Quote of the Week

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

Do Not Be Afraid - A Poem by Violet
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, October 28, 2010

As I left our Gateway meeting on Tuesday…I had a lot on my mind…I just WASN’T COMFORTABLE with all of my feelings…and I needed to reflect on my own inadequacies….which is much easier than reflecting on my attributes…but let’s save that for another time…

I had received a jury summons and spent today in court…again….as the mother of an addict it brought back many memories of days and days and more days of just bad feelings…..but NEVER THE LESS it was serene to be on the other end of it all…I got picked for the jury…imagine that…they think I am stable… and the trial will be continued tomorrow…I think there is some message here for me….but it hasn’t become quite clear yet….so, I had time to write a thought not just my son but all of you that have become so dear to me.

Do Not Be Afraid

Do not be afraid for I am here….

I share your sadness, I have lived your fear….

Addiction has robbed us of what use to be….

This disease has no cure, we will never be free..

But together we will stand to battle this plight…

I will not succumb, I will continue to fight….

I strive for some normalcy with new friends that will last…

Ones that don’t judge or dwell on all of the past….

I will help you remember that today is a gift…

I will be your strength when all you need is that lift…

Remember you don’t have to be perfect all of the time…

But If you should fall, please get up and continue the climb…

Don’t reflect on all of that things that just should be…

For you have chosen to live, and today that is enough for me….

So don’t be afraid of that road ahead…

I will be your warrior against addiction that just wants you dead…

This disease of addiction is strong but it is not the end….

For I have learned the fighting tools from all my new found friends..

I do believe that there must be a plan….

It’s right now, it’s to hard…I just don’t understand…

But no matter what doubts cloud your mind with fear….

Just open your eyes…look around….yes it’s me…always here…

My hope for you is someday I can be….

The strength and courage, you are to me….

In the abyss of addiction that has made things so unclear….

I will never leave you so release your fear…

Do not be afraid for I am here….

To all of you that have become so dear….

Thank you my friends for the life-line….I am holding on so please don’t let go….


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Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I have recently been able to read for pleasure after a very long hiatus. Like many, when I have stress in my life (read: anxiety regarding my kids) I cannot concentrate on a novel. I can only read materials that pertain to my crisis, like 12 Step info, parenting articles, or the PSST blog! However, at this moment, things are moving forward with my 2 boys Michael and David. I feel centered and strong.

I am happy to say, as a result, I have devoured 2 adult novels over the last few weeks!

One of them in particular resonated so strongly with me, that I want to let others know what a great read it is. It is called "Lit" by Mary Karr.

It is Mary Karr's memoir (a true account) of her life during the time she started recovery from alcoholism. This sounds like a downer, and maybe we all have had enough of this type account. NEVERTHELESS.... it is very funny - Ms. Karr has a razor sharp wit, and she continually demonstrates how skewed her perspective of things were when she was drinking.

Her humor is self-deprecating, and she paints a very interesting portrait of her marriage, school, friendships, and employment through her un-sober eyes. As she gains clarity through sobriety, she shares how that skewed perspective straightens out. She also demonstrates clearly how having a reliable circle of sober friends, a sponsor, and a "higher power" helped her recover.

It is the latter that is a running theme through the book.

A self-described agnostic, she resists the "higher power thing" because she feels hypocritical, silly, uncomfortable, you name it. But very slowly she starts to "let go" when she realizes through her support team that she will move forward if she allows herself to believe the "higher power thing".

This is not about God or religion, but about learning to let go, and realizing you are not in control.

As a parent who works very hard not to enable, we have our own issues with letting go. It was fascinating to read how this cynical non-believer came to believe, while literally laughing out loud at her descriptions of her situation.

By the way - this was a New York Times Book of the Year for 2009!

"Lit: A Memoir" by Mary Karr

2009 Harper-Collins Publishers

Mary Karr’s bestselling memoir is one of the most critically acclaimed books of 2009 —— Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live.

Click here to see a video of Mary Karr on "Lit" and her "nervous breakthrough"

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A Mom's Story - Let's Try Something Completely Different by a new PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, October 24, 2010

We were happy to meet a new mom at our Gateway Squirrel Hill Parents Night a few weeks ago. She has a troubled teenage son about to turn 18 in December. She is working hard to get him into a recovery program.

To make her task harder than it all ready is; her husband constantly undermines her efforts to help their son. Not only by NOT working with her but, as an example, nagging her to turn their son’s cell phone back on so “he can let them know where he is” (which our kids never do or if they do call, they lie about where they are) or “so they can reach him” (our kids rarely answer when we call).

I appreciate that you gave me permission to use Psycho-Mom as your alias on the blog; unfortunately you would need to share it with 20 or 25 other PSST moms along with Psycho-B!%ch and Psycho-Woman. So we are going to try the alias’ Jane “The Psycho-Mom” (you), Elroy (your troubled son) and George (the less than cooperative husband). If you would like different names feel free to let us know.

We really appreciate that Jane came to our first informal PSST Meeting at Crazy Mocha on Murray Av on Saturday. It was so good to get a chance to talk with her and especially to listen to her. Please keep attending the PSST meetings Jane (as well as the Gateway Parents Night) so we can continue to assist and assure you that you are doing the right thing.

Jane explained to us that her son Elroy was recently caught with marijuana in school which will result in a hearing at juvenile court. She is afraid that his hearing may come too late to get him into the juvenile system before his 18th birthday.

But let's listen to Jane tell the story of what has happened since she started to take the power back in her home......

Jane’s Story – Let's Try Something Completely Different!

Talk about a DUH moment......

The cell phone and the Internet have been the bane of my existence. We have been round and round about the cell phone in particular. I have spent more time talking to Sprint over the last two years than talking to some family members. I feel in many ways the phone has enabled my son to continue down the wrong path. I have also become extremely agitated when I try and contact my son by phone or text and he does not respond.

We have gone down the road of excuses that "my battery died, something must have been wrong with my phone, there must have been a problem with the reception", blah, blah blah......

This has led me to turn off the phone numerous times, only to turn around and turn it back on due to my being worn to the nub by my son, or being guilted into turning it back on by family and their questioning...."what if he is in trouble???....he won't be able to call us."

Never mind the fact that we pay for the phone, it should be a privilege, not a birth rite......AND HE NEVER CALLS US BACK ANYWAY!!

The suggestion??

Turn off the text messaging!

Since the texting is how the "plans" are most often made (not wanting to have others overhear the conversation) that solves that problem (or at least makes it more difficult). As far as being able to "reach us in an emergency", well, he still has the ability to do just that.

Only being able to make phone calls also enables the "CSI Wanna-be" in me to be able to access the phone numbers that are being called......I am sure my son is certainly aware of that fact.

So, an hour after our PSST meeting, the text messaging was disabled on my son's phone......which leads me to the next "A-HA" moment......

"I DON'T FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THAT......Nonetheless......”

True to form and what I knew I was in for......my son, Elroy, comes home after being gone all night with:

Elroy: "You need to turn back on my text messaging!".

Jane: "No, I don't feel comfortable doing that".

Elroy: "I need my texting"

Jane:"Actually, there is a big difference between needing and wanting, nonetheless, I don't feel comfortable doing that".

