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

Summary of the March 19 meeting in Mt Lebanon
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, March 28, 2011

We had another terrific turnout Saturday for our PARENT SURVIVAL SKILLS TRAINING (PSST) Meeting on March 19th, held at a new location the Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church. We are thankful to Kathie T. and Val K. for finding this roomy new location which is only ten blocks down the road from the old meeting place.

We thank Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church for the use of their facility. This is another example of how MLUMC has been serving the South Hills for 100 years. Since the church usually asks for a twenty five dollar donation.

Rocco and I and some other members thought it would be good to skip buying donuts and other treats for the next PSST Meeting and use the money to donate to the church.

The meeting was led by Val and Lloyd from Allegheny County Probation and Family Therapists Kathie from Wesley Spectrum Services. Also joining us were Candice and Larissa from Allegheny County Probation.

The meeting was attended by 17 caring parents representing 11 families.

We began the meeting by having each parent give a brief summary of how their children are doing and how they are doing.

Rocco and Sally kicked off the meeting talking about our 18 year old son Cisco. Cisco has been in and out of a number of facilities since June 2009. Some programs he completed and some he walked away from. His latest program is at an adult facility where we hope that he is starting to “get it”. What we have learned in almost two years is that we didn’t cause Cisco’s addiction problem, we cannot control Cisco’s addiction and we can’t cure Cisco’s addiction. It is his recovery and it is for him to work on it. We are here and will assist him in every way we can but Sally and I need to refocus on us and keeping our lives in order.

Cisco talks about coming home or getting an apartment and living on his own. We have tried to make it clear to him that he will need to get some sort of training or skill to make enough money to be able to afford to live on his own. We would like for him to come home while he completes his training. We have discussed that if he wants to come home that he will need to stay on Juvenile Probation for a while. If he wants to be off of Juvenile Probation then he will need to stay at the halfway house or some other facility. We are currently going to counseling as a family to smooth this transition out.

Thanks to Kathie & Cathie and Lloyd & Val for helping us get to the point that we are at and thanks to all of all of our friends at PSST for their support.

Marie, a veteran PSST mom returned accompanied by her Mom (one of our veteran PSST Grandparents), and her older son, Raymond.

Marie’s younger son Robert is in recovery and has been clean for almost 2 years. Robert has a good job and has been living on his own.

Robert, like many of our teens in recovery, still has some behavior and anger issues in addition to working his recovery. Because of these issues he has been told that he needs to find a new place to live. He has asked Marie if he can move back home.
Marie, like many parents of children in recovery, loves her son and will continue to help him in his recovery. Never-the-less she has determined that moving back home with her is not an option at this time. Not even for a short time while he makes new living arrangements.

This is not an uncommon thing for those in recovery and their loved ones. It does not mean that either of them loves each other any less; it means that they cannot live together in the same place. Sometimes even short visits can be tough to handle (See the role play near the end of the post concerning this).

For now Robert will need to work his housing issue out on his own. Marie’s will need to work on how to say no and sticking with her final answer. Fortunately Marie has the support of her mother and her other son. Many parents find other family members not understanding their feelings and in the worst case opposing them.

It was good to see you again Marie as well as your mom and your son. We are always here to support you or to just listen to you when you need us.

Jenn and Brad where up next. Their 14 year old son Dylan has already entered the juvenile justice system one year ago. His defiant behavior unfortunately has not subsided. Recently they had to call in the police when Dylan became agitated and began to break the furniture. Charges are pending against Dylan which they hope will give teeth to the Act 53 charges they are going to file.

After this altercation Dylan did something noteworthy; he called the police on himself. It seems that his mom told him of course he could not got to the mall with his friends after this. So Dylan decided it was a good idea to call 9-1-1 to tell them that his mom was trying to stop him from going to the mall. The 9-1-1 call resulted in the police returning quickly to the home they had just been at. Dylan was taken to the local hospital for a check-up and released to Jenn and Brad. He was good for a couple of days before he was kicked out of the mall and told Jenn and Brad that he was not going to attend his outpatient program.

Jenn and Brad asked for the input of the other parents at the meeting on their feelings on trying an outpatient program vs inpatient program for their son. As we went around the room I believe it was pretty much unanimous that he definitely needs an inpatient program not just for his own good but for the safety and the sanity of Jenn and Brad.

Placing our teen into an inpatient recovery program is difficult but we pretty much know, as Jenn and Brad do, that it is the correct thing to do. We all want to handle our child ourselves but it becomes more and more apparent that we need to turn this over to recovery professionals to help us. Note: We are not turning over parental control to them, in fact parent’s participation and involvement is critical to helping your child in their recovery.

Jenn and Brad, please accept our assurance that this is the right thing to do and we are here to support you through the process. No system is perfect and results vary but it is the best thing you can do at this time for your son and for yourselves.

Our next parent was Wilma. Wilma’s son Bam-Bam has some mental health issues that, until he is clean for an extended time, will be tough to unravel. She thinks that he has used Acid, K-2 Spice and alcohol. Little by little Bam-Bam is trying to take back the power in their home. Their attempt at Cyber School is not working (it rarely does for our substance abusing teens). Bam-Bam’s home counselor agrees that he is not doing what he needs to do.

