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Summary of the Oct 9, 2010 PSST Meeting
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, October 11, 2010

Summary of the Oct 9, 2010 PSST Meeting

We had a good turn-out for the Oct 9 PSST Meeting in Wexford with 9 parents representing 7 families, including one veteran PSST Parent returning to join us.

This was our One Year Anniversary at our Trinity Lutheran Church location in Wexford.

Our PSST Pros, Lloyd, Val, Kathie and Jocelyn. We all had a chance to welcome Rebecca who is doing her internship with the Juvenile Probation Office. Don’t worry Rebecca you will have your chance to do a couple of role plays in no time. We are always glad to have another perspective at PSST.

After opening announcements everyone had a chance to tell as little, or as much, as they wished about their teenager/parental relationship.

There was an interesting exchange of information and we had a chance to share our knowledge and wisdom along with some tears and laughter.

Our first Mom has a 15 year old son 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).

She attended a really good parent’s night at the facility last week featuring an appearance by Lloyd and Kathie. She reported that it was well attended by parents and that they had a good question & answer session. She was especially pleased when a counselor reported that following the meeting her son complained “Man, that guy tells them everything. I can’t get away with anything!” Her visits since then have gone better.

Our next mom had a good visit with her 18 year old daughter. She and her husband were strong enough to stand up in court several times this summer. They did everything they could to see that their daughter was placed back into an inpatient recovery program. Because she had turned 18, because of her relapse and her rapid descent into the desolation of drug abuse they knew they had to intervene as soon as possible. The court finally understood the situation and the parent’s intentions and ordered her into an inpatient recovery program.

Their story serves as a good example of advantages of working with the probation office and the courts to get the most help for your troubled teen.

PSST is here to help you get the help you need to save your child’s life.

Our third mom, currently has two sons in recovery. Her older son is living at home and her younger son is at an out of state boarding school. She and her husband took a trip to visit their younger son at a parent’s weekend. She reports that their visit was a good one and that their son is doing well. We discussed how some of our teenager’s thrive in a more structured and disciplined environment.

She also mentioned how the other parents visiting the school from around the country all said that they wished that their communities had a program addressing and assisting parents like PSST does.

Our returning veteran mom has not has it easy. Her son now lives with her but has been in and out of programs and facilities for the last few years. She has stuck with him throughout his ups and downs and has fought for the clean time that he has. While he has not turned the corner yet he is still alive. He demonstrates how difficult it can be for our children to control their drug addiction.

We discussed how it may be time to give him an ultimatum to work harder at his recovery or to find another place to live since he is now in his 20’s. Another halfway house or a three-quarters house may be a solution for now. This may or may not be the permanent solution for him but it will give his mom a chance to relax and restore some order and some peace in her home and a chance to refocus on her own mental, physical and spiritual well being.

This mom also attends meetings at “Bridge to Hope” and recommends it to all families confronted with substance abuse and addiction. Like PSST, Bridge to Hope meetings are free and open to the public.

Another mom attends our meetings as an observer (she works for a counseling agency) and as a mom of a teenager who has “experimented” with marijuana for a short time. We certainly welcome observers and are always glad to have another perspective at our PSST meetings.

Lloyd suggested to this mom that she should surprise her son by testing him for drug and alcohol use. Besides the relatively small chance that he might still be “experimenting” this reinforces the message that this mom will not tolerate drug/alcohol use in her home.

See Lloyd’s post “I’m Not Going to Pee in That Cup!”

We had a couple who have two sons. The older son has left the state because his recovery and their house rules were both too tough for him to follow. As the dad pointed out their house rules basically boiled down to stay clean and keep up with your recovery.

He is 18 and decided it was time to try life on his own. They heard through a mutual contact that their son was recently picked up while hitch hiking by an old acquaintance. This person runs a recovery program. They are hoping that this might be the person that can get through to their son.

Their younger son has recently completed his inpatient recovery program. He is getting very anxious because he will not be released from the facility until an alternative school is set up for him. His parents have made it perfectly clear to him that he will not be returning back to his high school.

The dad pulled a “PSSTwist” on his son. He actually gave it an “extra twist” and it appears to have worked.

They found an alternative school that they liked but were afraid their son would not accept their choice. So before he went to visit the school his dad let him know that “Lloyd thinks that you will hate this place and you will not want to go there.” After his visit he told his parents that Lloyd must be crazy, it is a really cool school.

Sometimes it is good to prepare our oppositional teens with a “PSSTwist”. You can do this, as this dad did, to gain an advantage to start a conversation.

