Quote of the Week

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

Healing 'holes' in brain provides Hope
Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sally's sister, Sandy, saved an article from the Palm Beach Post for us to share concerning the cause and treatment of addiction at the Hanley Center, a noted nonprofit addiction treatment facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Healing 'holes' in brain may help addicts, says West Palm doctor - New Research and Treatment

By Barbara Marshall
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

"Doctor, you have no idea how hard this is." Addicts say it all the time.

Looking at this motherly woman with the empathetic blue eyes, they ask, "What could you know about addiction, anyway?"

Dr. Barbara Krantz, the CEO and director of medicine at the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach, says gently, "Let me tell you my story."

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Dr. Krantz pulls up an image of a patient's brain on a computer screen. The man has been in and out of treatment for years, unable to stay off the drugs that are killing him.

Dr. Krantz, a 60-year-old former family doctor and one of the country's leading researchers in addiction medicine, zeroes in on what she thinks is the cause.

"There, see that?"

The SPECT image shows a brain that looks like Swiss cheese, as if something has been nibbling at the tissue.

The "holes," Krantz explains, are areas of reduced brain activity due to low blood flow. The largest "holes" are in the part that governs impulse control, called the prefrontal cortex.

To Dr. Krantz, the brain scan shows the patient can't stop using drugs because he can't control his impulsivity.

In other words, it wasn't lack of willpower or some character defect that made it impossible for the man to get clean. The part of his brain that might enable him to "just say no" was damaged.

"Begin to heal those "holes," which Dr. Krantz says is possible in a matter of months, and you may begin to heal the patient. Knowing what parts of the brain are affected by addiction also helps Hanley target therapeutic drugs, such as antidepressants, to enhance recovery.

"It's very, very cutting edge stuff," said Paul Kenny, a neurobiologist at Scripps Research Center in Jupiter, who is collaborating with Dr. Krantz on this research, which recently got Krantz and the Hanley center national attention in Time magazine.

In the world of addiction medicine, Dr. Krantz is the link between discoveries in the lab and their application to patients, Kenny said.

Former state senator Tom Rossin, the chairman of Hanley's board of directors, calls Dr. Krantz "One of those caring doctors we all would like to have but she's also one of the country's premier experts in the field of addiction."

She is passionate about demonstrating that addiction is a disease with a biological basis, like high blood pressure.

For more information on SPECT(single photo emission computer tomography) click on:



Thirty years ago, Dr. Krantz learned it the hardest way possible.

It began in the late 1970s with severe headaches - stress headaches, she thinks now, but then labeled migraines. She was 29, one of the first female family doctors in Palm Beach County. She and her then-husband had a 6-month-old baby when she went to a neurologist, desperate for relief from the pounding in her head.

He gave her a shot of Demerol and her wobbly world slid miraculously back into place. The throbbing headache was replaced by an seductive euphoria that let her float through hours of work and still be up scrubbing floors at 5 a.m. Within months, she was injecting Demerol daily, confident she wasn't addicted.

"My perception of an addict was a skid row bum, shooting heroin. I knew I wasn't an addict because I was a mom and it was prescription medicine," she said.

The drug gripped tightly, quickly. She says she was addicted within six to eight months. When making house calls to terminally ill patients who needed pain control, she'd give the patient a shot from a vial of Demerol and save the rest for herself.

In 1981, her mother pushed her into treatment. Eventually, she spent six months at a program for addicted physicians. She was perplexed, even angry, that no one there, at a facility that specialized in treating doctors, "could answer my questions about what was happening in my brain."

She resumed her practice, but still felt fragile and off-kilter. "The first two years (in recovery,) you just don't feel right. My brain wasn't back," Krantz said. "I still didn't have a clue about neurochemistry."

All the while, she was dealing with the public perception, even among fellow physicians, that her addiction stemmed from weakness and moral deficiency.

"The guilt and shame that I experienced for the first two years of my recovery were close to lethal" Dr. Krantz said.

In 1999, following several personal tragedies, she founded "His Great Commission", a non-profit medical outreach program, in his memory. For 10 years (before she had to close the program last year) Krantz and other volunteers ventured into the county's roughest neighborhoods, offering free basic medical care. Addicts all over the county grew to trust the tall blond woman who didn't preach and refused to judge.

"Not everybody can do what Barbara did," said Sandra White, of United Deliverance Church in West Palm Beach, who volunteered alongside Dr. Krantz. "It was admirable and risky."

Today, Dr. Krantz has built a national reputation as a lecturer and was quoted in September in a Time magazine article on prescription drug addiction, which she calls "Pharmageddon."

In 1990 there were barely 6,000 deaths from accidental drug poisoning in the U.S.

By 2007 that number had nearly quintupled, to 27,658.

In 15 states and the District of Columbia, unintentional overdoses have, for the first time in modern memory, replaced motor-vehicle incidents as the leading cause of accidental death; and in three more states it's close to a tie.

To read more about “Pharmageddon” click on:



These days, three immutable certainties guide her life: addiction is a medical disease, God exists and as she knows intimately, the human spirit can soar above heartbreak with purpose and hope.

A carved wooden sign on her desk reads: "Care Deeply."

Tellingly, it faces visitors. Dr. Krantz doesn't need reminding.

Copyright © 2010 The Palm Beach Post. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 Time Inc. All rights reserved


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Parent helps to prevent relapse
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, November 27, 2010

NEW COMMENT: This role highlights the importance of setting up a good solid recovery plan while the teen is in rehab BEFORE he is released. Of course, it may be that this window of opportunity has passed or perhaps your teen was never in rehab. In that case look at every difficulty such as relapse, violations of contract, defiance, crucial meetings with therapist or probation officer as new windows of opportunity where you might gain a commitment from teen to follow a solid contract. Then, hold him to that contract. This sort of goes along with the Should I give him space post, and it does provide more thought on that same topic.


Role Play: Parent Helps To Prevent Relapse is reprinted here. It was originally posted March 2007.

Dad: Hey, can we talk a minute?

Son: What's up, Yo?

Dad: Well, I've noticed that you only went to a few meetings last week.

Son: Dad- [making a face of disgust] I know when I need to go to a meeting!

Dad: Yeah, but we agreed on a meeting a day for the first 90 days. Then we said we'd talk.

Son: You know you really kill me. You really do. You think cause you went to a few of Lloyd's meetings, and a couple of Gateway family meetings that you're some kind of expert on addiction! You probably think you're going to write a book about your experiences, don't ya?

Dad: Well, I don't know about that...

Son: [cutting off his father] Well, don't quit your day job! I think after what I've been though, I know how to stay clean. You never even been addicted you said. So, you don't really know, do ya?

Dad: Well, no but...

Son: [cutting off his father] Listen Dad, I know you worry, but my sponsor said something that's important. And HE knows about recovery, cause he's in it- you know what I mean? Well, he says that you and Mom are trying to work my recovery for me. And that just makes me angry. In fact, if anything THAT makes me want to shoot dope! So, you should back off, Yo!


Son: Anyway, you think I would ever do anything to make me go back into rehab? You think I want to get sent away? You're crazy! I hated that place! I will NEVER do dope again! I'm to smart for that shyt now man- no way! You think I'm stupid?

Dad: Ok, ok, ok, let's back up here can we? Just hold your horses [dad puts up the traffic sign for stopping traffic].

Dad: First of all, no I do not think that you are stupid. Far from it. Second, you are right, I am not an addict and I don't know a lot of stuff about it- [laughing] AND I’m not starting my book yet so YOU back off, Yo!

Son: O.K.- that's good! [struggles to put up a smile- but it's not working as he is too upset to relax].

Dad: Son, do you know who taught me the most important stuff about addicitions?

Son: Abe Twerski, when he gave that lecture at Gateway?

Dad: Ooh- that was a good lecture- but no not him. Not at all.

Son: Who then? I know you're gonna tell me anyway! [Rolling eyes].

Dad: You did. When you were in rehab.

Son: [Looks surprised]

Dad: Yes, son in rehab you taught me that you need to go to a meeting a day for at least the first 90 days. And you taught me that you need to go to those meetings regardless of whether you feel like going.


Dad: And you taught me that you need to cut yourself off from all the people that you used with. Remember that list that you came up with? That list of people that you need to stay away from? Well I learned a lot from you coming up with that list- you really gave that list a lot of thought. And I was surprised at how many names were on it! I was proud of how much work you put into that. Well, I see that you have started to hang with Denny. [pause] and Son, we both know he is on that list.

Son: Ahhh Dad! He don't use no more. He's goes to meetins now!

Dad: Nevertheless, he is on the list- and he is someone you shot dope with.

Son: You think I'm stupid- I will never do that junk again, man, you make me mad talking like this - [getting louder] you trying to work my program for me!

