Quote of the Week

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

Posted by:Rocco--Thursday, December 30, 2010

Important Public Service Announcement

Have a Very Happy New Years Celebration


A friend passed me this link to YouTube to share.

This link needs to be passed onto everyone who has the keys to a vehicle.

This is one of the most intense Public Service Announcements ever made.

It was made by the "Transportation Accident Commission" of Australia.

Australia should be complemented on having the courage to "Show it like it is" to all drivers and to air it on TV...it is very moving and very life like...it has a very strong impact.


Please click on the full-screen view at the bottom right corner.


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High Tech Gateway to Getting High By Lindy Lou
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, December 30, 2010

High Tech ~ Gateway to Getting High
By Lindy Lou

Digital drugs or i-dosing is a way to market drug use to kids. This craze consists of sound tracks that play different sound waves or tones into each ear which causes the listener to create another sound in the brain. It’s called binaural beats.Researchers to date have not found that binaural beats change brain chemistry nor have they found that there is any real harm that can come from listening to them.
I just listened to an i-dosing track available for free on youtube. It was basically a persistent tone in one ear and the sound of ‘a scratchy am radio when you are trying to find a station’ in the other ear. The visual they put on the screen to accompany the ‘music’ was a demonic head, though they suggested you close your eyes to listen to the track. I found I needed to consciously block myself from trying to ‘hear’ words while I was listening since the scratchy sounds in the one ear on the track could easily have become fuel for the mind to try to ‘hear’ words. With a demonic image on the screen as autosuggestion, I could imagine the mind could ‘create’ or tap into some scary memories or feelings. I was hoping the experience was going to be like chanting meditation mantras while staring at an optical illusion, which could make you feel like you are in an altered state, but the sounds in that track were nightmarish rather than blissful. I found the sounds disconcerting and stressful making my heart rate go up and leaving me feeling anxious as if I had just been trapped under a railroad bridge where I had had to endure the screeching of metal wheels on metal rails for hours. I saw no need to follow the directions of ‘listening to the track 3 times back to back to see what you see/feel’. My mood was already altered enough for the worse and I was not seeking an aura-stress induced headache.
I have not gone to an i-dosing site yet (I don’t feel like subjecting my computer to the threats of viruses tonight). But the media coverage on the i-dosing craze assures us that one can purchase tracks that are marketed to simulate the ‘highs’ that one can get from ingesting various drugs. Kids are curious, so this is clever marketing to get kids to find out what an opium high ‘feels’ like without injecting or smoking it; clever marketing to get the feeling of all kinds of drugs just by buying their binaural beat track and listening to it over and over again.
As parents, we can hope the kids will have unpleasant listening experiences and it will end there. But there will be kids who will opt to try various tracks until they find one they like, and again, we can hope it will end there. Problem is though; these kids are now conditioned into drug-seeking behaviors because of the marketing autosuggestions that their experiences with these tracks mimic drug induced states. I did not find any definitive research on whether i-dosing actually is becoming a gateway into drug use, but therein lays the concern with this craze. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/15/digital-drugs-get-teens-h_n_647397.html
Using binaural sounds in therapy has been around for quite a while. My son is ADHD and one of the problems we went through therapy to correct was his inability to distinguish figure – ground sounds. What this meant in practical terms was that my son could not tell which of the sounds he was listening to was the one he should pay attention to and which he should ‘block out’ or ignore. So in a classroom for example all the following sounds competed for his attention: the bird outside the window, the kid next to him scraping his chair on the floor, the rustling of papers, and the teacher talking. The therapy he did involved at least a hundred hours of listening to audio tapes with music in one ear and words in the other and then progressing to different words being said in each ear. As a therapy, it worked. One day, he was pitching a baseball game and excited told me he was able to block out the sound of the crowd and not be distracted from what he was doing by the noises around him. I realize that established sound therapies to correct hearing perceptual problems is not the topic of this post, but none of the articles I read on i-dosing talked about what affect binaural beats might have on kids whose auditory perception system is not fully developed or functioning properly. In addition, way too many ADHD kids tend to try drugs. Though I am not implying that all ADHD kids have auditory perception difficulties, I think there is quite a bit that researchers have not looked at here. In my opinion the jury is still out on the harm/harmlessness of the binaural beats craze. And i-dosing is yet another thing for parents to learn more about

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Summary - PSST Meeting Dec 18, 2010 - SUPPORT, LOVE & NEVERTHELESS
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, December 27, 2010

Summary of Dec 18 PSST Seventh Anniversary Meeting in Mt Lebanon

Recovery in Progress - Building a Super PSSTeam Part III

The turnout for PSST’s Seventh Anniversary / Holiday Celebration in Mt. Lebanon was wonderful.

We had Val and Lloyd from Allegheny County Juvenile Probation, Kathie and Jocelyn from Wesley Spectrum and 23 amazing parents and one sister.

Together we continue to build a Super PSSTeam.

The 23 parents and one sister representing 16 families are known here on the blog as Jessica & Roger, Becky & Tom, June, Max, Daisy, Alice and her daughter Trixie, Sally & Rocco, Candy, Jane, Lindy Lou, Cheryl & Jim, Angela & Tony, and our newest PSST Parents Wilma & Fred, Cagney, Maddie & David and Emma.

FIRST BREAKFAST: We started our final PSST 7th Anniversary / Holiday Celebration an hour early with a wonderful variety of Alice's delicious Peanut Butter Globs (that we need the recipe for), cakes, cookies, chili, clementines (thanks Lindy) and more. We had time to meet and greet each other and to socialize before the start of the meeting (once we found a room large enough to handle the crowd).

Thanks to everybody for the great food and the even greater company.


Hey, what happened to the time? Do you have any time? Where did the time go? Where did the year go? Can I have a little of your time? I just need a little time. Do you have a few seconds to spare? Ugh! I am out of time. Time out…

…due to the Holidays, a short bout of the flu, and a few last minute cantankerous customers I do sincerely apologize dear readers for this very late and short summary of an excellent meeting.


Each of the parents had an opportunity to discuss their own situation and issues. We talked about how we can handle our troubled teenagers that are at home, our teenagers that are about to return home and about when it is time to tell our teen that it is time to leave home.

Each of these can be a tough situation.

If you are not sure but you suspect drug or alcohol use by your child click on “TIME TO ACT!” and read through the steps. Attend the next PSST Meeting and we will guide you through the ways to deal with your teen and keep order in your home. The sooner you can attend a meeting the sooner you can get the situation under control.

If your troubled child is living at home you need to provide a clear set of rules on how they are to behave and what is expected of them. If they break the rules you need to provide appropriate consequences (consequences that you know that you can follow through with). These can be as simple as grounding them, taking away privileges, cell phones, computer access and i-pods or they can be as serious as having charges filed against them.

One of the key things your teen will need to agree to, is random drug testing. When you come to a PSST Meeting we can explain where you can get the various test kits at a reasonable price.

If your child has left home on their own and is asking to come back home you must insist on their agreement to the same rules and consequences as above. Written contracts are a big help here. One of the rules must be that, prior to their return; they enter a treatment program and are professionally evaluated. This is probably one of the hardest things to hold them to. They will always promise you that they will enter the program as soon as they are allowed to come back home. Stick to it and insist that they enter the program first.