When we visit our son in placement we learned to start tough conversations with “We want to tell you something that you may not like. So we just want you to know that you have our permission to get up and go back to your room if it is too hard for you to hear.” This worked in different ways. A couple times it kept him at the table to show us that he could take it. The couple times that he did get up and leave he did so quietly without an outburst or punching walls.

The other type of “PSSTwist” is used during the conversation.

Once again see Lloyd’s post “I’m Not Going to Pee in That Cup!”

Our teens are very good at throwing their own “Twist” into conversations with us parents. You need to really think on your feet and be able to counter with a good “PSSTwist” to get control of the conversation back. Toss them a few little agreements but keep the conversation going the direction that you want it to.

Something like a mom talking to her teen. “You’re right honey, I do need to change. I really need to stop worrying so much. Thanks for helping me see what a b—ch I have been. I think I will start by not worrying so much about hurting your feelings and work more on stopping you from hurting yourself. I think that we can start by taking away your cell phone. You know honey (lean in a little closer) I will try my best not to raise my voice any more. But I will continue to be a crazy b—ch if that is what it takes to keep you clean.”

The “PSSTwist” takes some practice to be ready to use it when needed. PSST meetings are a great place to get the practice and encouragement to be prepared. BTW - Don't be discouraged if you miss an opportunity to twist - there will be a next time.

Our last couple has an 18 year old son who relapsed in a few weeks following 6 months in an inpatient program. As a result he is in another inpatient program. It is still awhile until he is scheduled to complete his program but they are already thinking that it would not be a good thing for him to return home.

The parents feel that home is too much of a trigger for him. They are afraid that even if he completes this program and gets a full time job that it would take very little for him to relapse and feel comfortable attempting to be living off of his parents again. They feel he needs the responsibility of making it on his own to make his recovery work.

Their son also really needs to work on his selection of “friends”. Even what he calls his “Good Friends” are "iffy" at best and are probably the one thing that can bring him down the quickest.

The parents have also come to enjoy the calm and quiet in their home. They like the ability to come and go without the worry of who is doing what in their home while they are at work, on vacation or at a PSST Meeting.

What they have finally come to accept is that not all of our teens will make it after one recovery program (inpatient or outpatient). A wise lady told me when our son was in his first program, “Miracles happen, but not that often.” It can take multiple programs and a couple of years for some addicts to accept their recovery.

Don’t let this discourage you. Remember they didn’t become addicts overnight and it may take awhile longer for them to recover.

After break with coffee, tea, donuts, muffins, peaches and another beautiful cake (with vanilla mousse filling – Yummy!) we had time to try a couple of role plays.

The first role play, with Lloyd and Sally, was to explain to an adult son that he was going to need to find another place to live when he completes his inpatient program.

The son tried his best manipulative skills (you don’t care about me, I may as well use then, you just put me here so that you can party, vacation and go to those stupid PSST meetings, I’ll just go to jail then).

The mom responded with her best PSST skills of staying calm, presenting him with those little agreements and holding firm to her message that “You need to find another place to live.”

This is not ever a comfortable thing to do but then there are still a lot of addicts, teen and adult, living at home abusing drugs, alcohol and their families.

At PSST we are trying to demonstrate how to put an end to this behavior.

In a caustic co-dependent relationship the parent sacrifices having a worthwhile life of their own. It is important for parents to know how to meet their own needs, independent of what their child is going through. This is not the same as abandoning your child. This is refocusing on your own well being, and empowering yourself, to make hard choices for your child that they cannot make on their own.

The second role play, with Max and Rocco, was about surprising an expectantly clean teen (that had experimented previously) with a drug test. If all goes well they will give you a really strange look, probably question your sanity but will give you a sample to test, along with a severe eye roll.

If for any reason they seem to take it to the next level and refuse to cooperate, either not being able to give samples on command or being outright defiant, you can take this as a confirmation that they will test positive and you will need to deal with the consequences for them.

Once more see Lloyd’s post “I’m Not Going to Pee in That Cup!”

Those of us that could stayed around a little bit longer to add our closing comments and discussions. All of us parents left with a little more wisdom and confidence to face our teens and the world of addiction.

As a PSST Parent once told us “I never wanted to visit the world of addiction but now that I am here I will learn all that I can to help myself, my family and my child.”

On this first anniversary of being at this location we would all would like to sincerely thank Trinity Lutheran Church for the use of their first class facilities to allow PSST to empower parents who are learning how to manage their troubled teenagers.

This is another 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, October 16 at the PSST meeting at

Outreach Teen and Family Services located in Mt. Lebanon at 666 Washington Road

(There is free parking in the back lot).

1 comment:

Lloyd Woodward said...

Brilliant summary. How do you remember all that? I never see you taking notes at the meeting.


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