Quote of the Week

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

Coffee House Nation goes to Steeler Game
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, August 31, 2009

Special Thanks to The Steelers, and PSST parents Mary, Beth and Erv for making this outing and the tail-gating a big success. This is our third year going to a preseason Steeler Game. The seats were fantastic. I will post more pics at the CHN web page.

Type rest of the post here

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Message from PSST parent.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, August 30, 2009

With the permission of the parent we are reprinting this recent email. We now can reveal that this comment is from "Sally."

Hi Lloyd,

For the last hour of so I have been educating myself by reading your PSST nevertheless website. WOW! The myths of addiction were very helpful and I reread the way addicts manipulate a parent. I really should have started educating myself years ago. But I will not fret about that but simply try to 'catch up' now.

Cisco tried the guilting on me tonight. When I explained that he should NOT have ANY contact with [a certain peer]. He told me that his addiction is partially my fault...

I had to tell him twice that It is his addiction and I am not to blame. Our argument was short lived and by the time we returned home he ate dinner with us and even asked if he could set the table.

I hope and pray every day that he beats this thing.


(Footnote: A second useful posting about Myths of Addiction.) (Image from Creative Card Gold licensed software.)

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Take the Marijuana and Health Risks Quiz
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Research shows that today’s pot is addictive and causes harm to developing brains and lungs. To learn more about the health risks associated with marijuana, click here. Click the picture to the right to take the quiz.

Parents- the antidrug website is loaded with useful information. Click here to go to the main site.

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Feeding the Enemy
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, August 17, 2009

Your teenager has a drug problem and is away in rehab. You still want to have your teenager's friends over the house. It feels very wrong not to let them visit your teenager when he is on home pass. After all, it's been weeks or even months since they've seen each other. You may be reading this and thinking, "Lloyd's writing about me!" Maybe I'm not writing about you because there are lots of parents who have admitted to having these feelings.

A few months ago, a mother was talking about the enjoyment she felt when she got to have her son's friends over the house and literally feeding them at her dinner table. She admitted that she knew that her son's friends did drugs but she also knew that they were basically good kids, and that they needed a place to hang out. In other words, these other teenagers that were friends of her son needed her too.

Reaching out to teenagers in your neighborhood might be a good idea; however, when your teenager has a drug problem it is a good idea gone bad.
It may feel wrong to consider your teenager's friends as enemies; however, since People, Places and Things are critical to a person's recovery, what you are really feeding is the disease of addiction.

We know that if a teenager remains in contact with his old friends that his chances of relapse go through the roof. Almost everyone who lapses has renewed old contacts first; however, what appears to be a simple 2 plus 2 equals 4 gets a bit complicated. How does this happen? What do we tell ourselves when we allow our teens to resume old friendships after they have been away in a drug rehab? Let's examine some ideas that might complicate this otherwise simple issue.

1. He has to have friends. If my teenager has to go a few months without friends it might damage him. He might develop emotional problems or depression. He might even relapse if he is lonely. No parent wants their child to be friendless.

Refutation #1: It won't hurt if he is temporarily friendless. It might even have a good effect. Nature abhors a vacuum, therefore, if your teenager is temporarily friendless he might make some new friends. If he holds onto the old friends he might have more trouble making the new ones. As far as emotional problems or depression, it does happen that sometimes depression sets in early in recovery. That can happen anyway and is probably not brought on by having no friends. What about family? Can't he become closer to family during this period?

2. My teenager's friends need help too. I just can't shut them out. They like being at my house more than they like being at their own home. They feel comfortable at my house. I don't feel good deserting them.

Refutation #2: Sometimes it's our needs as parents that are coming out. We like to be the cool parents. We love it that these kids feel most comfortable at our house! We must be doing something right if they all want to hang out at your house, right? No. Not when your teenager has a drug problem. Different priorities apply now. New rules. Suddenly, your teenager doesn't need to have the coolest Mom or Dad on the block. Your teenager needs to be less chummy with you and more held accountable by you. The key to helping most teenagers avoid returning to their previous party life is good tight parental supervision and the people, places and things are critical to that supervision.

3. It's rude to tell your old friends that you can't be friends anymore. I didn't raise my child to be rude. I raised my teenager to be loyal to his friends. I think he has to show them that he is not going to use drugs and they can stop too if they want to.

Refutation #3: Yes, but it's a rude disease. In fact, it kills teenagers. That's pretty rude. Sometimes you have to decide if you want a live teenager who is a bit rude or a dead one who has been very considerate towards every one's feelings.

4. If I only allow my teenager to see his old friends when I'm there I can make sure that nothing bad happens. Anyway I don't think his friends are bad people.