Basically Bam-Bam is not in a good place. The only one who is not getting it, or who doesn’t want to accept that their teen needs additional help, is her husband Fred. His preferred solution is that the problems will resolve themselves and just go away. Unfortunately this solution has a 99% +failure rate and generally leads to bigger problems.

Wilma is probably going to need to move forward on her own to save her son’s life and Fred will need to get on board when he can catch up. Please Note: The longer you wait to work on a recovery solution with your child the harder their recovery becomes; resulting in a greater likelihood of permanent disability, and possibly death. Do not underestimate the seriousness of this disease.

You are doing a good job Wilma. Thanks for your contributions to the blog.

Alice has become a PSST Pro-Parent in a short time along with her husband Ralph. Around a year ago they came to their first PSST meeting with their two sons involved in drug use and other legal problems. They had a pretty good idea of what direction they needed to go to help their sons in their recovery but came to PSST for some assistance on how to actually get there.

Their 16 year old son Ed completed his inpatient recovery program and his 90 in 90. Well Alice clarified it was more like 90 in 4-1/2 months never-the- less he did it.

She noted that Ed has been working on gaining his parents trust. During a recent approved weekend away they asked him to call in periodically just to check in. Ed complied and checked in 5 times.

Their older son Norton, 19, chose to leave the area rather than face up to his drug and legal problems about 6 months ago. He has contacted Alice and Ralph about possibly returning home. They explained to him that he would need to deal with his legal problems and his drug recovery prior to discussing his return. Detaching is very difficult however Alice and Ralph understand that they do not want a return to the same chaotic lifestyle they had prior to coming to PSST.

Alice and Ralph are a good example of how in less than a year with PSST they were able to turn their lives around by refocusing on their own well being.

Candy’s daughter Tori has been in her recovery program since last summer when Candy and her husband Aaron had the courage to stand up in court to save her life. They did everything they could to see that their daughter Tori was placed back into an inpatient recovery program.

Tori has done well but recently is having some behavior problems in the halfway house she is in. She told her mom she has to get out of the program. She told her “I’m sorry that I’m letting you down.” Candy replied “You’re not letting me down, you’re letting yourself down.”

Lloyd agreed that this was a good way to handle the situation. Our teens work hard in their recovery and their treatments bring out a lot of feelings. We can feel for our teen but we cannot approve of bad behavior or even indicate to them that it is okay to act out. This again requires us to detach from our teen and refocus on what is best for their recovery and not on our emotions. This is not the easy thing to do.

Thanks for being part of PSST Candy. You continue to show everyone what it means to stand up for your daughter and your family.

Our next PSST pro-mom Daisy has a 15 year old son Ozzie. He has been home from inpatient recovery, on an electronic monitor (i.e. ankle bracelet), for 12 days and 3 hours and counting. On the good side Ozzie has been clean for 6 months. On the bad side his behavior went right back down near zero in his quest for power as soon as he returned home. He has repeated warned anyone that will listen that his mom drives him crazy and that she will cause him to flip out. He had been away for about 6 months, and Daisy feels "like he never left"

This called for a visit from Ozzie’s P.O. (Daisy’s pit bull on a leash). The P.O. allowed Ozzie to vent and then let him in on a secret – “The doors at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center swing both ways.” He suggested to Ozzie that he had not been all that comfortable with him coming home but decided to go along with his counselors and his mom. He wasn’t sure that he was all that ready to be back home from placement and is ready at any time to send him back in. He challenged Ozzie to prove him wrong.

This has given Daisy a temporary reprieve but eventually he will slip back to his daily tantrums. This is when Daisy will need to step up and let him know that he is not in power and she can change her mind also.

This once more goes back to “detachment or refocus” from your teen. As Daisy and the rest of us will testify this is very easy advice to give and it is easy to role play at the meetings but it is really difficult to live continuously at home when facing our teens. Remember these girls and boys are master manipulators and will do whatever it takes to get the power back. That includes threatening, pleading, bargaining, lying and “Flipping Out”.

We have got to learn to allow our children to fail (again easy to say). Never-the-less you will drive yourself, and probably the rest of your family, insane if you try to clear every little twig and pebble out of your child’s path. They have got to learn to pick themselves back up when they fall. You can be there when they cry for help. You might even be there to catch then as they start falling. However you cannot be there 24/7 to watch their every step.

You have done a great job saving your son Daisy but unfortunately he has a way to go yet. Hang in there – we are all here to back you up when you need it.

Brigitte and Francoise are newer PSST parents. Their son Pierre has been in an inpatient recovery program for a few weeks. Because of his deliberate drug use and his attitude his parents filed charges to get him onto juvenile probation. As his recovery has progressed Pierre is getting easier to talk with and he is able to discuss his issues. They accompanied him on his visit with his Public Defender and things are going better than they thought it would. They are both “cautiously optimistic”.

Brigitte and Francoise you are taking tough steps but are progressing well. Remember that recovery is not a cure but a lifetime process and please try not to be discouraged on the bad days. Your son will have his ups and downs but now he knows you are serious about helping him with his recovery. Now it is up to him to work the program.

Brigitte and Francoise we at PSST have been there and done that, and will continue to be there for you, too.

Becky and Tom first came to their first PSST meeting last October but Becky had studied the PSST Blog ahead of time and had already successfully used the PSST "Cold Water Wake-Up Method" on their 16 year old son Syd who didn't want to get up for school.

