always seemed to make excuses for his behavior. During his years in high school (using drugs) my “gut” feeling always told me something was not “right”. I could not put my finger on it and I hoped it was just adolescence and whatever “it” was would go away as he matured. Addiction does not just go away.

I encourage parents to follow their gut feeling. If something does not seem right-then it isn’t… Trust your instincts and do not allow feelings of guilt or denial stand in your way of a serious problem. Drugs are deadly. I suggest confronting your teenager when a story does not add up, ask more questions, and check their cell phones and text messages if you suspect drug use. If drug use is suspected do not allow he or she to drive your automobile. The risk of killing themselves or another human being is too great. Be firm with your decisions and stand your ground. By doing so teens will be mad at us but I am a firm believer if your teenager is mad at you then you are doing your job!

My son was mad at me on a daily basis. However, a year ago when Eric and I were on the Marty Griffin radio show sharing our experience Marty asked him,” I bet you were pretty mad at your mom during your high school days Eric? Eric agreed and then said the most magnificent comment a mother could hear, “But honestly, she saved my life and I love her.” My son told Marty Griffin and the entire listening audience that he loved me and I had saved his life- it doesn’t get much better than that… So, if your teen is mad at you today one day he may thank you for saving his or her life someday.

Change is difficult. For us parents, just recognizing that we are being manipulated is the first step. When we stop our enabling behaviors, it will not only change our life but our addict’s life as well.

It is time to take charge of your life again, like it used to be, before drugs or addiction invaded your life. PSST empowers parents of substance abusers.

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The Oasis Recovery Center of SW PA
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Thursday, May 22, 2008

These are some friends of the Bridge to Hope. I thought you would be interested in what is going on and that you may want to volunteer.

"Our goal is to help people get into recovery and/or treatment (get through the red tape) so many people make one call and find out there are no beds and then they give up and go back to drinking/using"

Our Official Name is "The Oasis Recovery Center of SW PA"
We are now a 501c3 organization.

We have a temporary office space located @ 960 Penn Avenue, 1st Floor

(this is almost directly across from the old recovery center if you remember
where that was located)

Our goal is to help people get into recovery and/or treatment
(get through the red tape) so many people make one call and find out there
are no beds and then they give up and go back to drinking/using

Second goal is to provide a safe environment to help people when they get
out of treatment -- focusing on the early recovery process...

Most people overdose in the first two weeks after leaving treatment or jail,
so this is a critical time and its when most people relapse

Our first phase is to begin an Addiction Helpline

Our second phase to to begin to work on building task groups in the
community and

Our third phase is to find a location to house the post-treatment work
Our ideal setting would be along the river (serenity)

So if any of you have any ideas for location, old building somewhere.
We were looking at Lawrenceville and the Strip District.

So now that we have an office and phone lines in place, I'm inviting you
To come to the office on Sat. May 31st @ 10 am
960 Penn Avenue to talk about Answering the Addiction Helpline.

If you could volunteer 3 hours/week to help take calls, please let me know.

If you would like a copy of our new brochure, please send me your address
and I will forward one to you.

Also, if you would like to help but cannot attend on May 31st, let me know.

Also, please feel free to pass this to anyone who you think may be
interested in helping us to get the Addiction Helpline up and running.
We will provide training on how to answer the calls free of charge.


412 519 5772

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Addiction: A fatal disease- written by Patty Leoni after the death of her brother in May of 2001.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 15, 2008

Drug addiction is a terribly selfish disease that not only affects the addict, but consumes the very life energy of the family and friends of the addict.

Those close to the addict feel a helplessness surrounded by depression and hurt. They feel inadequate, have no control and spend most of their time chasing their endless crusade to save their loved one. Frustration surrounds those associated with the addict as they are left to stand and watch helplessly as a loved one slowly kills themselves.

Once the addict's tragic and unnecessary death is over the family's hell slowly fades but is never forgotten. Those left behind suffer long after the addict's addiction has ended.

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Teen Driving
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, May 13, 2008

What we say in group: If you do not see responsible behavior out of you children at home- don't expect responsible behavior when they are alone out on the highway in your vehicle. Sure, it's convenient when your teen starts driving and suddenly you have the freedom to stay home and to not drive them all around...

...but the car is the most dangerous place. Trusting them to make good decisions out on the highway is perhaps the most risky decision that parents can make. Of course if you have any suspicion that your teen is still abusing drugs then it is a recipe for disaster to put them behind the wheel of a car- but even if you do not suspect current drug abuse your teen is still at risk on the highway. Driving takes good judgement. The younger a driver is the less likely that he will be a mature driver. Even so, look for evidence that your teen either is or is not responsible at home and at school. Does he follow the house rules? Does he responsibly do his chores? Does he present an attitude to you when confronted about his basic responsibilities? If the answer to any of the questions are "yes" then perhaps it is too soon to allow him to drive the car by himself.

Still, you may believe that your teen is a responsible, good driver and you decide to extend to him or her driving privileges. What can you do to monitor his driving?

1. Keep track of mileage by monitoring the odometer. How far he goes in the car can give you a good idea whether or not he is going where he says he is going. Make it clear that just riding around is not acceptable. He must have a destination and not veer from that destination.