If your teen is in an inpatient recovery program they will relentlessly insist on why they should be home. Before they come home for good; try a few home passes, if offered. Click on Lloyd’s post “Have a Home Pass or Off Grounds Pass with Teen in Placement”

Remember that the one and only purpose of the Home Pass should be that your teen's home time is to be spent with you and your family. This is the time for them to begin to reconnect and heal your relationships. A Home Pass is not to be a time for your teen to have friends over, talk to their friends on the phone or chat on the computer.

Very important: Do not be afraid to share with their counselors how the visit went – good or bad. This will help them in their evaluation of your teen.

If your teen is about to complete their inpatient recovery program and return home; Congratulations! Now spend the last few weeks while they are still in the program getting your family ready for their return. Follow the same steps above about setting clear rules, expected behaviors and consequences. Be strong and insist on the terms being spelled out in a written contract. Do not expect your child to readily agree to all of the terms. That’s okay.

If they are going to act out then let them do it while they are in their program and they are under the care of professional counseling. Remember that the terms of their contract can be modified by you at any time depending on their behavior – good or bad.

And then we have the case of your child acting out at home and it's time to go. Your child will not follow our rules, refuses counseling and/or may be using. They may or may not have completed a recovery program. The time to act is NOW not the next time they are caught in the act.

If your child is a minor there are options like Act 53 (asking the Court to declare your child to be in need of involuntary drug and/or alcohol treatment services) or for you to file charges to have them placed on probation. Come to a PSST Meeting for further advice on how to do this.

PSSTip: Never throw away drugs or drug paraphernalia that you find – this is evidence – bag it, date it and either lock it in a safe place or take to a trusted friend/family member or to the local police.

If your child is already on probation and has a consent decree do not hesitate to work with your probation officer and have them sanctioned. If your teen cooperates you can drive them to Shuman Center. If they do not want to cooperate call your local police and have them taken to Shuman Center.

If your child is no longer a minor you need to tell them that it is time for them to leave. They may leave willingly or you may need to engage the local police to escort them out. If necessary get a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA). Click on The Allegheny County DA’s web site explaining the PFA”

Always consider your safety and the safety of your family first.

If and when they ask to come back home (and if you have left that possibility open) you will need to follow the steps above.

Time to Take Immediate Action

Both suicide threats and attempts should always be taken very seriously.

The threat of suicide can be frightening enough to cause some parents to “walk on eggshells” and to give their child whatever they want.

PLEASE NOTE: Even if you feel that your child’s suicide threat is nothing more than a manipulative tactic you need to IMMEDIATELY take them to the nearest emergency room for an evaluation.

If they are truly suicidal they will receive the help they need. If the child was merely using the threat as a manipulative tactic to get their way, the trips to the E.R. and the evaluation will tend to discourage them from using this as a tactic in the future.

Never ignore or minimize a suicide threat or a suicide attempt.

Please feel free to attend a PSST Meeting to discuss any of these situations. There is no cost or obligation.

PSST is here to assist and support concerned parents to take the power back, to regain control of their teens, their home and their own lives. The meetings are a place where you can talk openly with professionals and other parents about your own situation. We understand where you are at because we have been in a similar place. You will notice a lot of us nodding in agreement with you.

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

We had some final discussion for those who needed it and some final comments.


Jessica and Roger have a 16 year old son Herman who probably should have spent a little more time in his inpatient recovery program or transitioned home through a halfway house. Either way he was not ready to return home and has been acting out for the last few weeks. Unfortunately despite their parental intuition that Herman was not ready the “experts” told them he was. It also seems as if the “experts” are still undermining their efforts to get their son under their control.

Jessica noted that one of her problems is that she is "Pathologically Compliant to Authority Figures". I believe this holds true for a lot of us parents going though something like this for the first time. Nevertheless, do not be afraid to disagree with the “experts” and voice your concerns strongly.

Jessica spoke with Herman’s teachers and they agreed that he is hanging with the wrong friends. She checked his cell phone and found some disturbing messages. Jessica advised that you may need to go to urbandictionary.com in able to translate some of your teen’s messages.

When she confronted Herman with the text message he first, of course, denied it and then tried to explain how he dialed, and sent, the message “accidently” because his phone was in his back pocket. To her amazement, and amusement, he then tried to demonstrate how this is possible.

PSSTip: If you manage to get hold of your teen’s cell phone and find disturbing messages:

1. Forward these messages to your own phone. This way you have a copy of the message and a date of when you found it.

2. Confiscate the cell phone (even if it is their phone and they paid for it) and keep it as evidence.

Lloyd explained that yet another tool for when our teens act out is a Walk-in Detention Hearing.

If your child is on probation and is out of your control then you can contact their probation officer and tell them you need a Walk-in Detention Hearing at Shuman Center. One of two things will happen. Your child will either be released home with certain restrictions, or they will be detained at Shuman until appropriate action can be determined. Either way the Walk-in Detention Hearing will send your child a clear message.

Jane did not get exactly the result that she hoped for at her son Elroy’s hearing. Elroy was returned home. As soon as he got home his father George caved in to Elroy. He was ready, willing and able to immediately begin enabling Elroy – allowing him onto Facebook and to hang out with his old “friends”.

Jane has worked very hard over the last half year to get her son the help that he needs.

George, like many parents of teen drug abusers, doesn’t want to, or can’t, face up to what it takes to help his child. Their favorite mantra is “They will be 18 soon and then they will be on their own!” Unfortunately this does nothing to help the child or heal their family. Their child will end up like most addicts – in an institution, in jail or dead.

Fortunately Jane still has the Juvenile System on her side and, as Val noted, the Judge warned Elroy that he will be back in Shuman Center as soon as he screws up one time. It typically will not take our teens all that long to screw up. And then even George doesn’t get to supersede the Judge.

On a more pleasant note Alice’s son Ed is in a much better place than he was one year ago. Ralph could not make it to this meeting because he and Ed were attending their monthly father-son church function.

Editor’s Note: Daisy, if you really want to take notes please feel free. There was 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

I am just about OUT OF TIME

Thanks to our Super PSST Pros for putting this program together and being there for us parents.

Thanks again to all who attended this meeting. It was outstanding to see how many concerned parents there are. When you look around the room you will see a lot of other parents that understand where you are coming from.

Our sincere thanks to Outreach Teen and Family Services for the use of their First Class Facilities.

Just One More Thought Before This Year Ends

From Dr. Twerski's Sober Thought

Suffering Can Bring Us Together - "It may be selfish of me, but I cannot agree with a recovering person who said, 'I curse whoever invented these **** drugs!'

If it had not been for mind-altering chemicals, how would I ever have met and come to know so many wonderful people?

I am an avid reader, so I could have spent all my nonworking time exploring many interesting subjects. While that would have increased my knowledge, it would not have provided the emotional enrichment that comes from sharing with people in recovery.

No history, philosophy, or even theology book has the warmth of a sincere hug. The Twelve Step fellowships provide more character development than books and lectures. Nor is the opportunity to give or receive help as readily available as in the fellowships. Coming to these experiences through chemical dependence is quite costly.

Yet suffering can bring people together more than anything else.

While we may wish we had never encountered the chemicals that have been so injurious, let's not forget that mutual suffering has brought us close to one another."

While Sally and I truly wish that none of us ever had to suffer through what we went through this year (and that our children were merely working through “normal” teenage issues); we are sincerely thankful that we had the opportunity to meet such loving and caring people that we never would have met otherwise. We feel truly blest to know you all and call you friends.

