Quote of the Week

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

Wisdom from Wexford (December 12th)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Here are the tips that parents shared at our second Sixth Annual Reunion/ Holiday Meeting. Once again Valerie took notes. Also, once again, the food was excellent and we even thought that we should post receipes from the meeting. So if you want to post a recipe for one of those great dishes, email Lloyd. By the way, we are doing this one last time at our Mt Lebanon meeting so if you have missed the fun you have one more opportunity and that would be this Saturday morning. Check the calendar on the right and the location finders on the left.

1. Don't enable

2. Before coming to PSST my self esteem had gotten so low and I have regained it through these meetings.

3. You need to detach to avoid becoming co-dependent.

4. Don't feel guilty that you don't like your kid sometimes (who would?).

5. It's ok to admit a mistake and recoop a mistake.

6. Get a greater knowledge of the system to alleviate your fears and distrust and then you will know better how to use it to help your situation (you get the inside scoop when you come to PSST about the system and how to use it best to your teenager's advantage.)

7. The stories that others share at PSST helps me because I can relate.

8. Read the NA text book. It is very helpful especially in trying to understand recovery.

9. Do what you think is right no matter how many professionals seem to disagree.

10. Read, listen, call and find the experts and a good book is How To Control Your Out-of-control Kid: author is Bayard.

11. Decide what part of the problem is yours and what part of the problem is your teenagers.

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Rocco’s response to Tips from the Sixth-Year PSST Reunion.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, December 07, 2009

"It's not like we stuck our heads in the sand. We accepted that he had problems. We sought out counselors, psychiatrists, tutors, advocates and advice on how to help him. We were on a first name basis with principles, vice-principles and school counselors and we started our run through the "rat-in-the-maze" world of health insurance for behavioral therapy.

"After two years, two overdoses and visits from the police we were not sure what options we had left. We were drained emotionally, mentally, physically and financially and our son still didn't care."

Thanks Val and Lloyd for creating and maintaining PSST.

We enjoyed last Saturday's meeting and appreciated the advice from both the veterans and the newer parents.

Following are my thoughts on the posting.

We attended our first PSST meeting in either late 2006 or early 2007 and quite frankly we were a bit overwhelmed by it. These parents were talking about their teens using not just marijuana and alcohol but crack cocaine and heroin. Their teens were stealing and dealing to support their habits,refusing therapy and running away from treatment centers.

We felt that son was nowhere near that wild. He was 14 years old and his grades were falling fast, he was becoming a discipline problem at school and at home, he was distancing himself from our family and he was hanging out with a lot of new-found bad "friends" (NOTE: trust your first impressions here). We suspected that he was using marijuana, probably some alcohol and we knew that he was able to pick-up packs of cigarettes whenever he wanted them.

If we confronted him he was very defensive about all of these issues. School sucked, his teachers were out to get him, family was boring, we were stupid and his new "friends" were the only ones that understood him. But we just knew that our son was nowhere near as wild as these other kids, yet.

It's not like we stuck our heads in the sand. We accepted that he had problems. We sought out counselors, psychiatrists, tutors, advocates and advice on how to help him. We were on a first name basis with principles,vice-principles and school counselors and we started our run through the "rat-in-the-maze" world of health insurance for behavioral therapy.

Our son's consistent response to all of this was "I don't care." We didn't understand or accept this but we slowly came to realize that he meant it.

After two years, two overdoses and visits from the police we were not sure what options we had left. We were drained emotionally, mentally, physically and financially and our son still didn't care.

We finally attended our second PSST meeting in May 2009. Since then we have, at least for now, saved our son's life and we have most importantly saved our own lives and our marriage.

And this is just my response to point #1.

Point #2 - You may feel that some of the new techniques offered at PSST may be uncomfortable, may seem harsh, and quite frankly might not work but you know in your heart that your old methods definitely do not work. See point #18.

Point #4 - You will never get the little girl or boy you knew and loved back but you may keep them alive and have the time to get over the issues and pain that their addiction caused.

Point #5 - Do not continue to blame yourself - see Point #12.

Point #6 - We have used this and it works.

Point #9, #17 and #20 - We have not needed to resort to these but we are ready to try them if necessary.

Point #10 - Another parent advised us in one of our first meetings "It seems like you will never get through this but you will" and it is starting to come true.

Point #11 - It is crucial for parents to stay on the same page. We don't always gree but we discuss. Our discussions are none of our son's d@mn business. Failure to follow this will either confuse the kid or more likely supply them with additional ammo to manipulate you.

Point #13 - The meetings are very beneficial to us. We found that we could finally talk openly to people that know exactly what we are going through.

Point #14 - We have used this and it works. Thanks Lloyd.

Point #15 - We used this and it is wonderful to be able to enjoy our home again.

Point #19 - See Point #1.

I agree with Sally that we should continue this format in the next meeting or two to get input from some other parents.

Once again I would like to thank Val and Lloyd as well as Cathy and Kathy from Wesley Spectrum for their continued support and encouragement.

[find other posts by Sally and Rocco below]

Message from PSST parent: 8-30-09

Thanks for empowering us: 9-12-09

Sally finds the right tools to get the job done 9-15-09

Update from Sally: 9-26-09

Relapse-takes-mom-for-ride-on-emotional Roller Coaster 10-26-09

Sally, Rocco, and Cisco: To be continued. 10-26-09

Learning to unlearn 10-22-09

Rocco Sally and Cisco: the story continues.

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Tips from the Sixth-Year PSST Reunion. (Use comments to add more wisdom to this post please.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, December 06, 2009

The tips that parents were giving to each other were so good that Val started taking notes on her Blackberry during this rare reunion meeting. We saw some faces that we haven't seen for a while. Some parents who showed up first started attending PSST five years ago. There were about 13 parent/family members present. Instead of going around the circle like we often do, we shared by who had the most PSST seniority.

1. If it seems like things aren't working out right, keep coming back to PSST and there's a good chance that things will get better.

2 Once you find yourself at a PSST meeting you can never go back, i.e., you can never go back to the old ways of interacting with your teenager because you realize that the old ways don't work anymore. You're past the point of no return and you have to move forward with the new techniques even if seems at first like it's not working.

3. Acceptance, expectations and keep the focus on yourself. For example, you may have warned your teenager that if they didn't do better in high school they would have to go to Community College. Now, you would love to see him go to Community College.

4. Admit that there are times that you don't like or feel the love towards your teenager. It's OK to admitt that and in light of what you've been through- it's very normal.

5. Hold your teenager accountable for his behavior, decisions, etc. This came up more than once.

6. It's OK to stand up to your teenager and even call the police if it feels horribly uncomfortable. It gets easier after the first time.

7. Our teenager will probably eventually be OK. We will be OK either way.

8. Go to NARANON for additional help.

9. If your teen won't get out of bed in the morning "skip the spritzers and dump the water!

10. It might not look good now but you will get through this.

11. Parents need to stay on the same page and prevent "splitting."

12. Drug addiction is a disease- but there is hope.

13 Coming to PSST makes you realize that you are not alone ("I realized once I got here- Everyone here has a teen like mine! And that was such a good feeling.")