Refutation #4: As parents we send the most powerful messages to our teens by our actions not by our words. If we allow the old friends to be around some of the time, then our message that we do not approve of old friends is watered down. Apparently, we do not feel that contact with old friends is really that bad.

5. Some of my teenager's friends are clean now too. Some are even going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings. I think they can help each other stay clean.

Refutation #5: There is a saying in 12-step that your old friends will get you to use before you get them clean. You know that the reason that contact is bad is not because the old friends are bad people. The reason is that your teenager and those old friends are triggers for each other. They each make each other feel like using drugs. That's the whole entire reason. In fact, it's recommended in 12-step that newcomers hang with people who have significant clean time, not with other newcomers. Tell your teenager to run into his old friend at a meeting and leave him alone in between meetings. Tell him to wait until they both have a year clean before they try to hang out with each other. Quote from Tom M: "As a newcomer myself, I try to only hang with people in the program that have at least a year clean. If I meet a dude at a meeting who has 364 days clean, I say OK but call me tomorrow man, not today."

6. I'm never going to be able to stop my teenager from contacting his old friends. It's impossible. Why even try? I'm just going to make him be sneaky.

Refutation #6. This is the best one because it is often true; however, once again, we need to consider the message that we are sending our teenager because our message is really all we have. He will either (a)hear our message and listen, (b) hear our message and not listen, or (c)not even hear our message. Let's cut out the last one by sending him a message that he will at least hear. He can only hear it if we send it with our actions. He is not able to just hear our words anymore. Secondly, it is not always true. Some teenagers do give up their old friends. One thing we pretty much know is that if he does not give up his old friends he won't stay clean.

7. Everyone uses. It's not possible to stay away from everyone that abuses alcohol or drugs, so why bother? My teenager has to learn to live in the real world and the real world is full of substance abuse.

Refutation #7. Another tough one because it is often true. Consider however that while the world is full of drug abusers it is the very drug abusers that your teenager already knows and has used with that are the most dangerous. OK, anyone that abuses drugs or alcohol is dangerous, but the old friends have a special power over your teenager. It is possible too that your teenager will make new friends that don't' abuse drugs. It's just not as likely if they continue to hold onto the old friends. Remember, it's almost impossible for your teenager to stay clean if he renews his ties with his old friends; therefore, what have you got to loose by fighting the good fight?

8. I can't pick my teenager's friends for him.

Refutation #8.
True. However, you can certainly pick some people with whom he will no longer associate. He can still be a friend to his old friends; just don't talk to them, don't email them, don't text them, don't hang out, don't ride in their cars, don't go to their My Space. At least don't do all that stuff if you want any money, want any computer privileges, want to drive, want to be allowed out, want to have a bedroom door, want to have snacks you like, want to have any television or phone privileges, want to buy new clothes or new shoes, want to have good reports go to your Probation Officer, want to get high again and end up back in a rehab or back in court! Really, parents have a lot more power usually than they realize they do- it's just a decision to use that power that is absent.

Don't think of it as feeding the old friends. Think of it as feeding your teenager's disease. The one that's trying to kill him.

Next: Refusal skills: a good way for your teenager to tell his old friends that he is unavailable.

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Two Books That May Help
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Saturday, August 15, 2009

A book review by Linda

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff 2008

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff 2009

As a parent going frantic over my child’s drug use with its related anti-social behaviors and criminal activities, a dear friend suggested I read this set of books written by a father and son detailing the same issue...

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff 2008

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff 2009

As a parent going frantic over my child’s drug use with its related anti-social behaviors and criminal activities, a dear friend suggested I read this set of books written by a father and son detailing the same issue, the son’s drug addiction, from their very different perspectives. Eager to learn anything from another family that could help my family through this, I went to the library and got both books out as audiobooks that I listened to on my nightly drives to visit my son in the detention center.

Beautiful Boy, the father’s book described the emotional rollercoaster he and the rest of the family members were on for years as Nic would cycle through periods of using and recovery. Theirs was a family that survived a divorce when Nic was young to become two homes that contained many markers of success. Nic shuttled between both parents in a shared custody arrangement and both homes were filled with loving relationships that provided young Nic with support and parents attentive to meeting his needs. But such a life of abundance did not prevent Nic’s genetic predisposition toward addiction from becoming realized when he entered the teenage years of experimentation. For him, experimentation triggered compulsions to keep the pleasurable sensations various drug could provide going forever. Nic would regularly smoke pot, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. His using would take him to depths of depravity and the brink of death. As Nic graphically describes his life in his book Tweak, he knew he hurt others, especially his family, when he was using which made him feel so bad that he would use more to escape from those bad feeling too. This story has a happy ending in that Nic has been clean long enough to write this book and David has been able to distance himself enough emotionally from his son’s highs and lows to be able to regain his own life in a more whole and healthy way.