The next Parent Survival Skills Training (PSST) meeting is Saturday, January 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church 2500 Brandt School Road, Wexford, PA 15090

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


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Eight Things I Wish I had Learned Sooner About Having a Child With a Drug Problem - by Lori
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, December 27, 2010

Eight Things I Wish I had Learned Sooner About Having a Child With a Drug Problem

This is a condensed version of a post written by Lori, a long-time member of PSST. To read her original post click on "8 Things I Wish I Knew"

One thing I have learnt is that we cannot do this alone. We need outside help to guide us, lead us, and train us on how to deal with given situations that will one day lead our children to a healthy clean life...

The Juvenile Court of Allegheny County is the best-kept secret we have in Western PA. They are a team of trained professionals that are dedicated to treating the youth in our area. They work long hours, are there for our kids day and night, and are very competent in what they do. In addition, they have access to some of the best facilities in the country.

1. Do not try to fight the disease of Addiction alone.

How do we deal with our feelings of being parents of a drug addicted teenager? It isn’t easy. Regardless of where you live, how educated you are, how competent you think you are, how good of a parent you are ---- You are in way over your head!

You cannot do this alone. You cannot do this in isolation. Just as you cannot treat your child for cancer in secret, in isolation, alone….you cannot treat your child for this disease of Addiction in secret, in isolation, alone. Addiction is a disease with no known cure and it can be a fatal.

2. There is effective treatment available and to help the treatment work you have to stop enabling your child.

There are treatments. These treatments may make you feel uncomfortable, even pained at times.

First Step: You need to stop enabling your child’s drug use.

You will need outside guidance to prepare you on how to employ the various techniques that will lead your child back to a healthy and clean life.

3. There is help out there and The Juvenile Court of Allegheny County is the best-kept secret we have in Western PA.

So, where do we go for help? Go to the authorities; the school; the police, Act 53 counselors, the magistrate or whatever avenue you want to take, but get your child into “The System”.

The Juvenile Court System of Allegheny County is the best-kept secret we have in Western Pennsylvania. They are a team of trained professionals that are dedicated to treating the youth in our area. They work long hours, are there for our kids day and night, and are very competent in what they do. In addition, they have knowledge of, and access to, some of the best facilities in the country.

Before I placed by son into “The System”, I did everything I could to avoid placing him into the juvenile court system. That was my major mistake.

Pennsylvania has some of the best recovery programs in the country. However, with many of these programs, you must be court-ordered. Otherwise, the program will not admit your child. I did not understand that at first. It is not easy watching your child proceed through these programs, but you must get your child into a long-term placement facility so that the behavior modification and recovery treatment can begin to work for your child.

4. You must turn your authority over to the experts who are directing your child’s care and recovery.

As a parent, you will need guidance and support to help your child to maximize the benefit of their recovery programs. You will need to work with the experts to direct your child’s care and recovery.

Your child will usually try to convince you that everyone involved in these programs are incompetent and are not helping. They will continue to manipulate you in order to support their addiction. You need to learn to recognize this and how to try something different, something uncomfortable, to help them.

5. Remember, you will always be an important part of your child’s life and a very important part of his treatment. You are on the treatment team now!

Remember you are still their parent and they are still your child.

While working through the recovery process keep the communication lines open, no matter how hateful the conversation may become. You need to be in control of your conversations with your child. If a conversation begins to become unconstructive, you can end it with a calm comment about how much you love them and that you can talk again when they are having a better day. Then walk away and wait for that better day. Have faith that a better day will come. It will. It may take days, weeks, or sometimes months, but a better day will come.

6. You must regain your own life - Detach With Love.

As your child works through their recovery, you need to work on getting back to your own life. Through the years of dealing with your drug-addicted teenager, you have lost yourselves in their drug addiction. This is called codependency. It is important to regain your own life.

Go on vacation with your spouse, a friend, your other children, etc. Do lunch with friends more often. Take a course at college or on the Internet. Volunteer for a committee. Proceed with your life and gain moments of comfort, satisfaction, and peace away from the issues of your troubled teenager. This is called detachment with love.

You don’t forget about your child, but you need to provide your child with a good example of what living a normal life looks like.

7. Hold onto some of the anger because sometimes you will still need it.

One trick that I have in getting control of noise in my mind, setting aside my fears and getting control of my emotions so that I can “think straight” is what I call, Hanging onto the Anger.

I do not mean that we strike out in anger, but use it in a constructive manner in order to provide strength to do what you must do.

Nothing can bring us greater joy than our kids can. There is truly nothing better in life. In fact, I think life would be very shallow without the joy that our children have given us.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, no one can get you angrier than your children can. Your spouse may run close second, but your kids are the winners in the anger category.

The drug addicted behaviors, the extreme defiance, the lies, the stealing and the chaos.

And the moments of extreme anger.
Why - Won’t - He - Stop! Why does he continue to rip us apart? I don’t even recognize him anymore. What is happening to him? What is so very, very wrong here!?

Well, now we now know the answers to all those questions.

Our teenager is not the typical teenager who is just spreading their wings.
Our teenager is not the adventurous teenager who may be taking more risks than you would like him to take.
Our teenager is not going through some “drug experimenting” phase and all will be okay when it is over.
Our teenager is not one of many others that we know who did just that – And they were just fine!!

Our teenager is a Drug Addict.
Our teenager needs help.
Our teenager needs treatment.
Our teenager needs long-term treatment.

You are a critical part to your child’s survival of their Addiction.

So, hang onto that anger and remember it when you need the strength for that little extra push.

8. Come to terms with the loss of your child’s teen years.

There is one last thing that we must come to terms with; the loss of our child’s teen years.

Our times with our teenager has been consumed with their drug addiction. Many of the “typical” teenage experiences that we wanted for them, and for us, will never be.

He will not have any friends from high school that he can keep. We may never have that picture of him with his prom date. We may not have a senior picture to distribute to family or attend a high school graduation. We may not be visiting different college campuses. We probably will not be organizing a graduation party. We may lose his teen years. That will never come back.

But we may still have our child, clean and alive.

The drug recovery process will not bring back our teenager and all the memories we should have had. We need to mourn that, and then let that go.

We need to allow our child to become a functioning adult. We need to allow him to grow-up.

So now, it is your turn.

Get your child into the Juvenile Court System and into a long-term recovery program anyway you can.

Get him arrested if you need to.

Build your own support network, with parents in similar situations.

Work with experts who can give you solid advice; Drug abuse counselors, your child’s probation officer, family therapists, doctors, etc.

Become familiar with Halfway houses and consider the option of your child moving there upon release from the recovery facility to transition their way home.

Come to terms with your feelings and fears so that you can set them aside and make sound decisions that are critical to saving your child’s life.

PSST is here to help you through all of these steps. There is no cost and no obligations. We are not here to judge you, we are here to help you.


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A Sample Home Contract ~ Posted by an Experienced PSST Parent
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, December 23, 2010

Since we were talking about contracts with our teens during the PSST meeting, another one of our PSST families has offered their contract for posting. Their son is home from placement and was given this contract in preparation for coming home.