Elroy: "You’re "crazy" (hence the Psycho-Mom pen name), I told you where I was last night!"

Jane: "Actually, you left a text on your brother's phone, but none the less, I don't feel comfortable doing that and my answer is still, NO"

"Leading to my next lesson......ASK ME AGAIN......"

Fifteen minutes later, Elroy rung the bell for Round 2......I am sure that his previous pause was to fortify himself with "ploys that have worked in the past" from the notebook I am sure he keeps hidden from sight......

Elroy: "You need to turn my texting back on."

Jane: "As I said before, I don't feel comfortable doing that."

Elroy: "You really need to turn that back on, I need it."

Jane: (calmly)"You seem to be having trouble hearing or understanding what I am saying, so please ask me again."

Elroy: "So, are you going to turn my texting back on?"

Jane: "Please ask me again."

Elroy: "So are you going to turn my texting on or what?"

Jane: (stepping a bit closer and looking him in the eye..and in a calm voice repeating), "Ask me again".

Elroy: (looking perplexed and angry at the same time): "Are you serious......for real????"

With that he walked away......no yelling......no stomping......no gnashing of teeth......

Believe me, the fat lady has not yet sung her swan song, but......

I felt a bit stronger and encouraged that I didn't continue to engage in a futile conversation and I left the bait dangling from his hook, something that has been very difficult for me to do......

I am sure this new approach will continue to be a work in progress.

I just wanted to say that the support and the experiences of the group and the postings I have read on the PSST web site have been wonderful.

I know we have a journey ahead of us, but utilizing some of the suggestions that been offered has really given me the opportunity to take a long deserved deep breath!

Thank you all, and will see you Tuesday!

God Bless!

Sally and Rocco's Note: Thanks for sharing Jane. It was good to see you on Saturday. It is so important for you to understand that you do have the ability to take back control of your home, your life and your sanity. It doesn't happen instantly but you are well on your way.

It is so good that you shared your experience here so others can see that they can do it also.

Trying new parenting skills is not always comfortable or easy but at the same time we realize that what we have been doing doesn't work. We look forward to seeing you at the Gateway Meetings and the PSST Meetings.

Please Note at the next PSST Meeting on Saturday November 6 in Wilkinsburg we hope to do a Juvenile Court Role Play. PSST is open to all concerned parents. There is no cost and no commitment.

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Summary of an Informal PSST Meeting at Crazy Mocha - Oct 23, 2010
Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, October 24, 2010

Summary – Informal PSST Meeting at Mocha – October 23, 2010

Since we had two whole Saturdays without a scheduled PSST Meeting Max suggested that we try an informal PSST Meeting on Saturday. Good idea Max! We met at Crazy Mocha on Murray Av. and had some good conversation and sharing of ideas.

Five parents were able to make it. We know them on the blog as Max, Daisy, Sally & Rocco and our newest PSST Mom, Jane (see her post - A Mom’s Story – Let's Try Something Completely Different!).

Our first mom Max has two sons, David and Michael, in recovery and a supportive husband we all know as Mel. David, their younger son is doing well at an out of state boarding school.

Their older son Michael has completed his outpatient program and is doing well. Max and Mel, like a lot of us, are dealing with what are “normal” teenage behavior issues and what are addictive behaviors.

Michael asked his mom if he could have a new friend sleep over. While this is a relatively easy decision for a parent of a child without addictive behavior it can trigger an alarm for us PSST parents.

She discussed it with Mel and they told him yes on the condition that they first get to meet this new friend and talk with him first. I am sure that we can all “feel” the eye-rolling moment of silence that this resulted in... ...and that’s OK. We can endure eye-rolls and silent pauses especially when we think back to what the reaction would have been a year ago. Max said that the new friend was refreshingly pleasant and open with them and they had a nice talk. This of course “Totally Mortified” Michael but she is fairly certain that he will get over it.

Max had another surprise when she poked her head in the door and found the friend sleeping at 11:00 o’clock. Of course this was another affront to Michael that a parent would dare “check-up” on him. Mel said goodnight and had a peaceful sleep.

The next morning she committed her final transgression when she poked her head in the door once more to say a sincere “Good Morning” to the boys. When Michael protested Max asked the friend if it was okay for her to say Good Morning. He said that he didn’t mind which just seem to make Michael more irritated.

He was angry enough to soon text his mom asking her what she thought she was doing. He got a little more upset when she didn’t text him right back. She explained that she could not text him while driving and it calmed him a bit. She told him that she did not think that she did anything out of the ordinary considering his behavior for the last couple of years. It is unfortunate but our kids will need to learn that it will take us a while to learn to “trust” them and that they will need to humor us until we can.

As I noted before; after dealing with our teen’s addictive behaviors we parents tend to have our own set of triggers that unconsciously set off our defensive behaviors. This can quickly bring us back to a bad place. We need to learn to “detach or refocus” to avoid falling back into our co-dependent behaviors.

Our children didn’t become addicts overnight and unfortunately it will take a while (probably years) in recovery before we will be able to fully "feel comfortable" with them.

Thanks for calling the meeting and sharing with us Max.

Daisy is a single mom of a 15 year old son we call Ozzie. Ozzie is has been in an inpatient recovery facility under Act 53 for about 30 days. Daisy is being pro-active and is getting Ozzie onto juvenile probation before he leaves the facility and comes home. This will provide Ozzie with more restrictions and more consequences than Daisy could impose on him herself. Please note that Daisy tried for months to deal with Ozzie’s behavior on her own.

At PSST we all understand that our teens end up in placement and/or on probation because of their behavior. But we have also learned that when they toss you a nugget like “It’s all your fault that I’m in here” or “I have to listen to that #@$&-ing P.O. because of you!” reach out and grab the credit. “Yes, I guess you’re right! I did get you in here, or get you a P.O.! I did it honey because I love you. I would do anything I can to keep you from using. Thanks for understanding.”

Daisy has been practicing this skill well and it has been effective. Ozzie had a bit of a flare up last week when he wanted to talk to Daisy while she was at work and unable to deal with him at that moment. It resulted in him getting very angry. Daisy called back as soon as she could to explain that Ozzie would need to understand that she cannot drop her job instantly and respond anytime he calls. Once again she handle this issue well and defused the situation.

Daisy’s other issue is in dealing with the facility itself. She thinks it is a good facility but that they have mis-handled her son on certain issues. Secondly she feels that they have a communication problem with her and usually don’t call her until the day after Ozzie acts out. They even asked her once to come and take Ozzie home. Daisy stopped them in their tracks and told them that they are the behavioral professionals and to deal with him. Sometimes you will feel like you’re fighting not only your teen’s behavior but the facility’s or therapist’s behavior. Keep up the fight even if it means finding a new facility or new therapist. They are not always the right fit.

Keep up the good work Daisy.

Sally and Rocco’s son Cisco is 18 and relapsed in August. He was in an adult facility but walked out last weekend. He turned himself back in but cannot return there until he tests negative for drugs and alcohol. His P.O. and therapist have him in a juvenile facility until then. Following this meeting we had a phone call from him complaining about how childish the juvenile facility is and that he wants to switch to an adult program.

Sally responded very well and thanked him for calling and talking it out and not acting out impulsively but that nothing could be decided until at least Monday. Sally also told him that he has been in this facility for a week and if he transferred at this time he may end up spending an extra week or two at the next facility.