Dad: Regardless, we are sticking with the plan that you came up with in the rehab. We are not changing plans now. Son, trust me on this one; we ARE NOT changing plans now.

Son: But, even my sponsor says...

Dad: Regardless, we are following the plan we came up with in treatment. It's non-negotiable.

Son: I'm not going to all those meetings anymore, Dad. I mean- I'll go when I need to go that's all. And Denny's not a bad guy like you think- he's my friend - and you can't pick my friends for me neither!
Dad: [moving closer with strong eye contact the father says slowly and softly] That is unacceptable, Son.

Son: You can't make me do that stuff!

Dad: Son, we can do a lot- and if you want, your mother and I will discuss with you what we are prepared to do. But maybe it's enough for now if you just trust me- trust that I am prepared to do whatever I need to do to see that you follow the plan that you came up with in rehab. That's all.

Son: [walks off in anger, muttering obsenities]

Dad: [ Lets him go.]

We have all learned a great deal about the signs of relapse. As Mary pointed out, overconfidence and anger can be signs. Home Alone hit on a lot of them, including the fact that a relapse happens in the teenager's mind before he actually takes "the first one." Hanging out with old friends and attending fewer meetings can be signs. But what is a parent to do to help?

Preparation can often be the most helpful thing. For example, what was the plan that your teenager came up with while he was in the rehab? Or what plan did he come up with before the "stinkin thinkin" set in? Stick to that plan, even if your teen no longer believes that he needs to do that. Don't be distracted from the recovery plan by the attitude of your teenager. Yes, we wish that he always kept that "recovery high" that he had when he first came home from the rehab, but since addiction is "cunning, baffling, and powerful," it is often the case that we don't get our parent-wishes. In general, don't be distracted. Insist that your teen follows the plan.

find Original post and comments here


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Summary Nov 20, 2010 PSST Meeting - Mt Lebanon
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meet the PSST Parents III - Summary Nov 20, 2010 PSST Meeting - Mt Lebanon

Muppets Copyright © Disney. All rights Reserved

We had another terrific turnout Saturday for our PARENT SURVIVAL SKILLS TRAINING (PSST) Meeting at OUTREACH TEEN AND FAMILY SERVICES in Mt Lebanon; with our PSST Professionals, a lot of remarkable parents and a lot of delicious food for our PSSThanksgiving Celebration.

The meeting was led by Val, Lloyd and Rebecca from Allegheny County Probation and Family Therapists Kathie T and 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, encouragement, understanding and much appreciated humor.

The meeting was attended by 18 parents representing 14 families: alias' Max, Daisy, Jane, Alice, Sally & Rocco, June, Candy, Cheryl & Jim (This week's new PSST Parents), Lily, Violet, Lois, Jessica & Roger, Becky & Tom, and Marcie.

To make sure those who needed help the most had the opportunity to discuss their issues Lloyd asked them to share first.


Max has been coming to PSST for almost a year with her husband Mel. Max and Mel have two sons, David and Michael in recovery. David, their younger son is doing well at an out-of-state boarding school. Michael has been doing well at school and has a job. He has been following curfew and has been staying clean.

But when Michael came home Friday, Mel had a bad feeling. Max tested Michael for alcohol and the test came up positive. Michael said the test had to be wrong because he wasn't drinking. Max agreed to try a second test (and kind of quietly wished that it would be negative). When this one came up positive Max asked Michael to explain what really happened. Michael finally admitted that when he asked one of his friends to share their drink he thought it was just fruit drink. After he took a drink he realized it had been spiked with alcohol. Mel wasn't buying his story but Max wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to talk with Michael. Max did very well; she did not get into accusations and arguments. She went over what happened with Michael and let him know that he would need to call his P.O. let him know. He would then have to accept whatever consequences came.

Click on "Should I give him some space" for more details.

Lloyd pointed out that Max handle a tough situation well. Because she had built a good relationship with Michael he felt that he could talk openly with her. He admitted that he had used alcohol. If the specifics of the story do not ring true is not that important.

If your teenager admits to using don't get lost in the details about the hows and the whys.

Use their admission as an opportunity
to re-establish the power of the parents. Use it as a reason to amend your teens contract as needed. Talk it over with your child's counselor and P.O. (if they have one). Remember: Do not keep secrets - secrets enable your teens addiction. Establish some appropriate consequences and work with them on how they can avoid the situation the next time.

Max and Mel are working together to help their sons through their difficulties and their family is on the road to recovery. As we all know that is not always a smooth road but they keep going forward. Less than a year ago Max would have had difficulty handling this situation.

I think that Max deserves a PSSTrophey for coming such a long way in such a short time.

You managed things well Max.
Thanks for being a PSST leader and for continuing to share at our meetings and on the blog.

Jessica and Roger have a 16 year old son Herman who was released from an inpatient program last week. Regrettably it seems that Jessica and Roger were the only ones that understood that Herman was not ready to come directly home. As they expected Herman came home and his anger issues kicked in immediately.

He did his best all week to manipulate and take back the power from his parents. When Jessica and Roger showed him that they were not going to bend, much less break, he acted out even more. Herman is cut off from the people, the places and the drugs that got him in trouble and he is having no success at regaining power. Reality is hitting him hard. His family will not accept this behavior. Jessica and Roger will have an opportunity now to work with his P.O. to enforce his contract and show him that there is a "New Sheriff in Town."

We parents at PSST understand how difficult this is. We all need to take back control of our family and our own lives in order to save our teen's life.

PSST has provided a few somewhat uncomfortable but valuable lessons on handling our adolescent’s addiction and "How to Talk Less & Act More. These are by no means the easiest methods to make use of but they work.

Realize that we are not alone in this. At PSST there a lot of caring people who understand exactly what we are going through and who are here to offer a lot of support and encouragement.

Thanks for coming to PSST Jessica and Roger. You are going through a tough phase of your son's recovery and we are here for you.

Jane has a son Elroy who is about to turn 18. He has a hearing pending soon.

Jane has worked hard to get Elroy started on his recovery. This is in spite of a lack of cooperation by Elroy and a lack of help from her husband George. Elroy won't attend his I.O.P. and George does not want to deal with his son’s apathetic behavior.

Unfortunately there are no quick fixes for addictive behavior.

However once our teens are in the system, or facing a hearing, they will need to quickly learn how to take responsibility for their own actions. Then they will have to learn how to deal with the consequences resulting from their behavior. This is where the parent needs to detach. It is not the parent's bad behavior and it will not be the parent's consequences.

Remind your teen prior to the juvenile court hearing that we can be there to back them up or we can be there to make sure that the truth will be told. No lies, no secrets, no covering up and No Parental Guilt.

Thanks for continuing with PSST Jane – Taking back the power is not an easy task but you are doing it. Take some time to refocus on yourself and your other kids.


We stopped to do a Role Play concerning a teen that has used and has admitted to it. The parents have discussed what they think are appropriate consequences (i.e. no going out indefinitely, no driving lessons, none hanging out with the friends he was using with.

We started the conversation with permission for the teen to go back to their room if they were not ready to deal with it at this time.

The general idea of the Role Play was to take advantage of the "Admission" by the teen that they used. As we stated above, don't get stuck on the details of story of how they came to use, even if they do not ring true. The important thing is they admitted using. Move onto what steps you, the parent, will take including altering their Home Contract. If they are still listening try to discuss what steps they will take to avoid using. Make sure that they agree to work with their counselor / Probation Officer.


We took some time for our PSSThanksgiving Celebration to share some wonderful food.

Then we had a chance to share what we are thankful for...

...for PSST and all the people who make up PSST, past and present.

...for Lloyd and Val's conviction that a troubled child cannot work a successful recovery if they return home to the same environment they left.

...for finding a place that we can talk openly with other parents who share similar issues.

...for understanding that we didn't cause our teenager's problem.

...for gaining some hope for the future.

...for having someone to catch us when we trip up.

...for getting a lot of support and encouragement.

...for recognizing that addiction issues are family issues.

...for seeing our child get "one more day" clean.

...for all of our PSST friends with Big Shoulders.

...for all of our PSST friends with Big Hearts.


Becky and Tom have a 16 year old son in an inpatient recovery program while awaiting his hearing. He admitted that he understands and accepts that he is there because of his behavior. That is an important first step.

Another step, while your teen is in an inpatient program, is to discuss the tough issues with them. This is the time to begin to present the new ground rules at home and to begin working on their contract. If they are going to act out, or get angry, this is the best time while they are under the care of professionals and away from drugs and alcohol.

And, of course, the other step is detaching and ending your codependent behavior. Detaching with Love
is a tricky but very necessary step in regaining your emotional health. It is a lifelong commitment to one's recovery and is something that needs to be practiced daily. There are a lot of triggers for parents that can start codependent behaviors all over again.