2. If your child has a mobile phone you can enable GPS tracking for the phone and in that way monitor his whereabouts.

3. There are systems that can be installed on cars to monitor speeds and aggressive driving styles such as hard braking. I have no experience with these devices and therefore can not recommend one; however, here is a link to one that appears to be popular. http://www.roadsafety.com/teen.php?loc=interstitialskip

Here is another that I came across: http://www.globaltrackinggroup.com/sub_parentskids.cfm

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Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 11, 2008

All too often, we are intimidated by our powerful, headstrong, deliberate teens. Sometimes we are afraid of causing a relapse in our teenager. While this is normal, it is not a very realistic fear. Mostly, however, we are afraid of upsetting our teenager.

As to the first fear- if our teenager is going to relapse he is probably going to relapse no matter we do or do not do. There are exceptions. Read the posting on minimizing resentments for example. Things like lecturing on and on, comparing teens to their siblings, arguing, and yelling certainly put pressure on teenagers that can make it more difficult for them to avoid a relapse. Confrontation and accountability, however does not necessarily do that. In fact, not having confrontation and accountability might set up a relapse even more.

As one parent put it in Parent Group on Saturday. "It's not just that I'm intimidated because I think he might relapse because I know I felt intimidated by him before he ever started abusing drugs." It's not rocket science to grasp how easy it is for parents to become intimidated. Our teenagers have temper tantrums. We hate that. We try with all of our might to avoid the dreaded temper tantrum.

When our teen flips out we go though intense feelings ourselves. We feel guilty that we have upset our teen. We feel powerless to do or say anything to stop the tantrum. In the past we have appeased our teenagers, just to get them to stop the temper tantrum. There in lies the fly in the ointment. By appeasing our teenager, we teach that having a temper tantrum is indeed an effective way to get good things. Maybe it will be the good thing that the teen desires or maybe it will be some other good thing that a parent uses to try to pacify the teen; either way something good comes out of a temper tantrum.

Let's remember also that attention is the most powerful reinforcement. Think about it. When a teenager has a temper tantrum he is usually guaranteed that he will receive a lot of attention. Everyone drops what they are doing and comes in to see what's going on. Everyone tries to find out what the problem is so that it can be remedied. By doing this fact finding and problem solving the adults give the teen a lot of attention. It is ironic that the teen is having the tantrum because he has learned that it is an effective way to get attention and other stuff. The fact finding and problem solving provides more attention so that the parents continue to reward the teen for the acting out behavior. How can we prevent this vicious cycle?

First, we have to accept that we are powerless to prevent temper tantrums, unless you count giving them everything they want whenever they want it. Obviously, that would not be a healthy thing.

Secondly, we need to let the teen know that it is OK to express anger and if necessary have a temper tantrum. We can tell them things like, "OK, get that out- that's right- you can get that out- go ahead yell, scream, do what you need to do."

Third, stay aware of how much attention you provide to your teenager during a temper tantrum. Once you realize that you are reinforcing behavior that you would rather extinguish, you can stop it. Say something to the effect of, "OK, get that out- that's right- you can get that out- go ahead yell, scream. But you know what? Take it to your bedroom so we don't have to hear it, OK? By letting the teen know that it is OK to have a temper tantrum you take the wind out of your teen's sail and when you tell him to take it to his bedroom you stop the reinforcement of the behavior. What if your teenager will not go to his bedroom? Go to yours until the behavior stops. If he pursues you into your bedroom you might have to ride it out with him and if so, do not respond and try to minimize eye contact. Never give the teen what he wants when he has a tantrum. Once he starts with the tantrum you can not give in to his demands- it's like negotiating with Terrorists. In the end it always fails. Your teen must learn that this behavior is not an effective way to get what he wants.

Fourth, remember that every temper tantrum has a silver lining. For example, a parent can agree that the teenager must be listening to what the parent says if he is getting angry. "Yes, you are right- exactly, I AM saying that you can not go out- that you can't have your friends in the house, that you will not have your cell phone and that you are grounded until further notice. If that is what is making you angry then you are exactly right- that is what I said and I meant it. Nothing that you do right now is going to change that. In fact, the more you carry on the worse it's probably going to be so just go to your room and carry on so that we don't all have to hear it. You will be responsible for anything you break."

Finding something to agree with your teenager about is often an effective way to communicate. In this case you can agree with him that he is angry because he heard you right! And in fact, you are saying THAT and MORE kind of thing.

What is recommended here is the parent attempt to reverse the dynamic that creates the vicious cycle. The vicious cycle is as follows:

1. Teen has temper tantrum.

2. Parents must do everything they can to calm down their teen.

3. Teen knows that parents can't stand it when he has a temper tantrum and that they will become increasingly more desperate to try and pacify him.

4. Teen continues to have temper tantrums so that he can have his own way or so that he can get what he wants, including increased attention from everyone.