We explained that even though the counselors at the facility may think that it would be a good idea we need to get his P.O. and therapist to agree as to what his next step should be.

We also explained that it took a lot of work to get him where he is and we are not sure that it would be worth the effort to get him transferred for a relatively short period.

What it mainly comes down to is that we are all doing what we can to get him the help that we can get for him but that he needs to cooperate with us and the system and that the entire system is not going to jump through hoops because he is not satisfied.

The best part is that I only had to nudge Sally one time during the conversation.

Finally we got to talk with our newest PSST Mom, Jane. Follow the link above to her story because she tells it so much better than I can. Basically Jane is a mom of a son we named Elroy who is about to turn 18. She is working hard to get him into recovery so that he can finish out his senior year of high school and live a “normal” life. Her biggest road block at this time is her husband George. When it comes to Elroy’s recovery George is not just on a different page than Jane, he is in an entirely different book. She is making a lot of progress in a short time and is preparing to file for Act 53 if needed.

Thanks for making it to our meeting Jane. Keep on coming so we can assist you and encourage you that you can make a big difference.

This was a good way to start off our Saturday without a scheduled PSST Meeting and we would love to do it again (but not this Saturday because we are having a garage sale with the neighbors) never the less if you want to try it again let me or Sally know and we will get the invite up on the blog ASAP.

For everyone else we hope to see you at the regularly scheduled PSST Meeting at the Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg on Saturday, November 6 at 9:00 a.m.

PSST is open to all concerned parents. Come on and join us. There’s no cost or commitment. All you have to lose is a lot of anxiety, chaos, stress, tension, embarrassment and sleepless nights.

There is a lot of hope and support at PSST.


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Connections - by Sally, a PSST mom
Posted by:Sally--Saturday, October 23, 2010

Our day was off to a good start. We met at the Crazy Mocha and talked with our PSST friends, we ran some errands and did other leisurely Saturday stuff.

Then the call came from Cisco who is in a juvenile placement facility. He wanted to talk about getting into an adult recovery program because it is too juvenile where he is. I know I did the right thing by agreeing with him that the juvenile placement is so different from the adult one he walked away from. It is not as structured and the juveniles are not as serious about their recovery.

Then I commended him for talking it out with the counselors and his dad and myself. I spoke with his P.O. and counselors and we will see if there is anything that can be done. At any rate Cisco knows nothing will happen until Monday.

Rocco and I are shuffling the pages of our book of life. We are in the same chapter but not on the same page. Rocco is being stoic and I am feeling emotional but we will talk it out. Meanwhile I wrote this poem to keep myself busy.

Babies are born to you or may come into your life,
As a gift from another mother; now you're a mother and a wife.

You do not know this lady who has borne your child at birth,
But you owe her all the sadness and you owe her all the mirth.
She may have had contented times when child was in her womb,
Then she bore the pains of childbirth and the sadness of the tomb-
As she placed the babe into your arms and said 'Take special care.'
You fully promised, 'I sure will'.... and got right out of there.

You felt disconnected to this mother of your child,
Though certain if they met again she'd be so very proud,
You would love him Oh, so dearly and he would grow so tall and strong,
Without an inkling of a problem, without things goin' wrong.

You had times of contentment when your child was young at home,
Then you bore the pain of teenage years as he began to roam,
Then came the illness of addiction and the sadness of the tomb,
As he ended up in placement and you stare at his empty room.

Now you feel a real connection with the mother of your son,
You feel the pain she must have felt when the relinquishment was done.
He is not hers, nor is he yours, now he belongs to his addiction,
There is only one who can help him with such a dire affliction.

If I put him in the hands of God and pray that he be safe,
I feel so strongly that he will be in a better place.
He'll get the help that he so needs to conquer this disease,
His life will once be his again and the Truth shall set him free.


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Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, October 22, 2010

There are two ways to link our blog to facebook. (1) Linking Generally: Click on the fshare button on the upper right part of the blog. This posts the general address of the blog to your facebook newsfeed and you can choose a graphic from the blog. (2) Linking a Specific Post: Click "read more" and if a fshare button is available on a specific post you can put a link to that post on facebook. Apparently, this second method only works if the button is placed at the very end of the post. The graphic for that post if there is one will also appear on your newsfeed. Facebook users will then be sent to the specific post rather than the top of the blog. In either case you will be prompted to put in your facebook user name and password.

We are interested in learning how to put other link buttons on our posts but this has been a big step for us since we barely know what we are doing. Let us know if it does not work for you by posting a comment. If you can't even leave a comment (that happens) then read our post on having problems leaving comments.

Thanks for promoting PSST on your facebook.

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Finding Cisco - Parts 3, 4 & 5
Posted by:Rocco--Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sally and I are the parents of Cisco, a teenage addict. We visited a PSST meeting in early 2007 and felt a bit intimidated. We then worked with his school, several private counselors and a Dual Diagnosis Program but Cisco’s addictive behavior just kept getting worse. It wasn’t until we came back to PSST in May 2009 that we discovered that our own codependent behavior was a big part of Cisco’s addiction. Since then Cisco has been in and out of juvenile detention, several recovery programs, relapsed and he has made significant progress. So have Sally and I.

In July Sally and I stood up in court and asked for an extension of Cisco’s probation. This turned out to be significant because…

...When Cisco disappeard we had the help we needed to find him.

PART 3 – Saturday at Midnight, Time to Sit and Wait

Click here to go to Finding Cisco Parts 1 & 2

We got to Jack’s house just in time. Jack was about to get into his car with some friends and head out to Eat ‘n Park for the midnight buffet. At least these kids didn’t appear intoxicated. The P.O. and I got out of our car to talk to him. We asked Jack if we could take a look inside of his house just to make sure that Cisco really wasn’t in there, just to satisfy the P.O.’s curiosity. We searched and didn’t find any signs of Cisco.

We asked Jack if he had any more messages concerning Cisco. He said no and that if Cisco got in touch with him that he would continue to tell him to turn himself back in. The P.O. still wasn’t buying it that Jack didn’t know more. Like most teens, Jack follows the Teen “Code” - #1 No Snitching.

So now where? Back to grandmas? We decided, based on the tips we were getting, to try Bambi’s place just one more time.

We were met at the door by Bambi’s stepdad who was more than happy to talk with us. He even had Bambi come to the door to talk one more time. The P.O. did not mince words with her and asked her what she was on. She became very agitated (no surprise here again) and kind of slurred out that she was “ex-schream-a-ly in-shault-ed” by the P.O. (doing her best Foster Brooks impersonation). The P.O. half-heartedly apologized and asked Bambi if she had seen or heard anything about Cisco. Through the fog she replied that she didn’t know anything.

After she left the stepdad closed the door and came out into the front yard with us. He explained that he had searched the basement and garage and let the dog out into the backyard. He was sure that Cisco was not anywhere near the house. The P.O. asked him what he thought that Bambi was on. He replied that it was probably some weed. He told us that Bambi was just as bad as her older sister that they had already kicked out. They were just waiting for Bambi to turn 18 in a few months so that they could throw her out and have some peace in the house.

Please note: whenever we discuss “detachment” from an addict this is NOT what we are talking about.