You can still love your child, but you need to recognize when your relationship has become too entangled, co-dependent and unhealthy.

Thanks for becoming part of PSST Becky and Tom; we appreciate your participation and hope things continue to go well for you.

Our new couple this week was Cheryl and Jim. Their son Andy is at his second inpatient recovery program and they have worked out a lot of their issues by trial and error. They told me they wish they would have discovered PSST a while back. They could have resolved Andy's issues a little bit quicker. They are dealing with issues now with their other kids.

Brothers and sisters of addicted teens can feel ignored, pressure to be the good kid and wonder why their trouble-making brother / sister gets all of the attention. We have on occasion had a brother or sister attend a PSST Meeting to express their feelings.

Sally suggested that she would really like to hear from brothers and sisters of addicted teens on the blog at sallyservives@gmail.com

Thanks for joining us at PSST Cheryl and Jim. We hope to see you at more PSST Meetings.

Candy's 18 year old daughter Tori is doing well in a recovery program for young girls. Candy and her husband Aaron had the fortitude to stand up in court several times this summer. They did all they could to see that their daughter Tori was returned to an inpatient recovery program. Like many of us, Candy and Aaron’s family have a while to heal themselves along with Tori. Addiction is a family disease and we all need to continue to work at our recovery.

Thanks for being part of PSST Candy. You and Aaron have kept your daughter clean, safe and alive.

Daisy has a 15 year old son, Ozzie, in an Inpatient Recovery Program.

He is there and he has been clean for almost 70 days because Daisy also stood up in court. PSST has enabled us parents to take on the power we need to see that our teenagers receive the help that they need. We appreciate the effort you have made in just a few months Daisy.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Daisy. You have shown us all how well Act 53, and a determined mom, can work for our teens.

Violet has an 18 year old son Sal who is in a halfway house.

Violet has gained a lot of power since August and let her son know that:
I am holding you accountable for Your actions; I am not holding your actions against you.”

Sal is now teaching Martial Arts at the Halfway House.

Thanks for being part of PSST Violet. You’re helping your son and your helping our new PSST Parents. Make sure that you take care of yourself.

Alice's son Ed has recently completed his inpatient program and is attending school. He is also dreaming of starting up his landscaping business again. Ed and Ralph were at a Church Men's Meeting.

Thanks Alice & Ralph. You two have added a lot of encouragement and assistance to PSST

Sally & Rocco have not seen Cisco since our "beginning of the month" visit with him. We've had good reports and have been generally pleased. Cisco's program does not allow for a visit on Thanksgiving Day. We are taking advantage of this and recharging our batteries with a mini-Thanksgiving vacation. We strongly encourage any parents with teens safely in an inpatient program to do the same (even if it is just a two or three day get-away).

You need to have some time for yourself again.

As the saying goes, Sally and I continue to take our family's recovery one day at a time.

Marcie has a 16 year old son, Chuck, who is awaiting his day in Juvenile Court and has been assigned a Probation Officer. Marcie is going to work with the P.O. to see that her son get the help he needs. Her son has been up and down in his behavior the last few weeks. Chuck’s time at his Intensive Outpatient Program has been increased because of his attitude and attempts to manipulate his parents. He has tested clean for drugs but his mom is still concerned that he may be using K-2 Spice and alcohol.

Marcie has the conflicting counselor concerns as Max - see the "Should I give him some space" above concerning how much space should you give a teen in their recovery.

Now that Chuck has a P.O. Marcie will have some much needed support to help him move in the right direction. She cannot control what happens at her husband Linus’ house or improve Linus’ attitude. For now she will work with the P.O. and the system.

Chuck will also need to prior to the juvenile court hearing that his mom can be there to back him up or she can be there to make sure that the truth is told.

No lies, no secrets, no covering up and No Parental Guilt.

It is not easy Marcie but you are doing the right thing – Keep attending the PSST Meetings, we’re here for you.

Lois has a 16 year old daughter Meg who is facing a hearing on DUI charges.

She said that Meg seems to be keeping things under control and is behaving. The friend that Meg got into trouble with contacted Lois to apologize (for what it is worth).

Teens in Pennsylvania can have their driver's license suspended for underage drinking. Each time they are found guilty the suspension can grow. This can be used as a good consequence for them using alcohol.

Thank you for coming to PSST Lois. We’re here to support you.

Remember it is okay to be angry with your teen. Just be careful how you express your anger with them. Parents can channel their anger, in a good way, to let go of our guilt and hold our teen accountable for their actions and responsible for whatever consequences they receive based on their actions. Trying to "get them off" of their charges or paying their fines and restitution is just another form of "Enabling Behavior". It's wrong.

June and Lily, good PSST Moms and good PSST friends, made it to the meeting and were both good enough to concede their time so that others could share.

We really appreciate both of you at PSST June and Lily. Please keep on coming to the meetings. June has done a great job of sharing her story on the blog. We would like to see Lily share hers as well as any of you parents out there. You never know what is going to help another parent out there.

We had 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.

Note from Rocco: Wow. That was another Great turnout! It was also a lot to remember. If I missed anything, anybody, or got something wrong, or you just want to comment please do so at the bottom of this post or send your comments to sallyservives@gmail.com

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, December 4 for the next PSST meeting and our continued holiday "pot-luck" celebration at:

Allegheny County Eastern Probation Office in Wilkinsburg.

Please consider making it to the next PSST Meeting. We are not here to judge you we're here to reach out and help you.


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Should I give him some space? (Meat or Potatoes? Written by Max and Lloyd)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More and more we are hearing parents ask us this question. My son's therapist says I should give him some space. At PSST you tell us to do he opposite. How do I know whose advice to follow?

Excerpt:  "But, I said I've been trying things my way for about 4 years now, and no good has come of it. It is time to take a leap of faith and do things a different way". It was scary for me because I assumed I was giving up all of my control - but in fact I gained more by hovering less." (Max)

I'm not saying that the focus at IOP (Intensive Outpatient) and the focus at PSST isn't a bit different. Of course our approach and their approach is a little different; I think of us as two different circles or two different schools of thought. Still, our circles overlap more than they don't.

At our last meeting a parent asked this question; however, it was at the very end of the meeting and time did not permit a complete response. I then had an email exchange with Max, a PSST mother that helps clear up our stand on the "IOP Give him some space" and the "PSST Hold him accountable" positions.

First, Max's reply to my email expressing concern that perhaps I was a bit pushy when I gave her some ideas on her Son's relapse and hoping I wasn't too assertive when I asked her to do a role-play. We had a large meeting and I just wanted to squeeze a little role-play in so that we could get back to sharing and Max agreed to help me out. I was worried that I bullied her into participating :-(

Max to Lloyd


Thank you so much for this note, as I am in full-blown WIS syndrome at the moment!

I totally respect and appreciate everything you have to say and opinions offered. I was very down yesterday, but not so much because of you and doing a role-play. Michael has been doing so well for a good stretch, and obviously, it hurts when he falls.  My husband, Mel, and I agree that there needs to be a substantial response to the relapse.

We agree with much of what you suggested. However, we will modify a bit as we see fit for Michael and his particular personality and circumstances.

Today he is meeting with his mentor, tonite his NA meeting, and tomorrow his Probation Officer. Car privileges are gone for now, and we are revisiting the contract. He will talk to his therapist when she returns on 11/30. Most important to me, he feels bad and scared and he will have to sit with that for a while.

Just so you know, one of the most valuable things you told me yesterday was probably one of the simplest ideas. One problem I have is when the kid is (obviously to parents) lying. We point out "but it couldn't have been that way; if it had, it would be such and such". Of course the kid gets more defensive and doesn't have the nerve to come clean. I think Mel and I are too stuck on what the actual circumstances were. So when you said "it doesn't much matter if his version is accurate or not - he is clearly hanging out with the wrong kids, so revisit the contract". THAT made huge sense to me,and it is something I have no issue addressing. I have found that I must be 100% confidant in what ever I am going to do or I won't be able to enforce it properly.    [ Lying post]

We don't always have to do exactly what is suggested, either. We can tweak things to fit our family, our ability to carry things out, and our kid's personality. Sometimes parents are torn - which way to go, therapist or PO? (good title for a post) - I really feel (at least this is true for me) that a combination of GOOD IDEAS AND INFORMATION works best. Sort of like when you have one spouse who is very black and white, and the other who may be more emotional and wants to talk things out more. The combination is golden.

So, I like PSST because it presents the more black and white, concrete ideas that will help when dealing with the kid's behavior. I use the Gateway therapist to sound off more on the disease, and her opinion of using behaviors and signs to look out for. I then like to make a stew, and have both meat and potatoes to offer. Probably my husband would do ONLY what PSST suggests, but I see no harm in augmenting ideas with more info.

