Quote of the Week

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

HOME VISIT FOR NEWBIES and HEATHER HAS NO CLOTHES........................Story by Ralph Kramden ( A PSST Parent)
Posted by:Sally--Friday, July 30, 2010

It was our first home visit, so we didn't know what to expect. Our younger son, Ed, has been at a residential placement for about three months. Ed has a criminal problem that was brought on by the attitude created by a drug problem. He has been doing fairly well in placement; at least this is what he and his counselor tell us. The staff told him that he needed to complete two successful home visits before they could recommend he be released at his next review. This was a HUGE motivator for Ed. In fact, we appeared to have the "angel" Ed this weekend. Maybe.

Ed was home for just over four days on a long weekend. On the first day home, Ed's great PO (juvenile probation officer) stopped over shortly after he arrived home. The PO gave him the rough marching orders for the weekend visit. We were armed with a new draft, post-placement contract that we learned to write at PSST. (We couldn't make it through this without PSST!) So, when Ralph got home, we gave Ed the contract. He wasn't happy, but Ed knew that we had some power back, and the old crap wasn't going to cut it anymore. We told him that this was practice for the contract, and as much as made sense, the contract was in-force now. As far as we can tell, there were zero contract violations! Ed tried to test the rules just once, and resurrected some sneaky activity at the end of the weekend -- more on that later. We consider the home visit a success, and await the placement and PO input as well.

How did we have a success? Well, Ed is very motivated to do well right now to regain his freedom. Also, luckily the PO and we introduced the rules-to-live-by (for us, the contract) up front -- defining expectations. Next, we made it easy to have a success -- staying away from people, places, and things that are tempting for Ed. This was easier for us than others possibly, because we could get Ed out of "Weedville", and exposed only to family. While not reality, a low-temptation environment kept Ed cool and even-keeled. Finally, we kept Ed busy -- very busy. Washing cars, painting, staining, plastering, sports, movies, games, video games, family visits, dinners, camp fires, cleaning, mowing, just about anything we could think of was tasked to our hard-working Ed. A little planning to make a BIG list ahead was all we needed, and there is always more work than time. Unlike some teens, Ed is very industrious when not a sloth because of drugs. So, we gave Ed what he likes -- things to do. Maybe this won't work for a lazy teen -- Ed's brother, Norton, couldn't do this -- but filling that teen's time up with activities, especially healthy ones that he likes, might be a good approach for the first home visit. Again, filling your teen's calendar won't be practical for post-placement reality, but it shows him that a drug-free life is possible while at home, even if just for four days. And if it works for four days, just keep that going!

Ed, like most teenagers, is smart at manipulating. Ed’s favorite way to manipulate is by being sneaky about activity that he doesn’t want us to know about, and then often lying about it. We’re not waiting for the lie this time, but the “sneaky” came during the last day of the visit. It seems Norton didn’t secure his computer, and Ed figured this out. Well, what difference does that make, you ask, if Ed didn’t violate his contract or contact his old friends on Norton’s computer? Let us tell you: Norton is an adult and doesn’t have adult-only restrictions on the web sites he can visit. And there are so, so, so many web sites these days that would more than fulfill the dreams of young men like Norton or Ed. In fact, that entertainment doesn’t leave anything for ones dreams, if you know what we mean.

So, after Ed went back to placement, Ralph checked Norton’s computer for activity, in case Ed had decided to contact old friends there. Well, that’s when he “met” Heather. Not an old friend, but a new 2D “friend”. And she didn’t have any clothes on, either. After a cursory look at the activity, Ralph got Alice to come to Norton’s room – not going down the Heather highway by him self, so to speak. This, Ralph has learned, will keep him out of the dog house. Then we painstakingly clicked on each web site that Ed thought was important to visit while he had snuck away from Alice, pretending to do some work for her. She loved this, by the way – Ed doing more work, not watching Heather. And there was Heather, in full action, sans clothing. And she had friends. Honestly, Ralph doesn’t remember Heather’s friends’ names or faces. Ed probably doesn’t remember them, either. Alice is trying to forget them. But now, we have a dilemma. Do we give Ed kudos for good behavior -- he didn’t violate his contract after all, and could have easily used Norton’s computer for forbidden behavior. Or, do we kick his butt up and down the street for manipulating Alice? Does Ed deserve some privacy, if he stays away from the really forbidden activities? Or do we come down hard on Ed for continuing sneaky activity, just like he did when he was doing drugs or committing crimes? Maybe we can call Heather, and see if she has any ideas. She has “live chat” available. You can comment back on this blog, and let us know what you think we should do. Or come to a PSST meeting.

We still have a long road ahead with Ed, but the First Home Visit is in the bag, and we're ready for a Narcotics Anonymous pass, or whatever helps Ed into his next step of recovery.