He had the opportunity to view it, comment, get angry, and tweak it before coming home. It helped make expectations very clear before he was home again. The rules are very detailed in this contract. Some teens need specifics, while others work better with simple. This teen's parents knew from his behavior that "simple" has too many loop holes for their teen. After reading and tweaking, the teen was not asked to sign it or even agree to it -- it was just the basis for new rules from newly empowered PSST parents. Consequences are not spelled out in the contract, but the fact that every contract violation would have a consequence similar to the violation was told to the teen. The contract is reviewed every few months to adjust the terms as needed. The teen can even request changes, but the parents are the only ones who can change the contract, so they must decide if the teen's changes have merit or not.

The parents report that their teen is now compliant since he is in recovery and respects the rules in the contract, even if he doesn't like it. And isn't this a good thing -- 'you don't have to like it, but as long as you can follow the family rules, you can earn trust back and gain more freedom.' Meanwhile, the parents get what they want -- more clean time and the learning of social normalcy for their son.

This contract may be modified in writing at any time by agreement of the parents and Probation Officer.

1. Obey all laws.
2. Do not leave Allegheny County without the permission of the Probation Officer, except in the company of parents or with parents’ permission.
3. Advise the Probation Officer immediately of any change of address, including running away.
4. Do not touch, possess, or employ any firearms, weapons, or other instruments of crime.
5. Adhere to the following curfew: 24 hour home detention until further notice. Travel with parents only.
6. Do not have any contact or socialize with anyone known to use illegal substances or commit crime. (Socialize means going to the house of, talking with, hanging around, visiting, telephoning, or doing letters, email, IM, chat, Facebook, Myspace, or any other face-to-face or electronic contact.) This list includes but is not limited to:
1. Do not enter the borough limits of xxx, PA. Do not enter xxx Park.
2. Do not have any contact with victim, his friends, or his family.
3. Do not travel in or on any vehicle with non-relatives.
4. No sex with others.

7. Make contact with the Probation Officer daily including holidays and weekends via telephone. Report to the Probation Officer as directed. Probation Officer may visit at any time.
8. Notify the Probation Officer within forty-eight hours of being questioned or arrested by a law enforcement officer.
9. Do not buy, sell, exchange, support, seek, touch, possess, or consume alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or chemicals. (This also means no alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or chemicals are permitted on or in the body or near the house.)
10. Submit to random alcohol, tobacco, or drug urine, breath, or saliva testing by parents or Probation Officer.
11. Follow the discharge recommendations included in the Conditions of Supervision.
12. Submit to search by Probation Officer or parents if requested.
13. Get a part-time job or develop and submit to parents a business plan for working and earning money.
14. Develop a written post-placement Therapy and Recovery Plan by September 1, 2010. Plan must be approved by Probation Officer and parents.
15. Make sure that a parent approves of all activities and plans, and that parents know location at all times. There should be no unapproved or unaccounted time.

16. Maintain “C” or higher grades in all high school classes. Do assigned homework and verify by giving daily homework status to parents. Ask for academic help when needed. Maintain 100% attendance with no tardy days/classes and no skipping.
17. Attend at least one church service on a weekly basis at .
18. House telephone, cell phone, or other telephones are only to be used for recovery activities and family communication. Do not erase phone numbers or texts from phone memory. Do not accept restricted calls. Leave mobile phones on dining room table at night.
19. Develop a sports and physical activity plan by TBD. Participate in the activities on the plan. Amend activity plan as needed. (Include competition dog training and off-road vehicle riding, if appropriate, in the plan also.)
20. Provide care, feeding, exercise, and training for the dog. Training must be in Obedience, Rescue, Therapy Dog, or Schutzhund. Earn and maintain a novice owner/dog training certification by 8/31/2011.
21. Repair and continue learning about small engine vehicles.
22. Keep track of and attend all doctor appointments. Take care of all health needs.
23. Help with weekly house chores and home repair projects.
24. Keep personal property clean and in room. Do own laundry weekly.
25. Prepare the family dinner meal once per week in coordination with parents.
26. Do not have more than $10 cash at any time. Any cash or checks received are to be transferred to parents. Develop and balance a personal budget. There should be no unaccounted monies.
27. Study for and obtain a PA Driver’s Learner’s Permit by 12/31/2010. Practice driving with a parent or relative only.
28. Plan and attend a vacation with Dad. Parents must approve the plan and estimated budget.

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A Look at A Home Contract
Posted by:Sally--Monday, December 20, 2010

Jessica was asking about the HOME CONTRACT at this Saturday's meeting so I decided to bring this entry that was posted in July to the front page. If you click on the 'read more' button you will see the home contract that Rocco and I devised with the help of Cathy C. from Wesley Spectrum.

Our son, Cisco successfully completed the program at Liberty Station. We attended the exit ceremony and were given a chance along with all others in attendance to tell Cisco our hopes and fears that we have for him. Many of his fellow Liberty Station-ites had a lot of wisdom for him. His P.O. pointedly explained that Cisco needs to acquire a bit of humility. My main focus was on how very proud I am of him. It is not easy to live away from home since January 19th and to do the program. I am very proud. And Rocco, who is his father, told him that he would always be there for him; not to enable him but to help him achieve his dreams. I was touched with the sincerity and kindness that Rocco had. It shows that our family is healing a little bit more each and every day. Cisco has a job and is waiting for the results of his GED. If he passes the GED he will sign up for college at CCAC and if he does not he will sign up for a GED tutoring course. He is continuing his recovery program through Gateway Squirrel Hill. I am starting to feel somewhat comfortable having him back home. This is his fourth day home and we have only had minor breaks of the home contract. He is pushing some of the limits and I am being prompted by his P.O. to push back and keep control. Here is the contract which Cathy from Wesley-Spectrum helped us with. It is rather comrehensive and we decided we wil review it each week to see if we need to make changes to it.

The Morkus Family - Home Contract - July 19, 2010

House Rules:
1. Do not use drugs or drink alcohol.
2. No smoking inside of house. Use ashtray for all butts and ashes when smoking on porch.
(Empty ashtray each evening and wrap butts in plastic bag and throw in outside garbage.)
3. Ninety meetings in ninety days.
4. Accept random drug tests.
5. Respect parents & property. Don’t raise your voice/we won’t raise ours. If you disagree with something calmly talk with us about it. If you break something replace or repair it.
6. No pre-marital sex allowed in our home. Keep your hands (and body) to yourself.
7. Phone use to be decided. Tell us who and why you are calling.
8. Thirty-Two hours/week of work/schooling. Must be done during mom’s work hours.
9. Attend IOP at Gateway.
10. All doors are locked at 11:30 p.m. and may not be opened until 5:30 a.m.
11. All money earned or received as gifts must be accounted for on a daily basis.
12. Out of respect for your parent’s wishes, you may not get a tattoo or any more body piercings while living at home.
13. No friends allowed inside or outside of our house without a parent being at home.
14. Approved friends are allowed over only after parental permission.
(At this time Cisco has two approved friends –
15. You must accept ‘No’ when that is our answer.
16. Parents must approve all outside activities.
17. T.V. use will be supervised.
18. Internet will be turned off at 11:30 p.m.

It may be difficult for you to follow some of these rules. You had a hard time with the contract when you returned from Ridgeview. Regardless, there is always hope. Your attitude may have improved since then and you appear to be more mature.
(This contract will be reviewed and may be revised as needed on a weekly basis.)