So, you pushy SOB, you haven't frightened me. Your input is always appreciated, and I will be there next meeting! Have a great holiday


Here is Lloyd back to Max:


Hahaha I enjoyed reading this. Thanks and of course we encourage people to make a stew and yes you and Mel are the Resident Experts on Michael  :-)

I am writing a post on "Give Him Some Space" verses "Hold Him Accountable."  My theory is that there are two circles or schools of thoughts. They are different; however the circles overlap more often than people realize. For example, the nagging parent needs to give their kid some space. The over-controlling parent needs to give their kid some space. To me that doesn't mean you start letting the kid make life-threatening or recovery-threatening choices; however, both IOP and probation don't think that nagging and trying to control every issue e.g., whether or not he returns his girlfriend's phone messages is worth the effort.

You will remember that at PSST we caution about ways to approach the Oppositional Teenager. We know that the more you nag, lecture, advise, or try to reason with your teenager the more they likely they will be to put up a wall. If we could reason with our kids and if that worked there would probably be no need for PSST because the whole lot of us are pretty reasonable people.

Sometimes the parent who is not giving the kid any space (nag nag nag and lecture) isn't holding the kid accountable at all. On the other hand, sometimes the parent who is enforcing limits with the kid is giving him a lot of emotional space- i.e., no lectures, no nagging, no "reasoning" The parent who is giving the teen that kind of emotional space knows that none of that helps- it just pushes teens away and puts up walls.

Another good example of possible overlap is the GED verses the High School Diploma. Parents love to weigh in on this one and there are strong values at play. Why not give the kid some space? A teenager can be successful either way. A teenager can stay clean either way. Lots of parents will not give their teen any space with this one. But see, the parent who is all fired up on the GED-isn't good enough thing might be the same parent who when it comes to who the kid associates with let's him go with Johnny So and So who is known to drink and do drugs.

"Give him some space, he has to make some mistakes," the GED-isn't good enough parent might say. But their kid is coming out of a rehab! HELLO! Sorry, if IOP says give him some space on that one but I beg to differ.  We know too much about the consequences of that bad decision. So, here you have parents not giving space on the GED-isn't good enough thing but giving space on the drug-abusing peer situation. One is life- threatening, one is not.

In summary, while there are differences between the two circles there are big overlaps. Huge ones. Both circles recommend that the parents give a kid some space. It's more a question of give him space about what? These teens have to find themselves as individuals. They can not just be little Mini-Mes of the parents. They actually have to find something to rebel about. It's important that they rebel. Having a tattoo or not might be a good way actually to rebel, all the better that it drives a lot of parents crazy.

Back off I say and give the teen some space. Let him make some bad decisions and learn from those bad decisions. Just don't do it on the life-threatening bad decisions. He'll have plenty of time to make those life-threatening bad decisions once he moves out and is on his own.

Anyway, I liked your email. If it helps my post do you mind if I use your email? I could use your pen name or I could just leave it from an anonymous parent?


Max to Lloyd #2


Quote away, I say! Or, just plagiarize if you must!

I totally and completely agree with all below. Here is what I have experienced in IOP. When the therapists say "back off and give a kid space", they mean exactly what you do. For example, they just told one of the parents to back off, give her daughter space. You can see by how this parent explains her situation, that she nags incessantly and tries to control [everything]. I have been there and heard how and what and why they are saying 'back off" to her. I'm afraid that she doesn't understand what they mean in full, and she refuses to try, or is so afraid of "giving in." So, she gets angry and feels like a "bad parent" when she is at Gateway.

Perhaps if the counselors said "back off in areas of school and dress, etc, but take control when it comes to dangerous situations" it would be better understood. Or, perhaps they are more liberal in the "let them fall on their face" quote than you are. But I think you overlap as you said more than not. That is why your post will be important.

When parents feel that they can and should control SOMETHING, they feel better. Likewise, when they realize it isn't their place anymore to check five times on the homework, it can be a relief. There are some parents, who refuse to look at their own personalities and behaviors as things that should be tweaked a bit, in order to have better control in their home. I know real change came in our family when I changed some habits that I thought I never could or would change. But, I said "I've been trying things my way for about 4 years now, and no good has come of it. It is time to take a leap of faith and do things a different way". It was scary for me because I assumed I was giving up all of my control - but in fact I gained more by hovering less.

Which brings me to GED vs. diploma. One of the most difficult and painful things that I went through was adjusting my brain to what Michael was really all about academically. Yes, he is adopted. But I thought "by osmosis, he will have the same desire to learn and go to college and read and be like us". I have gone from pushing him in advanced classes (he has a gifted IQ - so what!) to telling him to go get his GED if that's what he wanted. I really mean it too - it is his life, not mine, and if he "makes a mistake" by not graduating, it's his mistake and it will be up to him to do the work needed for a GED or whatever else. One thing is for sure - that is not a life and death risk.

The Great OZ has spoken. Quote away, I say! Or, just plagiarize if you must!

MaxLloyd to Max #2

Thanks Max; I like your analogy of the meat and potatoes. Some people can't stand it when their food touches on the plate. They want to keep everything neat and separate. This is the meat, this is the vegetables and over here we have the main course, yummy meat. Oh look out! The meat and vegetables touched! Oh no!

Well, this parenting thing and getting treatment and advice from different places sometimes gets a bit messy. Sometimes the one touches the other. And also there is more than one way to skin a kid. And teenagers are different too. So, make a stew and if that's working for you, we don't argue with success at PSST. If on the other hand, things aren't working out the way you think they should, we'll help you make a stew that might work a little better.

Note on being in charge at home:

There is one other area of possible difference although I think it's more a difference in emphasis. At PSST we believe that there are some things a parent does to maintain a position of power. These things may or may not have to do with things that lead to drug abuse, but sometimes parents maintain a certain stance just because.

That's not to say that the stance should be crowding the teenager. We don't believe, as is said above in that approach. Hovering, nagging, making every minute a teaching moment, having the last word all the time, that's not what we are talking about. On the other hand, getting up in the morning is a good place for a parent to assert that they indeed are in charge. You can read about our recommended approach here. If your teenager has a drug problem then it's important to make sure that he gets up in the morning. If he doesn't have one or if he is in recovery it is still a good idea.

There are two things at play here: one, whose in charge? And two, if a teenager sleeps in in the morning then he will be up at night. Who supervises at night? If your house is like most people's house the parents sleep at night. Also, a lot of addicts will tell you that the urges to do drugs are stronger at night. There you have it. Still, rather than contradict what we said above it compliments it. If you are clearly in charge, then it's easier to back off and let your teen have some space. If your teen is in charge then it is very difficult to give him some space and instead parents tend to nag, hover, obsess EXACTLY because they are trying to compensate for not being in charge.

Being the one in charge has more to do with boundaries and knowing the areas in which you are NOT COMFORTABLE. It's not about over-controlling the youth.

Some people argue that if the teenager sleeps in and then has to suffer the consequences of bad grades for not showing up in school or not showing up in school on time then that will suffice. Perhaps. But if you have a teenager recovering from drug abuse he might relapse before he gets the bad grades. Perhaps at IOP they advise you to let your teenager sleep in and suffer the consequences for that. That has been known to work with some teenagers. I disagree for our teenagers. For other teens that may not have an abusive relationship with drugs I think that might work; however, I still feel that it makes sense to have a rule that teens get up perhaps with exceptions on the weekend if your teen is doing OK in other areas. Even with that example, we don't recommend nagging them incessantly to get up. Just have a good system and stick to it. Once you have a good system there is much less nagging.

So, there is room for healthy disagreement here. We believe that parents should be in charge.  Nature abhors a vacuum so if there isn't an adult in charge then a teenager will be.  Still, it should be done with understanding that you can't control everything and that even if you could you wouldn't want to do that.  Teens must rebel, they must be able to make some bad decisions and thats how they find out who they really are.

Good questions to ask yourself:
How does your teen rebel?  Is there an acceptable outlet for that?

Can you back off when it comes to decisions that are not drug / alcohol related and are mostly about the teenager rather than something that affects the whole family?

Can you let your teen make some decisions, knowing that some of them will look like bad ones?

Do you tend to nag a lot?

Do you have long lectures?

Do you feel that every moment needs to be a teaching moment?

Do you have to prove to your teenager that you are right all the time?

Do you spend time with your teenager where you are not dealing with control issues?

Your teenager should be right sometime. Perhaps you could be wrong. That's OK depending on what the circumstances are. Perhaps your recovering teenager wants a new sponsor. Maybe you liked the old one. Perhaps your teen wants a new girlfriend and you liked the old one. His decision- UNLESS the new sponsor doesn't go to meetings and doesn't work the steps. UNLESS the new girlfriend smokes weed a lot.