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An Interesting Trip to the Cell Phone Store
Posted by:Sally--Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Cathy and I were working on Cisco's Home Contract we covered so many situations carefully but were pressed for time and did not clearly decide how to handle the use of a cell phone. As a result, Cisco took it upon himself to reconnect his old cell phone by borrowing money off of a friend and paying for the service 'as you go'. After a discussion with Cisco's P.O. we decided to let Cisco keep the phone provided of course, that he hands me the phone at 11 o'clock each night. As you read in the previous post; we also used the phone as leverage when Cisco did something wrong, this was an easy and effective consequence. Even though he pays for the cell phone, I have the right to confiscate it if he is not living up to par. We took a trip to the cell phone store to purchase a cell phone service contract. You see, I had Cisco 'do the math' and he realized that if he continues borrowing from friends and scrounging up every penny of his hard earned money to pay for the cell 'as you go'; he would be spending at least $120.00 a month to keep in contact with his peers. Cisco was completely in charge and knew exactly what he wanted at the cell phone store. I was merely the driver and Cisco did not need any advice on how to secure a service contract. Oh! What a rude awakening it was. Cisco browsed the store while he waited for service. He was very happy to inform me that he had fifty dollars from his grocery store job and that he could purchase a new phone for only $19.99 and a two year contract. I tried to interject what a 'two year contract' entails but Cisco was too interested in playing with the soon- to- be purchased new cell phone. The service clerk was ready to help Cisco now. Cisco explained to David, the service clerk that he would like to purchase the $19.99 phone with the two year contract. Cisco did not hear David say that the phone was $69.99 upfront and then he would receive a $50.00 rebate in the mail. After David repeated this twice, I translated for Cisco and explained to him that he did not have the resources to buy the phone.
David told Cisco that he could come in at anytime with seventy dollars and buy a new phone and even receive a penny back in change. So Cisco decided he would save up the dollars and was now interested in the service contract on his old phone. The best deal was to get the two-year contract for $59.99 which included unlimited texting. Cisco was now more interested in hearing about what a two year contract means. I offered to lend him the ten additional dollars which he needed to get his service contract and be on his merry way.
Oh! No! There was one more hitch. Cisco needed to either have a co-signer on the service contract or David would have to run a credit check. Depending on Cisco's credit there would either be a zero, $120.00 or $400.00 deposit that the store would have to keep for one year at 3% interest. David asked me if I wanted to cosign and I said no. Cisco gave the clerk some identification to run a credit check. Cisco has to return to the store another time to complete the credit check because he also has to bring in his social security card which he does not carry in his wallet.
On the way home Cisco commented that a lot of his friend's parents pay for their teens cell phones but the he is not a 'pansy kid' and he will save up the money to get his own phone. I labeled this mature behavior. Cisco was a little distraught and I agreed with him that it all was indeed a very big hassle. I agreed full-heartedly because it was a lot of red tape. Never the less I did not co-sign.
This was rather a long drawn out story about our adventure in the cell phone store but I found it agreeable to stand back and let Cisco,who feels that he knows all that he needs to know in life, deal with the situation. It was an ideal learning situation. I did not critisize or act sarcastic. I simply did not want to be responsible for his phone bill when I do not feel it is fully necessary for him to have a cell phone. I really do feel that this is a hard lesson for an eighteen year old to learn. It is really an eye opener to realize how much money it cost to buy something that in the past was just taken for granted.

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We Survived Week One
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Week One is over...... Cisco has been back home since last Monday. Every day I am thankful for the help that we received and are still receiving for our son's recovery. I found out that two of his friends who he used to get high with are in very bad straits. This makes me realize that Cisco would be right there with them if he did not go into placement. Even he feels that he is a lucky kid. I liked Lloyd's post about labeling the good and bad behavior and I am doing
that. I checked out some text messages on Cisco's cell phone. One thing I was unhappy about was that he was in contact with an old friend who he should not contact so we had a good talk this morning. Then I confiscated the phone for a day.
He went to the wave pool with an appropriate friend today. He asked for the phone back before he left for swimming saying that I would not be able to get in contact with him.
I did not fall for that. He will get the phone back tomorrow as originally decided. It is
good to be a parent in control but trust me... Cisco does want to be in control
and does push for it. He makes me work to keep the control. I am glad we
fought to keep Cisco on probation and in the system and that we have the help
and support that we have because it makes my job a lot easier. He was not too upset about me taking his phone. I am learning that when I stand firm he seems to realize that he cannot sway me. Now he did ask for the phone this evening and my answer was still, "No, you will get your phone back tomorrow morning". He only asked once and he accepted the answer. I thanked him for his mature attitude; labeling the good bahavior.
He asked for his phone first thing this morning. I asked him if he wanted to do something with me. Either work out at the gym or go out to eat breakfast. He chose to go to breakfast with me. I told him I would give him the cell phone for him to charge it for later use but I did not want him to take it to the restaurant with us. He was okay with this idea.

We had a very enjoyable breakfast. Cisco was attentive and we talked about his biological family and about how much fun his adoptive grandma used to be. He liked the fact that she used to play video games with him even though she was in her eighties. She actually wasn't too bad at it he mused. I recalled that my mom confessed to me that she enjoyed playing but mostly just kept pushing all buttons as quickly as possible and had no clue what she was doing! I kept that information to myself. His best comment was that even though he was not her biological grandchild he felt her love was so genuine and sincere. I cannot thank her for this because she has passed away but in my heart I thank her for this every day. Grandparents are just so special for teenagers and they leave a lasting impression on them.
I encourage grandparents to join us at PSST meetings since they are such an important part of their teenage grandchildren's lives.

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Who is the big dog? Featured Technique: accept a win!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, July 24, 2010

Our teens will go along with us but sometimes they will hate it. Liking it isn't required. For example, recently a mom I work with wanted her teen to accompany her to church. She was traveling a long way to visit him in placement and she thought that would be an appropriate activity to include in his off-grounds visit. He rebelled and accused her of trying to stuff religion down his throat.

"You can't make me religious" he claimed. Then he went on to say other things of a hurtful nature.

She persisted and said if she was traveling all that way, she was going to church and he would just have to accept it.

So far so good. It's important that the mom set the stage and it's important that mom takes control of things on off-grounds visits so that her son believes that when he comes home there will be a new sheriff in town. That's when her son employed the old "OK, if you say I have to go, I'll go but blah blah blah" where he informed her of how horrible he thought she was and of how horrible he thought it was that they would go to "her church" but, yes, he would accompany Cruella de Vil and all of her Dalmatians to Church. It was all about what she wanted to do, wasn't it? What he wanted to do didn't matter. Don't they put you in jail for that in this country? Didn't the Pilgrims come over here to find religious freedom?

At this point the mom decided that she would just forgo the visit rather than let him win this one. She correctly saw that to have the visit and allow him to be in charge of what they do would be wrong because it would leave the strong impression that even when he is in placement he is still the big dog.

What she at first missed was this little part: she won. She is the big dog. He said he would go to church. He just doesn't like it. Mom did everything correct and of course it meets with her son's disapproval. The little dog is going to bark his head off over this. So? Mom won but it didn't feel like a win. Let's look at what is happening with our special PSST translator.

Son: OK OK I'll go to your stinkin church because it's not important what I want to do- it never is- the only thing that matters is that you get to spoonfeed me your brand of christianity.

SON, PSST translation: You really think you have some power? You really think you are in charge? Ha!

Mom: We aren't baby killers you know, and it won't kill you to come to church with me. I don't see why it's such a big deal. You should be happy to come with me, look at how far I travel to see you!

Mom, PSST translation: We can share the power. You can decide to come with me and I appreciate that. We are both powerful- and this is really important to me. If I present it the right way to you- you should WANT to come with me.

Son: Fine! I'll go! I'll do anything you want just because you say so. Oh Holy Mom, let me bow down and kiss your feet!