So now what? It was almost midnight. We could go back to Jack’s place or grandma’s house or try yet another “friend” of Cisco. We decided to call it a night. I was tired and figured that Cisco was hiding somewhere for the night. The P.O. agreed because he had to be at work by 8:00 a.m.

Sally and I were sitting on the couch having some hot tea and discussing our night when we got the next call from the P.O. He said that he was really sorry to bother us but asked if we still had some pictures of Cisco. He had returned to grandma’s and was waiting for the police to assist him in a search of Chrissie’s bedroom. I decided that I wasn’t all that tired and told the P.O. that I would be right there.

As I was walking down the driveway I got that feeling. I’ll swear that Cisco was nearby and watching the house at that point. I looked around but couldn’t make anything out in the dark.

When I got near grandma’s I spotted a police car but it was at the wrong end of the street. Then I spotted the P.O. driving away from the house. The P.O. told me that he thought that Chrissie and her brother might have spotted him sitting in front of the house and decided to move away to wait for the police. Then he went to see why the police car was at the other end of the street. He found out that there was a burglary in progress which of course took precedence. We understood.

Around 1:00 a.m. we went back down to grandma’s and waited in the car for our police escort. Nothing happened.

Around 2:00 a.m. the P.O. called the police dispatcher and was told that they were currently downtown booking the burglary suspect and would not be available until around 3:00 a.m. I noted the irony that once more; here I was out searching for my son on a dark chilly night while he was probably in someone’s nice warm house sleeping or who knows what else. Nothing happened. Around 2:45 the P.O. asked me if I wanted to wait or call it quits. Without a warrant we had no authority to search the house. We doubted that grandma would be in the mood to allow us in, even with a police escort.

I replied that I could wait but that I was not the one that needed to be at work in five hours. We called it quits.

I went home, locked up the house and had a wonderful night’s (what was left of it) sleep.

PART 4 – Sunday, The Return of Our Son

Sunday morning Sally and I got up and left for the Vatican Splendors Exhibition at the Heinz History Center. Sally had purchased tickets a few weeks earlier. Feeling a little better that Cisco was at least in the neighborhood gave us enough relief that we could relax. We of course were still concerned about who he was with and what drugs he might have used but this was something that we didn’t cause and that we couldn’t change. We decided to enjoy the show.

We were there for about 30 minutes and reading about Emperor Constantine when my phone vibrated. The number was “Unavailable” but I knew it was Cisco. He said “Dad, I don’t want to die.” I agreed that I didn’t want him to die and asked where he was. He said that he was at Bruegger's. I told him to wait there and we would pick him up. He said he would start walking home. We went to Bruegger’s but he had already left. We drove home the way that he should have been walking but didn’t spot him. Sally called the P.O. and left a message. We got home and there was no sign of him. We decided to wait and hope that he was still on his way. We decided that we needed to quietly get him to sit on the patio and discuss how he was doing physically and mentally. We also decided that after about 15 minutes one of us would come up with an excuse to go back into the house and then phone the P.O. again.

Sally was the first to spot him and met him on the patio. She brought out some water for him and gave him a big hug. She made some small talk about the garden work we had done on Saturday and had him sit down and relax.

When I made it to the patio he was explaining how he had spent most of the night in the woods behind our house. He mentioned that Sally came the closest to finding him. While she was looking in Bambi’s closet he was only a few feet away between the bed and the wall under some pillows and blankets. He said that he did not stay at Bambi’s because he was afraid of the stepdad. He could not get Jack to let him in so he spent a sleepless night in the woods behind our house.

Around 7:00 a.m. he tried to get another “friend” to let him crash at his house. His “friend” would not open the door and told him to go home and to turn himself in. Instead he walked to McDonald’s to warm up. He finally decided to call us and see what options he had.

I told him that we would discuss his options with his P.O. at Shuman Center. He said that he would not go. I told him that he only had two choices; he could come peacefully in the car with us or I would call 911 and have the police take him in. He asked if we would give him a 10 minute head start before we called the cops. I told him absolutely “No.” Cisco surprised both of us with his reaction. He took off his serenity bracelet and his watch, put his cigarettes, lighter and wallet on the table and put his head down and cried. It was an unusual show of emotion by Cisco.

Sally gave him another hug. I told him, once more, that we did love him and that is why we needed him to get clean and stay clean. I explained that when all of his friends were telling him to go away we were waiting for him to come home. I told him that he is our son, and will always be our son, and that we want to help him not die.

Sally excused herself to get some food and to make that call to the P.O. to be sure that he was at Shuman and waiting. Cisco admitted that he did the wrong thing and was kind of sorry now. I asked him if he wanted to go back to his recovery program and he wasn’t sure. I said that is okay and we could discuss it at Shuman over the next day or two.

Sally came out with some chicken soup and pierogies. Cisco said that he wanted to recover but that he wanted to do it "his way". He didn’t want to do it the P.O.’s way, he didn’t want to do it our way and he didn’t need to be in a program. I quietly explained that the last two times we left it up to "his way" he couldn't do it. I quoted from the Nar-a-non meetings we had attended together “You will end up one of three ways; you will recover, you will end up in jail or you will end up dead.” Cisco agreed and told us that the last two ways might not be so bad. I repeated that I did not ever want to see him die. I did not even want to see him in jail. I told him that I had seen some of my friends and coworkers that had recovered, some that had gone to jail and, sadly, a few that had died from their addiction. I repeated that only he can make that choice and that I only hoped that it would be to live a clean and sober life.

Sally told him that his P.O. was on the phone and would like to talk to him. Cisco and his P.O. went over the same issues and the P.O. explained to Cisco that we would get him into the program that would suit him the best. His P.O. told him that the people at his current recovery program thought that he was doing really well. They were surprised that he walked away and they would like him to come back but he would need to test clean of all drugs and alcohol first.

Cisco’s head finally started to clear and he agreed that we could start with a trip to Shuman and talk over his future with the P.O. but not until he could change his socks and underwear that he had been wearing for four days.

Part 5 – Back to the Present, One Day at a Time

This episode had a good ending. I won’t say happy because we are not quite there yet. We will continue to take each day as it comes. We accept that this has been another step in Cisco’s recovery. For now we know that Cisco has 4 days clean and is in a safe place. Cisco knows that we are still here for him. Sally and I are back to our “regular” lives and can relax for the day.

Tuesday night at Gateway Parent’s Night we discussed how once in a while we remember the little kid we used to have. The kid that enjoyed their family, some good friends and activities, the kid that liked to talk and joke with us. We were full of hope and dreams for them, then. Then this disease, this addictive behavior, whatever you call it; it came along and took our kid away.

Not all at once, it took a few years for that kid to disappear. The best we can do now is to keep ourselves healthy so that we can help our child get the help they need to heal themselves. It will not happen overnight. Just like this episode, we will take one step at a time. And yes they will trip once in a while but if we can keep ourselves in good shape we can be there to help them up. And if all works out well we may get some of our kid back again.

These first three steps of Nar-anon are a big help to get you started.

1. We admitted we were powerless over the Addict -- that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Our Higher Power as we understood it.