Perhaps your teenager wants a tattoo. Maybe you should consider this as an acceptable way to be a rebel. UNLESS, the tattoo is really way to large or UNLESS the tattoo is on the face, the hands, or the neck.  UNLESS the tattoo is a marijuana leaf. But to have a rule that there are no tattoos, just says to the teenager that they have to find some other area in which to rebel OR just be defiant and go get that huge marijuana leaf on your chest!

Of course if your teen is allowed to make other bad decisions and fail at those then the tattoo might not be the way that you as a parent allow them some space.  Maybe you just can't live with that.  That can be OK also. Maybe they have to wait until they are 18 for that tattoo.  The bottom line is pick your spots. Pick the areas where you give them space. Pick the areas where you are non-negotiable.

Enforce rules.  Everything can't be about warnings.  Have consequences that fit the violations.  Don't use more power than you need to make your point.  "If you have a rule enforce it.  If you are unable or are unwilling to enforce a rule- don't have it." (Gregory Bodenhamer, author of BACK IN CONTROL).

Probably now the food on the plate is all mixing in. Ok, make a stew then cause it's all going to the same place anyway!

Related Post: What to Do When Your teenager beats you up with words from his therapist.


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A response to Sallys I'll Count My Blessings Twice Post
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, November 20, 2010

Click on image to go to Sally's Post

I started a comment to Sally's beautiful post, This Year at Thanksgiving, I'll Count My Blessings Twice.   Well, I couldn't keep my comment short enought to be a comment, so my comment to Sally's post has to be this post...

Thanks so much for sharing this.

When someone says, "You are not alone," I've always thought of that as a rather glib remark. How do they know I'm not alone? Who is with me? Why do I feel so alone then? Of course, the person saying that means well but if I feel alone, then I am indeed alone.

You speak of feeling lonley without Cisco and how sad you feel about his empty room. When you do that I see how you are reaching out to other parents who have teens in placement. You are not alone because you are in touch with and thinking of others that also feel the emptiness of having a teen in placement. They also feel the "empty room."

The way you put it, it is a beautiful thing. Tragic yes. But beautiful also. And I guess at some juncture every parent faces that point where the bird leaves the nest. Tragic? Sure. For one thing it means we are getting on. Getting older.

For another, don't we all miss our little ones? I can be with my adult children and completely enjoy and (I hope) appreciate what unique cool people they have become. But I still miss them as six year-olds? I couldn't make up enough stories to satisfy my six year-olds?  Eight?  Endless video games and books.  Ten was a terrific age. We could talk about things we never talked about before. Twelve was incredible! At 12, I watched my children become adults.

You know what was so terrific then? My kids needed me. They needed me to be with them and love them. Now, sorry, but not so much. Oh sure it's possible that I underestimate how important I still am to them and I hope so, but we all know that it's just not the same.

Alone or not I think it's just fine to miss the days when both of your children went up the hill in the woods looking for that special tree. Someday, Cisco may go up that hill or some hill like that again. He may walk it with his children. You may not be around or you may not be able to get out like that anymore. And of course he will remember the glorious days when he walked it with you and Rocco.

Sad as it is to reflect and miss those days wouldn't it be sadder still if we never had those terrific times? How sad to think that at our age there may be people who remember or miss very little. We are the lucky ones to miss the days of such tender love. We are the lucky ones to miss and remember when things were new and fresh in our little one's minds.

When I saw Cisco Thursday night I told him that I envied him this coming weekend. He of course wanted to know why.

Me: You are going to your first convention at Seven Springs.

Cisco: Sure, but I'll be with Beta House and I'll have a curfew and stuff.

Me: Sure you will, but from now through the rest of your life when you go to any convention you will remember your first convention, when you were back with Beta House. You will remember being young, being excited about the newness of your recovery, being in awe of all the meetings, all the speakers, and in awe of all the dynamic personalities (characters some would say) that you will meet. This is the one that you will measure all future conventions by. This is going to be the convention that you will go to with people that you feel close to. This is the one that will mean so much to you later and you aren't even there yet."

You know, he seemed to get it. But I knew he was too young to really get it. But even if he didn't “get it.” he will get it someday because he will be the one remembering. And that's wonderful that he is making something so significant in his life that he will remember it and miss it.

Even at future conventions he will someday miss the one he is at now. Even if he ends up feeling like it was horrible, which I doubt, he would still someday miss it. You just have to be older like us to appreciate that.

And even though we are older and we feel as though our best memories are behind us, we are if we are lucky making new memories too. Sally, the way you and Rocco reached out to parents at our meeting today is already an awesome memory for me. What a powerful group of people! What an enormous amount of courage, conviction and wisdom at our meeting this morning! So much of that meeting was you and Rocco and what you have done to bring this group of people together.

We are the lucky ones. Even when we ponder the tragically beautiful and miss the early years, we are the lucky ones.

And to think you and Rocco raised that handsome, young, intelligent, and caring human being! He is such the excited healthy 18 year-old and everything in his life is new and fresh. Like when he and his brother went up that hill looking for the perfect tree. You gave him that experience and today he is once again walking up that hill at the Convention and he is looking for something as special as that perfect tree. At least in part it is because you and Rocco taught him the wonderment of the quest. You taught him to look for the perfect tree. And you and Rocco taught him that if he took on the quest with people that he loved, that that alone would insure that what was found would indeed be special.

Of course, you and Rocco also kept him alive and healthy hoping for the miracle. And now I feel like you're so close. But there are other miracles that you didn't hope for that's coming right along with it. Did you ever think that you would be looked up to like you are at PSST? That you would mean so much to other people who look to you both for strength and guidance?

It was so beautiful today when you spoke about Cisco and how you visited him at Beta House and you asked him how he was doing. Instead of the traditional whining you got, "Fine Mom, how are you.?" That made me want to cry because I know how self- centered and narcissistic both adolescence and addiction are.

But there you have it. He is getting better and growing up right before your eyes. And he will leave the nest soon but he will come back and every Holiday from now on out that you have him at home for Christmas, (and maybe his wife and your grand children) you will know more than most how very lucky you have been. And maybe because you don't have him this Christmas it will mean all the more later.

Thanks again for sharing this- it really makes me think. It probably makes a lot of us think.


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The Science Behind Addiction- A link recommended by Val Ketter
Posted by:Sally--Friday, November 19, 2010

There are many reasons why some people start taking drugs. Many of these are social. But with the very first use, chemical changes occur in the brain that may lead to addiction. Drug addiction is a disease. And with every additional use, the user increases his or her chance of becoming addicted.
Leading scientists in substance abuse at the National Institute on Drug Abuse recently published "Drugs and the Brain."
To learn more about how drugs affect your teen please click on the following link:


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Choose Kindness, Nonetheless Choose Wisely
Posted by:Rocco--Friday, November 19, 2010

Choose Kindness, Nonetheless Choose Wisely

While looking for something else I found two short but good articles on kindness.

The first by Dr. Twerski is about when acts of kindness are actually harmful and the need to exercise “tough love”.

The second by Dr. Elisha Goldstein is about not being kind enough to yourself. I have experienced this and have seen it in many of the parents at our meetings.

Despite all of the “would of’s”, “should of’s”, “could of’s” and “what if’s” we beat ourselves up with; "The facts are true, we can’t go back and change those, however, the barrage of judgments and self blame simply serves no beneficial purpose and are just not facts."

Kindness, Reconsidered

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.

There are certain types of kindness which require very careful analysis. The determination of the effectiveness of these types of kindness should be made by consulting a competent authority rather than by relying on one's own judgment.

There are times when what may seem to be acts of kindness are actually harmful.

A classic example is one which I encounter regularly in my work in treating addiction, when people who try to be "kind" to the addict actually encourage his addiction.

Thus, parents who continue to give their child money, even though he is using drugs, are hardly being kind to him.

The family member who covers the debts of an addictive gambler in order to avoid his going to jail for fraud is not being kind to him.

The person who uses his influence to extricate a friend from a drunk-driving charge is not being kind to him.

In all such instances, one may think he is doing the subject a favor, while by relieving him of the unpleasant consequences of his addictive behavior; he is actually removing the distress which might bring the person to his senses and make him aware of the need for help to overcome his addiction.

In our profession we must often recommend "tough love," which is similar to the love of a mother who has her infant child immunized.

She indeed allows the doctor to hurt the child with an injection, and she knows that the infant will suffer 48 hours of fever and misery, but because of her true love of her child, she allows him to be hurt to protect him from crippling and deadly diseases.