Son, PSST Translation: OK you be in charge but you won't want to be the one in charge for long because I'll make you pay for it- you'll be begging me to take over in no time. YOK you be in charge but you won't want to be the one in charge for long because I'll make you pay for it- you'll be begging me to take over in no time. You aren't tough enough for the job!
ou aren't tough enough for the job!

Mom: Forget it! I don't want to take you now and I don't even think I want to come up.

Mom, PSST Translation: Yes, I'm playing like I'm in charge and if you don't like it, I won't play. You have to learn to like it when I'm in charge.

OR- it could go this way.

Son: OK OK I'll go to your stinkin church because it's not important what I want to do- it never is- the only thing that matters is that you get to spoonfeed me your brand of christianity.

SON, PSST translation: You really think you have some power? You really think you are in charge? Ha!

Mom: Wow! You're going to hate going to my church with me!

Mom, PSST translation: Mom has employed the technique of agreeing with something that he says. She agreed that he would hate it- after all he says he will- he may or he may not but that doesn't matter here. Mom also assumes that he will comply. Mom understands that this isn't really about going to church, is it? This is about who is in charge.

Son: Yes. I am going to hate it and I shouldn't have to do it. This is a free country and you can't force religion on people and you should know that MOM!

Mom: OK. I see this will be a challenge for you. Regardless, I will pick you up at 10 on Sunday, we'll go to my Church, and then we'll go out to eat. After that maybe we'll see if there is something you want to do.

Mom, PSST translation: Yes, darn it, I am calling the shots. You don't have to like it but you will come with me and you can hate every stinkin minute- but you'll have to act appropriately. Mom presented this in the form of a challenge, meaning that he can't go there and act innapropriately either. Later, she can give him kudos for being such an adult about it (if he handles himself appropriately). The fact that he was resistant about going makes it even more to his credit later. "Even feeling the way you did about going, I'm very proud that you came with me and I don't think you even complained once we got there! Thanks. I think that was real "adult-stuff." (see labeling in the post right below this one.) Use of the power word nevertheless, showed that mom wasn't about to argue.

Son: Fine! I'll go! I'll do anything you want just because you say so. Oh Holy Mom, let me bow down and kiss your feet!

Son, PSST Translation: OK you be in charge but you won't want to be the one in charge for very long because I'll make you pay for it- you'll be begging me to take over in no time.

Mom: Ok, was there anything else? I'll see you Sunday!

Mom, PSST Translation: I know you will resent me being the one in charge, nevertheless, I will be the one in charge.

When you win you win. To the victor goes the spoils. That means that there is a cost to be the one in charge. You don't get to be the buddy anymore. You are sometimes resented. Just like the boss at work. Every decision is not a popular one; however, by accepting that and paying the price to be the big dog, you get respect. Respect is what you need now in order to supervise your teen. Love and approval (from them) comes later. Sometimes much later.

If you are willing to pay the price, you get to be the one in charge. If it's support and approval that you want, you don't get it from your teenager. You have to find that somewhere else.

Come to a PSST meeting because we have plenty of support and approval for you- especially if your doing your best to be the one in charge. We clap. We cheer; because at PSST we know just how hard it can be to be the big dog. We think it's worth it because only if you are the one in charge can you have a hope to steer your wayward teenager in the right direction. Of course, while your doing the "steering" he might be barking his head off!

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Who is the big dog? Featured Technique: Label Behavior.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, July 24, 2010

I was recently meeting with a parent and her teenager. The teenager admittedly has anger problems. From time to time he has outbursts where he will raise his voice and go on and on about something that he is angry about. He said, "I'm getting better with it- but it's something I do; I'm working on it."

He denied that he was using these outbursts to intimidate and control people. He said he just has anger issues.

I challenged him, that indeed, his mother was afraid of him. He looked doubtful and asked his mother if that was true. She replied, "Well I'm afraid of upsetting you, but I'm not afraid that you'll hurt me."

Once someone learns to be afraid of upsetting someone, that person has employed a technique that helps to keep control. Parents do it with children and it works; we all do it to some degree with people in our lives. We all have a line that when crossed will send us into a different gear and anyone around us will have to contend with us.

Still, when the teenager uses this technique on a regular basis to attempt to control his parents, it creates an imbalance of power in favor of the teenager. The teenager doesn't have to take responsibility for his behavior because he is labeling his behavior as an "anger problem." That's just who he is. He's working on it but since he has anger issues, and various therapists have confirmed this, then he doesn't have to take responsibility for his behavior.

Once he heard his mother state that she was afraid of upsetting him he seemed to soften his attitude about just what he was doing. Was he trying to control people this way or not? He allowed that while he might not be trying to get something he wanted every time he had an outburst, the fact that he has them on a regular basis was sort of a way to control others.

"Lets help with that," I suggested. "How can you help?" he asked. I wasn't sure. I suggested that we make him an offer he can't refuse. I was thinking that if it cost him something when he had outbursts, that he might have fewer of them. I was thinking along the lines of privileges withdrawn or some sort of sanctions. He got my drift. At that point, I asked him if he had any ideas of what would help and he came up with this idea.

"Tell me when I'm doing it. Say, 'hey, you're intimidating me.'" "That's it, I asked? That will help?" He thought so. I asked his mother if she was willing to try that because it sounded like an excellent idea. She agreed.

So far, so good. The very next day after our meeting this teenager was upset about going to his outpatient program. People there were really making him angry. He was getting louder and louder as he was venting in the car on the way home. His mother said, "You're intimidating me." He replied, "Oh I am?" He calmed down.

When I met with the two of them again, I congratulated the teenager on coming up with a great idea. That really worked. It was a much better idea than what I was thinking about. It's sort of like the use of the technique "Now." When you can get a teenager's behavior on track without punishing him or rewarding him, you are better off. This technique just labels the behavior as intimidating and if it works, you have just taken a short cut to extinguishing that particular manipulative technique.

Of course, this might work best if you have the discussion about it first. Admit that you are finding that you are afraid of upsetting him. Ask him if he thinks that labeling his behavior as intimidating would help. Then follow through. Don't just label it half the time. Label it every time his voice is raised.

What would stop a parent from using this technique? A parent would think, "Well, he is really angry. He can't help himself right now. I have to make allowances because he is really angry- he is upset." This thinking is part of the problem. Once you have established that there is a problem with intimidating behavior then you must label all of it irrespective of how angry he is feeling. You are trying to help him unlearn behavior and your feedback to him has to be consistent, specific, and immediate in order to help him the most. So what if he is angry? Let him find a better way to deal with it. Even if you feel that he has a good reason to be angry, challenge him to deal with it in a better way.