Once again we truly want to thank our team at Allegheny County Probation (especially Cisco's P.O.) and at Wesley Spectrum for helping our family through this latest crisis. And of course we want to give a big thanks to all of the professionals and parents at PSST, and at Gateway Squirrel Hill, who have turned our lives around and who are always there to support and encourage us.


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Finding Cisco
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PART 1 - Thursday - Cisco Disappears

Sally and I are the parents of Cisco, a teenage addict. We visited a PSST meeting in early 2007 and felt a bit intimidated. We then worked with his school, several private counselors and a Dual Diagnosis Program but Cisco’s addictive behavior just kept getting worse. It wasn’t until we came back to PSST in May 2009 that we discovered that our own codependent behavior was a big part of Cisco’s addiction. Since then Cisco has been in and out of juvenile detention, several recovery programs, relapsed and he has made significant progress. So have Sally and I.

In July Sally and I stood up in court and asked for an extension of Cisco’s probation. This turned out to be significant because…

Our son, Cisco, relapsed again in August.

Because he was still under Juvenile Probation Cisco was immediately placed in an inpatient recovery program. Since he is 18 we asked for an adult facility. With the help of the Allegheny County Juvenile Probation and Wesley Spectrum we chose a “Behavior Modification” program. Sally and I toured the facility ahead of time and were impressed with both the facility and the program.

Cisco appeared to be doing well in this difficult program. We had a fairly good visit with him last Thursday evening. Several people came over to tell us how good he was doing. But towards the end of the visit he seemed to be getting a bit agitated. We had tried to get him to talk about where he would go and what he would do after completing the program. We decided to end the visit and let him chill out.

After we left he unexpectedly walked away from the facility (it is an unlocked facility) and disappeared.

Unfortunately his Probation Officer wasn’t informed about Cisco leaving until Friday morning. He and Cisco’s counselor went into immediate action; contacting Sally and me, gathering information and preparing a request for an arrest warrant for Cisco.

Sally tried her best to detach and refocus but was, of course, concerned about where Cisco went to, where he would stay, who he was with, and which drugs, if any, he might use. I was also apprehensive but tried as well as I could to refocus on the fact that Cisco could not get all that far on $20 and not a lot of urban street smarts.

Sally arrived home early and made sure that all of the windows and doors were locked. She made some calls to some of Cisco’s “friends” that she felt she may be able to trust. They all said that they did not know where he was but would contact her if they heard anything. Sally and I, as well as his P.O. and his Counselor all had our doubts that these “friends” would make the call.

We felt that Cisco would eventually be hiding out at one or more of their homes. How long his “friends” and their parents would allow Cisco to hide out was the next question.

Sally and I were concerned but did our best to accept the wisdom that this was something that we could not change, the serenity to understand that, along with Cisco’s relapse, this is yet another step in his recovery process, and the courage to continue on as normally as we could.

We heard nothing on Friday night and we did some shopping and watched a movie. Saturday morning we went to our PSST Meeting and had a good chance to vent out feelings and emotions. We received a lot of empathy and understanding in return. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Aladdin’s.

Sally called our local police about Cisco and found out that it was our high school’s homecoming weekend which of course results in a lot of parties which would be attractive to someone like Cisco. Cisco's counselor suggested getting a picture of Cisco to the local police department along with a request to detain him and to call the P.O. if they spotted Cisco in the township. We took his picture to the station. We were greeted by an officer who knew and liked Cisco; he gave us a chuckle and told us that they really didn't need a picture. That gave us a peculiarly disconcerting kind of feeling as his parents.

That combined with driving back home past the homecoming football crowd gave Sally and I that sick feeling (that big codependency trigger) that a parent of a teenage addict knows. What did I do wrong? Why am I not allowed to enjoy this beautiful autumn day at this celebration with my teenager like all of these “Normal Folks” are? Why isn’t my son or daughter enjoying the homecoming dance? We talked it out and refocused our emotions again.

We went home and spent the next five hours in our garden taking out the remains of the summer and planting 80-some bulbs for the spring. We cleaned up and went for a leisurely dinner at Denny’s.

That’s when we received a call from Cisco’s P.O.

Part 2 – Saturday Evening – Let’s Turn Over a Few Rocks

The P.O. was in our neighborhood and wanted to speak with us. We invited him to join us at Denny’s for dessert. Over dessert he explained his plan to attempt to flush Cisco out from hiding. He had started at one of Cisco’s “friend’s” houses and asked if he could search the place to be sure that Cisco was not hiding there. As a professional courtesy a local police officer accompanied the P.O. in the search.

What the P.O. needed from us was more addresses where we thought that Cisco might be comfortable hiding out at. We discussed quite a few possibilities (Cisco always was a very social person) and we had it down to three possibilities; an ex-girlfriend (Chrissie), a friend who happened to be a girl (Janet) and his former best friend (Jack).

We decided on Janet’s first, a favorite place for Cisco to chill (and we always suspected a favorite place for him to use). Janet’s dad answered the door and was suspicious, of course, but her mother knew and liked Cisco. She understood and invited us in.

Janet told us that she didn’t see Cisco and didn’t know anything about his whereabouts. A smile came across her mom's face and she said "Sure you do, he was here yesterday afternoon." Janet gave her mom that look but switched gears at an astonishingly speed and said “Oh yeah, right, Jack brought him here but we dropped him off back by your neighborhood.”

The P.O. asked her as a favor to bring up Cisco’s Facebook page to see if Cisco had been on it since Thursday. With her parents watching she pulled up the page and we found that he had left a kind of rambling note on Friday. It didn’t give us any clues but we were now reassured that Cisco was back in the neighborhood where he was most comfortable.

We left for our #2 choice; the ex-girlfriend Chrissie’s grandma’s house. Janet agreed that that would be the most likely place that he would be.

When we arrived Chrissie was not at home. We spoke with her grandma. She assured us that Cisco was not there and had not ever been there. When she heard that Cisco had walked away from a recovery facility she was very surprised and said that she would not want anyone who did drugs to visit with her granddaughter.

When the local police officer arrived to assist the P.O. in a search of Chrissie’s bedroom the grandmother said it was okay but she just needed a few minutes to tidy the room up. Her granddaughter was very sloppy and she was a little embarrassed to let anyone see it.

Despite both the P.O.’s and the Police officer’s repeated assurances that they were not offended by sloppy teenager’s rooms the grandma would not allow them in unless she was able to go in first, just for a couple of minutes. The discussion came to an end when the grandma received a call from Chrissie asking for a ride home from her girlfriend’s house.

When Sally heard who Chrissie's girlfriend was her heart jumped up and then down. I didn’t feel much better but we both knew that if we hurried Cisco would be there for sure. Chrissie was at Bambi’s house. Bambi is the biggest pill popping, pot smoking, addict in the township. Bambi is also the girl that Sally came home from work to find sleeping on our couch the day that Cisco overdosed on Robitussin and who knows what else.

We all followed grandma to the house. Sally got a sick feeling in the car and called the P.O. on the phone to tell him that she felt sure that the grandma was phoning ahead to warn them. The P.O. agreed but said let’s keep going.

When we got to Bambi’s Chrissie was already standing on the street waiting for her ride. The P.O. got grandma to roll down the window so he could talk to Chrissie. She admitted that Cisco was with her at Bambi’s but cut out early before Bambi’s stepfather got home from work.