This is a prototype for "tough love." How foolish it would be if a mother wished to "protect" her child from the painful ordeal of immunization, and thereby put him at serious risk of developing untreatable diseases!

Such "kindness" is certainly misguided, and is anything but kindness.
We must be careful that the kindness we do is not of the kind that promotes harm.

Inasmuch as we are invariably emotionally involved with a loved one, we should seek objective counseling, to make sure that we are not blinded by our emotions to the degree that we engage in misguided kindness.

Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is a psychiatrist and ordained rabbi. He is the founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, a leading center for addiction treatment. An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he is a prolific author, with some 62 books to his credit.

Copyright © 2010 Artscroll Mesorah Publications

Parents: Are Your Regrets Fact or Fiction?

by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 16th 2010

It could possibly be the most common reaction when parents look back on the lives of their children and think that they could’ve done more, they could’ve done better.

Parents see their child’s challenges in life as their own failings in some way, but don’t seem to understand a very basic understanding that we all do the best we can at the time with what we have.

This isn’t to absolve responsibility but is meant to incline us toward self-forgiveness. The truth is, the thoughts that fly through our minds get confusing and they can become entirely convincing and believable, but it’s important to separate fact from fiction so we can break free from the thoughts that lead to greater stress, anxiety and depression.

Below is a list of facts I’ve heard from parents and the corresponding fiction below:


“I was depressed when my child was an infant and I wasn’t able to give him the attention he wanted.”

“My teenager is into drugs and alcohol.”

“When my child was young he didn’t do well in school and got into fights.”


“I was a horrible mother or father.”

“I am a failure as a parent.”

“I could have done more; I could have given more, what is wrong with me.”

The facts may be true, but that doesn’t mean you could have acted different.

Maybe you were depressed at the time or working to make ends meet.

Maybe, like many of us, you didn’t get the "Ultimate Rule Book for Being a Parent" and so made some mistakes along the way.

Maybe one minor thing that isn’t being taken into consideration is the enormous effects friends have on children’s lives.

The ultimate fact is: you couldn’t have done anything different because you weren’t aware of what you wished was different until after they happened.

It serves no purpose to blame or judge ourselves for a past under the delusion that hindsight could have been applied back then.

However, we can begin a process of healing; forgiving ourselves for any harm we may have caused our children knowing that we likely were suffering at that time as well. We are in need of compassion all around.

The facts are true, we can’t go back and change those, however, the barrage of judgments and self blame simply serves no beneficial purpose and are just not facts.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

For this article and others by Dr. Goldstein click on the following link:


Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health at MentalHelp.net

Copyright © CenterSite, LLC, 1995-2010

“Never underestimate the power that comes with simply having a choice, nor the personal power we feel once we've decided what our choice will be.

Viktor Frankl discovered this truth in Auschwitz. The camp inmates were beaten, starved, deprived of sleep, worked beyond endurance, humiliated, hated, and massacred.

Yet, as Frankl tells us in “Man's Search for Meaning”, not even the desperately cruel conditions of a concentration camp could take away "the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

His conclusion is that "Fundamentally, any man can...decide what shall become of him -- mentally and spiritually."

There is no greater power than this, and this is the power that choosing kindness gives us.”

Copyright © 2003 by Margot Silk Forrest

"Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

- Viktor E. Frankl

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Four youth spoke out at Community School West Today
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sometimes we get down. Sometimes we feel like the world is going to hell in a hand basket. Sometimes we just wonder where this crazy world is going. Just for today I had the antidote for that pessimistic feeling.

Today I was fortunate enough to hear four of our youth speak to a local alternative education high school about the dangers of drug abuse.

Three young men and one young woman (17 to 24 yrs old) shared their personal stories of pain, progression of their disease, and the recovery from drug addiction that each has achieved. It was such an inspiration; I wish that all our readers could have heard what I heard. And the questions and answers later showed that several of the students were moved and that they appreciated the courage and desire of each of the speakers to reach out with a message of hope.

Miracles happen. They happen all the time. Don't loose hope. As long as there is life there is hope.

Note: four spoke and one who is still in treatment was there for support. Special thanks to Patti L and Jocelyn Z for your support made this all possible. Thanks also to Community School West for inviting us to speak again this year.


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Meet the PSST Parents - Summary of Nov 13 Wexford PSST Meeting
Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, November 14, 2010

Summary of Nov 13, 2010 Wexford PSST Meeting

We had another very encouraging turn-out at Saturday’s PSST Meeting in Wexford led by our PSST Pros, Val, Lloyd, Rebecca from Allegheny County Juvenile Probation and Kathie T and Jocelyn from Wesley Spectrum.

There were 16 PSST Parents representing 13 families.

We had a nice mix of new and regular PSST parents, as well as a veteran PSST Mom returning to share her story. We know them here as Sally & Rocco, Becky & Tom, Jessica, Emily & Bob, Marcie, Jane, Lois, Daisy, Violet, Ralph, Lindy Lou, Posey, and this week’s returning Alumna PSST Parent Jasmine.

Notice that we had four (4) dads in attendance. The moms usually outnumber the dads by about 3 or 4 to 1 at our PSST meetings. And that is okay. There are a lot of reasons for the Dads not making it in; work, appointments, younger sisters and brothers to care for and, from our very own experience, not wanting to leave our teen and our home unprotected. Hopefully this shortage of men is not a stubborn thing, a pride thing, an “I don’t ask for directions” thing, or a macho thing. If you dads can make it we would really appreciate hearing your opinon and your ideas.


Please note: Because of the great turnout this post is a little longer than usual.

Each of us had a chance to share and discuss our own situations and our issues with our children in various stages of recovery.

Becky and Tom’s 16 year old son recently began an inpatient recovery program while awaiting his hearing. He admitted that he understands and accepts that he is there because of his behavior. That is an important first step.

It feels awkward, at first, to have your child away in a recovery program. Never the less you begin to feel better as you understand that they are clean, safe and under the care of professionals. They are also away from the people, places and things that trigger their unhealthy behavior.

This is not a time to feel guilty. This is your quiet time to sort things out and to realize that the juvenile hearing is not your hearing. It is your teen’s hearing. The consequences are not yours they are your teen’s consequences. The unacceptable behavior is not your behavior. It is your teen’s behavior. You need to tackle your own codependent behavior. This is known as “Detaching” with love or as one of our veteran PSST Parents prefers to use the term “Refocus”.

Click on “A Time to Hold On, A Time to Let Go" for more on detaching / refocusing.

"Detaching with Love is a difficult but very necessary step in regaining emotional health. It is a lifelong commitment to one's recovery and is something that needs to be practiced daily. You can still love your child, but you need to recognize when your relationship has become too entangled, co-dependent and unhealthy."

Thanks for being part of PSST Becky and Tom; we hope things continue to go well for you.

PLEASE NOTE: Using the “Hey, they will turn 18 soon, they will be out on the street, then it is all their problem!” Method is NOT Detaching. It is destructive behavior for you and for your teen. At best it is enabling their continued behavior. It is not recommended in any case.

Emily and Bob are friends of Becky and Tom. They came to their first PSST meeting at Becky and Toms urging. Their son, Howard, is 16 and is also scheduled for a hearing in Juvenile Court. They were concerned about their son’s “record” as a result of the hearing and the possibility of his doing up to 90 days in Shuman Juvenile Detention Center. We briefly went over what a juvenile hearing was about and that short of a violent act most juvenile crimes can be expunged from their record.

The Expungement generally depends on

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.

Click on Lloyd’s Post “Expungement of Juvenile Court records” for further information on this.

As we discussed it is time to realize that this juvenile hearing is not your hearing. It is your teen’s hearing.

The consequences are your teen’s consequences. Parents invest so much into their teen’s issues, many much more than the teen does.

The key to a juvenile hearing is to get some good advice and counseling ahead of time (PSST is a great place to start). Collect and keep any evidence in a safe place. Write down as much information as you can remember. Decide what you think the best outcome for your teen is. Be prepared to stand up in court and explain it. What you have to say is very important.

Finally allow your teen to have reasonable consequences for their actions. Too many times parents are ready to jump in and save their children from paying their debts legally and financially. This is another enabling behavior.

We appreciate you coming to PSST Emily and Bob. We hope that things will go well for you and that you will continue with PSST.

Another new PSST Mom, Jessica, made it to her first PSST meeting. Her son Herman, 17, has been at an Inpatient Recovery Facility and is scheduled to return home this weekend.

Jessica has been reading the PSST blog and she does not feel entirely comfortable with this. Among other issues Jessica has four other children at home and Herman can be a very disruptive influence on the family.

Unfortunately their family counselor, Betty, is not only comfortable but advocating Herman’s returning home. Jessica feels that counselor Betty verges on undermining her parental authority.