Syd has been doing well in the halfway house and is scheduled to come home this week. Of course Becky and Tom are apprehensive, as all of us are when our teens return home but they are looking into an alternative school and will put their best PSST detachment skills to the test.

As mentioned above, your son will have his ups and downs but now he knows you are serious about helping him with his recovery. Now it is up to him to work the program.

Becky and Tom you two have come a long way in a short time and we are here to help you stay on track.

Rose's son Joe is an addict whose drug of choice is "robotripping" - using over the counter cough/cold meds in combinations that produce a high. He has been in the system and has not lived at home for two years.

Rose used to be the poster mom for “Moms that don’t want to let go of their kids.” She is finally getting the detachment thing.

She has had good visits with Joe and Joe is scheduled for his first home pass on April 1. Rose has would love to go to a hockey game with Joe or something similar, but she has made no plans yet for the visit. Rose is looking forward to Joe’s visit but knows that many things can happen before Joe gets his home pass (mostly because of consequences of his own actions).

We have discussed behavior previously and the possibility of our kid’s relapses and acting out to be cries for help. It may be that they are not ready to face the world on their own yet.

On a better note she said he is doing well with school and is still scheduled to graduate with his high school class. But once again she is not making plans at this time.

Rose you have had a rough couple of years but you have done all you could to keep your son clean and alive. While the struggles are not be over he is doing as well as he is because of you.

Kitty's younger 18 year old son Carlyle has come home from his inpatient program. He is doing well and Kitty feeling good but is prepared to take whatever action needed to help him into his recovery. She can accept that it is his recovery and it is his choice.

Kitty’s older son Cat is a heroin addict in a 1/2 way house. Once again she recognizes that the only thing she can do is wait and see if he is ready to accept his recovery program. She has made it clear to him that while she loves him and will assist him in his recovery, she will not enable him including the fact that he is not going to be allowed to return home again.

We can all learn from you, Kitty. Thanks for becoming part of PSST.

Jessica has a son we call Herman. Herman has a couple of months in his inpatient recovery program. Jessica and her husband Roger have made it clear to Herman that a whole new world awaits him when he returns home. First off he has lost his own bedroom and will be bunking with his brothers. This includes all of his decorations.

They have had some okay visits recently, including a trip to the nearby mall, but Herman was pressing his mom that he wanted a 10 hour pass to come home. Jessica wasn’t really comfortable with this and as they discussed the new house rules Herman’s anger began to surface again. Jessica has no problem at this point asking her son if it is time to end their visits.

Remember this when you are visiting your teen at an inpatient facility – it is okay to get up and leave if your visit is not going well. As noted above your teen will have a lot of different feelings during their treatment and there is no need to prolong a bad visit. Don’t take it personally but do take the time to report both good and bad visits to their counselors. It will help the counselors determine how well your child is really doing.

As it turned out Herman was not a candidate for a 10 hour pass. And as it turns out, under the terms of the program he is not allowed to leave the county that he is in so he couldn’t do a home pass anyways. We did let Jessica know that there is a nice park with some really nice dog runs a couple of exits down from the recovery facility. Have fun with your new puppy. What was his name...

Hang in there Jessica. As you and Roger know recovery is not a walk in the park.

This Week’s Role Play

This week’s role play concerned a mom telling her son in recovery that he cannot return home. We have several former and current PSST Parents that have this issue.

As noted above; these parents love their child and want to continue to assist their child in any way they can in their recovery but this does not include them returning home. There are various reasons for this and not all of it is about drug & alcohol use. For whatever reason some people can get along wonderfully when they are not living together but they butt heads if they spend more than a day together.

For this role play Marie played the Son and Lloyd played the Mom.

Son: So mom listen I got to get out of the apartment so I am going to move back home for a couple of days.

Mom: No son, you know we have talked about this before...

Son: Mom, I know that, this is not like I am moving back in like forever. I just need a place for a couple of days until I have a new place to move into.

Mom: Nope you will need to find another place to stay.

Son: C’mon mom I just need a place to sleep, I am at work all day. Look I will sleep on the couch I won’t even unpack my bag…

Mom: I’m sorry honey you will need to call one of your friends.

Son: You don’t have any idea what I am going through mom. All I need is a couple of nights until I can find a place. What is your problem? Why can’t I come home?

Mom: Even if I could explain it you wouldn’t get it. So there is no reason to keep on discussing this. I know it is hard to find somewhere to stay but you cannot come here. We are like oil and water together. If you cannot find a friend try a motel for a couple of days. There is that place across the highway from your workplace.

Son: That dive? You want me to stay in that dump? C'mon mom, it will different this time…

Mom: The answer is still no. Now listen, I am not willing to go through it again. You will need to find another place to stay. If you need me to pay for a night or two I can. I can help you out but that is it.

The point here is for the mom to stand firm and clear “No, you cannot stay here. Not even for one or two nights.” Do not take the guilt. At least minimize your guilt; you have been through this before. You cannot get along with your son or daughter in the same house. It is not going to suddenly change. Offer some support. Keep on track; "No you cannot stay here." Do not get into a lengthy discussion of why or why not.