Instead of trying desperately to stop your teen from having the tantrum, try telling him that it's OK to have the tantrum because of blah blah blah (insert active listening response here.) Tell him to get it out right now. Here then, is the new paradigm:

1. Teen has temper tantrum.

2. Parents give permission for teen to express anger and encourage him to "get it all out."

3. Parent tells teen to take it to his room or some other part of the house.

4. The teen gets nothing that he wants, including increased attention when he has a tantrum.

5. The teen learns that having tantrums is not an effective way to get what he wants and that his parents are not desperate to do anything to get him to stop. In fact, in his own room he is free to rant and rave. However, the real fun of it all is gone.

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Home Contract from Caron Foundation
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This contract represents another way to structure the home experience for the recovering teenager coming out of a drug rehab. Caron was happy to let us publish this here. You can learn more about Caron Foundation at http://www.caron.org/.

Caron Adolescent Treatment Center
Home Contract

Patient Name:_________________ Date:______________ Patient #:__________

Mother:_______________________ Step-Mother: ____________________________

Father: _______________________ Step-Father: ____________________________

Siblings: ______________________________________________________________

Siblings: ______________________________________________________________

This is a three-month Home Contract that is intended to provide structure, consistency and boundaries that any family needs at this time in recovery. It is between the patient and his or her family. It can be changed only when all who are involved are present and can agree on the changes.

Basic Rules

This section outlines the bottom line rules that are to be followed by all patients upon discharge.

1. Mutual respect between family members (includes Honesty, Openness and Willingness to listen to each other.)
2. Attendance is required for all aftercare appointments.
3. Other family members agree not to abuse chemicals (specifically parents)
4. Active and regular participation in a 12-Step Fellowship, finding a sponsor within 14 days and attending at least ___ meetings per week.
5. No new relationships

People, Places and Things

The next session outlines the People, Places and Things that the patient feels may be problematic for his/her early recovery. It also outlines some of the more supportive aspects of their environment.

People Who may NEGATIVELY influence recovery and/or attitudes are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________

People who may be able to support recovery and healthy attitudes are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________

Places where my recovery could be put in danger or negatively influenced are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________
Places where I can gain support and positive direction are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________

Things are attitudes, behaviors and patterns that effect recovery. The things I need to change are:

Behaviors: I will follow the following curfew times:

During the Week
· In the House by ________p.m.

· Wake up by _________ a.m.

On the Weekend
· In the house by __________p.m.

· Wake up by __________ a.m.

I will help out in the house by doing the following chores:

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

We will begin to change the patterns within our family by holding one family meeting per week at which time we will attempt to share openly and honestly. This is a time to confront attitudes, problems, share feelings and take family inventory.

Day _______________________________ Time ___________________

I will also be changing my patterns for when I do go out.

When I go out I will:

1. Make sure it is okay with my parents.

2. Let them know exactly Where I am going to be.

3. Let them know Who I am going to be with.

4. Let them know When I plan on getting back.

5. Call if my plans change at all while I am out.

6. Discuss any major upcoming events well in advance.

In an attempt to increase the level of accountability, the following consequences will occur when I fail to uphold this Home Contract. The first set of consequences is for non-chemical violations (such as doing chores, skipping out of responsibilities, etc.), the second set of consequences is for major violations, primarily chemical use but could include running away and other addictive behaviors.

When I fail to meet my basic responsibilities, I will accept the following consequences:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________________________

4. ____________________________________________________________________

If I use chemicals, there may be two Scenarios. If I am able to be up front and honest about a relapse, I will call my sponsor, call my counselor, share my experience with my aftercare group and my family. I will also accept the following consequences:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

If I use chemicals and need to be confronted about it, or if I continue to display addictive attitudes, avoidance and defiance, I will have a family session with my aftercare counselor and accept the following consequences:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

I have helped write this contract and feel that I will be able to follow the guidelines that are written in it.

Patient Signature Parent Signature

Parent Signature Therapist Signature


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If we continue to cause our teenagers to be deeply resentful, we might as well shoot ourselves in the head for all the good it does us.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 01, 2008

After our meeting last Saturday I realized that this post needed to be rewritten. Thanks in part to the ideas from parents in group we now have seven ways to minimize resentment instead of three. If we continue to do things that cause our teenagers to be deeply resentful towards us, we might as well shoot ourselves in the head for all the good it does us in the end. No doubt, all resentment can not be avoided, but how do we minimize it?

1. Listen to your teenagers. I know that a lot of parents complain that their teens do not say much. Sometimes when teens do try to tell us something we immediately shut them down with our response. Instead, practice Active Listening Responses. It's not the only thing that you say- but it's what you can say before you say the stuff that you really want to say. The formulae is "You feel ____ because ____." Just try to repackage what they say and feed it back to them. If they nod their head and say something like "Yeah" then you got it. Now listen carefully because the next thing they say might be a little different. If they say, "I wouldn't put it that way" or "no" then try a different response. Continue until your teen seems to be finished. Now say what you were going to say first.

2. Don't lecture on and on. It's not getting through and it causes resentment. It also discourages teens from talking because who wants to hear all that? Remember, our teens really only hear our message if we take some action. "Walk softly and carry a big stick" is what President Roosevelt used to say; however, before you decide how big a stick, read #3.