What else might stop a parent from using this technique? If the parent also has outbursts on a regular basis where people have learned that they don't want to upset the apple cart, meaning they don't want to upset the parent! In this case, the apple does not fall far from the tree. In other words, this could be a technique that the teenager has come by honestly in as much as he has seen this technique work for other family members. If that is the case, then it is time to ask the teenager for help. Tell him that you also are trying to change. Ask him to help you by pointing out your intimidating behavior to you so that you can stop using this technique also.

There is power in labeling. The teenager has employed a powerful technique when he labels his behavior as an "anger problem." That means it's not really his responsibility is it? Or at least it's something that he can be "working on" and if he's working on it shouldn't everyone be tolerant? Of courses, this becomes counter-productive. Labeling something as an anger problem appears to be designed to help the person with the anger problem keep the control. Don't upset the teenager by confronting him because he has an anger problem. Sort of like don't upset the animals in the zoo because we all know they can't control themselves; however, we may be underestimating our teens when we conclude that they can't control themselves. What we know about verbal abusers (another label) is that they can almost always control themselves. They rarely have outbursts at work. They rarely have outbursts around several people. Usually it is just around one or two people who always seem to be targeted.

The parent employs the same technique when they label behavior as intimidating. It helps stop the behavior. Other behavior can also be labeled. Whining can be labeled; however, don't berate the teen by labeling, just matter-of-factly state that this is whining and no one gets anything when they whine about it. Forget it. Whining? Then the answer is no.

You can also label mature behavior for what it is. What if you see your teenager ask for something, you say you don't know, and they say, "OK, just let me know, I know you have to think it over." That's a great time to say, "you know what honey, I think that a very mature way to ask for something. You might not get what you're asking for but I have to tell you that I'm impressed that you can ask for it in such a cool way. Like your getting more mature- you know, growing up." You might call it "adult behavior." "That was very adult-stuff you just did!"

There are other behaviors that it might be helpful to label. Once you have a name for a behavior, use that same name each time you label it. Try not to use it to berate or nag the teenager with it. Try to use it as a teaching tool but at the same time- it's a way to stand up to your teen. It's hard to continue to intimidate when some one sees what you are doing and points it out to you. That's power. That's one more thing that can help you be the big dog.

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Things You Find When Looking For Something Else - The 3 C's
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, July 19, 2010

Things You Find When Looking For Something Else
- The 3 C's

Often after getting help we wonder why did we wait so long before looking for support and learning how to use the resources that are available to us.

We become aware of a serious problem with the behavior of our teen. We see them changing in negative ways and may even understand that alcohol/drugs are involved. Usually we think that we can handle the situation ourselves.

The idea that our son or daughter might be an addict is so disturbing that we will focus on almost any other issue as the main issue (friends, school, our job). Sometimes we know the reality in our heads but can't or won't accept it in our heart. This split between head and heart is not unusual but may prevent us from moving forward toward learning how to respond to our child’s drug use in a healthy way and seek help and resources for them, ourselves and our family.

First of all many of us don't really understand addiction. The second issue is that the concept of addiction carries with it a heavy load of blame, shame, guilt, failure, and is unfortunately and inaccurately seen as a reflection on the character of our family.

Our tendency is to try to take care of problems within our family and not to "air out our dirty laundry." This behavior tends to isolate the family and reduces our chance of learning more about the reality of addiction and how to contact and use resources that could be helpful.

What do you do with that urge, or obsession, to control your teenage drug/alcohol user’s every move?

It is important to remember the 3 C's.

We didn't Cause the addiction.

We can't Control the addiction.

We can't Cure the addiction.

The 3 C's might sound like we are more helpless than we want to be. We would rather force ourselves into the situation rather than believe we are helpless in a family crisis.

Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST) can help you to understand what you are dealing with when you have an addicted adolescent in your family, help you reduce your feelings of isolation and anxiety, help you relate to your entire family, help you feel better about yourselves and stay connected to friends and other people you know in the community.

PSST can help you with the following:

1. Understand the nature of the disease of addiction.

2. Understand the difference between your teen’s issues and your issues.

3. Understand and begin to implement the 3 C's
4. Understand and begin to implement the new 3 C-C's based on what you can do.

5. Learn how to manage anxiety and fear. Learn how they drive unhealthy reactions to the addict.

6. Learn how to use resources both inside and outside your family.

It may take a while before your teenager fully accepts their recovery program. But in the mean time PSST will help you find a sense of balance, self-control and general well-being in your life. When you act from a sense of balance, you have the presence of mind to “be there” for your teen in a meaningful, rather than a desperate way. You have the ability to think clearly and make better decisions. You will know the difference between what your issues are and what your teen’s issues are.

So, what do you do with the urge to control your addict’s every move?

Start by controlling your every move.

Get yourself to a PSST meeting (or find help at www.alanon.org or www.naranon.org), put your health and well-being first, and start treating your teen properly – regardless of whether or not he or she is meeting your expectations of how to live life.

Start to really LIVE your life yourself. Enjoy your moments, hours and days; stay in present time; Breathe deeply and enjoy the company of the people around you without allowing every other word you speak to be about the addict in your life.

Of course that’s just the beginning and at the same time it’s an awful lot.

They say there are only 4 ends to an addict: jail, death, recovery or institution. The same can be said for the co-addict. Stop your obsession and begin to live a life in recovery TODAY!

The New 3 C-C's:

Remember that in fact we are not helpless and if we are to make the best use of important resources we need to learn the new 3 C-C's.

What we Can Cause: Improvement in our well being, increased knowledge about addiction, treatment and how to respond to our teenager.

What we Can Control: Our environment, How we respond to addiction, How we allow ourselves to be treated.

What we Can Cure: Our own emotional and physical health.

The 3 C's and other information concerning Families and Addiction can be found at the following web sites:

12StepFamily.com - dedicated to reaching out to the family members of addicts of all types and help them get the information they need to improve their life circumstances whether the addict is still using or not!

Families and Addiction Blog - An ongoing dialogue about how family members can help themselves, the addicted person they care about and learn to use resources in their community.