They have put themselves in a bad situation and they need to work their way out of it. You cannot continue to bail them out of the trouble they continue to get themselves in. You cannot return to your co-dependency issues again.

The issue of suicide threats came up here in the discussion.

As always we recommend that you take any and all threats of suicide seriously (no matter how many times they have done it before).

In this case it does not mean letting him use this threat to let him come back home – letting him get his way is not a solution - he can commit suicide at home just as well as anywhere else.

If your son or daughter attempts or threatens suicide get them to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible for an evaluation. If they will not cooperate with you call 9-1-1 and get help.


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Kathie Tagmyer wins "Therapist in Action" award from Wesley Spectrum!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, March 25, 2011

Justin Innocent, Kathie, Carol Nelson (her Supervisor).
 At a huge luncheon banquet today Wesley Spectrum recognized Kathie Tagmyer with the first ever prestigious "Therapist in Action" award. I was asked to speak about how very special Kathie T is to Probation, PSST and to all the people that she has helped. Actually, there are so many wonderful important things to say about Kathie I have been worried that I had not really done justice to Kathie although the whole affair appeared to go really well.

It was also a celebration of Black History Month and the keynote speaker was Judge Kim Berkeley Clark. I wish I could post Judge Clark's speech. The Judge is an excellent and thrilling speaker. The Judge spoke about diversity- women and people of color. Her message was that women and people of color have come a long way but there is much yet to do and a longer road to travel before equality is reached.

Kathie T was very gracious as she accepted her award and spoke very briefly about how she is only one person and how Juvenile Probation and the team of therapists that she has assembled deserve recognition as much as she does. I think PSST parents who have worked with Kathie or one of Kathie's team of therapists know how very much Kathie deserved this award. Any parents who have met Kathie at one of meetings also understands why she has won this awesome recognition.

It was between four and five years ago that Kathie began to work with Val and I in PSST. The parent of the first case that Kathie and I ever worked together came to PSST and raved about how helpful Kathie was to her. Since then, PSST parents have been requesting Kathie like crazy. Of course, since Kathie could not work with everyone she has assembled a dream team of therapists that like working Kathie-style.

I told one story about an actual PSST meeting where it was very helpful to have a Kathie the therpist at our meeting. I kind of told it wrong, so I want to retell it here and get it right. It's much easier to write than speak; there's no rewriting when you speak.

We were finding out from one of our PSST parents how her son acts when he is angry. She was acting his part in a role-play. Suddenly she stood straight up, grabbed the chair she was sitting on and threw it down on the ground. I think it was me that asked her, "what happened next?" She said, "Well I threw something too because I couldn't let him be more powerful than me.!"

There was a big pause, because no one in group really knew what to say to that! We didn't want to critisize her after she shared all that but then Kathie jumped in with this comment, "How's that working for you?" It was the perfect way to get us all back on track without chastizing her. Later, I took the lady aside and thanked her for her participation but cautioned that next time she can just tell us the part where her son is destructive, no need to actally break up the place!

I also mentioned that Kathie has always had a knack of doing assessments and people feel like they finally have help to reach the goals that they had before they met Kathie. In fact, that's what Kathie did with me in the first place. I had a plan to empower parents so that they could provide better supervision to thier own troubled youth. Kathie came up with ways to help reach those goals and I must say, with Kathie's help this job has become a whirlwind adventure.

In the end I claimed Kathie not only as an extemely talented professional but also as a great friend of mine.

Thanks Kathie for all that you do for all of us and we know you'll keep on saving lives with your analytical skills, your encyclopedic knowlege, your unmatched connections, your leadership, your ethics including your unbelivable work ethic, and your creativity. PSST is so lucky to claim you as ours!

Thanks also to Kulsum Davidsom, Program Director who invited Valerie and I to this luncheon. Also, Kulsum Davidsom is retiring and she was given a very prestigious award herself. I know that she will be sorely missed at Wesley Spectrum. Among other award winners, James Reiland, former Director of both Adult and Juvenile Probation won a Black History Award.


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Advise from Families Anonymous
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, March 20, 2011


My role as helper is not to DO things for the person I am trying to help, but to BE things; not to try to control and change his actions, but through understanding and awareness, to change my reactions.

I will change my negatives to positives: my fear to faith, contempt for what he does to respect for the potential within him; hostility to understanding; and manipulation or over-protectiveness to release with love, not trying to make him fit a standard or image, but giving him an opportunity to pursue his own destiny, regardless of what his choice may be.

I will change my dominance to encouragement; panic to serenity; the inertia of despair tot he energy of my own personal growth; and self-justification to self-understanding.

SELF-PITY BLOCKS EFFECTIVE ACTION. The more I use my energy in mulling over the past with regret, or in trying to figure ways to escape a future that has yet to arrive. Projecting and image of the future and anxiously hovering over it, for fear that it will or it wont come true uses all of my energy and leaves me unable to live today.
YET living today is the only way to have a life.

I WILL HAVE NO THOUGHTS FOR THE FUTURE ACTIONS OF OTHERS, neither expecting them to be better or worse as time goes on, for in such expectations I am trying to create. I will love and let be.

ALL PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS CHANGING. If I try to judge them, I do so only on what I THINK I know of them, failing to realize that there is much I do not know. I will give others credit for attempting to progress and for having had many victories which are unknown.