No, she didn’t have any idea where he would go to, no, Cisco did not stay at her house the night before, no, she was not intoxicated. No, the P.O. didn’t believe her on any one of the three statements. He gave grandma his card with his phone number in case she heard anything about where Cisco was. No, he didn’t think that he would ever get a call from grandma.

The P.O. and Sally were admitted into Bambi's house with no trouble. I waited outside for the police to show up. They checked the bedrooms and even the closets. Only later they would find out how close we came to catching Cisco. Bambi was clearly intoxicated. No surprise there, except that her mom and stepdad were sitting in the living room watching TV while these kids were getting high in the bedroom. The P.O. thanked them for cooperating but was clearly annoyed that we just missed Cisco. Sally and I were also disappointed. It seemed that Sally’s intuition was correct. Someone had warned them that we were coming.

The only consolation the P.O. could offer is that we had flushed him out on a cold night. He felt that there was a lot of texting and twittering going on throughout the township warning that hiding Cisco was like posting an invitation for the police to visit your home. The last thing that Cisco’s “friends” ever want is a visit from the police.

It was after 11:00 and we debated what our next move was.

People are generally less agreeable to opening their home the later it gets. We thought of going back to grandma’s house thinking that she may have picked Cisco up a street or two away. Or Cisco could be hiding nearby, possibly in Bambi’s back yard waiting for the parents to go to bed.

Or Cisco may have headed home even though it was totally locked up. If he could get to our camping gear he would at least be more comfortable if he had to sleep in the woods.

Or Cisco may have headed for Jack’s house. We gave Jack a call. Jack assured me for the second time that night that he would not allow Cisco in his house. I believed him because I have known Jack since he and Cisco went to first grade. He cut off his friendship with Cisco anytime Cisco was using. The P.O. wasn’t sure and wanted to talk to him.

We called him and asked Jack to text Chrissie to ask her what was going on with Cisco. He called back and said that we probably missed him in Bambi’s closet. Sally assured us that she did not miss him as difficult as it was to get the door open with all of the debris on the bedroom floor. Cisco is a big kid and could not have hid in there.

The P.O. wanted to talk to Jack in person. Sally wanted to go home and go to sleep. I decided to ride sidekick with the P.O.

Go to PART 3 – Saturday at Midnight – A Time to Sit and Wait

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Promises - Written by Violet, Who is a PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I was looking forward to my visit with Sal on Sunday, since my previous one left me feeling he was depressed and in danger of not working his recovery….

As I was getting ready to leave the phone rang…I saw it said Liberty Station….and there was the feeling again….that sickness in the pit of your stomach from so many phone calls before…when will that go away…I answer with..this is Violet, what’s wrong…I was informed Sal did not put his visitor request in the required 2 days in advance so I would not be able to see him….My heart sank…was this another way to punish me? Something prompted me to ask if I could go to the family educational session…why I did was not in my control…my first reaction was to say fine…he doesn’t follow the rules that is was happens….but those words did not come out of my mouth…much to my surprise I was told I could come….

The therapist told me she felt he did want to see me because on his goals he wrote to have a good visit with his mom…she felt he was testing the rules….so as a mother of an addict I felt here we go again….pushing the buttons…I should just stay home…but something inside me urged me to go…so I listened and went…

When I got there all the parents were with their kids…except me…and then the therapist said she was getting Sal because he needed to be there and I just would not be able to visit afterward…so there I sat…like so many times before…in the principal’s office….in court….getting out of jail….in rehab….waiting…waiting for him to be brought in to be told the bad news….he comes in and sits….and I think to myself what now….

But the session begins….we are given a worksheet….we have to list…2 things that we like about each other….we don’t like and that we need…..I give mine thought….Sal is done in record time….and I think doesn’t he think this is important….what is the matter with him….why do I continue to try…..well it comes to our turn and we have to read them out loud….I start with my first 2 and he responds with his….and he did give it thought after all…am I so quick to judge my own son….I am ashamed of myself….the summary of his responses were for me to not to continually dwell on past events and to praise him more when he does something right and continue to support him…..that was eye opening for me….is that what I have become….but he didn’t say it with hate….he understood my feelings…..maybe I need to learn from that….and then to the last question…I need____. Mine was pretty typical…stay clean…be part of the family…..get a plan and continue to work towards recovery……

His was I NEED YOU TO BE IN MY LIFE!!!!............

Wow…..for my son….who has buried his emotions….that was huge….of course….as the mother of an addict…..I did what I do best… cry……

Now I know why God sent me there…..I believe it was a test…..not just of obedience but for me to trust that I am not in control….that there is a plan…..and it is not mine….it is from a power greater than I can imagine….and if I believe not just when it’s easy but when it’s very difficult I can have the peace I so strive for not just in my life but my son’s…

This episode has opened my eyes that I need to separate my memories and feelings……those of the addict and those of my son…for truly they are not the same person….and I do tend to blend them….

Please God…grant me the wisdom to know the difference…..


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Only Time Will Tell by Sally - A PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cisco left his placement facility after our visit last Thursday. In retrospect he now says he knew as soon as he walked down the porch steps that it was a mistake.

Rocco is sitting beside me right now tapping away on his laptop to tell you the whole story. I will just say that I am relieved that we forced Cisco out of hiding and that he returned home.
Did he learn anything? Only time will tell.

Only time will tell if Cisco did get it. I mean 'get' the recovery thing.
(We will never know all of what he got while he was out on his own for three nights.)

Cisco was sent to Shuman. Rocco and I had a good visit with him yesterday.
We conversed for the complete hour, played a hand of crazy eights with him and the time flew by quickly.

He tried to get me into a trap or two but I dodged them. Twice he
casually said that he should not have taken the heroin - it is everywhere on
the corners of Manchester. I just nodded my head in agreement and let him
continue talking. Could we discover if he did heroin or was he just
trying to get me to panic? I would not panic because it does not help the situation. I really doubt that he was even in Manchester.
I am now a seasoned mother of an addict. Nothing phases me. And I know that addicts lie.

My new strengths that I will work on will be to always keep it in my head
that he is a liar. First of all to protect my sanity and second of all to
ensure that he has a consequence for not telling the truth.
I will also keep in mind that he is oppositional...that will hopefully keep
me from giving him directives on how to live. It is time to stop telling him how to live since he very rarely takes my advice. I should have learned that sooner. Some of these lessons take a long time to learn. At least for me.

Above all that I still love him. I love him very much and always will. We had a good visit and I do believe he is meant to have a functional and prosperous life...only time will tell.

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Summary of OCT 16 PSST Meeting in Mt Lebanon
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meet the Parents III - Oct 16, 2010 PSST Meeting Summary - Mt Lebanon

We had another terrific turnout Saturday for our PARENT SURVIVAL SKILLS TRAINING (PSST) Meeting at OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES in Mt Lebanon, including six new parents.

PSST meetings are open to all parents who are dealing with the distress and difficulties caused by their teenager’s substance abuse. We are here to help empower PARENTS with support, information, advice, skills and techniques a parent needs to SUCCEED in helping their teenager save their own life.

The meeting was lead by Val, Lloyd and Rebecca from Allegheny County Probation and Family Therapist Jocelyn from Wesley Spectrum Services. Speaking for all of the parents who attend these meetings we would like to sincerely thank them for their support and for sharing their experience, understanding and much appreciated humor.