14. Sometimes when your kid is released from an institution or treatment program he acts like a cat that just got out of a pillow case. (and then Lloyd will come for him in the middle of the night.)

15. Take time to focus on fixing the damage at home while your teen is in placement.

16. Chaos does not have to be the norm.

17. Once they are out of the house, don't invite them back.

18. A lot of things you learn in PSST don't feel right when you first try them. Keep trying.

19. Just like in any field, all counselors, therapists, and other helping professionals are not good at what they do. If you're getting advice from someone, and it feels wrong- get a second opinion. Several parents shared stories of how they were undermined by professionals and how hard it can be to find out "what to do."

20. Use ACT 53.

21. Perhaps the funniest advice all meeting was: If you are driving your teen to rehab and you are afraid he might run, take him the longest way possible so that he has no idea where he is but so that he believes that he is really really far away. Later, he will probably tell you that he "found a much better way to get there."

You really had to be there to get the import of some of this wisdom. It's contextual. It was a very powerful meeting. Thanks to all who showed up to lend a hand and support PSST.

Should we do again the same way next week in Wexford?

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Let's count the things to be thankful about.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 26, 2009

Your teenager may not be doing as well as you'd hoped he would be doing by now. Or, perhaps even when it appears that your teenager has turned the corner you are still harboring tremendous fears about relapse or about him her harming himself. Let's look at the positives for a moment.

First: Has your teenager obviously turned the corner and perhaps working a good 12-step program? That's the number one thing to be thankful for. It feels like an abosulte miracle when it happens and the change can be powerful and remarkable. Perhaps your teenager has really turned the corner and is not relying on a 12-step program. OK, we wish he was working a good 12-step program but we can be really thankful if he is off drugs and doing well in life.

Two: Is you teenager yet to make the decision to change himself but he is clean and sober today, perhaps in a drug treatment program or halfway house? That's a lot to be thankful for too and the miracle can happen at any time. Often it seems like Drug Treatment Professionals are really in the business of keeping the client drug-free and as safe as possible until the miracle happens.

Three: Is your teenage clearly not ready to change his life but he is experiecing the consequences for his choice to actively pursue a life of drug seeking? And is he still alive? Then let's be thankful that whatever those consequences are that they might help your teenager to see the folly of the path he has chosen and, once again, let's hope for the miracle. Be careful not to rescue from the consequences as they may be the real treatment that is available for your teenager.

Four: Have you changed because of your struggles with your teenager's drug proplem. Have you found growth at PSST or Naranon meetings or Brige To Hope meetings? Have you found support. Have you been able to reaize that your happiness does not hang on the success or failure of your teenagers? Then you have a lot to be thankful for too.

Remember, that 12-step rooms are jammed with miracle-stories of people really deeply immersed in addicition who find a way to arrest this fatal disease.

Happy Thanksgiving to all PSST and PSST blog readers; may you soon find even more reasons to be thankful. Thanks to each and everyone one of you for your support at PSST meetings and for following this blog.

Please feel free to post what you are thankful for this Holiday Season as a comment on this post or email your post to lloyd.woodward@court.allegheny.pa.us. Many parents like to use a pen-name or post anonymously.

Image on card is from CreataCard Gold, which I own and am licensed to use.

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Ever wonder what those pills are that you found in your teenagers bookbag?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ever find pills at home and wonder what your teenager is taking?
Look up the pills yourself on Drugs.com. This is a way to look up
the very popular perscription drugs but may not help to identify street drugs like escstasy. To go to the source of the picture on the right click Pill Identification Tool provided by WebMD.

If you need to look up Ecstasy pills try Ecstasydata.org. I like this website becasue each pill pictured gives you the lab test result. MDMA is Ecstasy; however if you page through you will see that everything teens think is Ecstasy is not. Methamphetamines and other substances are also found.

Or if you want to link to pictures of street drugs and other paraphernaila try The National Institute on Chemical Dependency

Type rest of the post here

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Candyland Post #2
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, November 22, 2009

In my first research on this term (see below) it appears that I missed a common reference to Candyland meaning trips with Salvia Divinorum. Like all drug terms the meanings often vary between users and localities. Clearly, a trip to Candyland refers to a drug experience of some sort but without more information it may be difficult to say exactly what drug is being used.

Here is a quote from a drug user reporting on his experience on Salvia Divinorum: "I started to feel the usual effects that come with (smoked) salvia; a swirling that I best describe as someone grabbing my brain and spinning it in my head, an alternate gravity pulling me (like being in a tilt-o-whirl and sticking your head out in the center), and a distance from myself, not physically, but mentally. I looked around and my eyes got caught on it, the door. I was in a winding hallway with candycanes, gumdrops, and all sorts of sweets. The last thought that 'I' had was, 'Whoa, candyland!' I was being guided gently and slowly through the aforementioned hallway, passing little pink creatures doing various things, such as building a moose (yes, I know, weird) and flying around sprinkling powder on things. All of a sudden I was at a door guarded by two men who were, seemingly, made of candycanes."

Part of the attractiveness of this drug for teenagers on Probation is that it is difficult to urine-screen for it.

I am going to link to several posts where drug users are referring to Salvia Divinorum's experience as a "trip to candyland" apparently because the experience itself entails halucinations that make one think of a trip to candyland.
Journey To Candyland by Dion.

Baby Zig in Candyland

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Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, November 21, 2009

Candyland: "Many users suck on lollipops (or pacifiers) to block the teethgrinding that E can cause." E being Ecstasy- the drug teens do at raves. If you follow that link look to the bottom-middle of the second page of the pamphlet. Apparently, there is also a movie being considered or in production using that name. It features teens on drugs. Turn your volume up and click the link to the movie trailer on the right.

Here is another good link to the movie described as "Crystal Meth and the trip a group of teens takes when they discover the drug (sometimes it doesn't end up so well.)

There is also a song called Candyland. It sounds more like it's about sex than drugs until you realize that it's posted on a "Rave Radio" website:

Author: Aqua

Title: Lollipop (Candyman)

Posted On: 2002-08-28 00:00:00

Posted By: » El_Leader_Maximo

I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland
I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland

I Wish That You Were My Lollipop
Sweet Things I Will Never Get Enough
If You Show Me To The Sugar Tree
Will You Give Me A Sodapop For Free

Come With Me Honey
I'm Your Sweet Sugar Candyman
Run Like The Wind Fly With Me To Bountyland
Bite Me I'm Yours If You're Hungry Please Understand
This Is The End Of The Sweet Sugar Candyman

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top
You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top

I Wish That I Were A Bubble Yum
Chewing On Me Baby All Day Long
I Will Be Begging For Sweet Delight
Until You Say I'm Yours Tonight

Come With Me Honey
I'm Your Sweet Sugar Candyman
Run Like The Wind Fly With Me To Bountyland
Bite Me I'm Yours If You're Hungry Please Understand
This Is The End Of The Sweet Sugar Candyman

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland
I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top
You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top

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Sally, Rocco, & Cisco: the story continues...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 19, 2009

I can still hear the deep, male voice of the stranger on the phone and his words echo in my mind. "We have your son, he is at Auberle, your son is safe. If you have any questions please call this number...."