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Summary – PSST Meeting July 17, 2010 Mt Lebanon
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, July 19, 2010

Summary – PSST Meeting July 17, 2010
Mt Lebanon


If you are having problems with your teenager and suspect drug abuse please come to our next meeting. PSST is here to empower the PARENTS of teenage substance abusers and/or Juvenile Court Youth with the support, information, skills and techniques a parent needs to SUCCEED in helping their teenager save their own life.

We had another great turnout at this week’s PSST meeting at OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES in Mt Lebanon.

Val, Kathie and Lloyd led the meeting. We had 11 parents and 1 boyfriend representing 9 families.

Each of us had an opportunity to talk over our own situations and issues. We discussed parents becoming skilled at how to take back the power in their homes, teens that turn to alcohol, teens in various stages of recovery and some ways that we can get through to our teens.

We discussed various tactics we use to handle teen drug abuse. There are many ways from the direct approach (“Just do it, or else!”) to the “Iron Fist / Velvet Glove” methods.

Before deciding on which technique to use (sorry there is no “ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL” method) try to first understand how the adolescent brain operates, especially the adolescent brain on drugs.

Expecting the same response from a teenage drug user that you get from a non-using adolescent, or an adult, will only lead to disappointment, exasperation and frustration.

Here is some information from NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

What Do Drugs Do to the Brain?
Drugs are chemicals. They work in the brain by tapping into its communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Different drugs—because of their chemical structures—work differently. In fact, some drugs can change the brain in ways that last long after the person has stopped taking drugs, maybe even permanently. This is more likely when a drug is taken repeatedly.

Isn’t Becoming Addicted to a Drug Just a Character Flaw?
The first time people use drugs, it’s usually a conscious decision they’ve made. But once people become addicted, they are dealing with a brain disease. Each drug of abuse has its own individual way of changing how the brain functions. But in most cases, it doesn’t really matter which drug a person is addicted to; many of the effects it has on the brain are similar. The fact is that our brains are wired to make sure we will repeat activities, like eating, by associating those activities with pleasure or reward. Whenever this reward circuit is activated, the brain notes that something important is happening that needs to be remembered, and teaches us to do it again and again, without thinking about it. Because drugs of abuse stimulate the same circuit, we learn to abuse drugs in the same way. So while the initial decision to take drugs is a choice for some, a physical need replaces that choice. This is what’s known as addiction.

Isn’t Drug Addiction a Voluntary Behavior?
A person may start out taking drugs voluntarily, but as time passes and drug use continues, something happens that makes a person go from being a voluntary drug user to a compulsive drug user.

Shouldn't Treatment for Drug Addiction Be a One-Shot Deal?
No—it’s not like treating a broken bone. Like diabetes and even asthma, drug addiction typically is a chronic disorder. Some people can quit drug use “cold turkey,” or they can quit after receiving treatment just one time at a rehabilitation facility. But most who have become addicted to drugs need longer term treatment and, in many instances, repeated treatments—much like a person who has developed asthma needs to constantly monitor changes in medication and exercise. The important point is that even when someone relapses, they should not give up hope. Rather they need to go back to treatment or modify their current treatment. In fact, setbacks are likely. Even people with diabetes may go off their diet or miss an insulin injection, and their symptoms will recur—that’s a cue to get back on track, not to view treatment as a failure.

The NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) website is an invaluable resource for information.

As one of our experienced PSST dads put it “We all need to adjust our own behavior, our own lifestyle and our perception of our teenage drug abusers. It is not that the addict doesn’t care. It is not that they are not ashamed of what they are doing. It is not that they don’t want to recover. It is that their addiction causes them to be so narrowly focused on their primary goal of getting their next high that they don’t see that their lives are unmanageable.”

We need to accept that this is not just “their” problem. This is the whole family’s problem. This is now our reality and we need to adjust our way of life if our child is going to recover. Three items that are indispensable for us and our teen are honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness to change.

There are several posts on the PSST Blog that address the topic of the Adolescent Brain.

The Adolescent Brain – Posted April 2010
“Adolescent Brains are under such rapid growth that indeed they are in many ways not like adult brains. Once we understand this, we can understand some of these mysterious behaviors such as risk-taking…”

Two Books That May Help – Posted August 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..”.

Drugs and the Brain – Posted December 2006
“The more parents understand what is happening during this critical period of brain development, the better they will be able to respond to the needs of their children...”
This post also links to the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) website.

Our thanks to OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES for the use of their space.

The next Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST) meeting is Saturday August 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Allegheny County Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg.
C'mon in and join us. There is no cost or commitment.

Our meetings are open to all parents who are serious about making a difference in their children’s life.

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"One Down, One to GO" Story by Max (A PSST Parent)
Posted by:Sally--Monday, July 19, 2010

"One Down, One to GO" Story by Max
For those of you who have read my previous postings, David is my younger of 2 boys. He doesn't realize it yet but he is a lucky guy. At this moment his dad is escorting him to his new boarding school in Utah.

Why school now in the middle of summer, why all the way in Utah - these are the most frequently asked questions. I always answer in the most streamlined way; because this is a different type of school that has rolling admission; they accept kids 365 days a year.

Utah is a rugged place with lots of opportunity for out door experiential therapies and regular fun activities.

Yes, it's very far from Pittsburgh, no, he can't come home whenever he wants, but we will visit him and have family therapy via conference call weekly.

No cell phones or cigarettes allowed. Does any of this sound remotely familiar to anyone?

Sounds like placement in a D&A facility like Gateway Yes, or similar.

Only parents that have toyed with this type of placement would really understand that although we love them and wish they could stay at home, it is better for all sides to be sent elsewhere - at least for the time being. I know my PSST friends understand with zero justification.

David's path to this point has already been documented in 2 previous blogs (Max and Mel's Terrible Adventure Part I & Max and Mel's Terrible Adventure Part II) - feel free to read.

Bottom line for David is that there was no private school in Pittsburgh that would take him with the combination of poor grades and oppositional behaviors, and public school is now out of the question - we are involved in our kids school and always have been, but it isn't a reciprocal relationship. His public high school where his brother Michael is currently falls through crack after crack was not an option. He would be sliding the already slippery slope.

So my husband Mel and I did some research and hired an educational consultant. We explained what we were hoping for; a school that would understand a kid like David and the terrible year of school, bad friends and marijuana that he experienced.

A place where he couldn't be kicked out of for being oppositional, or even cursing at a teacher, sneaking a cigarette, or having a dirty urine screen.

A place that will get him back to the athlete he was before marijuana use made him a slug.