The meeting was attended by eleven parents representing eight families: alias' Daisy, Marcie, Patti, Alice, Sally & Rocco, Violet, Tom & Becky, Helen & Harry

We parents each had a chance to share our own situations and issues.

[The following is not exactly like a court transcript of the meeting but more of a brief synopsis, to the best of my recollection. If I missed anything important or confused stories please feel free to add a comment at the end of this post or respond to sallyservives@gmail.com – Rocco]

Daisy is a single mom of a 15 year old son, we call Ozzie, who is currently in an inpatient recovery facility under Act 53 (asking the Court to declare your child to be in need of involuntary drug and/or alcohol treatment services).

Daisy had a very brief phone call from an agitated Ozzie on Wednesday to tell her that his first Home Pass had been canceled due to his behavior. He did call back a bit later and had some time to discuss the issues. She will see him during the Family visit Time on Sunday.

Daisy is a good example of a typical PSST Parent. When she came to her first PSST meeting about 6 months ago she was a very stressed out single mom with a teenager that was regularly using marijuana and creating total chaos into their home . Like so many of us at PSST her son Ozzie had been a wonderful child that did well in school and sports and that everyone enjoyed being with. Around 14 or 15 they seem to pick up new “friends”, new habits and a totally new attitude; none of them good. They become argumentative, defiant, overbearing louts.

Daisy like many of us became embarrassed, confused, angry, depressed, worried, irritated, perplexed, annoyed, anxious, humiliated, troubled and generally mystified at their child’s behavior (just to name a few of our feelings). We don’t know where, when or why our teen began abusing drugs but we will try anything to stop it.

Daisy tried to work with the school and counselors and finally got some help from Gateway Rehabilitation. In addition she came to PSST. In a relatively short time, and a few boxes of tissues, she has made that amazing transformation that most of us PSST Parents are able to make. She has regained control of her child, her home and her
life. She has not only been able to clean out her home from top to bottom she actually has time to do some things for herself and best of all just relax.

Her son Ozzie still has a way to go, as most of our teenagers do, but he is now under control and heading in the right direction. Unfortunately there is no quick fix and there are no simple answers to our adolescents’ problems. Never the less the more clean time we can help them achieve the more we can resolve their issues.

Hopefully she will share on the blog how her Sunday visit went. Thanks for sticking with PSST and becoming such a good role model for all of us Daisy.

Marcie is a first time PSST mom. She is divorced with four children. Her 16 year old son’s behavior (just like the rest of our kids) recently took a nose dive. A few weeks ago she was called by the school and told that he was found with marijuana on him. This carries an automatic suspension from school and a juvenile hearing to assign a probation officer to him. Marcie (with many of the same feelings described above) met with the school and made sure that her son (we’ll call him Chuck) was placed into an alternative school while he was waiting to be placed into the other school. She did not need Chuck to be sitting home for a week waiting. In short Marcie has done an excellent job in getting help for her son. Marcie’s problem is her ex-husband, Linus, who doesn’t want to address their son’s problem in the same urgent manner.

Thanks for making it and please keep coming to the PSST Meetings Marcie. We will try to help you deal with your son and his dad in a positive way.

Please check this blog on PSST power words – ‘You’re Right’, ‘never the less’ and ‘regardless’. Read about “Why not to ask why?” and how to do the “PSSTwist”. We’ll reinforce these when you come to the next PSST Meeting (Wilkinsburg on Saturday November 6).

Next was Marcie’s friend Patti, another first time PSST mom. Her teenage son likewise has been “experimenting” with marijuana and defiant behavior. The big difference is that Patti and her husband are on the same page and will not allow their son to manipulate them. Sally and I work very hard to stay on the same page as each other when dealing with Cisco.

If our son tells us that the other parent said “it” is okay, we still verify “it”, in person or by phone or e-mail with each other. Or as someone stated “How do you know when an addict is lying? When their lips are moving.”

This is not to make light of the subject but please be aware at all times of the tremendous manipulative skills teenage addicts develop and their uncanny ability to switch techniques almost the instant they realize that their first method is not working. They can turn from your sweet child to a nagging whiner or an angry monster punching holes in walls and doors in seconds to get what they want.

Thanks for trying PSST Patti. You sound like you already are off to a good start. Please come to some more meetings. Remember to practice "I am not comfortable with that."

Please Note: Expecting to get the same response from a teenage drug/alcohol user that you get from a non-using adolescent will only lead to disappointment, exasperation and frustration.

Another regular PSST mom, Alice (Ralph was busy with their younger son, Ed, at a church work project) was able to make it. Their older son, Norton, has left the state because his recovery and their house rules were both too tough for him to follow. As Ralph pointed out at an earlier meeting their house rules basically boiled down to stay clean and keep up with his recovery program.

Ed, 15, is currently finishing up at an inpatient recovery program. He is about to return home on a home contract with Alice and Ralph and another contract with his Probation Officer. These contracts are very basic and spell out the conditions of what is expected of the teenager in order to remain living at home with their families. It can but does not need to spell out the consequences if they break the terms of the contract. It should also be noted that the contract is subject to periodic reviews by the teen, the parents and the P.O. however contracts are only subject to change by the parents and the P.O.

Ralph and Alice are another good example of how in less than a year with PSST; they were able to turn their lives around by refocusing on their own well being. They are some of our best PSSTwisters. They have taken the power back in their home to give their sons a chance to work on their own recovery.

Rocco and Sally were next. Their 18 year old son, Cisco, relapsed in August. Since he was still under Juvenile Probation Cisco was placed into an inpatient recovery program. He was doing very well and then on Thursday evening he unexpectedly walked away from the facility and disappeared. Unfortunately P.O. Columbo didn’t find out about it until Friday morning. He and family counselor, and faithful sidekick, Nancy Drew went into immediate action; contacting Sally and Rocco, gathering information and preparing a request for an arrest warrant for Cisco.

Sally tried her best to detach and refocus but was of course concerned about where Cisco went to, where he would stay, who he was with, and which drugs, if any, he might use. Rocco was also apprehensive but tried his best to refocus on the fact that Cisco could not get all that far on $20 and not a lot of street smarts. Sally arrived home early and made sure that all of the windows and doors of their house were locked. She made some calls to some of Cisco’s “friends” that she felt she may be able to trust. They all said that they did not know where he was but would contact her if he called. Sally and Rocco, as well as P.O. Columbo and Counselor Nancy all had doubts that these “friends” would make the call. They all felt that Cisco would eventually be hiding out at one or more of their homes. How long his “friends” and their parents would allow him to hide out was the next question.

I’ve tried to lighten our story up a bit but I do understand the seriousness of the situation and the potential dangers. Sally and I were of course concerned but tried our best to accept the wisdom that this was something that we could not change, the serenity to understand that, along with Cisco’s relapse, this is yet another trial in his recovery process, and the courage to continue on as normally as we could. We thank our P.O. and counselor for their immediate actions and concern they showed us. We also thank our good friends, our fellow PSST Parents, that reached out to us with their messages, prayers, wishes and hugs.

I will let you know that this episode has ended well. Never the less I will keep you hanging on because this story deserves its own post. Stay tuned.