That was a month ago and we have had some positive changes in Cisco's behavior since then but it took three stays at Shuman (one of which was combined with that stay at Auberle) before we saw a turn around.

Cisco was taken to Shuman the first time because he had a dirty urine screening while attending Gateway Rehab. He was 130 days clean and relapsed on marajauna. The courts allowed him to come home to us but he was now on home detention.
Cisco was placed at Shuman the second time because he left our home in the wee hours of the night even though he was on home detention. My husband and I believe it is necessary to show Cisco that there are consequences for violating rules so we drove him to Shuman immediately. Never the less, I really wanted him back home so I wrote down 11 ways that Cisco was positively working his recovery program. The hearing officer ruled that Cisco could return home as soon as he was set up with an electronic monitoring device. Rocco was too involved with a big project at work and could not attend this hearing. I didn't mind going alone since I was driven by this notion that Cisco should continue making progress at home where he belongs . But now I was hoping I was right and I was sweating it out.

It took us about a week to get the phone line set up for the home detention monitor. There was no guarantee that it would keep Cisco from going out at night but we still thought it was the best solution. Rocco and I picked Cisco up on a Sunday. Cisco was happy to be out in the cold fresh air and talked about his stay and about returning to school and his recovery program. He had been doing well in school but now had some catching up to do. We were beginning to see a positive change in attitude but there was yet another episode in store.

It was only a couple of days before Cisco chose to violate our rule and visit a friend after school. He understood that he was supposed to come directly home from school but he did not expect his dad and I would be home early that day. He got angry when we questioned his whereabouts. This short visit to his friend probably would have been dismissed by us if he had been honest about where he was. But we quickly realized after making a few phone calls that he had lied. Now we were wondering where he really had been. Cisco was sitting at the computer listening to his loud music when Rocco calmly asked him questions to get to the bottom of this. Cisco told him to go away and turned up the volume trying to end the discussion. Rocco pulled the plug out of the computer and began to take it away. Cisco got up and pushed him up against the wall. Rocco asked me to call the 9-1-1 and I did. Cisco was still angry when the police arrived but calmed himself down. After we consulted with his P.O. he found himself once again going back to Shuman without much resistance, this time in the back of a police car. This was his third violation in less than a month and this time we thought that there was no doubt that Cisco would be put in placement.

We spent that evening preparing ourselves for this. But to our surprised Cisco's P.O. called the day before his hearing and asked us if we wanted Cisco to be put in placement or to come home. Since the altercation was against him I felt that Rocco should ‘call the shots' and I told him I would back up his choice 100%.
It really did not take Rocco long to decide that it would be best to try to convince the court that Cisco should be home. Cisco had for the most part been positively working his recovery program and following his consent agreement. This time we added three stipulations that Cisco must make in order to come back home.

1) He would continue to follow all the rules of his original contract.

2) The computer and all his music on it would be removed from the house.

3) Cisco is on a Consent Decree and we asked that he would admit on record to a misdemeanor from this spring (This was not part of his original consent agreement). This needed to be done for two reasons. A) Cisco needed to publicly admit that he did something wrong. B) If it is ever necessary to go back to court and have Cisco placed there is no need to prove anything thru a hearing because the courts have his admission on record.

Once again we got our wish and the morning of Cisco’s hearing we met with both the public defender and Cisco’s P.O. The Public Defender insisted that Cisco should not admit to anything even to the point of going into placement. The P.O. told us to stick with our conviction that without an admission that Cisco could not come home. This chess match continued until the time that we were being seated in the hearing room. The Public Defender finally gave in and asked us what Cisco would need to admit to. After getting Cisco’s concurrence and some discussions with the Hearing Officer, followed by a stern lecture and a warning that his next violation would be sent directly to court, Cisco was allowed to come home with us. Straight from court this time!

In the past, Cisco felt that we were just waiting for, even setting him up to fail and that we really did not want him to live with us. But Rocco and I both had our chance in court to advocate for Cisco and to let him know that we want him home as long as he follows some basic rules.

Along with all the recovery things Cisco has been doing in the past; Cisco is also being polite and less self centered. He is acting more responsible at home and in school. He is participating in many more family activities and now it is obvious that he CARES about himself and those who he loves.

When a family member changes it sets the whole family in motion and now both Rocco and I need to change our ways. We must still stand very firm and define clear boundaries for him but we need to start trusting him a little bit more each day. Our family has evolved into something finer.

Editor Note: You can read all of Sally's posts to date:

#1: Message from PSST parent: 8-30-09

#2: Thanks for empowering us. 9-12-09

#3: Sally finds the right tools to get the job done: 9-15-09

#4: Update from Sally: 9-26-09

#5: Relapse Takes Mom for a Ride on an Emotional Roller Coaster 10-17-09.

#6: Sally, Rocco, & Cisco: To Be Continued. 10-26-09

Also Rocco posted this Learning to Unlearn 10-22-09

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Some scenarios from our Wexford PSST and...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, November 16, 2009

...let's look for the agreeing statements in each scenario. Some of this is the way it happened at PSST and some of it is just inspired by what we did.

Scenario 1
Son: Mom, it's your fault if I break up with my girlfriend cause you are always talking to her- keep your nose out of my business.
Mom: Yes, you're right- I do talk talk to your girlfriend a lot and I guess she and I have a close relationship.
Son: Well I don't like that. It's your fault if we break up!
Mom: You never know what we're talking about do you?
Son: It's not your place to talk to my girlfriend at all.
Mom: Well it is unusual that a mom and her son's boyfriend talk like we do.
Son: Yes, very.
Mom: You know, I wouldn't be surprised if she and I stay friends even after you and her break up!