So what did I learn from their story of their journey? The commitment to never giving up on your child was a powerful force that though extremely difficult for the parents and siblings was nonetheless critical to keeping the child alive long enough for him to learn how to manage his own addiction. I really appreciated the father’s searching for information, approaches, and alternatives that would help him understand how to help his child better. Things that work for others might not work for them in the same way at any given time, but trying something different or trying it again at a different part of the journey tended to work better or in a different way. I totally related to the father’s description of how his emotional state was locked into his child so that if his son was doing well, so was the father, but if the son was spinning out of control, the father was an emotional train wreck. The father eventually worked with a therapist to help him separate emotionally from his son and develop an emotional relationship that was healthier for both of them. My sense of this part of the story is that it was an important step for him to do at the time when he did it for his son was in his 20’s and was beginning to figure everything out himself. But I do not feel the father could have taken this step earlier. Knowing that the physiological changes that drugs make to the developing brain retard normal development, a kid’s chronological age is not their mental age when drugs are involved. It is right for parents to have high levels of involvement in pre-teens and young teens lives and be emotionally invested in helping them learn and grow. If a big kid’s body has a damaged brain so that his emotional development is of a little guy, then its normal for a parent to keep working on helping them grow. David Sheff’s story is an example of whatever it takes for that kid as long as it takes coupled with an awareness that he had to take care of himself and the other family members. The stresses and strains of his balancing act journey were ones I could relate to even though my child is only 16 so my family is early in the process. It gives me hope to hear that one day, this intensity will be over and a greater degree of emotional separation will be possible.

The son’s, Nic Sheff, book had many parts in it that were hard for me to hear about. I found the descriptions of the pleasurable aspects of drug use and the distorted thinking that accompanies it unbearable. The description of the unpleasant aspects of drug use and the struggles in recovery were much easier for me to listen to. To me that type of pleasure represented regression and made me scream while the struggle represented growth and forward movement and made me cheer. Nic gave me many insights into the driving force of compulsion and the sadistic seductiveness of the various drugs. One statement Nic made really struck me. He was talking about how when he was a kid, he worked with therapists who helped him understand some of the issues he was going through, like the divorce, but he didn’t know what to do with this awareness. His musings were about what difference did it make that he knew that some of his struggles were related to his parents’ breakup since knowing that did not help him cope with its effects any better. I found that insight from the kid’s perspective intriguing, alerting me to look more carefully at what therapy programs were and weren’t doing for kids since naming the problem was clearly not enough for Nic. He could not figure out the action steps to go with that knowledge to be able to make positive change.

I appreciated Nic’s life story for its ability to show me something about my son’s perspective. Tweak is billed as a young adult read so found in the juvenile literature section but I cannot say as I am comfortable recommending that my son read it yet. I could just imagine my child focusing on the pleasure passages and skipping over the pain passages. Nonetheless I did talk to him about the book and what I was learning from it.

My son pointed out that the kids he hangs with see the results of these very physically destructive drugs in the lives of the older addicts in the community. Looking at the horrible state these people are in seems to be a deterrent to him to trying those drugs. May it always be so.

links to the same audio file of an interview with both David and Nic Sheff

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Preparing for a six hour home pass.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, August 09, 2009

This role-play was written in April of 2007. I want to reprint it today with a quick introduction. First, it's never important when you talk to your teenager to say everything right. Not at all. Just say some things right and you're off to the races.

Secondly, there is not just one response that works. Different people will say different things and be just as effective.

Third, it helps to have your talking points memorized because a lot of this keeps going back to the positions that you have already decided upon. You might have to wait 30 seconds for that talking points link to open the word document, then you can view or save it to your computer.

Fourth, the positions that these parents take here are not the only ones that can be effective; however these positions reflect a healthy stance. For example, while there are at least two different positions to take on the "Smoking Cigarettes" issue, the committment to "Secrets Keep Us Sick," is not an issue that you can work around. You have to just buy that one. If you are going to let your teenager smoke on a home pass, and you've taken into consideration all of the repercussions, then be honest about it with the staff at the rehab.

Well, instead of cutting and pasting, which I just found out is not practical in this blog format, please just follow this link to the original.

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MEETING ON! (Wexford 8-8-09)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, August 06, 2009

We are going to meet either outside of our normal meeting place or very close as we can find to there. Bring lawn chairs if you want but some of us are bringing lawn chairs so it's not really necessary because we will have extras and perhaps a picnic table. MEETING ON!

We can not meet at our normal place at the Alliance Office in Wexford. They are preparing for the Blast from the Past and they have their office pretty well cluttered with fund raising things.

If anyone wants to participate in Blast From The Past please follow this link (ticket prices are further reduced): Blast from the Past.

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