A place that will teach him how to learn so there is a chance that he won't find school so miserable and may actually learn something.

A place that helps him get his big personality down to manageable size.

Since David was only on an extended contract and not formally charged, some of the placements in our area would have been inappropriate. He wasn't actually in the system.

We have the experience of his older brother Michael to relate to, (also in previous blog "Max and Mel's terrible adventure; the prequel") so we understood basically what was out there.

We also know our son very well, and understood his best chance was to remove him from Pittsburgh altogether to a place that is dedicated to helping trouble teens like David. We are fortunate we are able to send him, and he as I said is a lucky guy. In retrospect he will see this.

It was difficult to make the decision, difficult to tell him, difficult to get him there - but this morning at 5 A.M. he willingly got into the car to go to the airport.

Perhaps there is a part of him that understands by now why he is going, that he needs to go. All I know is, I don't feel like crying right now, because I spent the last year crying and worrying. He is now in a safe place. Maybe I can relax a bit and take a deep breath before embarking on the next chapter of our other son Michaels' treatment...stay tuned!

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Summary of July 10 PSST Meeting in Wexford
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summary of July 10 PSST Meeting in Wexford

It was a beautiful sunny July day outside in Wexford on Saturday. Inside Trinity Lutheran Val, Lloyd and Kathie T from Wesley Spectrum led the PSST meeting along with 5 perceptive PSST parents in attendance. We had some very good discussion as well as some great coffee, donuts, brownies, cookies and savory sweet cherries.

There was a single mom who explained how she has taken back the power in her home. She is controlling her emotions and will no longer allow her son to manipulate her into feeling bad about herself. She is now responding in a calm but authoritative manner to his tantrums. This has taken away one of her son’s main tactics to get his way and has him looking at his mom in a new light.

One of our enlightened PSST moms returned to talk about her son’s current situation. He had completed his inpatient program in January. He was enrolled in a local ‘academy’ to get him back on track to graduate high school. He was well on his way and even had a very nice internship set up. And then he and some classmates became involved in an infraction which resulted in him being asked to leave the program (including the internship). The mom is very upset, of course, that her son is missing this opportunity to advance his education. The group discussed his circumstances and raised the question of which is more critical to this teenager at this time; his education or getting help with his behavioral issues? Val, Kathy and Lloyd pointed out that there are programs available that would primarily address his behavioral issues while still providing for his education. It may not be the same education available at the ‘academy’ but he needs to understand that his behavior must improve if he is going to succeed with any level of education.

We had updates from Max on how her and Mel’s sons (Michael and David) are progressing in their recovery and also from Sally and Rocco on their son’s (Cisco) impending homecoming from Liberty Station. The boys are at various stages in their recovery but both sets of parents have restored control in their homes and have stability back in their lives.

Things are not perfect but we PSST Parents have the “tools” and we know how to use them. And most important we have the support and encouragement from the professionals and our fellow parents at PSST.

Thanks to all who attended this meeting especially Val, Kathy and Lloyd for their continued counseling.

We look forward to some experienced parents attending our future meetings to continue our discussions and offer whatever wisdom or insights they may have to offer. We would like to see some not-so-experienced parents continue to attend our meetings to work through their dilemmas and their doubts. We are always looking for some new parents to join us so we can offer them help and some hope.

"By helping others succeed, we help ourselves succeed. Whatever good we give will complete the circle and will come back to us."

Our goal at PSST is to empower the PARENTS of teenage substance abusers and/or Juvenile Court Youth with the support, information, skills and techniques a parent needs to SUCCEED in helping their teenager save their own life.

A note to parents thinking about attending their first PSST Meeting: The first meeting may seem a bit overwhelming and you might feel a little uncomfortable. That is okay. Sally and I felt that way when we attended our first meeting three years ago. We now wish that at that time we would have stuck it out longer. Regardless we were happy to be able to return two years later for our second meeting and find acceptance as well as a lot of support, wisdom and understanding. Our family is now healing, hopeful and heading in the right direction.

PSST Announcement:
An “Informational Video” will probably be produced at the Wexford site (Trinity Lutheran Church) following the August Meeting. Any and all participation in the video will be strictly voluntary. The purpose of the video will be to promote Parents Survival Skills Training and to attract further participation by parents. Watch the PSST Blog for more information.

We all would like to sincerely thank Trinity Lutheran Church for the use of their first class facilities to allow PSST to empower parents of out-of-control teenagers. This is a great example of how Trinity Lutheran has been reaching out and serving Wexford and the northern suburbs since 1845.

We look forward to seeing more concerned parents next Saturday, July 17 at the PSST meeting at the Outreach Teen and Family Services located in Mt. Lebanon at 666 Washington Road (There is free parking in the back lot).

C'mon in and join us.
Our PSST meetings are open to all parents who are serious about making a difference in their children’s life.

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We Can Do It
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The disease of addiction can be extremely destructive to families. To say that one can be overwhelmed is such an understatement. Lives are ruined. Families give all they have to help their loved one and then find a way to give more. Families can become obsessed with the challenge to help the addict in their family.

Last night I listened to a grandmother talk about how she continues to make regular trips to the hospital with her daughter who repeatedly overdoses on Heroin but at the same time this grandmother is supporting her granddaughter in outpatient meetings. She talked of how she and her husband cruise from one crisis to the next, dropping everything important in their lives to help keep their daughter and her daughter alive. Also, there are other family issues that drain the grandparents.

Here are my thoughts on the huge sacrifice that these and many other parents all over make towards their children.

1. A SOMETIMES MYTH: "If it's saving a life, it can't be enabling." Obviously, administering CPR to someone who has overdosed is not enabling- it's saving a life; however, taking your adult drug-addict to the ER several times a month because he has a back problem may be far from saving his life. It may be helping him with drug-seeking behavior as his trip to the hospital clearly is intended to get pain meds. Buying heart medication, which is not covered by your adult drug addicts health care may be saving a life; however, buying stomach medication, which is likewise not covered when you are pretty sure that he just spent his last dollar on a bag of weed may be enabling. Helping your child by taking him the doctor when he is in withdrawal may be saving a life; however, taking him into a nefarious part of town to cop drugs when he is withdrawing may be enabling him towards drug seeking behavior.

It is all a judgement. A good rule of thumb is to be afraid of helping too much. Drug addicts are adept at allowing people to do many things for them that they are quite capable of doing for themselves.