Scenario 2
Son: You put me in here. Its' your fault I'm going away cause you told my PO and he is the worst PO- he's much worse than all my friend's POs.
Mom: Yes, that phone call I made to Lloyd was very important for me wasn't it?
Son: Yeah, important if you just wanted to send me away.
Mom: And you're right too; I wanted to see you get more treatment.
Son: See that is so wrong. No other parents would have done that. I don't even have a problem. I was just using a little bit. You just wanted me to get sent away.
Mom: Yes, I wanted you to get more treatment.
Son: This place isn't doing anything for me.
Mom: No, I guess you haven't got much out of this place yet.
Son: I'm not going to get anything out of it; you just wasted my time and everyone's time up here! I'm 18 now! You have to realize that I'm a man now.
Mom: Yes, you are getting older fast.
Son: I don't even believe how you did me in. Even Dad says you screwed me. Why didn't you just let me go live with him?
Mom: You're right. Your Dad would've handled things differently.
Son: Any parent would have given me a break- except you! You're a bitch.
Mom: I guess I can be a bitch, huh?
Son: yeah and you got me sent away.
Mom: Well just so you know- I would do it all over again just to keep you safe.
Son: I was only doing it a little.
Mom: Nevertheless, I would do it all over again just to keep you safe.
Son: You're crazy and you and my PO are the only reasons I'm here. You didn't even give me a chance- I was only home for two weeks.
Mom: Regardless, I would do it again- and again - and again.
Son: You're just trying to make me mad now.
Mom: It's easy for you to blame everyone else.
Son: Cause it's your fault.
Mom: Nevertheless, as long as you persist in blaming others, it's better if you are in treatment where it's safe.
Son: It's not my fault.
Mom: Nevertheless, I'm just glad that you are here.
Son: Why, this place isn't doing anything for me
Mom: You might be able to learn how not to blame other people.
Son: NO! I'm not learning that either.
Mom: You're so right. You haven't learned that yet.

Scenario 3:
Son: Mom, if you would just quit nagging at me I think I could be OK, but nooooo, you just can't shut up can you?
Mom: You are so tired of hearing me say the same things over and over and over.
Son: Yeah, I really am. Could you just shut up? please?
Mom: How about if you write down the things that you already know that you don't want me to nag you about- then I'd know you know that stuff already.
Son: No! I'm done with the lists. I'm not writing anything for else for you.
Mom: Why should you write a list when you already know that stuff and you don't feel like writing it down. For example, what's one thing that I should stop nagging you about because you already know it?
Son: What?
Mom: Just give me one example of something I keep naggin you about that that you already know, so I can stop nagging.
Son: About my friends.
Mom: OK, so I'm nagging about old people, places, and things and you already know about that so I can shut up already?
Son: Yes! I already know who I can hang out with and who not too. Some of my old friends are OK now. They cut way back or even quit using drugs and I can still hang with them. They're coming over today cause I wrote them that I was going to have this one-day home pass and don't start nagging me about it; I don't want to hear it.
Mom: OK, well that's important. I do nag a little.
Son: Yes, that's what I'm saying - I can't believe you finally hear me.
Mom: It is surprising that I'm hearing how you feel about the nagging. I agree.
Son: Yes, so just stop.
Mom: I'm glad that you are so open about this. And you did a good job standing up to me right now.
Son: I did?
Mom: Yep. You see this home pass is all about trying to see if you've changed and your counselor and I need to know if you've changed or not. It's great that you're so up front with us about this. I give you a lot of credit- you don't go behind my back- you stand right up to me and tell me where you stand.
Son: Yeah, I'm a man about it.
Mom: You are a man about it. You stand up for what you believe. I've always liked that about you. You don't even care that the consequences for violating the old people, places and things rule might mean that you don't get to come home again for a while- you still are going to stand up for what you believe in.
Son: What the {blankedy blank} are you talking about?
Mom: Well, your counselor agreed with me, that if you can't follow these home pass rules, you won't need to come again very soon- probably not for the holidays- but we'll see.
Son: What that's {blankedy blank}! I been gone way to long already! Just chill. He won't even ask about that stuff.
Mom: You'd like me to keep that as our secret, huh?
Son: You wouldn't screw up my next pass Mom! You want me home for Xmas as bad as I want to come home.
Mom: You're so right! I want you home for Xmas maybe even more than you want to come home!
Son: Exactly!
Mom: And it's going to be hard for me to report to your counselor that you refuse to follow the old people places and things rule- you're right about that too.
Son: Ha ha nice try. You ain't saying nuttin- you're not like that!
Mom: It's hard to believe that I can change. Sometimes I surprise myself. Nevertheless, I'm not keeping your secrets anymore! But the good news is- you're right about me nagging too much! It doesn't help! I'm going to try to quit or at least cut down on the nagging. You know the rules and I think you know the consequences, so it's on you Son, not me. If you got any questions, let me know. I told your counselor I'd call and check in at 5:00 O'clock so I got a few hours before my check-in, so let me know what you decide.
Son: Mom! You don't check in- I make the check-in calls!
Mom: Usually only the teenager checks in but I suggested to your counselor that I check in too and he thought that was a good idea.
[mom walks away]

The meeting:
This was a really good meeting. Thanks to all the folks who showed up to support PSST. About Eleven parents showed up and everyone had great things to contribute. One Mom brought her daughter who does not have a drug problem. She did a fantastic role-play, where she played her brother! Very challenging for me to handle her because she was so powerful. And at the end of group, in her final statement she cautioned our PSST parents not to neglect the brothers and sisters of the addict who don't have a drug problem. Here, here! That was so well-said and hopefully, we will see a post from her soon!

We also had some veteran parents come back to tell us how things are going! We love seeing parents helping parents.

Out Holiday meeting will be the first week of December at Eastern. The doors will open at 8:00 AM and please bring a dish if you like. I'll be putting a post up about it soon and not only is it our holiday meeting but it is our Six-Year Anniversary!

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Parents should know what teens know about sneaking out.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 27, 2009

wikiHow coaches teenagers on how to sneak out of the house. If parents knew what teenagers know and what they think before they actually sneak out of the house, parents would be in a better position to guard against this dangerous behavior. Especially, notice the part entitled, "TRICKS PARENTS USE TO CATCH KIDS." If you're not already aware of these tricks, add them to your arsenal.

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Sally, Rocco, and Cisco: To Be Continued.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, October 26, 2009

Cisco walked in the door at 6:15AM. He thought he would make it back before we woke up. He was wrong. We told him this was a violation of his house arrest and that we were taking him up to Shuman Center. He went willingly.

Fortunately, Cisco has an excellent P.O. who had all the paper work in order and Cisco was admitted within fifteen minutes. We attended our PSST meeting that afternoon. I don't remember everything about the meeting because Cisco's welfare was on my mind but one thing that stands out clear is that a parent who attended the PSST meeting talked about the death of a child, due to drugs.

I take this moment to pause and be thankful that Cisco is in the system. That he has not fatally hurt anyone including himself and that we did the right thing by taking him to Shuman.

Our son spent 90 days at a rehabilation center this summer and was home and clean for an additional 40 days, he was attending a program at Gateway Rehab, he was doing ninety 12-step meetings in 90 days, his grades were good. He has a supportive network. I wrote down these and other reasons and asked his P.O. to consider letting him come back home. It was a positive experience to explain to Cisco that we wanted him home, there would be rules and restrictions that needed to be followed but we wanted him home.

Cisco had a hearing on Tuesday.

Luckily, the judge agreed to let Cisco come home after a home detention monitor was set up.