Dad and I want you home, clean and sober. Love, Mom and Dad

Click to go to Rules of the Road for a look at another Probation Contract. Also, Caron Foundation has an interesting home contract for use upon discharge from inpatient drug rehab.

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Is the purpose of the role play just to have a smoother visit?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's a great Question that came up at our Mt Lebanon Meeting on 12-18-10. The answer is an unequivocal "No." Sometimes that happens and sometimes the interaction isn't smooth at all especially because the teenager hates it that the parents are using new skills. So what is the purpose of using our parent skills on our teenagers?

The purpose to is realign the relationship. (1) To bring the balance of power back to where parents are in charge. And (2) to improve the quality of the relationship between the parent and the teenager. It's as if the message that parents send when they use the PSST skills are, "...there are limits to what you can do," and "I love you, and sometimes I like you." The first goal is enhanced by using words and phrases such as "nevertheless," "regardless." and "I'm NOT comfortable with that."

The second goal is enhanced by all the "agreeing" that we make it our business to do. We want to send the message that our teens are certainly right about 90 percent of what they are saying and doing. Then, we can grapple with the other ten percent.

For a moment let's consider that by not arguing with teenagers we don't wear ourselves out and in that sense the visit is smoother. Or after teenagers learn that we are going to remain resolute in our boundaries they might back off and that might produce a smoother interaction. On the other hand, sometimes using these skills sets off fireworks. Consider this role-play:

Mom: Honey, you are so right!

Teen: About what? You mean you will ask for the Court ordered Christmas home pass?

Mom: Honey, what I mean is this. If we had a Court order you could come home for Christmas. A Court order goes a long way in this business, I'm learning that.

Teen: And?

Mom: Well, this is going to make you mad I'm afraid, but I'm NOT comfortable asking your PO for a Court ordered Christmas Visit.

Teen: What!? You don't want me home do you?

Mom: Nope, not yet.

Teen: You bi%@*. You want me to stay in this hell hole that YOU put me in, while you're out having a nice Christmas.

Mom: Yes, I want you to be here where you are safe. [Moving in closer but lowing voice.]

Teen: Oh don't give me that s*&t. I have done really well here, and you know the staff spit on that one girl- what kind of place is this?  You put me here. You don't even know what this place is like, do you MOM? You don't know a thing about this place. The things I could tell you about this place!  It would keep you up at night if only knew what goes on in here...

Mom: Yes, I think it's bad here.

Teen: Bad? You have no idea. Did you ever have to stay in a place like this? Huh? Did you? No you didn't.

Mom: No. I don't really know what goes on in here.

Teen: So how can you say you're not comfortable getting me out of here for just ONE DAY?

Mom: I am more comfortable having you where you cannot do drugs, stay out all night, or go out with older men who give you drugs.

Teen: You don't have a clue. I'm not going to do any of THAT on Christmas Day now am I?

Mom: Honey, I'm glad to hear you say you're not planning on any of that this year.

Teen: What do you mean this year?

Mom: Well, last year at Christmas we didn't even know where you were!

Teen: That's not going to happen again I told you that!

Mom: I believe you.

Teen: Good. So help me get out of here MOM!

Mom: I'm not comfortable helping you get out of here until you've earned the home pass privilege.

Teen: Why?

Mom: You know if we talk about this for hours, it won't matter. I can't convince you that you should spend Christmas in here.

Teen: You're right! You can't.

Mom: So, I'm not going to try.

Teen: [Fuming] Well, you just want me out of the way, don't you? Admit it! It's just "easier" for you that way.

Mom: Well, yes, it is easier for me to enjoy Christmas knowing that you are safe here. It is much easier than sitting worried that the phone is going to ring and someone on the other end is going to tell me that you are arrested, hurt, or dead. That's going to be much easier for me.

Teen: So, this is all about what is best for you, isn't it. [almost snarling]

Mom: Yes, a big part of this is all about me. I want you safe this Christmas. I don't want to worry about you getting high, running off with that older man, stealing money from me and from our relatives, and hurting yourself in any of the ways that you have done in the past.

Teen:  That's all behind me Mom.  If you would just trust me, just this once, just trust me I swear to God I'm telling the truth!  I'll be good now because now I see where all that stuff can get me.  You don't think I ever want to be put in a place like this again do you?

Mom: Yes, and I believe you. Although I really have no crystal ball do I?

Teen: That's not fair, [starts crying] I just wanted to be home for Christmas!!!!

Mom: No it's not fair. Not at all. Very unfair.

Teen: [Keeps Crying.]

Teen: [ Sobbing but looking up at Mom at the same time]

Mom: Nevertheless, you'll be here for Christmas this year.

Teen: I hate you! Don't even come to visit me for Christmas. I don't want to see you anymore. I hate you!

Mom: You break my heart baby! [sincerely said]

Teen: Oh sure. I don't think you feel bad at all. If you did, you would get me out of here for just ONE DAY!

Mom: It's been a bad day for me all around, loosing YOUR good opinion of me. I've lost that before too you know.

Teen: What the hell are you talking about?

Mom: Well it used to bother me a lot when you called me a bi*@#. It still hurts. But not like it used to hurt.

Mom: I guess I'm not really OK with you hating me so bad, but I'm working on it.

Teen: What do you mean by that? That is an ignorant thing to say!

Mom: Well, it used to bother me soooooo much if you were mad at me. Then, I would make decisions that maybe weren't good ones, just so that you wouldn't be mad at me. But I've changed. I have a job to do as your mother. Sometimes when I do my job you're going to be mad at me. I've accepted that.

Teen: Bi$%. Just don't visit me. You got that?

Mom: Yes, I got that.

Teen: Just think about me rotting away while you have your little Christmas, OK? Just picture me stuck in here with all these felons, rapists, and murderers. OK?

Mom: OK.

Teen: And don't expect a da$$ Christmas Present you bi$#!

Mom: Knowing you're safe is all I really wanted anyway.

Teen: I hate you. Please leave now.

Mom: OK, [getting up] I think maybe we covered everything. Thanks for trying to understand [gives girl a hug, which girl fights off.] Love you. [Mom walks away.]

Teen: [Wants to yell obscenities at Mom but mom is walking aways and is in ear-shot of staff who girl does not want to overhear their problems, so she fumes quietly.]

OK, not a happy ending. Not yet. But in this role-play Mom is powerful. This isn't about the PO. Mom takes all the blame. With blame comes power. You don't get the power without taking the blame. Mom does a Harry Truman and the buck stops here.

Note that Mom may or may not have been able to get the court order for the Christmas Visit; however, that is not relevant. Mom does not wish to enable her daughter anymore. She refuses to seek the order, preferring that her daughter stays where she is safe and that she "earn" her home passes the regular way. This Mom knows that being in the institution instead of at home is really part and parcel to the treatment that her daughter is receiving. It is safety, treatment, and consequence, three overlapping areas.

Will the girl make good on her threat not to have mom visit? Perhaps. Even so, mother can opt to visit or not to visit but her point is well-made. She will not be manipulated into making bad decisions because her daughter is angry and making threats. Period. This mother has made a statement that goes to the core of the daughter having too much power. This is not about having a smooth visit. This is about realigning the power in the relationship.

The reaction of the teen could possibly produce one more thing. If she flips out over this, then Mom has provided "grist" for the "treatment mill." This daughter is blaming Mom and trying to manipulate Mom. This is important information for staff to have. This tells everyone that this young lady has a long way to go towards taking responsibility. No matter how excellent she may be doing inside the inpatient treatment program, her interaction with her mother provides useful information on where she really stands.