2. Myth: the only thing that really matters is helping my child through this problem. Not really. If you don't take care of yourself you can't take care of others. Set a good example for your addict by having your own life where you pursue happiness by having good relationships where you spend time with people you care about, and have strong interests and hobbies. Work out. Eat well. Get lots of sleep. Be strong. That way, when the real crisis comes you will be ready. Say no to a lot of requests from your adult and teen-age addicts. To them everything may seem like a crisis. It helps your teenagers grow up when they are expected to solve some of their own problems. Be there for them when you know it is a real crisis or when you know that they are finally ready to change their lives for the better.

3. Myth: If I say "NO" about a request I have abandoned my teen and I'm the only one there for him! You have not abandoned him because you have said no about something. You may not be the only one there for him either. Remember, addicts (especially ones that are still using) are adept at turning everything into a monumental crisis and they may be adept at convincing parents that they are the only ones who can help. Sometimes parents aren't the best people to help. (Of course, we all love to hear how important we are.)

4. SOMETIMES MYTH: There is nothing else I can do. When we start thinking that we have no options it may be that we are missing something. Especially, when we stop trying to hold them accountable, when we are just too tired to fight anymore; then it's time to look at our options. There could be several things that we have decided not to do that might just be the ticket! Keep an open mind. Listen to others. Re-evaluate options and don't give up. Keep up the good fight.

For example, if you know your teen will go out anyway, even if you tell him that he is forbidden to leave the house, then don't give up. Tell him he is grounded and look for a more radical approach. Let him know that you know he is out-of-control and that you will be taking serious steps to regain control; this may involve using the authorities or stripping him of all belongings including many of his best outfits. Hit him where it hurts. Take his cell phone- remove his computer to the trunk of your car. Demand that he have an assessment and that he begin outpatient. Don't give up. There is almost always more that you can do. It is not easy but it's better than giving up. Read the post on Should I get My child a PO. Also, "if you do what you always do, you get what you always got" (12-step saying). Try something different if what you are doing is not working.

Keep fighting but fight smart. Sometimes what we are doing is counter-productive. Stop. Re-evauluate if what your are doing is helping. We may be powerless to make the addict choose a better way but on the otherhand we can sometimes raise the bottom for them so that it gets harder and harder for our addict to continue to make bad decisions. That's the important thing. Keep helping but ask yourself, "Am I helping him to continue to abuse drugs or am I helping him towards recovery?"

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Expungement of Juvenile Court records
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Expungement of Juvenile Records now follows Pennsylvania law (Pa. C.S.§9123). The way I read it, the time frame regarding expungement of a teen who had a Consent Decree and the time frame for a teen who was on Probation are very different: six months for the first one and five years for the second. Of course, this is the time that must elapse following the case closing date.

Reading further into 9123 clarifies that someone may file for expungement of any 18 year-old after taking into consideration the following factors, which then means that one need not wait five-years for the expungement of some one's record if they are 18 or older. By far and away, most people filing for Expungement would be 18 year-olds:

1. Type of Offense.

2. Age, History of Employment, Criminal Activity and any drug-alcohol problems.

3. Adverse consequences that someone might experience if their record was not expunged.

4. Protection of public safety.

Therefore, if a teen is 18 or older then he need not wait five years and can file a petition for expungement based upon the four above-listed categories.

Here is the important part for Allegheny County residents: Anyone who is 18 years of age and was either formally On Probation (Adjudicated Delinquent) or in placement will need to employ an attorney to file for expungement. Anyone who had a Withdrawal of charges, Dismissal, or a Consent Decree (this includes Consent Decree Placements) will not need an attorney. Instead, the Consent Decree and lower cases will soon be able to contact an Expungement Clerk, go down to the Family Court House, fill out some forms after which the rest of the expungement process will be taken care of for you.

As mentioned above, the Expungement Clerk will not handle Probation cases where there has been a Court Adjudication or a Finding of Delinquency, but only Consent Decree and lower. The Expungement Clerk tells me that the new system is close to but not quite ready for business yet; therefore, we will hold off putting a contact person's name and phone number on the blog. Check back soon because that information will be added to this post once we know the new system is green-lighted.

It can be expensive to file for expungement via an Attorney. It is one of the consequences that a Probationer has to deal with and it may be another invaluable lesson for the Probationer. Still, if one is completely unable to hire an attorney, we will try to find another way for the former Probationer, but we can not guarantee anything at the present time. If the former Probationer is working, he should probably save up for an attorney.

I am going to post the law here for every one's convenience and links to appropriate sources.

§ 9123. Juvenile records.
(a) Expungement of juvenile records.--Notwithstanding the
provisions of section 9105 (relating to other criminal justice
information) and except upon cause shown, expungement of records
of juvenile delinquency cases wherever kept or retained shall
occur after 30 days' notice to the district attorney, whenever
the court upon its motion or upon the motion of a child or the
parents or guardian finds:
(1) a complaint is filed which is not substantiated or
the petition which is filed as a result of a complaint is
dismissed by the court;
(2) six months have elapsed since the final discharge of
the person from supervision under a consent decree and no
proceeding seeking adjudication or conviction is pending;
(3) five years have elapsed since the final discharge of
the person from commitment, placement, probation or any other
disposition and referral and since such final discharge, the
person has not been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or
adjudicated delinquent and no proceeding is pending seeking
such conviction or adjudication; or
(4) the individual is 18 years of age or older, the
attorney for the Commonwealth consents to the expungement and
a court orders the expungement after giving consideration to
the following factors:
(i) the type of offense;
(ii) the individual's age, history of employment,
criminal activity and drug or alcohol problems;
(iii) adverse consequences that the individual may
suffer if the records are not expunged; and
(iv) whether retention of the record is required for
purposes of protection of the public safety.
(b) Notice to prosecuting attorney.--The court shall give
notice of the applications for the expungement of juvenile
records to the prosecuting attorney.
(c) Dependent children.--All records of children alleged to
be or adjudicated dependent may be expunged upon court order
after the child is 21 years of age or older.
(Dec. 14, 1979, P.L.556, No.127, eff. imd.; June 11, 1982,
P.L.476, No.138, eff. 180 days; Dec. 11, 1986, P.L.1517, No.164,
eff. 60 days; Mar. 15, 1995, 1st Sp.Sess., P.L.978, No.7, eff.
60 days)

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NIDA Word of the Day - Relapse
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, July 06, 2010

From the NIDA Sara Bellum Blog

Relapse… If you keep up with the SBB you know by now that addiction is a chronic (long-lasting) disease that takes hold in some people who abuse drugs. You may also know that some people can quit their drug use. But often a person will return to using drugs after they have quit. This is what NIDA Scientists call a relapse.