It's curious but this is when I went onto an emotional roller coaster. I truly wanted Cisco home but began to doubt if it was the best decision. After all, what do I know about addictions? I was wondering if Cisco would make it even a day on the home monitor. He might be impulsive and run away or something. I doubted if Cisco had enough respect for Rocco and myself to follow the rules.

After the hearing, the reasons why he should be placed all came flooding into my consciousness. He may hurt someone or hurt himself. I would be the one to blame because I went to court and expressed that he should be home.

Fear and doubt led to sleepless nights and sleepless nights lead to confusion.

To make matters worse there was technical difficulty in getting the phone line into our house for the home detention monitor.

Then I came home from work one day to a message that Cisco was shipped out to Auberle and that he was safe. That was the whole message: "Hello, This is So-and-so, we have your son at Auberle Male Shelter and he is safe. If you have any questions please call 412-XXX-XXXX.

- to be continued -

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Learning To "Un-learn" by Rocco
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 22, 2009

Try this little exercise. First fold your hands loosely. Relax. Notice how comfortable you feel. Next move all of your fingers down one. Notice how uncomfortable it feels.

I once participated in a week long very intensive and comprehensive driving class so that I could transport company personnel. One of our first lessons was to learn to “un-learn” some of our driving skills. Some of this took us out of our comfort zone, especially when they explained Rule #1:

“If you determine that there is no way to avoid crashing your vehicle then save yourself first and worry about your passengers later.”

We all felt a little uncomfortable with that. We all had that time-honored ideal instilled in us of sacrificing ourselves to keep others out of harm’s way.

But they made it clear that, as the driver, you are the most important person in that vehicle. You are responsible for keeping as much control of the vehicle as possible. If you are incapacitated, then you have lost the ability to control the vehicle and then all of your passengers are in extreme danger.

Looking back over the past few years we can see now that we needed to learn to “un-learn” some of our parenting skills and to try something a lot less comfortable.

Our son’s attitude and grades were deteriorating and he was having more and more difficulty dealing with teachers and other students. We knew that we were good parents and were ready to use all of our best parenting skills to help our son through his issues. To address his problems we researched pamphlets, books and the internet. We worked closely with him, his school, private tutors and several counselors to get a handle on his problems.

We didn’t realize that our biggest roadblock was that he was quickly becoming an addict and that, as an addict, our son considered his school, his tutors, his counselors and especially his parents as his biggest problem. The last thing that he wanted to hear was that the individuals that he was hanging with were using him as much as he was using them. Using them to get high and to gain affirmation that there was nothing wrong with their behavior. They reaffirmed that it was everyone else that caused all of his problems. It was the school and all their bullsh*t rules, it was the other kids that he felt were just as bad if not worse than he was (but got away with it) and it was especially his parents forcing all of their family time garbage, church crap and their useless counselors on him. He didn’t “get it” that his attitude and his failing grades were making his difficulties worse. He didn’t “get it” that “guilt by association” and more and more encounters with the police were making everything worse for him outside of school.

And I am sorry to say that at that time we didn’t “get it” either.

Our family was out of control and we were sacrificing ourselves; our family, our emotions, our social life, our jobs and our own physical and mental health. We can’t say exactly when it happened because it is all kind of a blur now but we knew we were out of control and we were about to crash. We were out of options emotionally and financially. We needed some intensive and comprehensive lessons on how to learn to “un-learn” some of our parenting skills and to become competent at something a lot less comfortable…

… “to save ourselves first”.

We needed to take back control of our family and our own lives before we could save our son’s life.

We were very fortunate at that point to find and to begin attending the PSST sessions. They have provided us with some very uncomfortable but valuable lessons on how to handle our son’s addiction and to take back the power and how to talk less and act more. These are by no means the easiest methods to employ. It felt awkward, painful and unpleasant to admit that yes my child has an addiction problem, they were out of control and we needed to take assertive action. Nevertheless the more that we learn and the more we put into these lessons into practice the easier it becomes. You will see that once you get your child into the system you will discover a storehouse full of valuable resources to help you that you didn’t realize were available.

Over the last year we have seen encouraging results. We are not through with our problems yet but we have regained much of our control and are on a better course. We now realize that we are not alone in this. We have found a lot of caring people who understand exactly what we are going through and who offer a lot of support and encouragement.

We can only urge you to take the time to stop into a session and to try something a little uncomfortable that can make some real changes in your life.

What we have learned is that, yes we are good parents and that we are doing the best that we can for ourselves and our son.

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Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, October 18, 2009

Posted for a parent named Linda

As a parent of an ADHD child, I have always been a bit confused by the diagnostic label since my son could focus on quite a few different activities from reading to sports to computer games for long periods of times. Attending to boring (for him) math was a different issue altogether. But was that an attention problem or an interest problem? From my perspective, what I always felt my son lacked was self regulation and impulse control.

A social worker sent me this website for LD OnLine a resource for learning disabilities and for ADHD information. The page this link takes you to is written by Dr. Sam Goldstein who explains that ADHD is more a problem of self-control than attention. FINALLY, an explanation that makes sense and matches perfectly what we have observed in our home all these years!


The LD OnLine website has lots of articles on it as well as forums for readers to discuss common issues.

One article I found on the website was a review of the research on kids with learning disabilities that looks at their high rates of involvement in risk behaviors, school failure, substance use and abuse, and juvenile delinquency. The article casts a critical eye at the research findings and asks good questions about whether the learning disability (ADHD and many other diagnoses seem to be lumped together in the category of learning disability) caused the other problems or if something like the lack of success in school triggered low self esteem that triggered the other problems. The article points out that of course most kids with LD do not end up as juvenile offenders, but if you are reading my post here and have a kid with ADHD or a LD, it might be safe to say that our kids could have qualified to be in these studies. Anyway, the writers of the article found that the most promising resiliency forces for the kids included awareness and knowledge. The more we know, the better we and our kids can help ourselves.


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Relapse Takes Mom for a Ride on an Emotional Roller Coaster.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hi, This is Sally. I have finally found a few minutes when my mind is clear enough to explain about Cisco's relapse. Cicso had 90 days clean in Ridgeview plus approximately 40 days clean in our home when he relapsed. Wow, that very last word was hard to say :(

Friday a week ago, women's intuition had me wake up at 4 a.m. and I went downstairs to Cisco's room. I got that sick feeling in my gut when I saw the empty bed. He was no where to be found and he was on house arrest. This was a violation and I knew it had to be reported. So I climbed the stairs and went into our bedroom and stood their a minute with my head hanging low.

I dreaded having to wake my hard working husband who was in a peaceful sleep to tell him this bad news. Rocco shook the sleep from his head and sized up the situation. In his logical manner his plan was to first wait by the front door and see who Cisco was out with. I am honest enough to say that my first feelings were just IGNORE this episode, go back to sleep, let this blow over. I'm sure Rocco felt the same as he stared out at the dark, wet street. Rocco said that maybe Cisco was just walking around and not smoking dope. After awhile it sinks in that if your kid is out at 4 in the morning while on house arrest the authorities need to be called. I dialed the number but could not speak so I handed the phone to Rocco and he got everything set into action.


