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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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