In drug abuse, relapse is the resumption of drug use after trying to stop taking drugs. Relapse is a common occurrence in many chronic disorders, including addiction, that require behavioral adjustments to treat effectively.

Relapse… - Why does it happen?

Addiction changes the wiring of the brain to cause uncontrollable craving and compulsive drug use–despite the consequences.

For someone with an addiction, going without the drug for periods of time can make that person feel so anxious and stressed that they need the drug just to stop feeling bad.

A person who is addicted to a drug usually needs professional treatment to quit drug use. This can include medication or therapy, or a combination of both. It also helps to have support in the family and the community.

While quitting drug use is possible, addiction is a long-lasting disease, and treating it takes time-and just because someone gets treatment and stops using a drug does not mean that these strong cravings go away for good. Especially when certain cues are present. These cues vary from person to person and can trigger a relapse.

Imagine that your best friend is addicted to cigarettes and says she smokes to relieve stress, but that she recently quit because her boyfriend hates the smell of cigarette smoke. Since she has connected cigarette smoking with stress relief, the next time your friend faces a stressful situation, like a fight with parents or final exams, she will most likely crave a cigarette, increasing her risk of a relapse. Her use of cigarettes, which led to an addiction to nicotine, has also caused her to associate “relaxation” with cigarettes.

Not everyone will relapse once they have quit drug use; it depends on the person, their genes, their environment, and many other factors, including personal commitment and family support.

For more information on addiction and today’s ”Word of the Day,” check out the myths about drug abuse or the Brain and Addiction page on the NIDA for Teens Web site.


Government information presented on the Sara Bellum Blog is in the public domain. Public domain information may be freely distributed and copied, but please link to us and acknowledge us as the source, so more people can find our blog.

All NIH-generated images (including images that are labeled “NIDA” or “NIH”) are in the public domain and can be freely reused; again, we always appreciate being credited as the source.

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Highlights of the July 3rd PSST meeting. Writing and Presenting a Contract
Posted by:Sally--Saturday, July 03, 2010

The PSST meeting was very informative and productive today. It was lead by Intensive Aftercare Probation Officer - Lloyd W. and Family Therapist - Cathy C. from Wesley Spectrum Services. Rocco and I have been attending these awesome meetings for over a year now. We have become close to the leaders as well as the fellow parents who attend these meetings. The leaders give all attending parents very valuable information which is helping all of our teens recover. We are all most thankful of this.

The other parents give us support and encouragement, wisdom and understanding and even some much appreciated humor. They are our comrades in this tough journey.

The meeting was attended by ten parents, who will remain anonomous: alias' Max and Mel, Candy, Ralph and Alice, Rocco and Sally and three other concerned parents who I will call Rose, Daisy and Hyacinth until they come up with a better a.k.a. for themselves.

We varied from our usual format. Instead of starting the meeting by having each parent tell in detail, where in the recovery process their teen is; each parent gave a very brief introduction and then Lloyd explained the highlights of contract writing. The most pertinent information that Lloyd gave us were the following points:

1. Prioritize and write the most important things down on the contract.

Try not to be over controlling. Leave trivial things off of the contract.

2. Only put items on the contract in which you can and will enforce.

3. When motivating your teen to follow the rules of the contract it is most effective to take the time to use the 'now technique' vs. the 'let's wait 'til you screw up and I'll blast you' method.

Getting them to follow the rules now may take some prompting. For example: "Please, clean your room now". If they don't move, step in a tad bit closer to them and say in the same firm but moderate voice, "Clean your room now. I will not let up until you get out of that chair and clean your room." Continue this until you get them to do the chore.

At first, this will be difficult for the parent and it is very important that if you start the 'now technique' you must keep prompting them until they do get up and follow the rule. You need to be successful the first time. When you use the 'now technique' make sure you have the time, stamina and enough creative humor to follow through. The process will get easier each time you use it. Your child becomes more self motivated by internalizing that they need to do it 'now' than if you punish them later for not doing something or if you reinforce their good behavior when they do follow the rules.

4. Another very important point is that people are motivated when they are given a challenge.

When a teen is presented with a list of rules in which they are to follow, they will most likely crinkle up the piece of paper and toss it across the floor and say "This is Bull S.... I can't do all of this". The most powerful words you can say in response are: "YOU ARE RIGHT, this is a lot of stuff that we expect from you. With your present attitude this may be too much, never the less, we expect you to follow these rules. We can talk about the rules and some of them can be negotiable now and some may be negotiable in the future."
Agree with them and then give them the challenge to try their best to abide by the rules.

5. When a rule is broken follow through with a consequence.

Use the smallest and most appropriate consequence which you can think of. Save the other consequences for the next time. The most important thing is not the consequence or if the chore is done perfectly or not. The most important thing is the message you are sending them. I think the message is: Mom and Dad have changed. We are in control and we call the shots in this home.

After Lloyd instructed us on how to write a contract we broke off into three groups. Each group was given a scenerio of a recovering teen, the contracts were discussed and then written. Each group then did a role-play on presenting the contract to their teen. Everyone was enthusiastic and seemed to learn a lot.

We even found time for a break with some hot coffee and delicious sweets. We ended up with enough time to allow Candy to go into some detail about her teen and we offered her some advice from our collective experience.

I would like to end by saying that I glanced around the room while Lloyd was giving advice on writing contracts. I saw nine sets of concerned eyes staring and at full attention. Each parent was leaning forward in their chair and intent on the speaker. I realized that we all want the same thing. We all love our troubled teens and passionately want them to recover. It brought to mind the following words of wisdom that Lloyd wrote in the post titled Who Moved the Cheese. It speaks about the importance of patience. Here is the excerpt from that post:

"Once again, it’s ironic, but as Cisco senses that you are prepared to patiently wait for the change, and that you aren’t going to return to enabling him while you are waiting, that tends to speed up his time-table for change. When (if) he senses that you just have to have him make all these changes, and make them now, then he senses the power-shift coming back to him and that feeling of a power-shift is toxic to an addict."

Hope to see you all and anyone else who will benefit from PSST at the next meeting.

I'm not sure if I covered everything completely so please feel free to interject comments and corrections.

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