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Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Drug and Alcohol Unit continues to provide a unique support for parents who have teenagers that they suspect are using drugs and alcohol. PSST (Parent Survival Skills Training) is open to any parent in Allegheny County!! Yes, that means that they do not have to be involved with Juvenile Court to come. AND, parents who do have youth involved with Juvenile Court do not have to be referred…..they can just show up!! It’s FREE and it’s open to anyone who wants help.

Six years ago, Lloyd Woodward decided that it was time to provide a service to the parents that he was working with due to his own frustration from releasing his clients’ home to the same environment they left and turning out unsuccessful. Many of the young people in Juvenile Court have similar characteristics – they need structure and discipline to prevent them from getting trapped in the system and making changes at home makes a significant difference.

For those of you who have never heard about PSST, it is a group developed for parents who are frustrated and unsuccessful at managing their teenager. This doesn’t mean that they are not good parents. As a matter of fact, a large percentage of the parents that attend have raised one or more children with success, but this one is much different. Most parents come to group out of desperation. They just don’t know what else to do.

Parent Survival Skills Training is designed to empower parents. Some of these teenagers have held their parents hostage. The parents are desperate to find a way to survive. More importantly, they are desperate to find a way to help their teenagers survive the deadly game of drug abuse. By the time they come to group, many of the parents have already learned that “bailing their child out of trouble” only adds to the problem. We refuse to place any blame on the parents for having a troubled child. We want them to identify how they are being manipulated, rise up, and take back control.

The group leaders begin each PSST meeting by going around the room and introducing themselves and briefly summarizing their situation. It is either through suggestions by the parents or situations described during introductions that the role-plays are formulated. Most of the group consists of role-plays and problem-solving techniques. The role-plays are designed to be fun and educational. We have found that either most parents like participating in role-plays or they enjoy talking about them afterwards.

Even though the group primarily focuses on the behavior of the youth, the parents are also encouraged to take care of themselves. It is true that in a destructive co-dependent relationship, the parent sacrifices having a rewarding life of their own. In this regard, it is important that parents know how to meet their own needs, independent of what their child is going through.

At the end of group each participant is permitted a final statement. This is an opportunity for each parent to state how group was of value to him or her. This allows the parent an opportunity to further internalize what some of the group values. It also gives the group facilitators an opportunity to summarize or focus on one thing that they hope that parents take with them from group. Additionally, it is one more chance for parents to affect each other and bond.

The Court has not ordered any of these parents to attend group; they come because they want help. Not surprisingly, many of the solutions happen because the parents share ideas with each other. Many of the parents come in saying that this is what they wish they had available to them a long time ago and are grateful for the help. We have parents attending from all over the city and suburbs. Distance does not seem to be an issue.

PSST has grown to 3 meetings per month which all meet from 9:00am to 11:30am: 1st Saturday of the month at the Eastern District Office in Wilkinsburg; 2nd Saturday of the month at the Trinity Lutheran Church on Brandt School Road in Wexford; and the 3rd Saturday of the month is at the Outreach Office in Mt. Lebanon. The parents also developed and support a web blog at www.gopsst.org ; which contains the addresses and directions for the meetings, but also a wealth of information that is written by the parents through their own experiences.

Because of PSST, the effectiveness of Court Probation intervention is greatly enhanced. Helping parents to control and supervise their own youth is a more cost effective way to provide intervention. Feel free to contact Valerie Ketter or Lloyd Woodward for more information.

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Grand Opening New Wexford Location was Today!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nice turn out of about 8 parents, Kathie Tagmyer our resident Family Therapist, and Valerie Ketter, Supervisor of the Court's D&A Unit. Vanilla Moose in that cake- oh yeah! Click here for how to find our new location.

We had a couple new faces. The role-plays we did were on teenager badgering of parents, out-of-control teenagers, and "Mom you made me into an addict." We spoke about how effective it can be to agree with a small part of what the teenager is saying and not just to give it lip service but REALLY agree with something and then twist it into your parent message. One parent said that it seemed like we are learning how to manipulate the manipulators and you know, that might just say it pretty good!

It seemed like a lot of fun and the participation as usual was excellent.

Our new location is so perfect for us. Kitchen, coffee makers, big warm room, etc. Why not come and check us out at one of three locations? See the panel on the left margin for directions to all of our meeting locations!

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Parent of the Year!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, October 09, 2009

Greg and Debby gave a gracious combined speech last night as they accepted the Allegheny County Court Parent-of-the-Year award. Debby read the actual letter that she read in Judge Borkowski's Court room two years ago and Greg waxed eloquent about their committment to continue to do the right thing by their Son and to continue to attend PSST to reach out to less experienced parents.

Greg spoke about he and Debby took home somethings that were helpful from the very firts PSST two years ago; and how some of things learned at PSST took longer for them to come around to trying. Debby spoke about how difficult it was to read that letter in Court because she knew that her son was right there listening. As it turned out, he wasn't paying attention as his drug problem was a bit to active for him to pay close attention. It may also be that their son, like so many of our teenagers, was just used to tuning out parents.

Greg also spoke about how important it is for both of them to give back to the PSST something of what they have learned. He mentioned that shen they first started coming around to PSST there were other more experienced parents that reached out to them and he emphasized that having those veteran parents in the group who had walked down a similar road and often had seen huge turn arounds in their teenagers really gave them hope at a time when things seems so hopeless.

Debby and Greg were always the kind of parents who were willing to do the heavy lifting. They drug tested several times a week. They came to a lot of PSST. They met with the PO and with the school officials as needed. And they worked with Wesley Spectrum Family Therapy on an on goign basis. In fact, Kathy Tagmyer, who unfortunaely was ill last night, had helped to write the nonimation and of course she was as proud of Greg and Debby as any of us were.

Their son now has over two years clean and a high school diploma. He is looking for employment now and soon will also be looking into furthering his education. If any readers can offer any job leads for Greg and Debby's son please email lloyd.woodward@court.allegheny.pa.us or leave a comment here with your email. He is a hardworking young man who, with the help of his parents, has learned how to wake up early every monning and get about having a productive day.

Joe Bellante author Left For Dead was a guest speaker and you can see him pictured above with Debby and Greg. Also, the first picture above from left to right is Judge Wecht, Judge McVay, Judge Hans Greco, Judge Clark, Greg, Debby, Lloyd, Jim Rieland, Director of Adult and Juvenile Probation Departments. The picture on the bottom right from left to right is Lloyd Woodward, Valerie Ketter, Debby and Greg McClemens.

