Quote of the Week

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

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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When Your Child Is Using Heroin: Help for Parents
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Kurash warns parents that, if their child is stealing from them, that child has an addiction which has progressed significantly. “At that point, you need help. That child is far gone, deeply involved in substance abuse. Parents are reluctant to press charges against their own child, but this is an opportunity to get the legal system involved and get help.” Click here to go to full article in Spring 2009 Guide To Good Health.

Although they may feel overwhelmed and uncertain, parents are not helpless and their actions can go a long way in supporting their child’s recovery. Kurash recommends taking away their driving privileges. “If your child is getting high, he or she should not be driving. Many parents will still let them drive and this is dangerous. They WILL drive high. Plus, a car gives them the means to go to get drugs. If your child has a car or is still driving yours, pay attention to the car’s mileage; kids will go far to get drugs, to the hubs where there is a lot of drug activity.”

If there are prescription drugs in the home, lock them up. Substance abuse is a progression that commmonly begins with prescription drugs and alcohol. Sedatives such as Xanax or painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet are popular and are present in many homes. “Kids know where to look and will use what’s available; they like the relaxing effect of these drugs. Oxycontin leads right to heroin; the effect is the same and heroin is actually less expensive,” Kurash says.

Taking away cell phones and cash are also helpful measures. “These actions may not completely prevent your child from using, but they place obstacles before them that make it more difficult for them. If your child has a job and has their own money, make them accountable for it. A heroin habit can become expensive. Click here to go to full article in Spring 2009 Guide To Good Health.

NOTE: Thanks to Nicole Kurash who we contacted prior to posting. No profit is expected from these links back to Guide To Good Health magazine.

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