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PSST is Our Mainstay
Posted by:Sally--Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rocco is snuggled up for a long winter's nap and I am busy doing some last minute decorating. As I place gel snowflakes on the window pane, I start thinking about today's PSST meeting.

We had a phenomenal turnout of 24 concerned parents listening and learning as Val Ketter and Lloyd Woodward from Juvenile Probation & Kathie Tagmyer and Joclyn from Wesley Spectrum spoke. When Rocco awakes he will give a more detailed report. I just want to say that I heard a couple of my PSST ladyfriends say they are feeling sad or overwhelmed. I think that can be a typical feeling when your child is an addict and the holidays are around the corner.
You are not alone.

I remember feeling very overwhelmed last Christmas when our Cisco was at home. I played detective every day and night. I would check out his facebook and text messages and was compelled to know everything he was up to. It was very exhausting.

It turned out that we discovered that he was using again and he went back into placement on January 19th, 2010. He came home in July and used again and went back in by the end of August. He is now in detention waiting for a bed at an adult facility. I get days when I feel very sad about his addiction but I do not feel that now. Why? Because he has consistently been so 'normal' for the last twelve times when we visited him.
Last night when we visited him, he was grateful as usual. A grateful addict will not use.

It is a long journey when a family is finding their way through an addiction to that contented place called recovery. Rocco and I have attended practically every meeting at PSST for the last year and a half. It is our mainstay. Telling our story and listening to the stories of other parents is so helpful. There is complete support and sincere compassion. And we learn from one another.

Lloyd's role plays are invaluable. We pick out a scenerio that is likely to happen to a parent and a teen. And we play it out. For instance, this week we played the scene of when a parent visits a child in placement who wants to come home now and wants stamps to write to all of her friends.

The mother of the teen played her daughter, and she played her so well (including tears). This young lady really layed it on thick. How awful it was to be there. How she will miss all of her mom and dad's cooking and decorating for the holiday. Lloyd played the dad and I played the mom.

We used a few of the PSST classics:

Agree With Somethings That the Teen Says.
You can agree with the fact that it would be awful to be there. You can agree that the other clients seem shady. You can agree that you would not want to spend Christmas in such a place.
Just don't agree to take them home.

Tell the Teen They May Not Like What You Have to Say and Tell Them They May Walk Away (This works great for the Oppositional Teen)
If you state in the beginning that the teen is not going to like what you have to say and allow them to walk away when you say that you will not bring stamps to them they are probably going to sit there and listen to you.

Keep a United Front.
Even if your parenting style is not exactly the same as your spouse. Do not make this apparent to your child.

When You Take the Blame You Gain the Power.
Agree with the fact that you had something to do with getting them into the placement facility.
This realigns your relationship with your child and you now have some power.

It is so helpful that I have learned the PSST way of parenting. Even though, as of late, Cisco has consistently been grateful and mature when we visit; he wants to get out of the detention facility. It is hard to see him sit in there day after day. I can see how some parents 'cave' in this situation. Especially when your child is acting so nice and respectful.

I keep it clear in my mind that he is an addict and needs to suffer the consequences for walking away from his adult program. I guess I am a forgiving person because I never think of the things he has stolen from us in the past and the very poor behavior that he had. Maybe it is not even that I am so forgiving as much as - I simply don't want to keep thinking about negative incidences? I just have to remember it well enough so that I don't enable again.

We visited him on Friday and will do so again on Monday. I am ready for whatever he throws my way. I have my PSST skills.

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SUPPORT, LOVE AND NEVERTHELESS - Summary Dec 11 PSST Meeting in Wexford
Posted by:Rocco--Friday, December 17, 2010

Recovery in Progress - Building a Super PSSTeam Part II

The turnout for PSST’s Seventh Anniversary / Holiday Celebration in Wexford was terrific.

We had Val, Lloyd and Rebecca from Allegheny County Juvenile Probation, Kathie, Jocelyn and Justin from Wesley Spectrum and 13 amazing parents

Together we continue to build a Super PSSTeam.

The 13 parents representing 10 families are known here on the blog as Jim & Cheryl, Mary, Lindy Lou, Jessica, Angela & Tony, Becky, Daisy, Max, Jane and Sally & Rocco,

FIRST BREAKFAST: We started our PSST 7th Anniversary / Holiday Celebration an hour early with an wonderful variety of cakes, cookies, Jello salad, Humus and pita chips and more. We had time to greet each other and socialize before the start of the meeting.

Thanks to everybody for the treats and the good company.

We began the meeting with an introduction by everyone in attendance:

Jane has a son Elroy who is about to turn 18. His drug of choice is marijuana and probably some alcohol and K-2.

His hearing on possession charges was delayed for a week. He was detained in Shuman Juvenile Center because Jane told the court that he could not return home to wait for his next hearing. She said this because Elroy was not ready to accept that he had an addiction problem, he would not attend his Outpatient Program, he skipped school and he stayed away from home on weekends.

Jane is waiting to read her letter at Elroy’s hearing explaining why her son needs help. To read it Click on “Victim Impact Letter

She visited Elroy at Shuman on Friday night and said it was a draining experience. He talked continuously about nothing but “YOU’VE GOT TO GET ME OUT OF HERE!” Jane held up pretty well but asked if we had any suggestions for her Saturday visit. See the Role Play later on in this post.

UPDATE: To see Elroy’s apparent turn-around see Jane’s latest post “Visit '2' with Elroy”.

Jane, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with all of us and showing everyone what we mean to be the “New Sherriff in Town” at home.

Max was celebrating her own first anniversary of becoming a PSST Parent! She attended her first PSST Meeting at Wexford one year ago this weekend. She came to talk about her two sons, David and Michael. They were turning her and Mel’s lives into chaos (that we are all familiar with) with their drug use and other out-of-control behavior.

Click on any one of Max’s Post to read where she was last year at this time:

Max and Mel’s Terrible Adventure

Max and Mel’s Terrible Adventure - The Prodigal Son Returns Home

Max & Mel's Terrible Adventure: THE PREQUEL

It has not been an easy year for Max and Mel but they have taken back the power in their home and have seen that Michael and David are getting the help they need and, well, I will let Max tell The Rest of The Story…

…With the help of PSST, Mel and I have stopped enabling (we do not like to admit to ourselves that we were... but we were...) and have regained control of our home, and enjoy our lives. We work as a team. We are a united front, and I don't feel so frightened anymore. We actually laugh quite a bit, and are able to joke about our situation, which is far from being over. We will always be sad about the loss of our dreams, of what we hoped our child would be like when he grew up. But we no longer blame ourselves or our parenting. We did everything we knew how to do - we just didn't know what else there was! If only we had known about PSST before Michael went to high school...

Happy Anniversary Max! Thanks for being such a big part of PSST.

Editor’s Note: We are very happy to announce that Max has accepted our invitation to become the third parent editor of the PSST Blog.

Daisy is a single mom with a 15 year old son, Ozzie, in an Inpatient Recovery Program. He now has been clean for over 90 days because Daisy also stood up in court.