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Allegheny County Parent-of-the-Year Award to be anounced this Saturday!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, September 29, 2009

For the fourth year in a row the Allegheny County Parent-of-the-Year Award will go to a member of PSST. Come to the Eastern District Meeting this Saturday morning to find out who is the winner! We will be posting more on this subject, but suffice it to say that at this point the winner does not yet have a clue.
The award will be officially presented during the Juvenile Probation Awards Ceremony on October 8Th at 5:30 P.M. in the waiting room at 550 Fifth Ave (downtown Juvenile Court). RSVP is expected and can be arranged for any parents interested to attend. Click picture on right to see last year's winners. Click picture on left to see the winner in 2007.
This award usually recognizes both the serious work of the parent(s) who work tirelessly to help their teenager make a big turn-around and the efforts of the parent(s) to reach out and help other parents.

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Update from Sally
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, September 26, 2009

From: Sally
To: Lloyd
Subject: Blending your different parenting styles to help your child who is close to a relapse.
Date: Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 7:10 PM

Hi Lloyd,

Cisco got out of Ridgeview over a month ago. As you know, he either relapsed or is very close to it. The next step for him may be a hearing at Shuman. I am trying my best to keep that at bay for a very good reason. I don't want to use up all the 'tricks in the magic bag' too soon. Right now, the very thought of him going to Shuman keeps him doing what he should do. It is great leverage.

Cisco's main problem seems to be that he has too many "friends". When Rocco and I returned home after eating breakfast out this morning, we told Cisco that he will not go to the school dance tonight. I told him I was not comfortable with him going to the dance. He was upset but I quickly changed the subject and expressed how proud I was of his progress at school. (He has A's in all but one subject) He settled soon enough and was willing to attend his Saturday NA meeting.

That meeting always does him good. He was one of the last ones out. They put him in charge of handing out the "clean and sober ' milestone coins and when suggestions went around for next weeks topics, I found it interesting that his request was - What Do You Do if You Relapse?!

It is so helpful when both parents can really work together at being stronger that The Strong Willed Kid. It was cool, when my husband, Rocco, saw that I changed the subject and as soon as I stopped talking about his good grades; Rocco questioned Why Cisco broke the solar light? (He didn't let on that he knew that Cisco kicked it yesterday when he was angry about being disciplined.) Cisco had to explain himself and could not get defensive.

Rocco and I have been married for 32 years and we have two sons. Our older son had problems when he was a teen but did not question our authority that much. My husband's calm and patient ways worked well with him. They always reasoned things out man to man. They also had a lot of common interests. Rocco and Cisco do not have that same type of relationship.

Both Rocco and I probably look very weak and stupid through our son, Cisco's eyes. I know Rocco is strong and brilliant but we both know that both of us need to hone up our parenting styles so that we keep the control that we have and also build more control, power and respect. Rocco is taking my lead because he said I seem to have better judgement. I don't think it is better judgement but since I have more time to dedicate to this case and more time to talk with Lloyd and the other experts I do have more knowledge and can make better decisions. I also have a more suspicious and paranoid nature and look for problems and pitfalls. This is usually good in this situation but sometimes Rocco has to help me reason things out.

I played around on the computer today and was able to read the profiles of some of Cisco's friends who are on his MySpace. I now have a better store of knowledge of which friends are trustworthy.

Cisco did not go to the dance but we did not ground him either. He asked if he could go to some kids house after the kids get home from the dance. I said only if you first contact the kids parent and let me talk to the parent. I will ask her if there will be alcohol or anything because it sounds like there may be about 8 kids there tonight. Cisco said that Bill and Bob will be there and Bill and Bob both had very nice profiles on MySpace. (Cisco does not know yet that I can get on MySpace and see these) profiles.

I will close with this Point to Ponder:
Every two- parent family must remember that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link!!


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Two websites about huffing and sniffing inhalents
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, September 20, 2009


I found these two websites useful in my search for more information about the dangers of inhalant abuse. I thought you may want to pass them on through the PSST site. I believe parents of children in recovery need to be very aware that this is a problem and be in the know about the dangers.

(Note: the Alliance for Consumer Education in the top right is a link to their video about huffing. )

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New Wexford Meeting Place!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, September 18, 2009

Trinity Lutheran Church at 2500 Brandt School Road has agreed to sponsor our Second Saturday of each month PSST meeting. This provides us with larger facilities. We want to send out a special thank you to Trinity Lutheran Church for helping us out at this time. Please come out to support us at our new location on Saturday October 17th. This location is 2 miles from our old location at The Alliance Offices. You actually drive to the left past this spot pictured and enter right through the next driveway where it says YMCA. (see driveway to right). We meet in the educational building in the rear, which you can see at the center of this picture above where the cars are parked. If you click on the photo it zooms in so you can see a bit better. This is a really nice place for our meeting- we can make coffee and have plenty of room.

Thanks to the Alliance for providing us with meeting space for several years. We have enjoyed an excellent location.

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Sally finds the right tools to get the job done.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cisco was moved into the shorter session at Gateway - this change started today. Betty from Gateway said part of the reason this happened is because of insurance reasons but she explained to Cisco that if his behavior is not good she will make sure he gets back into the long session again.

He is doing well and his drug tests have come out negative but he is still trying to weedle his way into getting his own way on certain things.

He started smoking in the car on the way to Gateway last week with the excuse that "he needs to have a cigarette and at least he isn't smoking at school like the other kid that got suspended for smoking in the bathroom". They do have a calming effect on him so we let him smoke but try to keep it to a minimum. We will work on smoking cigarettes at a later date but now we are choosing our battles.

You suggested that I stop the car if he wants to smoke and let him suffer the consequence if it makes him late. I did that today. He was ready to light up and I told him not to; he insisted so I stopped the car and said, "If you need a cigarette have one but you are going to be late." He had one and he was late. He told me Betty makes the group stay later if they come in late. They did keep them about 10 minutes longer than they were supposed to and I hope it was for that reason.

The other struggle is getting control of the radio/CD player in the car. Before I picked him up from school I cleared his CD's out of the front seat and tossed them into the trunk. Before I even drove away he wanted to know where his CD's were. When I told him they were in the trunk he begged me to get them out and I said no. I said " I am a 50+ year old lady who sometimes needs quiter music." I said we would compromise and listen to a "young radio station".

I have been reading the PSST Never the Less blogs and found the one on YELLING very helpful because at times I have gotten into shouting matches which were completely counter productive. I am proud to say that I stayed completly calm and rational even when Cisco was angry in the car today. He was angry and unhappy and swore some. Since I stayed calm he was willing to share with me that he had talked to his X-girl friend and he told me the things she said that made him angry. I sympathized with him and his anger melted away.


(image from Creata Card licensed software)

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Thank you for empowering us at this weeks PSST-by Sally
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dear LLoyd and Val and Kathy and Cathy,

The Parental Survival Skills Training session was so helpful today. It has energized and refreshed me and I am ready to start our third week of having our son (let's call him Cisco) home after his 90 day stay at Ridgeview. Rocco (alias for my husband) and I learned a lot and some lessons which we learned at prior sessions have been reinforced.