A home contract has been drawn up for Herman. Jessica was hoping to cut off Herman’s cell phone and his contact with his drug using “friends”. Counselor Betty feels that the cell phone is okay as well as the friends (as long as “they are not using as much as Herman did). Like everything else not all family counselors are a good fit for your family.

Click on “What to do when your teen beats you up with words from his therapist? Part 1”

and “What to do when your teen beats you up with words from his therapist? Part II” for more information on what to do when you are not on the same page as your child’s therapist or counselor.

We explained to Jessica that, given the fact her son will be home, she needs to remember the “your right” agreement followed by the “never the less” statements, the “I’m not comfortable with that” response and (in the case of the cell phone) use the “Gee Honey. I am really sorry but I screwed up. You see, I forgot to tell you that you can have your cell phone back but never the less there is no texting” option.

Jessica is awarded a PSSTrophy for "Proficient use of PSST Power Phrases prior to attending her first PSST Meeting."

Parents often have much more power than they give themselves credit for. This is something PSST wants all parents to know. The cell phone, especially if you are paying for it, is yours to give and take at your will. In addition to grounding teens, cutting off computer access, Facebook and my space, confiscating iPods and video games are all fair game when it comes to consequences for bad behavior. The more power you take the more your teen will understand that their options are becoming fewer and fewer.

When it comes to Home Contracts always remember that:

- Contracts can be revised on a periodic basis (weekly, every other week, monthly, etc.) following a review with the teen, the parent(s) and the P.O. if one is involved.

- Contracts can only be modified by the parent and the P.O.

To read more on Home Contracts click on "Cisco's Return Home"

and "Home Contract from Caron Foundation"

Thanks for making it to PSST Jessica. We hope that you will continue to attend. If you have time to tell your story (or just to vent) email to the blog at sallyservives@gmail.com

Sally & Rocco’s 18 year old son Cisco has been welcomed back to his adult recovery program he ran away from a few weeks ago. We had a chance to visit him on Thursday and it went very well. We heard good things from the counselor and from his house mates. He is looking forward to attending the “Start to Live Convention” put on by Narcotics Anonymous this coming weekend.

He was anxious to explain his plans to us about getting his own apartment when he completes his program. He even assured us that he would come home for dinner once or twice a week. We told him that it would be really great and we look forward to it but not to rush things. First he needs to complete this program and then he would probably need to get a job that pays well enough to afford things like rent, clothing, furniture, food, utilities and other incidentals. He told us that he didn’t plan on eating much so he was not too worried about that. We told him it was good that he is thinking clearly about his future but to slow down take things one day at a time.

Sally explained to Cisco that through various recovery programs over the last 17 months he has achieved almost 13-1/2 months of clean time. This has gone a long way into resolving a lot of his anger problems and allowed him to complete his G.E.D.

Like we advised Cisco, Sally and I will take our families recovery one day at a time.

Marcie’s 16 year old son, Chuck, is awaiting his day in Juvenile Court and has been assigned a Probation Officer. Marcie is going to work with the P.O. to see that her son get the help he needs. Her son has been up and down in his behavior the last few weeks. Chuck’s time at his Intensive Outpatient Program has been increased because of his attitude and attempts to manipulate his parents. He has tested clean for drugs but his mom is still concerned that he may be using K-2 Spice and alcohol.

Marcie’s biggest problem is that Chuck lives with her ex-husband, Linus. Linus finds it easier not to confront his son about his issues and problems. Linus is a classic enabling dad. He pretty much lets Chuck have his way, helps Chuck keep secrets from his mom and his counselors and will lie to cover up for Chuck. Whether he is doing this out of spite, is suffering from a bad case of denial, or because he truly thinks he can help his son by ignoring bad behavior, he is dead wrong.

Now that Chuck has a P.O. Marcie will have some much needed support to help him move in the right direction. She cannot control what happens at Linus’ house or improve Linus’ attitude. For now she needs to work with the PO and the system. Chuck will also need to develop a major attitude adjustment prior to his court appearance.

It is not easy Marcie but you are doing the right thing – Keep attending the PSST Meetings, we’re here for you.

Jane, one of our newer PSST Moms, has a son Elroy who is about to turn 18. He has a hearing pending on possession.

Jane has worked hard to get Elroy started on his recovery. This is despite a lack of cooperation by Elroy and a lack of help from her husband George. Elroy doesn’t want to attend his IOP. George is another typical enabling dad. He does not want to deal with his son’s behavior, he openly disagrees with his spouse and he is “waiting for his son to turn 18 and leave home”. This does nothing to help their son’s recovery but George thinks that it will make “problems go away”.
This can be a deadly solution as well.

Jane is relly tired of working harder at her son’s recovery than he is. I think a lot of us find ourselves in this position at times. Once in a while we all need to take a break and take care of ourselves.

Unfortunately there are no quick fixes for addictive behaviors. Fortunately once our teens are in the system, or facing a hearing, they will need to take responsibility for their actions and they will have to deal with the consequences for their behavior.

We should let them know ahead of their juvenile court hearing that we can be there to back them up or we can be there to make sure that the truth will be told. No lies, no covering up and no parental guilt.

Thanks for sticking with PSST Jane – You are taking back the power. Take some time to refocus on yourself and your other kids.

Lois is a first time PSST mom with a 16 year old daughter Meg who is facing a hearing on DUI charges.

Too often we take our children’s mistakes and behaviors on as a reflection of ourselves. We need to refocus and hold our children responsible for their actions. We need to be firm and let them know that we expect them to work on resolving their issues but we do not need to vent our anger on them, dump guilt on them or insult them. Never the less we can use our anger to remind ourselves and our teen that their behavior caused the problem, that they are the only one that can control their behavior and that they are the only one that can change their behavior.

We can use our anger to let go of our guilt and hold our teen accountable for their actions and responsible for whatever consequences come from those actions.

We appreciate you coming to PSST Lois. We’re here to support you.

Daisy has a 15 year old son, Ozzie, in an Inpatient Recovery Program.

He is there and he has been clean for almost 60 days because Daisy stood up to the Public Defender and stood up in court to see that her son received the help that he needs. A lot of us parents have been able to do this thanks to PSST. We appreciate the effort it takes to get to courage to do this Daisy.

Daisy told us that Ozzie has adjusted well to his placement and is working the program .

Daisy is awarded a "PSST New-Sheriff-in-Town Award" for taking back the power.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Daisy. You have shown us all how well Act 53, and a determined mom, can work for our teens. It would be great to hear it told from your perspective on the blog at sallyservives@gmail.com

Violet has an 18 year old son Sal who is in a halfway house.

Violet let Sal know that she has pressed charges against him in order to get him onto probation. She needs this as a safety net for when he completes his program. When she asked him how he felt about it he said he was ‘indifferent ‘about it. She found out later that he is not happy with his mom filing charges against him and that’s okay.

Violet explained to Sal “I am holding you accountable for actions; I am not holding your actions against you.”

She is hoping that Sal will complete his program in time to attend the spring semester at college.

She has put a lot of effort into her son’s recovery and is the one person who has stuck with him and seen him through his issues.

Violet is awarded a "PSST New-Sheriff-in-Town Award" for taking back the power.

Violet’s next big task is to take some time out for herself.

Thanks for coming to PSST Violet. You’re helping your son and your helping our new PSST Parents and we’re here to help you.

Ralph’s son Ed has recently completed his inpatient program and is attending an alternative school. He is doing well and is dreaming of his landscaping business and his dump truck. Ed and his mom, Alice, were away on a church retreat and left Ralph home alone this weekend. Missing Alice’s cooking Ralph knew he could find some goodies to eat at the PSST Meeting.

Ralph and Alice’s have four children. Their other son, Norton, had to choose between living at home clean and sober or to live on his own. Unfortunately he has chose to live on his own for now. And is any of you are wondering they were not waiting for the day Norton turned 18 and moved out. They would prefer to have him at home; but only if he can stick to the rules.

Ralph and Alice have been in PSST for less than one year. They have contributed a lot to our meetings and to our blog. Ralph wrote a post on the blog, that you can click on, called “Summer Vacations and Old Faithful”

…“We need to be Old Faithful in sticking to the rules, not enabling, being consistent, letting our "No" stay "No", and staying empowered. Even when we do that, teens will be teens, and they will be Faithful to looking for a way around the rules or wanting us to go back to the old nugget system of enabling…”

Thanks Ralph and Alice. You have shown us at PSST to remember to be aware - Addiction and Manipulation do not take a vacation. Your wisdom, your good sense of humor and your resolve help all of us.

Lindy Lou is a PSST mom who has been with us for about 18 months. Her son Drew has been in in-patient and outpatient programs over that time. He has been doing well lately. He is going to school and holding down a part time job. He recently tested positive for THC but denies using.