Ozzie has been doing really well and so has Daisy. Her Tuesday with Ozzie almost took a bad turn because of his insistence that he “needed” a cigarette. Daisy used her best PSST power words and phrases and he was still wearing her out. But being a PSSTough Mom, Daisy refused to give in and told her son no cigarettes.

Later in the week Ozzie called to ask his mom if she was coming for their regular Saturday visit. Daisy said she wasn’t sure if she could handle another visit like they had Tuesday. Ozzie promised her that she didn’t need to worry because he would only bug her for cigarettes on Tuesdays.

Thanks for continuing to share your story with us Daisy. You have shown us all how well a determined PSSTough Mom, can work for our teens

Becky’s 16 year old son Syd is currently at a halfway house and things are going well. Her husband Tom took advantage of Syd’s placement and the weather to take some time out and do some skiing. When your teen is in placement remember to detach.

When you make the decision to detach, it does not mean that you love your child any less. It means that you accept that you are not the most qualified person to help your child in their recovery. It means that you can no longer “fix” their problems or handle the constant struggles that come with it.

To “Detach With Love” means that you choose to live a healthy life. In order for your teen to recognize that there is something "wrong" with them (that needs to change); they need to be able to see something that is “right” about you.

Take responsibility for yourself, your life and everything within you. You only have control over your feelings, emotions and actions. You need to be healthy in order to become a role model for your troubled teen.

“Detaching with Love” is one of the most loving steps you can do for yourself, your family and your child.

Thanks for becoming part of PSST Becky; we appreciate you and Tom’s input at the PSST Meetings and hope things continue to go well for you.

Angela and Tony have a daughter Samantha whose choice of drugs has been marijuana and has used K2 and alcohol. She has been placed into an Inpatient Recovery Program. They too are taking advantage of thier daughter's placement to enjoy the peace and quiet at home while they know that their teenager is safe away from the people, places and things that enabled her.

Tony expressed his frustration with the apparent lack of concern / urgency of the schools and communities to address the teenage drug problem. It is a major problem that we PSST Parents all share concerns about. There are some schools that are addressing the issues more than others. Some districts have gone as far as placing a Probation Officer in the school. Unfortunately there a lot of uninformed parents who do not want their school district’s, and especially their teen’s, problems made public.

Angela and Tony, we are glad to have you as PSST Parents and look forward to working with you on these issues.

Jessica continues on her roller coaster ride of her 16 year old son’s recovery. Herman, has been home from his inpatient recovery program for a few weeks and, like most of our teens, is having a hard time accepting a lack of freedom, a lack of power and, quite frankly, that he has a drug problem.

Jessica told us that Herman has “decided” that he does not need a recovery program or the associated restrictions because he does not have an addiction problem. This called for a meeting with her husband Roger and Herman’s P.O. The meeting didn’t go the way that Jessica had hoped for and Roger decided that it was best to take the “Give him enough rope to hang himself” approach with Herman. But the worst part for Jessica was to have Herman leaning back in his chair grinning at her.

She had hit the bottom of the roller coaster and was not feeling that she could take any more. She wondered if she should back down and let it go?

She decided it was time to get going. She put on her running shoes and her iPod and hit the road to run her way to some stress relief.

Signs come to us all throughout our lives. They usually come when we least expect it and in ways that we don’t expect it. Sometimes we miss them, sometimes we are just too busy to bother but sometimes it hits us like a ton of bricks. As Jessica was getting into her run it came to her…

“I won't back down no, I won't back down, you could stand me up at the gates of hell but I won't back down…”

…Her sign came to her from her iPod in the form of Tom Petty…

“…Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around and I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
gonna stand my ground and I won't back down.

Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out hey I will stand my ground and I won't back down
Well I know what's right, I got just one life in a world that keeps on pushin' me around but I'll stand my ground and I won't back down.

Hey baby there ain't no easy way out hey I will stand my ground and I won't back down.

No, I won't back down”

All Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down lyrics, artist names and images are copyrighted to their respective owners. All Tom Petty - I Won't Back Down song lyrics restricted for educational and personal use only.

Jessica agreed. She would not back down. She would do whatever she had to, to help her son get the help he needs…

…Stay tuned as the roller coaster ride continues!

Hang in there Jessica, don’t back down, your friends at PSST are here to support you.

Lindy Lou’s 18 year old son Drew has attended in-patient and outpatient programs over the last year and one half. He was doing well, going to school and holding down a part time job.

He recently had a hearing in which his mom stood up for him and told the court that he was ready for the next step and to end his juvenile probation. The court agreed.

Drew is now having some continued problems that they are dealing with.

Good luck Lindy we are always here when you need to talk.

It was good to see Maria, another one of our PSST Super Moms. She worked hard to get her son Ernie the help he needed to get into his recovery. She did this without much help from her ex-husband Bert.

Ernie has done very well following an inpatient recovery program followed by a stay at a halfway house this spring. He has a full time job, is successfully working his 12 Step program, attending meetings and encouraging other young men. Unfortunately, despite his success he has cut off all communication with Maria. She has tried to contact him but he has not returned her calls yet.

But Maria is sure that she would do it all again to save her son’s life.

It was so good to see you again Maria. You have always been an inspiration to rest of your friends here at PSST. You did the right thing and hopefully Ernie will realize it in his time.

Jim and Cheryl have a 17 year old son Andy who is in his second inpatient recovery program. They have done well helping their son with his recovery. They have worked out a lot of their issues by trial and error but now that they are attending PSST meetings we will try to give them encouragement and support as they go through their recovery as a family.

While our teens are at an inpatient facility it is time to rest and recuperate from the chaos that they created. But the teen eventually needs to return home. Once they come home they will face the same negative influences that got them into substance abuse in the first place. So they’ll need ongoing support and counseling to keep them on track and sober, sometimes lasting months or years.

Don’t ever think that a treatment program or rehab is a “cure.” It’s just a fresh start down the road to recovery.

Thanks for sharing your story and being part of PSST Cheryl and Jim. You have your son in a good place now take some time to heal the family.

Alcohol and drug abuse is a family problem, and recovery is a family process.

When you welcome your teenager back into the family following treatment for alcohol or drug abuse, you need to be prepared for the changes that lie ahead for the whole family.

Click on the word RECOVERY for more on these tips from Phoenix House about what to expect and how to cope with the changes in your family life after your Teen completes treatment:

1. Expect a Transition - When your teen returns home after treatment, the entire family undergoes a transition process.

2. Aftercare Programs and Meetings (Not just for your teen, you need them also) - Many families it difficult to understand why recovery takes up so much of the person’s time and some family members may even feel neglected. Have patience — it will pay off in the long-run.

3. Establish New Rules - Rules are the cornerstone of the family recovery process.

4. Roles and Responsibilities - This change in the family routine can be stressful at first. Don’t worry — it will get easier. PSST can Help.

5. Communication is key - Conversations can be unsettling and unfamiliar at first. But open communication can help to solve problems and conflicts and, in the long-run, create a healthy home environment. Remember – No Secrets

6. Showing Affection – This one may take time. There usually is a lot of hurt and loss of trust with teen alcohol and drug abuse. But as a family you need to work out a way to express your love and care in a way that makes everyone feel comfortable.

7. New People, Places and Things - Your teen will have learned to avoid people, places and things associated with his or her drug abuse. This will affect your social life as a family and will cause some conflicts.

8. Your Feelings - Alcohol and drug abuse affects the whole family. Your feelings are important too. Make time for yourself, and talk to trusted family or friends (or PSST) about your experiences.