I, TOO, AM ALWAYS CHANGING, and I can make that change a constructive one, If i am willing . I CAN CHANGE MYSELF.

Others , I can only love.

Click on Families Anonymous for more information.

Families Anonymous meets every Tuesday evening 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. at:

Gateway Rehab Squirrel Hill
5818 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Click Here For Map


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Be Part of PSSTory. Help us open our NEW LOCATION (Mt Lebanon)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our new spot is just ten blocks down Washington Road from our old meeting place. It's at the corner of West Liberty Ave (which is also called Washington Road) and Scott Rd. The parking lot is sandwiched between Scott Rd and Peermont Ave. Lot's of parking. We have a small stage, a plug for a coffee pot, bathroom down the hall, and believe it or not a piano!

BULLETIN: Jessica, our PSST Star, was having a dreadfully awful day with her son, Baby Herman. She was feeling exhausted. However, she did not succumb to enabling.... instead she plugged into her creative juices and wrote the following PSST Theme Song! Way to GO JESS!  Sung to: Those Were the Days from All in the Family

Boy! The way our children played,
 never heard the laughter fade.
Parents like us we had it made
Those were the days.

Didn't need no home drug screen
Everybody tested clean
Gee how easy life had been (said as bean to rhyme sorry)
Those were the days.

And you knew where they where then
Curfew was 'tween 9 and 10

Mister, we didn't need a man like Lloyd Woodward back then.

Children seemed to be content
Dollars were for candy spent
Never had our money lent
Those were the days.

Take a little time for me
Saturdays at P.S.S.T

Great support for families

These are the days.

Lyrics By - Jessica

click here for directions
see post below for more details and pictures

One of our PSSTechies took a closer look at the New PSST Mt Lebo Location Pix and spotted what appears to be a PSST Parent holding a Bulldog on a leash. Click on the picture to get a closer look.


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PSST Meeting Recap - March 12, 2011 Wexford
Posted by:Max--Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PSST Meeting Recap - March 12 - Wexford

Today's meeting was led by PSST power couple Cheryl and Jim, assisted by Val Ketter from Juvenile Probation, and Kathie T from Wesley Spectrum Services.

Absent in body only (attendance to this meeting was via text to Val) was Lloyd Woodward, at home healing up. Lloyd, we missed you and hope you will be with us next meeting at Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church!

Cheryl and Jim started the weekly update with a progress report on son Andy. He is still in his half-way house doing well...he was voted "Peer of the Week"!! He is currently a "level 2", and his medical situation is being monitored. All is well at this time, and all of us pray that it continues to be so!

Daisy's son Ozzie came home from placement. He has been gone for about 6 months, and Daisy feels "like he never left"...I am sure that is a common experience for many parents when their kid comes home after a long time out of the house...re-entry is difficult. Ozzie is really testing Daisy to see if in fact she has changed, and if he has any power at home any more. Daisy is using her best PSST techniques as much as possible. As a matter of fact, before Daisy could respond to one of Ozzie's requests, he said "and don't use that 'I'm not comfortable' stuff...that's PSST!!" Little pitchers have big ears...the darlings. Daisy, what you are going through now is tough, but all of us at PSST are here to support you....You WILL get through this tough period!

Michael, Max and Mel's oldest, decided to try life on his own and moved out of the house a week ago. It was an amicable decision; Michael wants to live on his terms, not having to follow house rules. Max and Mel said "if that's what you really want to do, we won't stop you". Currently he is couch surfing, not attending school, but very responsible at work, which he loves. In fact, all he really wants to do is work so he can sometime soon get an apartment. He keeps his parents posted by text messages, although they are becoming less frequent. Max and Mel are waiting and watching, hoping that sometime (sooner rather than later) Michael has an epiphany that will help him figure out what he really wants and how to obtain it, in a safe way. Michael knows how much he is loved and that he is welcome home anytime, as long as he follows house rules.

Rocco and Sally's Cisco
is at a "different level with his addiction", according to Rocco. Cisco has been more honest lately, even admitting to having broken house rules, which resulted in a lock-down, and him missing a family reunion. Rocco and Sally have seen maturity in Cisco; he wants to buy his own cell phone, and rebuffed Sally's offer of help. His anger, once a huge issue, has been well under control. The family really likes Cisco's counselor, who has advised family counseling NOW, before Cisco comes home; this will aid in a smoother transition when it is time for Cisco to come home - after being out of the home almost 2 years! Rocco and Sally, you guys are The Little Engine That Could!

Kitty is cautiously optimistic regarding son Carlyle's imminant discharge from his rehab. She says, "last year at this time, I didn't see my kids at all; now I'm out in Aliquippa 3 times a week"! Her older son, Cat, is also at a half-way house on the same campus. Kitty knows that although things seem good, her son knows how to push her buttons, and vice-versa. Kitty has been dealing with her older son's addiction for several years, so I will call her a veteran, even though she has only just started coming to PSST meetings. She has managed to "detach with love" from her 2 kids, and has made taking care of herself a priority. We all have to learn how to do this, and most of us agree, it is one of the most difficult things we have to do. Kitty, any advice would be most welcome!

Angela's daughter Samantha was just discharged from her RTF after being there for 90 days. She continues there to finish high school as well as a partial program. Samantha wants to go back to her home high school, but that is out of the question.