3. When sanctioning, don't use a bigger stick than you need. Of course we never recommend corporal punishment and we think that it's never OK to strike your teenager with or without a stick. That is counterproductive and causes much resentment. However, just use enough force with a sanction to send a message. If the behavior continues then increase your force. Use enough of a sanction to get your teen back on track but don't over do it. Consider the crime. Make a sanction that is commensurate with the crime. Also, if you have to ground your teen- then you decide what activities they are allowed to attend while they are grounded. If your teen has planned and planned for the High School Prom, but now she is grounded for a non drug related behavior, then also depriving her of going to the prom might be overdoing it. Also, when you cause your teen to miss important events, the resentment can last for many years. Sometimes it is wise to allow your teen to attend 12-step meetings even if they are grounded (if you trust that they will actually go to one) and after school sports activities while they are grounded. Otherwise, as parents we might cut off their proverbial nose to spite their face!

4. Treat your children with respect: Don't call them names. Don't hit them. Don't talk down to them. Don't yell. Don't act as though they are the stupidest people you ever met. You can be tough parents without being disrespectful.

5. Don't abuse substances yourself: If you drink- stop. Your teenager has just come out of a drug rehabilitation. They will resent you if you continue to drink. It may not seem fair that you have to give up drinking when you are a fine upstanding citizen and after all you are not on probation. However, there is really no wiggle room on this one. If you continue to drink you will loose your teenager's respect and increase their resentment. If that seems awfully unfair check with whoever it was that originally told you to have kids. Ask them why they never explained that things like this could happen. It's always a roll of the dice when you decide to have children. The good news is that if your teenager stays in recovery, a lot of good things can come out it for both the teen and the parents.

6. Make sure to spend time with your teenager just building a relationship. Do things together. Find out what your teens are passionate about. Become interested in whatever that is, at least to the degree that you can converse about it. Do activities together as much as is possible. Even if it is taking in a movie- then do that. You might not be able to take up skateboarding, but you can read something about it on the Internet and you can go to watch your teen do it. Spend more time on activities or hanging out than you do holding them accountable. If you always seem to be dealing with a control issue when you are with your teen, then something is wrong. Try to add more time doing other things.

7. Use humor to deflect the tension. Often, self deprecating humor works best. When we can laugh at ourselves and allow our teens to get a chuckle at our expense, it is like money in the old perverbial minimizing resentment bank! I recall sitting next to a teen at a Hockey Game who apparently was holding a lot of resentment towards me. I had forgotten my camera. She had a camera. I suggested that she take a picture of our group for our club's blog. Her quick reply clued me in to just how the resentment that she felt was swiming just below the surface. I suddenly realized how difficult it must be for her to even be sitting near me at this event

Girl: [Said with a rude tone.]"Oh, do you think I'd want to take a picture of you with my camera? Think again Lloyd!"

I sat there kind of feeling stunned for a minute. I did not expect to get hit with this expression of resentment at this Hockey Game because I knew that this young lady loved to see the Penguins play. I thought that we could all put our feelings on hold for a night- like a temporary truce. However, I had forgotten that it is very difficult even for adults to put strong feelings like resentments on hold. Suddenly, I had idea. I tapped her on the shoulder.

Me: [with a dead serious affect] "You know what? I think you are completely wrong about wanting to take my picture with your camera."
Girl: "Oh is that right- well I doubt that I want your picture Lloyd, thanks anyway."
Me: "Yeah, actually, I think if you got a digital shot of me you could email to someplace on the Internet that will make it into a nice dart board."
She suddenly was laughing at that idea and not only agreed that it was a capitol idea, but she added:
Girl: "Yeah, better yet, I could have it made into a great punching bag!"
The tension was eased considerably as we both enjoyed the laugh.

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Vigil of Hope
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Bridge to Hope Family Support Group
“Vigil of Hope”
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Kearns Spirituality Center
Kearns is sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence
9000 Babcock Boulevard, Allison Park, PA 15101
Message by Father Scott Seethaler
7:00 P.M.
Third Annual Day of Remembrance

Too many lives which held so much promise have been lost to drugs and alcohol. Too many families and friends have suffered these losses and our world is less rich because the flame of talent was extinguished long before its promise burned bright. The families, the parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins and friends feel their loss each day.

The families and friends who have suffered the loss of promise tell us that if it happened to them, it can happen to anyone. Drug and alcohol use and its attendant tragedies have touched so many Americans from all walks of life and from all backgrounds. Over the years, parents and friends have found individual ways to remember their loved ones; but now there is an event which brings people together to call attention to the extent and nature of the drug and alcohol epidemic. To support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one to drugs or alcohol, and to raise awareness about the terrible toll taken on families, friends and society, there will be a vigil of hope on Wednesday, June 11th at the Kearns Spirituality Center at 7:00 P.M.

This event is for all of us: families who have lost someone to drugs and alcohol and for those who care about all the promise and potential that was lost.

Please join us and Light a Candle…

-To remember those who have died from drugs & alcohol
-To shine a light of hope for tomorrow
-To share your light with other families who may be touched by drugs & alcohol.