His mom is perplexed as to why, when or where Drew could have used. All those codependent alarm bells and whistles go off loud and clear.

Was it the brownies he had on the school bus?

Doesn’t he understand that this can ruin his whole program?

Is it the friends he is hanging out with?

Was it an impulsive act?

Doesn’t he remember what we have been through in the last two years?

Could it be a contact high? But why would he be hanging out close enough to people using to get a contact high?

Why didn’t I pay closer attention to his behavior?

Were the tests wrong?

Is this a relapse?

When is he going to get it?

This last question is the question that baffles all parents of addicts.

Most of our kids are intelligent kids. One day at a Dual Diagnosis session, about three years ago, Cisco was being exceptionally Oppositional Defiant and I said to him “You are going to get this someday. How about making it easier on everyone and start now?”

A year later Sally and I joined PSST, Cisco helped out by getting himself into the system, he has been through several programs and I think he is slowly getting it.

Drew is a smart young man and understands the consequences for using. He does not want to return to Shuman. Not even just to await a hearing.

Is this a relapse? How do you handle this?

Click on Lloyd’s post “When a Relapse Occurs”

Task Number One: Give your teen a chance to tell you why, when and where this happened.

Keep in mind, that while an admission from your teenager is important, it is not necessary.

Try to refrain from calling your teen a liar. Name calling can be counter-productive. Saying things like, "I am struggling to belive your story - it doesn't account for why this test is positive" is different from saying "I don't believe you- I know you are lying."

Remember, we don't "know" anything, unless we were there when he got high. But he has to tell us something that makes sense, something that is credible, and if he tests positive on the second test as well as the first, then he has some "explaining to do."

Task Number Two: holding your teen accountable.

Whether or not your teen admits to a relapse, you can move to the second task.

Things to AVOID doing:

1. Avoid asking 'Why?' Instead, ask 'What did you do?' Follow this with ‘What are you going to do about it?’

2. Avoid asking how could they do this to you? Try not to take it personally. It was Probably not something they wanted to do to you - they probably just like the feeling of getting high.

3. Avoid keeping secrets. Not from the other parent, the siblings, the counselor, or from the Probation Officer. This has to be exposed for what it is.

4. Avoid "ripping them a new one." That just doesn't help. Let them feel the heat via consequences, not via your verbal tirade.

5. Avoid falling into the trap of making the primary issue all about his lying. The primary issue is his continued abuse of drugs. His lying about it is the secondary issue.

6. Avoid Guilt - It is natural to want to make your teen feel guilty about this. Stop it. Instead let them know that you are holding them accountable for their actions.

BTW - "Oh, we talked about that, things are cool now, everything's ok” is not holding them accountable. If you have not held your teen accountable, then the issue has not been dealt with…It's a trap.

The primary issue is not his guilt- it's his relapse.

Remember that people learn from failure.

Sometimes we have to fail and experience the consequences for that failure in order to learn. The old saying is: people change because they feel the heat- not because they see the light. Just remember that the most effective "heat" is consequences, not a verbal thrashing.

More information on Relapse is available on at the HBO – Addiction site “What is Relapse” recommended by Veteran PSST Parent Ken.

Thanks for returning and sharing Lindy Lou, it was so good to see you again.

Posie, another good friend and PSST Mom, made it to the meeting but had to leave before having a chance to share her story.

Thanks for coming back to the meeting Posie – We hope to see you again soon.

Another good friend and Alumna PSST Mom, Jasmine, returned for a visit. Jasmine started with PSST in 2005 when her then teenager Gene was getting involved in drugs. She worked with Gene through his recovery. Gene is now in the Army and still giving his mom surprises but not to do with drugs. Gene is on his second overseas tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Thanks for returning to see us Jasmine. Give your son our thanks for his duty when you write to him. May God watch over him and you.

Note from Rocco: Wow! That was another Great turnout! It was also a lot to remember. Even though a couple of you caught Sally and me taking notes, if we missed anything, got something confused or wrong, or if you just want to comment please do at the bottom of this post. You can also send your comments to sallyservives@gmail.com


This week’s role play concerned a teen coming out of an Inpatient Program. His mom is picking him up and has to discuss his Home Contract. She has to tell him that even though his contract allows him to have a cell phone he will not be able to text with it.

This week’s Role Play PSSTARs were Sally – the Mom with a mission and Kathie T - the soon to be annoyed adolescent

They are riding home in the car:

Mom: Herman it is so good to have you coming home.

Herman: It sure is. That place was really getting annoying towards the end. Hey mom…

Mom: I’ll bet it was. What did you find so annoying?

Herman: You know. They didn’t have anything else to teach me. I had it all figured out in a week or two. So anyways Mom…

Mom: You always were a quick learner Herman. The counselors all said that you did really well.

Herman: Yeah I think one of them was hot for me, but listen mom, where is my cell phone.

Mom: I’m so glad that you brought that up Herman. I wanted to talk to you about your cell…

Herman: Mom! It’s in the contract. Miss Betty said it is okay if I have a cell phone.

Mom: You’re right Herman. You do have a cell phone, never the less…

Herman: So where is it? I need to let my friends know that I am on my way home.

Mom: …never the less Herman you will not be able to text with your phone.

Herman: Huh? What are you talking about, Miss Betty said it is okay if I have a cell phone, where is my phone?

Mom: Miss Betty did say it is okay for you to have a phone. However I don’t feel comfortable with you texting…

Herman: No texting! How am I supposed to talk to any of my friends? It is the only way they’ll talk to me.

Mom: Well since dad and I are paying for the phone and I am not comfortable with you texting we are going to restrict it for now.

Herman: You’re nuts. I'll talk to dad when we get home. What the @#$&% did I just spend all that time locked up for? I did everything that you wanted me to and now you won’t let me use a stinking cell phone.

Mom: Listen Herman. For now you don’t get to text…

Herman: I did more than what I was supposed to do. I finished up most of my community service in there. What’s the problem?

Mom: Listen, we can talk about texting after you have been home for a couple of weeks. I am sorry, I should have brought this up while you were writing the contract. However we will review the contract once a week. If you have anything that you want to discuss we can and possibly even change. But only me, dad and your P.O. can make the changes. You understand, don’t you.

Herman: Yeah, I understand that it sucks. So I get testing back next week. Let me have your Droid so I can let my friends know that I am on my way home.

Mom: Herman lets skip the texting and just talk on the way home. Let’s start with how you are going to make me and dad feel good enough to let you text again someday…

I will stop here but we discussed that it is okay to put the blame on yourself – like “Geeze, I forgot to tell you that. Honestly, I’d forget my name if I didn’t carry my driver’s license. Listen Honey there will be no texting…” or maybe “Let’s call P.O. Columbo and see what he thinks about turning the texting back on in a couple of weeks.” To which Herman would probably reply, “P.O. Columbo? He couldn’t find his way to his office if his wife didn’t give him directions every day…

The point of the role play is that parents are allowed to change their minds.

They can take (whatever privilege) away and they can give (whatever privilege) back whenever they want to. You, the parent, are in charge in your home. This is one of the best enforcements of your rules. They chance that at any time you can confiscate (whatever privilege) whenever you are not comfortable.

What does _____________________ mean?

Consent Decree, Hearing Officer, Act 53, commitment, restitution, probation, etc. Click on Juvenile Court Glossary

Have any questions? Come to our next PSST Meeting.

- What did I do wrong?

- What if he meets kids that use drugs at his recovery program?

- Were the tests wrong?

- Is this a relapse?

- What can I do? My husband/wife/partner/mother/dad/brother/sister already thinks that I always over-react about everything?

- What if the family/friends/neighbors/school/coach/church group/coworkers/police/scout leader finds out? I would be MORTIFIED! They will think that I am a horrible parent.

- What if I confront them about drug or alcohol use and they are clean? They will think that I am crazy.

- Why in the world would I put my teen into a rehab program? They will meet drug addicts and dealers there!

- How can I tell my kid not to use? They know that I used when I was a teenager. I’d be like a hypocrite or something.

- When is he going to get it?



Thanks again to all of our PSST Pro's for making themselves available to us parents. Thanks to everyone who attended this meeting. It was outstanding to see how many concerned parents there are. As noted when you look around the room you see a lot of parents nodding in agreement, and understanding, of where you are coming from.

We are always looking for a few more parents to join us so we can offer them some 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 help their teenager to save their life.

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.

The next Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST) meeting is Saturday November 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the 666 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon

C'mon and join us.

PSST Meetings are open to all parents who are serious about making a difference in their children’s life. If you are having problems with your teenager and suspect drug abuse please come to our next meeting.

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