Angela has given Samantha back her phone, as well as monitored use of the computer. She is under house arrest. It is difficult and stressful being home with this teen; it has been a struggle every day, according to Angela.

Her husband will be out of town for a week, and the prospect of going at this alone is frightening...she needs "Chuck Norris to move in"!

Angela, I think you and Daisy ought to meet for coffee! On a good note - Angela overheard Samantha talking on the phone to one of her "old" friends that was one of her main contacts. She told him "I won't be talking to you for at least 90 days."

She got that one right!

Posey's son Thor had decided to leave the house about 3 weeks ago. It has been very stressful as she didn't know where he was. He suddenly showed up again; he failed a drug test at his alternative school, and Posey was called to pick him up. Thor said he wanted to come home, and Posey, being a good PSST-er, said "if you want to live here, you have to follow the rules". He slept in his bed - not the sofa or the basement - for the first time in a long while. Posey, are we living parallel lives? Am I your doppleganger? Michael liked to sleep on the sofa too....

Francoise and Brigitte have their hands and hearts full of son Pierre. He has just started his inpatient program, and prior to this, they were unsure as to whether or not a PO was needed. As we often say in PSST, the kid will show you exactly what he needs; they practically ask for it.

A while ago, Francoise and Brigitte removed Pierre's bedroom door as a consequence. Before going to inpatient, in a defiant move, Pierre proceeded to smoke weed in his bedroom for all to see - no doubt he was telling his parents "in your face, Mere et Pere!" (though not said that nice, and probably not in French).

This left no doubt in anyone's mind that a PO will be necessary upon Pierre's discharge.

Now, there is much anxiety, because when they tell him this, he will no doubt become enraged. This is true, but Francoise and Brigitte have something important on their side; they are telling this tough news to Pierre while he is in patient. This is the best atmosphere in which to give difficult news to a difficult kid; the parents will be supported and protected, and Pierre will get the help he needs from his counselors when they see how he reacts and acts out.

Many of our kids are the "perfect patient" when they go in patient. The counselors report "what a great kid! He is really cooperative!" and don't see what we see at home. It is important that they have a true understanding what the parents are up against; all the rants and raves and knocking down chairs while they are in a facility HELPS your situation, and actually helps them get the help they really need...don't fear it!

F & B, we are looking forward to hearing the outcome of this showdown. We have all been there and done that, and will continue to be there for you, too.

The Kramdons joined us today, and as always had interesting stories to share.

Ralph gave kudos to Lloyd..he apparently predicted that older son Norton, who ran away to his birth family out of the country, would make contact in 6 months. Well, it was 6 months and one week that Norton emailed Ralph saying "dad, I want to come home".

Lloyd was then dubbed "The Oricle Of Juvenile Probation", and "A Sage" (none of this, by the way, is good for Lloyds head..).

All jokes aside, the Kramdons knew, even as Norton pulled on heartstrings, that this could be just a cry for money and not a real desire to return. Norton has legal issues; if he were to really come back, he would be on probation, dealing with court, fines, and possible jail time.

In his email Norton suggested that Ralph "fly down and meet" him, another signal. The Kramdons stood tough and refused to enable. If Norton really wants to come home, face his charges and make amends with his folks, he will find a way to get home by hisself, without help from Ralph and Alice. A painful, but very wise decision by the Kramdons.

On a happier note, son Ed continues to do well at home and school. As any normal teen, Ed is ready for more freedom, but Alice and Ralph are dubious. There needs to be more action on Ed's part to earn back their trust. Ed is trying to figure out how he can do this - more phone calls to check in for a start. The Kramdons reward these efforts by giving him "little nuggets of supervised freedom".

Jenn and Brad's son Dylan was recently released from an acute mental health program. They have been having family based counseling which seemed to be going well.

After returning to his home school, he "blew up" in class; all were in agreement when the decision was made to send Dylan back to the alternative school where he just left - he also has friends there which made it easy for him.

On the short break between the two schools, Dylan "had to celebrate". He became out of control and manipulative; When his parents showed up to get him at the appointed time, he said "I'm not ready yet, come back at 2 a.m.".

Wisely his parents said no. As luck would have it the police were called to the home of the party where Dylan was. There were underage kids drinking, and no adults present. Dylan was released to his parents, totally un-phased.

A magistrate hearing was set up, in part to "scare Dylan straight" - one would think a small taste of the legal system would frighten most teens. Not so in this case (I had the same situation with my younger son! Read Max and Mel's Terrible Adventure Part I & II)

Dylan announced "I'm not going to listen to anyone, I am doing whatever I want, I can't commit to any rules".

Although Jenn and Brad have a nice relationship with the local police, who show up when needed for some support, Dylan needs more; the plan is Act 53; a wise move. Dylan does have mental health issues, but drugs and/or alcohol can easily exacerbate the situation. When the teen is clean for a reasonable period, mental health services can better diagnose and treat the patient.

For more information on Act 53 and if it is right for you, there is more on this blog. Enter it into the search bar, or look on the left to older posts.

In the meantime, Jenn and Brad, we are with you in your difficult journey. Hang in there, you are not alone.