Locally sponsored by:
The Bridge to Hope Family Support Group
For more information call
Suzanne @ 724/933-6248 or Diane @ 724/934-1953

For information about Bridge to Hope family support group meetings,
call Jean Wagner, Passavant Hospital Foundation, 412 367-6643

(This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Department of Community and Economic Development)

From Downtown Pittsburgh Area: Take 279 North and exit at Exit 11. Follow McKnight Road. Stay on McKnight Road for ten traffic lights (approximately 6 miles). At the tenth light, which intersects Peebles and McKnight Road, the McIntyre Square Shopping Center will be on your right. Go straight through this light and before the next light, bear to the right and follow the sign to Passavant Hospital. This is Babcock Blvd. and it leads to Kearns Spirituality Center. Follow Babcock Blvd. through the traffic light at Duncan Avenue. Pass the driveway to La Roche College on the right. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn right into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

From Route 8: Look for the Green Belt signs. There will be a light onto Duncan Avenue. Traveling north, this will be on your left; traveling south, to your right. Turn onto Duncan Avenue and the Green Belt. At the first stop sign, go straight and continue to follow the Green belt. At the 5-way stop sign, turn right and stay on the Green Belt and Duncan Avenue. At the next light, go straight on Duncan Avenue – the Green Belt turns left. After about _ mile, you will be at the light of the intersection of Duncan Avenue and Babcock Blvd. Make a right turn. Pass the driveway to La Roche College on the right. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn right into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

From Route 19 North and PA Turnpike Exit 28: Take Exit 28 and head toward Cranberry. Do not take Exit 10 to Pittsburgh. Upon exiting 28, immediately get into left lane for Route 19/Cranberry/South. Go left at light and stay on Route 19 South for (7 miles). Take the right ramp to McKnight Road (Truck Route19), and exit off Route 19. At the fourth traffic light, move into the left turning lane, and turn left onto Cumberland Road. Cross over McKnight Road and continue down Cumberland. At the bottom of a hill, you will come to the Babcock Boulevard/Cumberland intersection. At the light, turn right onto Babcock Blvd. You will see the Provincial House and a pond on the left. At this time, move into the center turning lane. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn left into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

From Route 79: Take Mt. Nebo Road Exit 68. Turn right at end of ramp, and follow Mt. Nebo Road and the Yellow Belt. At the traffic light (8/10th of mile), continue going straight. At the next light (1.7 miles) turn left onto Arndt Road. At the top of Arndt (2.5 miles), turn left. You will still be on the Yellow Belt. At the four-way stop sign (3.8 miles), go straight onto Ingomar Heights-Ingomar Road. At the three-way stop sign at Highland (4.9 miles), go straight. At the traffic light at Harmony Road (5.2 miles) go straight. At traffic light at Route 19 (6.2 miles) go straight. At the Y in the road, (6.6 miles), go right onto ramp to Truck South 19, also known as McKnight Road. (You are now leaving the Yellow Belt.) At the next traffic light (7.2 miles), continue to go straight, but get into the left lane. At the next traffic light (7.5 miles- McKnight Road and Cumberland) turn left onto Cumberland Rd. At the bottom of a hill, you will come to the Babcock Boulevard/Cumberland intersection. At the light, turn right onto Babcock Blvd. You will see the Provincial House and a pond on the left. At this time, move into the center turning lane. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn left into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

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Three Pictures from the Pirate Home Opener
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, April 13, 2008

I am not really a baseball fan but last Monday was so beautiful, and I had a little time, so I thought I would head down to the game and maybe take a few pictures.

I was struck by two things.

The beauty of the city

and the . . .

. . .amount of alcohol that is involved in a baseball game on a Monday afternoon.

There were several trashcans like this outside the stadium at the point where you can no longer take a drink into the game. It was a reminder to me the challenges our kids face every day.

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Giving Consequences
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I asked some teens for help. Here's what a group of teenagers said about what they hated most about getting consequences.

1. Too much lecture along with the consequences. This was a major theme. These teens weren’t complaining so much about the consequences but about all the stuff they have to listen to when their parent dish out the consequences. The less said at consequence time the better. This is a case where less is more.

Of course, getting yelled at can be a part of the consequences, and sometimes it constitutes all of the consequences. However, when you yell at your teen it often has a counterproductive effect. Just say it and move on is the better course of action. "Getting yelled at" is not a good consequence because it causes resentments and anger. "Why is Billy so angry?" Maybe we don't have to look to far to see that answer.

2. They don't listen to me. The teens felt that parents make very little effort to hear what they are saying.

Some parents might be afraid that if they let their teen know that they "hear" what the teen is saying that it is the same as agreeing. It is not. Quite often the teen is saying that life is unfair, or that the parents are being unfair. But parents want to show that they are being fair. And Parents want to convince Billy that they are fair. They want Billy to admit that they are fair. Consequently, parents tend to be defensive about that whole "fair thing."