We took a break for Val’s Bosses Day Cake (See Lloyd’s Happy Boss’ Day post), Dunkin Munchkins, chips, soda and coffee. Lloyd then called the meeting back to order (no small task) for the rest of the parents’ turns to share there issues and feelings.

Another of our regular PSST single moms, Violet, has a son, Sal, who has been through several inpatient recovery programs. Like Cisco he has relapsed however thanks to Violet he has accumulated a lot of clean time and is still working to stay clean. He is currently in a half-way house. Violet has made it clear to Sal that he is not allowed back home until he is ready to remain clean and sober and to respect her and her rules. She did not have the best visit with Sal last week but she had the strength to call an end to their meeting, get up and leave without feeling too guilty. Hopefully she will share on the blog how her Sunday visit went.

You have come a long way in a short time Violet! You are the one person who has stuck with your son throughout all of his issues. Thank you for coming to PSST meetings and sharing with us. We are all here for you and for all parents that are striving to make a difference in their troubled teen’s life.

Two new couples, aka Becky & Tom and Helen & Harry, made it to the meeting. Thanks so much for joining us.

They both have young teenage sons, and like so many of our PSST Teens did, they are getting into the “lifestyle” of Addictive Behavior including deception, defiance, dealing, distancing themselves from family, school and activities, deceit, lying, manipulation and a touch of criminal behavior. This typically will lead to an appearance at a local magistrate’s office or at juvenile court.

Becky gets the first ever PSSTrophy for consulting the blog before attending her first meeting and using the "Cold Water Wake-Up Method" on her teen who didn't want to get up for school. It worked, Becky exclaimed!

You may have noticed all of the other parents nodding in agreement as you told us about your teens sneaking out, stealing, disobeying and using. We all know how you felt when you explained how puzzled you are on when, how or why you lost control of your children. The description of their behavior was almost identical as our children.

As we discussed at the end of the meeting we will try to go over appearances at juvenile court and at the local magistrate at the next PSST Meeting (Wilkinsburg on Saturday November 6).

We appreciate Becky & Tom and Helen & Harry taking the time to attend the PSST Meeting and hope that you will continue to.

It is understandable that we as parents may beat ourselves up with “What did we do wrong?”

This is pointless.

Teens may choose drugs and alcohol even when they have the most loving, caring parents. Instead of focusing on why, you need to accept that your teen has a problem and look for expert guidance and then refocus on what you can do to assist your teen in their recovery.

You are not alone. We here at PSST are here to assist and encourage you in getting the help you need. PSST will also work with you on how to modify your parental behavior. We have all unintentionally enabled our teens in their quest to obtain drugs and alcohol. Either by providing cash (for lunches, movies, dances, football games, etc.) or overlooking missing items like electronics, clothing, video games, DVD’s, jewelry, tools (wrench sockets), kitchen knives and alcohol.

There was time for a Role Play concerning a mom trying to get her child’s less than cooperative father to get on the same page in dealing with their daughter’s behavior. If your spouse, partner, significant other is not cooperating they are part of the problem; here is a way to handle the situation (once more this is not a transcript but a short version to demonstrate).

First, have a talk with your child’s father without your teen present. Explain how you intend to handle the situation. This gives them a chance to get on board. If they still disagree with what you say or do not want to cooperate; Try the following:

In this role play, the mom is the Concerned Parent, the dad is Mr. Uncooperative and their teen is little Susie:

Susie: “So like I’ll see you mom. I’m going over to Buffy’s party.”

Mom: (Looks directly at her teen. Even though Mr. Uncooperative is standing right at the teen’s side do not even look at him. Focus on the child.) “Susie, let’s keep this short. I know that you don’t like long lectures.”

Susie: “You got that right mom! All you ever do is blah, blah, blah, blah…”

Mom: “You know something, you’re right. Sometimes I do go on too long. So I will keep it short. We told you that you were grounded this weekend because you chose not to follow your home rules.”

Mr. UC: (Very Large Eyeroll towards Susie)

Susie: “Well, like, I stayed home last night. This is Saturday night and I am invited to Buffy’s birthday party.”

Mom: (Ignores Mr UC's eyeroll, maintains eye contact with Susie) “I am sorry about that. I like Buffy and…”

Susie: “Well then it’s okay then I have to get going. They’re waiting out front.”

Mr. UC: “Yeah. Come on her friends are waiting out front.”

Mom: (Do not even acknowledge Mr. UC; Keep your cool and do not break eye contact with your teen.)

Susie: “Dad is right, mom, come on, I have to go. This real-ly sucks!”

Mom: (Stay focused, lean a little closer to your teen and say in a calm, firm voice.) “You are so-o-o-o right Honey. This really does suck. I hate being the one to tell you. Regardless, you understood when you broke the rules that there were consequences. You helped us write them. You are grounded for the entire weekend, birthday party or not.”

Mr. UC: “Sheesh. Give the kid a break. No wonder she is so nervous all the time. You make everybody nervous with all of your dumb rules. At least let her friends stop in.”

Susie: “Yeah, dad is cool, I’ll go and tell them to come in.”

Mom: (Do not even acknowledge Mr. UC; Keep your cool.) “I’m sorry, but I am not comfortable with that. You are not going out and they are not coming into this house.”

Susie: “You're not what? You know what you are? You’re nuts mom. I should call Youth Services on you. I should turn you’re a$$ in for being nuts!”

Mom: (keeping eye contact with Susie only) “You're right Susie, I must really sound like I’m nuts sometimes. Never the less, young lady, you were warned about what would happen. (Still focusing on her teen) Your father is wrong. You are grounded for tonight and tomorrow and tomorrow night. If you can follow the rules, maybe, you can see your friends on Monday. Now we all agree that I talk too much and I said that we wanted to keep this talk short so consider this discussion over. Do you have any questions before I go?”

Susie: “Sh-y-t no.”

Mom: “Okay Susie, thanks for listening. (Be the first to walk away) I will go tell your friends that you won’t be coming with them tonight.”

Sally and I have found that the more we practice role-plays the better we are at thinking on our feet when confronted. When we both react quickly and consistently we keep the power.

Remember our two favorite words NEVERTHELESS and REGARDLESS. Try to get BUT totally out of your vocabulary. Or as one of my favorite people loves to always remind me “Everything you say after the word BUT is BS.”

We did not have time for a Role Play about a court appearance and we hope to start the next PSST meeting with one.

We briefly touched on the phrase “I am not comfortable with that.” This is a great way to stop an argument before it starts. Anytime your teen tries to get you to explain why they can’t do something, your answer should always be “I’m not comfortable with that.” This shifts the blame and the conversation your way and stops your teen’s attempt at an argument. If they ask “Why aren’t you comfortable with that?” Take the blame again with “Gee, I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.” If they use their favorite phrase “I don’t care” cut them off with “Maybe that is part of the reason I am not comfortable.”

We had some final comments to finish up another good meeting and we all left with a little more wisdom and confidence to face our teens and the world of alcohol and drug addiction.

Our Thanks again to all at PSST, and of course our sincere thanks to OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES for the use of their space.

We look forward to seeing more concerned parents on Saturday, November 6 for the next PSST meeting at

Allegheny County Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg.

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