Wilma has her hands full (who in this group doesn't, I ask?); not only is Bam-Bam not cooperative in his treatment (he refused to "perform" for his drug test, and doesn't want his parents at family night), her spouse Fred is not on the same parenting page (although he did make some delicious cookies the other week, it is not a substitute!).

Wilma decided to drug test her son herself, and he was positive for weed. Wilma rightfully wanted to ground Bam-Bam until he tested negative, to which Bam replied "but that means 30 days!!" Fred sadly chimed in "I think that's too long, too!". Wilma has had enough and wants to press charges. Val advised her to proceed with Act 53.

We noted a few things at this point. One is, there is more than one parent amongst us who has to go it alone, without the full support of the spouse. This is difficult and painful to do, but it has been done.

Kudos to Jane, who stood up in court more than once to get son Elroy in treatment. Val, who was present, praised her for the great job she did. No one means to suggest that the enabling parent doesn't love their kid. They love them a lot. They just haven't seen the PSST light!

Once you see the truth about manipulations and what constitutes enabling, you can't go back!

Another discussion ensued regarding adoption. Of the PSST parents present, several have adopted kids with issues.

Why is that so? A few responses; kids having kids who then place those babies for adoption, no doubt had issues of their own. Perhaps they were involved with drugs or alcohol, had ADD or other mental health issues, which made them more impulsive with partners and less likely to have "safe protected sex".

This isn't true in all cases, but many. So our adopted kids have some inherited biological tendencies that we ourselves never had to deal with.

Nurture AND Nature makes up a person. We all are doing our best on the nurture side of things, but as we all know there are some things we cannot change. The Serenity Prayer works well about now.

Our final family before our break was Jane and son Elroy. Elroy is doing well at his RTF. Jane is pleased but cautious, as she knows her son can say what eveyone wants to hear, although she does see some positive changes.

At the latest family meeting, George, who is another spouse that isn't always on Janes page, attended. The excercise was "write your son's obituary". The kid had to write their own, which was thought provoking. Jane stood up to read hers, and cried all the way through it like most moms would, citing the things Elroy had meant to her.

Georges turn; he said "Elroy won't be missed by anyone, or known for anything because of all his stupid mistakes". Jane was horrified - how could George be so heartless?

Suddenly all the other dads in the room were "high-fiving" George for "speaking the truth". When Elroy was asked how he felt about his dad's obituary, he thought for a moment and said "it's true". Jane thought about this and realized that her husband may have said something constructive after all; maybe he did get through to Elroy.

She went home to acknowledge a good point made by George.

Some of us parents, mostly the moms get very emotional and protective of our kids, and when some spouses jump in with a harsher tone, with no thought if it will hurt anyone's feelings, we become upset with our spouse. We hate to admit it, but sometimes that is the more appropriate approach with our kids.

BREAK TIME - We took a short break for some coffee, tea, cookies and other treats and some interesting discussions.

PLAY TIME - We did a role play about handling a son who has returned home from a few months in a Recovery Treatment Facility. Mom is finding out that old line "The more things change, the more they stay the same" to be truer than she hoped for.

Our teens returning home for a visit (especially our teens returning home for good) is a source of anxiety for most parents. It can trigger our co-dependency addiction days, even weeks, prior to them even coming home, no matter how well they have done in their recovery program. It is important to you to have a plan with a contract in place ahead of time.

Quite frankly not all recovery programs do very well in preparing parents or their child for their return home. This is where PSST comes in - come to our meetings and learn how to prepare and stick to your plan. Of course things will rarely go the way you plan, never-the-less you will have the whole group here to listen to you, support you and help you through this tough time.

So the role play was a son returning home (on electronic home monitoring a.k.a. ankle bracelet) pushing the boundaries and generally test his mom to see if he gain the power back in their home. In this role play he wants to know why he can't have a cell phone of his own (Hint: He already knows why but he is going to badger his mom about it until she breaks down)

Son: ...but mom I need a phone! I am going nuts in this house with no friends to talk to!!!"

Mom: Sorry, you know we can't do that, you know that you can't have a cell..."

Son: "Man, you sound just like that stupid P.O.! What are you like one of his zombies? I am going to flip out here mom, you can't expect me not to talk to anyone except you!!!"

Mom: Listen I know it is going to be a really tough 90 days but that's what we agreed to, it's what is in our contract."

Son: That stupid @ss contract is worth sh*t mom, that's just some bullsh*t that that goofy P.O. wants..."

Mom: "Honey I am not comfortable with you having..."

Son: "Mom! That's more of that stupid P.O. bullsh*t! That I'm not comfortable crap! Don't you remember mom, I was there the night he came and talked to the parents. I heard all of his sh*t talk..."

Mom: "Listen, I understand that you are going to have a hard time with this, never the less it is our contract and we will stick to it and that includes no cell phone."

Son: "Mom I am going to flip out here! If I can't talk to my fiends then I am going to leave! I am just going to walk out of here! This is worse than my RTF, I had it easier in my RTF! You are like my biggest trigger, if I flip out it is going to be all your fault! I would rather be back in my RTF..."

Mom: (Remaining calm) "Your right I probably am your biggest trigger and guess what you are my biggest trigger too. Like I said, we knew this was not going to be easy. It is not easy for me or you. I would love to be able to give you things that you want but you know that is my issue, enabling you. I need to stop enabling you. So the answer is no. Now listen I am going up to my room to relax. I need you to relax yourself, go watch TV, or read or something."