9. Support Groups – Support groups are us at PSST. Look for specialized groups for families of substance abusers in your area. In addition to PSST there is Nar-Anon and Outreach Teen And Family Services in Mt Lebanon

10. Family Counseling - A good counselor can help families cope with stress and changes in family dynamics.

11. Relapse Warning Signs: A ‘relapse’ can be a one-off occurrence or it can last for an extended period of time.

Remember that some teens are not ready to come directly home following their recovery program. Come to our PSST Meetings and discuss the alternatives.

Sally & Rocco have an 18 year old son, Cisco. Cisco’s drug of choice started with marijuana around age 14. He experimented with other drugs and alcohol and moved on to pills.

Cisco is currently at a Juvenile Detention Center waiting for an opening at an adult recovery program.

The good news is that he has been accepted; the bad is that there is not an immediate opening. Sally and I visited him and he is in a good frame of mind but he is getting antsy waiting for the opening.

He asked us if we could talk with his P.O. and his counselor and get transferred to another program while he Is waiting. We explained to him that we have talked to them and none of us have the power to make things happen any faster. We agreed with him that the place he is at is not a great place.

Sally explained that she is really sorry that it is taking so long for him to be transferred. She told him that she never knew it would take this long after he ran away from his other facility the second time.

I reminded him of how much effort it took by all of us to get him a temporary placement and a return to his recovery facility the last time.

Sally, the P.O., the Counselor and I hope that Cisco remembers this the next time he has the impulse to walk away from another recovery program.

For now we know where Cisco is and that he is safe, warm, he looks good with a beard and he is not using drugs. We know that he has 15 or 16 months clean time over the past year and half and we know that Cisco is fighting hard at recovery but that his addiction will fight back whenever it finds the chance.

Thanks to PSST, Sally and I know that we are much better than we were last year at this time, nevertheless, we need to continue as a family to recover one day at a time.

I know that I am biased but, since Lloyd has given me full editing privileges here on the blog, I would like to honor Sally with the PSSTrophy for all she has done for our family, for PSST and for her knitting circle of teenage girls at Ridgeview.
You are the best Sally, thanks.


We had time for one role play this week but we tried it several different ways. We addressed Jane’s issue during her visit with Elroy. That would be son’s nonstop repeated requests to get him out of Schuman Detention Center. This was to prepare her for her visit that night.

We asked Jane to take the role of her son and Max volunteered to play Jane.

The first time Max tried her best PSST skills and did a pretty good job at it and even got in a few agreements with Elroy. But Jane did a good job and countered with the endless request. Sometimes out teens hear nothing but “blah-blah-blah” unless we indicate that they will get their way.

The second time Max told Elroy that if he couldn’t stop and listen that the conversation and the visit was over. When Elroy continued Max got up and left. This is acceptable but does not resolve the issues. Be careful here because at a detention center if you walk out you cannot change your mind and walk back in. Once you walk out you are out until next visiting time. One of the moms suggested going to the vending area to cool off first. But if you really want to walking out is not a bad thing and it conveys the idea that you are in power.

The third time Max repeated the first method but started with giving Elroy permission to get up and go back to his room if he was not happy with what she had to tell him. Max the proceeded with finding some agreements, a few “nevertheless” and added in some “I am not comfortable with you coming homes”. This had a little better effect. As Sally dubbed it “SUPPORT, LOVE AND NEVERTHELESS” (a great bumper sticker by the way).

For the final try Lloyd coached Max on another approach. Max did the usual greeting and Elroy went into his usual rant. This though Max sat and stared blankly at Elroy for a good 2 or 3 minutes (it felt like an hour) without saying a thing.

This had the result of making everyone including Jane feel very uncomfortable. When

Elroy finally asked for his mom’s response she asked him if he was done talking yet and was it her turn. When he started up again she gave him permission to continue until he said everything that he had to say so that she could speak. This happened a few more times until Elroy was worn out and Max could get her point across or at least a chance to talk.

Remember our teens do not hear much unless we agree with them.

Don’t drag your explanations out too long. "It’s like teaching a pig to fly; is generally a waste of your time, and it annoys the pig."

This last method was very effective and reminded us all that we can sometimes say a lot more without saying anything at all.

Remember these PSST Keywords when refocusing and dealing with your teenager ~ Support, Love and Nevertheless.

We all agreed that Jane should get an Special Emmy Award for the portrayal of her son Elroy. She asked over and over and over so much she gave herself and a few others a headache. But that is how our teens can be. Thanks Max for demonstrating all of the different ways to respond to a teen.

Remember it is good to watch but it is best to participate in the role plays. You can have time outs – you can ask a friend – you can poll the group – you can even rewind (something we all wish we could do at home). Most of all remember; we are not here to judge you, we are here to help you.

We had some final discussion for those who needed it and some final comments.


1. Check out your teen’s shoes. When you are searching your teen’s room (as all PSST Parents do), don’t forget to check their shoes. It is one of their favorite places to hide drugs and money. They now manufacture shoes with “stash” pockets in the tongue of the shoe.

2. In addition to drugs hidden in their room, look for things like tubes (i.e. paper towel roles, toilet paper roles, barrels from ink pens, sockets from wrench sets, straws), empty soda bottles made into bongs, dryer sheets, pipes, rolling papers, hollowed out cigars, plastic bagies, tea bag size foil packets labeled as incense, niacin tablets, drug test kits, bottles of urine, Natural Herbal Detox Pills and Drinks I-pods, GPS, digital cameras, any electronics that you were not aware that they had. DO NOT THROW THESE OUT. These are all evidence to be saved. Collect and lock them in a safe place – in the trunk of your car, in your own safe, at a friend or relative’s house, in a file cabinet at work (clearly marked) or if possible with the police.

3. When our kids attend IOP as well as regular 12 step meetings we parents can really get hung up on dropping them off and picking them up. Those codependent feelings start to come creeping around again.

It is hard (I know) to trust you teen to get a sponsor at these meetings and begin to ask for rides. It is even harder to trust them to take the bus to the meetings. Regardless, the alternative is to spend a lot of your evenings getting them to the meetings, reading books, shopping, drinking coffee, knitting, napping and taking walks and then riding them home.

On occasion if you are driving them there it is good take the time to sit in on their 12 step meeting. You get to know your teen and their sponsor and their friends.

4. Cell Phones, Face Book, My Space and I-pods with internet capability are all drug paraphernalia. Do Not hesitate to confiscate them from your teenager.

5. If your teen steals anything from you, your family or your friends do not hesitate to call the police and file charges.

6. If your teen is angry enough to threaten, or attempt, to injure you or family members do not hesitate to call the police and file charges. If needed leave the house and call from a cell phone.

7. If your teen threatens, or attempts, suicide get them immediately to the nearest emergency room for an evaluation. Never ignore or minimize a suicide threat or a suicide attempt.

Thanks to our Super PSST Pros for putting this program together and being there for us parents.

Thanks again to all who attended this meeting. It was outstanding to see how many concerned parents there are. When you look around the room you will see a lot of parents nodding in agreement and understanding of where you are coming from.

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

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 December 18 from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the 666 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon

PSST is always looking for a few more parents to join us so we can offer them some help and some hope.

C'mon and join us. You have nothing to lose but a lot of chaos, anxiety and sleepless nights.

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