In reality, a teenager can accept the consequences much easier if he feels that the parents have listened. Also, the parent is free to apply the same consequences whether or not they have attempted an active listening response. Active listening responses are not necessarily agreeing that the teen is "right." Except that parents are agreeing that the teen feels that way. The parents are also agreeing that their teenagers has good reasons to feel the way he feels. Don't forget that everyone has good reasons to feel the way that they feel- or at least they appear to be good reasons at the time that the feelings are generated.

Active Listening can be the glue that keeps relationships going though these difficult times. It is often a way to get your teenager to do better at accepting the consequences. But it isn't just a way to get your teen to do better at accepting the consequences. More than that, it's a great way to improve your relationship with your teenager.

More in my next post about Active Listening skills. I will break it down. You feel ___ because ___ is the formula. In the next post we will look at ways to creatively say that.

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Let's Take Back 4/20
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sometimes things just get to me. True story. I was hanging out with my son, he is watching Cops on G4, a national cable channel owned by Comcast that targets his demographic; 16-24, male, video game player, likes action/adventure. I am sure they would be surprised to find me in front of the set. Oh, and this is around 4 PM on a weekday, you will see why the time matters in a second.

The commercial break comes and the nice folks at G4 run an add for their “420 lineup” for several drug related movies and cartoons. The voice-over is the vintage Cheech and Chong druggie stereotype. And now I am mad. Mad, because this is just another version of “just marijuana” and it is being run on TV shows that target our kids right after school and major corporations are sponsoring it.

For those of you who may not know, April 20th, 4/20, is some kind of national pot smoking day. The lore says it comes from 420 being the police call for marijuana use but I don’t know. All the kids know though.

So I called my local cable company and complained. They were very nice but not interested in doing anything. I found the G4 web site and found they were owned by Comcast. Comcast has an email address so I told them my story. They said they didn’t know anything about G4, they carry a lot of channels and see you later. I wrote back and gave them the clip from the G4 website that says that Comcast is the majority owner of G4. Comcast said OK but we don’t control programming content!?

I am still mad so I went to the FCC web site and filed a complaint online. I felt better.

Maybe we should try to take back April 20th? What if parents stand up and say that on 4/20 everyone comes straight home from school and stays in for the evening because it is dangerous out? Could the schools increase their vigilance for one day and go on the alert for drug use, maybe cancel all after school activities that day? Would the press get involved? Maybe probation officers could drug screen every client on 4/21. Maybe we could call our local police and ask them to set up DUI points on 4/20 just like New Years Eve.

How long is it going to take until we are as indignant about a major corporation encouraging drug use as we are about cartoon images of Joe Camel?

Did I mention that the G4 420 advertisement ran between two Cops segments that involved people getting arrested for drug use!

OK, I feel better. Let’s discuss this at our next PSST meeting.

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No meeting on 3-29-08.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, March 28, 2008

It's the Fifth Saturday of the Month!

We are being featured in an Alliance Video being shot on the morning of the 29th. If you are interested email Lloyd at lloyd.woodward@court.allegheny.pa.us or call me at 412-861-6757.

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New Bridge to Hope Meeting Thursdays in Cranberry
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Friday, March 21, 2008

Weekly support group meetings for families affected by substance abuse.

Every Thursday, 7 p.m.
Garden Montessori School _ 204 Commerce Park Drive _ Cranberry Township
(Directions follow)

There’s No Place Like Hope

The Bridge to Hope is an educational and support program, free of charge, for families and friends whose loved ones are affected by substance abuse.

The support group meets weekly at Garden Montessori School in Cranberry Township and is intended for people who have come to the realization that a family member is facing addiction.

The Bridge to Hope program is intended to bridge a gap between the realization of the problem and the need for solutions. It is a bridge to finding help and giving support to those who are - directly or indirectly - affected by addiction.

Please join us each Thursday evening. The Bridge to Hope support group is here for you to find Help, Support, and most important of all . . . to find Hope.

For additional information call:

412 367-6643

This Project was financed by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Department of Community and Economic Development.
We gratefully acknowledge Garden Montessori School for use of its facilities.
Directions to

204 Commerce Park Drive
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

From Pittsburgh and South:

a) Interstate 79-North to exit 78 onto Route 228, Cranberry/Mars
b) Turn left onto Route 228-West
c) At (major) traffic light intersection of Routes 228 and 19, turn right onto Route 19-North.
d) Continue on Route 19-North for 0.9-mile, and at fifth traffic light – turn left onto Rochester
e) Proceed approx. 300 feet and turn left onto Commerce Park Drive (just after car wash).
f) Continue on Commerce Park Drive for approx. _-mile to Building 2, 204 Commerce Park
Drive. Garden Montessori School will be on left side, close to end of building; sign on door.

From Erie and North:

a) Interstate 79-North to exit 78 onto Route 228, Cranberry/Mars
b) Turn right onto Route 228-West
c) At (major) traffic light intersection of Routes 228 and 19, turn right onto Route 19-North.
d) Continue on Route 19-North for 0.9-mile, and at fifth traffic light – turn left onto Rochester
e) Proceed approx. 300 feet and turn left onto Commerce Park Drive (just after car wash).
f) Continue on Commerce Park Drive for approx. _-mile to Building 2, 204 Commerce Park
Drive. Garden Montessori School will be on left side, close to end of building; sign on door.