Cisco was at an NA meeting this morning and came home happy. He told us that is going to be his home group and asked me to make him cookies for an upcoming occasion. I said 'consider it done, just tell me your favorite type of cookie.' He said, "Make snickerdoodles and mom, There were only women at today's meeting but it went well and that is going to be my home group". I think he can relate to women who are in recovery.... you see Cisco is adopted and sometimes Rocco and I are probably so different from his natural parents.

Even tho' he has been with us almost since birth he knows that his natural mom had a drinking problem. My take on this is that he relates to these women and they help him see that yes, his mother 'gave him away' but he realizes thru these other women that she is a good, loving women who has a disease which is called addiction. It is a cunning, deceitful and powerful disease AND added on top of that is the fact that society places a stigma on the disease of addiction. So it is harder for a person to admit that they have the disease AND family members would rather stay in denial about a member of their family having this disease. It is easier that way since the stigma makes the outside world judgemental instead of sympathetic.

Cisco has not found a sponsor yet and it would not be good to have a sponsor of the opposite sex. Last week there was a man there and he was thinking of asking him.

One time you or someone at Ridgeview mentioned that when someone has an addictive personality and stops using drugs they need to find a substitution. Well, Cisco helped Rocco and I build a shed which ended up being a two weekend project. We promised him that he could get a tattoo and yes, he did help a lot and yes, he now has a tattoo. He SAID several times, that he will get only one more which will be in honor of my Mom, his Gramma who passed away two summers ago.

You may say, why in God's world would you as a parent, sign for a tattoo for your under aged child? Rocco and I reasoned it out from past experience with Cisco and knew that if we did NOT go along with it this strong-willed child would find a way to get one and it may be at a place with unsterilized needles. After all, several years ago, both of us and his gramma could not talk him out of getting his ears pierced and he simply had a friend stick a needle in his earlobe!

The red flags started going up when we were in the tattoo parlor because Cisco said, maybe he will get MORE tattoos. I do not want this to be a substitute for his drug addiction. Rocco and I with everyone else's help who is involved needs to help him find other substitutions. Such as work, relationships, music, art or any other positive venue.

So we will work on that and for now on when he helps with major projects around the house the money has to go for something more substantial. I also have decided to make CD's for our commute to Gateway, Squirrel Hill, where Cisco is in the IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). He is starting to monopolize the CD player with his music. His taste in music has improved BUT Rocco and I still have a better selection of popular music which he needs to be reintroduced to.

Remember; Rocco and I are good parents to healthy children and now with your help we are learning how to be a good parent to a child who is an addict. Thank you so much for all your help and for listening to my lengthy email. Will you please pass this on to Kathy T. and Cathy C. ?



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Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yelling is counter-productive. Not only is it not an effective way to discipline your teenager, but it causes resentments. Causing resentments is not the best way to manage a teenager who may be on the verge of being out-of-control. Why does it happen so often?

I believe that it is because the yelling becomes the discipline. In other words, there is no discipline or accountability. We just rip em a new one. That'll teach em. Unfortunately, this does not usually teach them much, other than this: if you're feeling mad go ahead and yell and blame other people. Once our teenagers have learned this lesson we can be sure that we will at some point have them yelling and blaming us. How can we cut down on the yelling?

First: admit that yelling is not effective. Period. It just doesn't work for you- except that maybe you feel better because you blew off some steam. But what did it do to change your teenager's behavior? Admit that it must be all about making you feel better because it is not helping your teenager's behavior.

Second: become aware of when you are yelling. Pay attention to what precedes a yelling outburst. Try to see it coming so that you can strategize how to avoid it. Ask your teenager to point out to you when you are yelling. That's a favor that most teens would be more than happy to perform.

Third: Follow a strategy to change your yelling. For example, hold your teenager accountable for his behavior. Theodore Roosevelt wrote, "I have always been fond of the West African proverb: `Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.'' Do less yelling at teens and do more holding teens accountable. Ground them. Take their cell phones. Take their license. Take their computer time. Suddenly, you will feel less like riping them a new one because you sort of did that already.

Fourth: Move in closer- make good eye contact- and talk slowly and quietly- and really mean what you say. Your teenagers will be surprised. You might be surprised too at how effective and powerful this is. Also, if they are yelling at you they will find that it is difficult to continue to yell once someone moves in on them an inch or so and starts talking slowly.

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Stepping Down- written by Veronica
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, September 04, 2009

I’ve stepped down, so that I could step up.

When my friends and colleagues hear that I’ve requested a demotion at work that’s what I tell them.

Recently my son Michael came back home after almost 10 months at Abraxas, where he fought against, struggled with, and ultimately completed the first leg on his journey toward recovery. I as well as his brother and sister, ages 14 and 16 are glad to have him home. He seems like a changed person. He is certainly neater, having finally learned how to make a bed! He also seems a lot quieter, gentler and certainly more focused. I’m sure I am seeing the real Michael but it is such a contrast to the mean, loud and disrespectful person we lived with before his being sent to placement that it’s easy to wonder if you really know this person at all.

Underneath all of these changes though, I feel an undercurrent of another set of emotions. Maybe fear? Restlessness? Boredom? I’m not sure and I don’t think even he can articulate the feelings there. I do know this; he needs me now more than he has ever needed me before. He needs me to support him. To make sure he gets to NA meetings. He needs me to make sure none of his old friends are hanging out at our house. He needs me to observe him for signs of a relapse. Basically he needs me to be a self appointed pain in the butt watchdog that wants him to succeed in his fight against himself. He just doesn’t know he needs me. I do.

I also know that my other kids are out there facing the same decisions Mike had to face. They have friends that use drugs or are being offered drugs themselves. Maybe they’ve tried them or are curious as to what all the fuss is about. They need me to observe and share all I am learning as I hold big brother’s hand. They need me too.

All of this was what prompted me to call my boss in for a sit down and the retail store I manage. She’s a District Manager of a large company so she is well aware that her coming to our stores is a major production. It means days of “fluffing” and dusting and “be on your toes, Stacy’s coming in”. So when I asked her to come she knew it was bad news. She walked in with that I know you’re about to give me your notice face and she was right. I had interviewed and found a replacement for myself to save her the trouble and I told her she’d love her and I was right.

I asked to step down from a full time salaried position to an hourly position working about 20 hours less a week than I did before. I told her everything that had gone on with my family in the past year and why I was making the decision to take on this new role as General Manager of my home. I told her I felt like my kids needed me more now than they ever did before and I couldn’t let them down. She agreed and told me I am an inspiration to her and no matter how long I need, when my family is ready I will always be able to move back up in our company.

Phew, I didn’t commit career suicide.

But, I will be with my family more. I will check homework assignments and make dinner more. I will look into their eyes when they tell me where they’ve been. I will make more PSST meetings and go to family night at Gateway. I will be the Ambassador of my children’s lives and there is nothing more valuable than that. So, I’m stepping down so that I can step up, as a parent.

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