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Thanks to PSST for 100.00 Donation and for a tremendous Holiday Party
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On 12-15-07, we held our Holiday Party at our Wilkinsburg location. The food was a tremedous display as most parents brought in a special dish. Then, Val and I got a big surprise when we opened the Christmas card. Two fifty dollar bills dropped out...

At first we thought, "Oh please, you folks know we are not allowed to accept gifts, but then we read the card, which said that this was a donation to the Coffee House Nation, a positive Peer group sober-fun activity club that in which myself, PO Tuma, and Val all participate. Of course we felt relieved and honored at this beautiful gesture. So far, the money has been spent taking the club to the movies, and paying for pizza on Hockey Night out! Thanks PSST for you support.

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I read the stories at PSST because...(written by Anonymous)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, January 13, 2008

I write this as an outsider, to let you all know that I have read what you have shared to empower myself, and in turn, empower my child for the future.

I read the stories at PSST because...

My child is not an addict. She is only 10 years old. She will ask me if even the slightest things are toxic. "Mom, there was beer in that bottle! Dad made beer and it was in a Mountain Dew bottle! I thought it was Mountain Dew. I drank a sip and I spit it out. OMG will it kill me?!!!!!!

"She's quite dramatic. While it is quite serious to her, I have to say, "No, the traces that you may have swallowed will not kill you." But I also think about how to handle the situation because I don't want her to ever drink.

You see, I did my share of drugs and I was lucky. When the drugs started calling my name and I found myself in the worst places looking for them, I realized that I was becoming the person I had hated the most when I was growing up- I was becoming drug addicted like one of my parents-and I walked away from it.

The stories on this blog move me to tears and make me cry for the parents going through the steps to save their children. Or worse, the grief of a parent who lost their child to drug addiction. I also read this blog to empower myself for what might come. Even though my child is only 10, she knows that drugs kill. She knows about Jessica and I tell her, "You know drugs can kill you even just from trying them. You don't know what's in them. Drugs can kill you and just trying them and experimenting with them can kill you. It just takes one time. Just one time that someone says, "Come on- you're a wimp if you don't." I tell my daughter, "Be a wimp and live, Honey. Don't listen to someone that doesn't care about you."

I tell my daughter, "Hear me now- drugs will strip you of your joys, your loves and your life." I tell her every tragic story and make every child real to her. The pain is as apparent as the tears that roll down my face. I say, "Be different, be strong, live to be the person that you want to be when you grow up. Don't be a grave I have to visit because someone told you that drugs are OK. Don't be a grave I have to visit because some kid told you they wouldn't like you if you don't take drugs."

I tell her that school friends and fads and coolness will not matter in a few years although I know they are important to her now. Fortunately, she likes who she is at this point. Fortunately, the stories that I read to her off of your blog is knowledge- and knowledge is power.

I hope I never need to be in your group but as one who has been a drug abusing teen and a drug abusing adult- I want to use any preemptive measures I can to spare my child the same path.

Me? I could have been anything, anybody. Not to brag, but I have been tested at Borderline Genius IQ and I could have done anything with my life. Instead, I chose to be stoned, tripping, or drunk. I tried to escape my alcoholic father by becoming what I hated most. I was just lucky. I don't want my child to have to depend on luck.

As a parent I feel your pain. As a regular reader of this blog, I feel the tremendous dedication that you all have towards these kids and towards each other. So I write this as an outsider, to let you all know that I have read what you have shared to empower myself, and in turn, empower my child for the future. Please, keep doing what you do on this blog- if it makes a difference to me I believe that it makes a difference to many other parents as well. Many of us, God willing, will never make it to one of your meetings, but we are there with you each time we read what you have shared.

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Role-play: Dad stands with Mom. (15 Parents attend Alliance PSST on 1-11-08.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, January 13, 2008

With three newcomers, this meeting rocked! Veteran group members reached out to the newcomers with empathy and information. Especially, the role-playing took a very realistic turn, with several men "channeling" their teens in the role-play.

There is an old saying that "if you want to really learn something - teach it." Well, a lot of that might have been going on as parents reached out to our three newcomers. In fact, we tend to have some our better meetings when newcomers arrive. So, if anybody out there is reading this and thinking about coming to one of our groups, please do so. You end up helping our group as much as the group helps you.

The role-play we did is one about visiting your teen in the rehab. Your teen wants to blame you for it. You are hoping that your teenager can take some responsibility and admit that via the choices that he made, he put himself into rehab.

It is a bit unrealistic to expect the teen who is forced into rehab to admit that he put himself there. Also, when your teen blames you for putting him in rehab, a large part of what he is saying is that you are powerful. The last thing that we as parents should claim is that we have no power. Instead, we can start to look at the blame as credit. If your teen want to give you credit for putting them being in rehab go ahead and take some of it. (Of course, we know that you couldn't have done it without their help.)

One of the dynamics of our latest role-play is that Mom and Dad are not on the same page. We have done other role-plays with this theme and at the bottom of this post you can find links to related role-plays. In this one, Mom has to be the bad guy all the time. Dad gets to be the buddy. This presents a challenging situation because it is only natural that the teen will take the opportunity to exploit the chasm between you both.

For example, Mom feels that the son should absolutely be in rehab. The Dad thinks so too, but on any given day he might feel differently about that. On any given day he might belive that his son should not be in a drug rehab. Therefore, he is more vulnerable to the teenager's manipulations. He would benefit from working on that issue before he makes his first visit to the rehab.

The following role-play is inspired by the one we did in group but is really not at all what we did in group. .

Setting: The teen as been in the drug rehab for about a week. He was admitted to the rehab via Act 53.

Mom: Well Son you look good. Are they treating you OK up here?

Son: You Bitch; don't speak to me. I only want to speak to Dad. [Turning from Mom and looking at Dad] Dad, you know she put me in here. You know I don't belong in here. Get me out of here Dad. I know YOU want me home. Dad, let's get out of here.

Dad: Son, I don't like you calling your Mom names. THAT is unacceptable.

Son: But Dad, you know it's true. You know what she is like.

Dad: Your Mom and I do what we do because we love you.

Son: I know you love me Dad. You know I don't belong up here.

Dad: Listen Son, I'm glad you brought this up so that we can talk about it. I'd like to get things straightened out while you're up here.

Son: Can I come home Dad? That's all I want to know. I don't want to straighten nothing else out if I can't come home.

Dad: I have an apology to make to you son.

Son: It's OK Dad. I know you just went along with her. She and I just don't get along but I see you do things sometimes just to try to get along with her. But let's face it, neither of us can get along with her.

Dad: Son, you go ahead and talk. When you're done- you let us know. Your mother and I will wait until you are done. [Looking at Mom] Right honey, we can wait until he finishes before we have our turn to talk.

Mom: Yes, I will wait until he is ready to stop interrupting me.

Son: Can we go home? Now? Please?

Dad: No.

Son: Why not? Give me one good reason?

Dad: No.

Son: No?

Dad: Not until it's our turn to talk. You go ahead and finish what you have to say first- we won't interrupt you and then when it's our turn, you won't interrupt us.

Son: Well, it sucks to be up here and even the staff can't figure out what the hell I'm doing up here. Everyone agrees that I don't need to be here.

Dad: Go ahead Son

Son: I need you to talk back to me; but not her. Just you.

Dad: It doesn't work that way.

Son: What the hell?

Dad: Your mother and I have the same things to say. You hear us both out or you don't hear either one of us.

Son: Fine. What?

Dad: You sure we can talk now?

Son: Yes. Talk Talk. [rolling eyes and giving out a big sigh.)

Dad: Son, I need to start in my own way- and so will you mother- so we want to make sure that you won't interrupt us. If you're not done talking yet, we can wait.

Son: What (beginning to raise voice) you mean I can't go home? Why the fu&* not?

Dad: First things first. I have something brief to say and then your mother has something to say to you. Here's mine. Listen, I really owe you an apology.

Son: What- no no no Dad.

Dad: [gives son a "Shush" by putting his index finger to his lips) Hear me out- please don't interrupt. We have not interrupted you. I see now that I have been trying all this time just to be your buddy. You need me to be a father, not a buddy.

Son: Dad, we are buddies- the Patriots are playing tonight Dad, you know you can't enjoy that game while I'm locked up here for no reason at all. [leaning in close to dad with his hand around his mouth as though he is speaking a secret- lowing voice] She's outta control Dad. She is really really outta control this time."

Dad: Son, your mother and I will enjoy the game, tonight but back to what I was saying. Because I have been trying to hard to be your buddy, I haven't been tough enough on you. And this has put your mother in a bad situation. She has had to become the bad guy. This is part of why you are so angry at her right now- you think that she is the only parent who wants you to get help. Well, Son [putting his hand up to stop Son from interrupting]. That is just not true. I want you to be in here to get help for your drug problem and I am just as responsible for you being in here as she is- maybe more so.

Son: (finally interrupting as he can not stand listening anymore) I don't belong here HELLO! I am not like these other people

Dad: Wait Son, it's our turn to speak. It is not OK for you to do drugs. It will not be OK for you to do drugs or to hang out with your friends that do drugs. Period. And I stand together with your mother to try to stop your abuse of drugs. It's something that I should have done a long time ago.

Son: That is such bull shit - can I talk now?

Dad: No- It's your mother's turn.

Son: No way! I don't want to talk to her.

Dad: [looking at Mom} Honey, if he's not going to let you have your say, I think this visit is over. Not much more we can do here until he is ready to deal with both of us.

Mom: I think you're right.

Son: What you are just going to leave me here?

Mom: Of course we are.

Son: You can't do that! You can't just walk out of here. It'll look like you are bad parents.

Dad: Well I think I would have been a better father if I had quit trying to be your buddy. You can tell the staff here that I said that!

Son: (Starts punching his hand with his fist and looking at his mother.)

Dad: We'll discuss this next visit Son. [parents exit- leaving Son sitting there fuming.

Other role-plays with similar themes:

Ganging Up On Mom.

Ask me again, ask me again

Blaming Parents (Single Mom)

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