Mom ends the conversation and walks away.

Son: At first just standing there but then following his mom and crying: "I'm sorry mom. I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't get so angry mom. But listen I just get so upset..."

Mom: Stopping for just a minute: "I understand honey, now I am going to my room and I suggest that you go to your room and calm down."

Son: "But mom don't you understand..."

Mom: "Yes honey I really do understand. Right now I need some quiet time for me."

Son: "But mom just talk to me, we can work this out mom..."

Mom: "Son, do you see this space where my door used to be before you broke it off. Let's pretend it is still there and I am closing it. Now you go back to your room and pretend that you are closing your door that was there before I took it off and threw it away and just relax for a while."

Role plays are different from reality - most of us have experienced this.
Never-the-Less don't miss out on a chance to try them. They will help you to be prepared when reality strikes. The more you practice them the better you will be, not perfect, better. Thanks to our two veteran PSST Parents Max and Ralph for doing the role play - Max does a great recovering son and Ralph does a great mom!

Thanks as usual to our PSST Pro's for being there for us and for all of the PSST Parents that made it to the meeting.

Years ago, Sally and Rocco attended an elementary school meeting on self esteem and were told: “Your child has a big advantage in their life because you cared enough to attend this meeting.”

Although your son or daughter may be in a “bad place” right now they have a “big advantage” in their life because you cared enough to attend a PSST meeting.

More than likely your teenager will not grasp the “big advantage” concept. In all probability they will resent that you go to “those meetings where you are misled by that crazy dude.” Or as our kids put it so well "You guys belong to that PSST Cult!"

NEVERTHELESS they are in a better place because YOU DO CARE enough to try to save your child's life.

We all would like to sincerely thank Trinity Lutheran Church for the use of their first class facilities to allow PSST to empower parents of out-of-control teenagers. This is another great example of how Trinity Lutheran has been reaching out and serving Wexford and the northern suburbs since 1845.

We look forward to seeing more concerned parents at the next PSST Meeting ~ SAturday March 19 at the **NEW MT LEBANON LOCATION**

Mt Lebanon United Methodist Church
3319 West Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216


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Alcohol poisoning ~ Alcohol Can Kill ~ By Wilma
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shelby's Rules: Dig Life

I read an article in Good Housekeeping last night about this young girl, Shelby Allen, who died at a friends house of alcohol poisoning.

The greatest tragedy of all was that her death may have been prevented if one of her "friends" would have called for help.

The teens were at a friend's house with ADULTS present who left an unattended full bar with teenagers sitting around it who then went to bed with a verbal warning not to drink.

How many kids would listen to that? What a temptation!

Afterward Shelby's parents discovered this home was a "safe home" for underage drinking.

Click on the title above to link to the Shelby's Rules website. It talks about what happened and about the foundation her mom started to bring awareness to teens and adults about the dangers of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning.

The article in Good Housekeeping was very good and informative.

When my son was in 7th grade a classmate was drinking at the high school football game and taken to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. She was a small girl and very lucky to survive.

When I picked the boys up from the game they were talking about it and asked me if she could die and I told them she could die or she could survive and have permanent brain damage (become a vegetable) and the van became very silent. They had shocked looks on their faces. I don't think any of them every thought you could die from drinking.


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K2 Gains Popularity Among Athletes
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, March 15, 2011

K2 Gains Popularity Among Athletes
Monday March 7, 2011
Written by: Eric Adelson and Teddy Mitrosilis

Mike Rozga started the site K2DrugFacts.com as a way to warn the public. It’s too late to save his son. He watched the Packers win the Super Bowl in his home, weeks after spreading some of David’s ashes in an end zone at Lambeau Field.

David Rozga loved the Packers. He had a No. 4 tattoo for Brett Favre on his right shoulder, and he planned to add a No. 12 for Aaron Rodgers. He played football until he broke his leg as a sophomore in high school, and he often made the trip with his dad to Lambeau Field from his home in Indianola, Iowa. David Rozga dreamed of seeing the Pack win a Super Bowl.

He didn’t get the chance. Last June, he left a high school graduation party, returned home and took his own life.

David Rozga was 18.

His parents, Mike and Jan, blamed themselves. “It really made us look deeply at ourselves,” Mike says. “How terrible parents we were to not have seen this in our son.”

Two days later, David’s girlfriend, Carrie, came by with a confession: On the day he died, she said, David had been smoking a synthetic marijuana called K2, also known as Spice.

David’s parents had never heard of it. Carrie hadn’t, either. But when Mike Rozga called the police, he began to learn about an herbal blend sprayed with chemicals that mimic the high from marijuana. It’s marketed as incense but it is nothing like the stuff that makes your kitchen smell like potpourri.

Reporting by ThePostGame.com shows K2 use may be on the rise in the athlete population –- not only at various levels of amateur sport, but in professional sports as well. “I go straight weed in the off-season,” one NFL veteran told ThePostGame.com on condition of anonymity. “Then, in-season, when they test, I go to [K2].”

“It’s a danger to anybody who thinks this is a legal way to get high without being caught,” says Jay Schauben, director of the Florida Poison Control Center. “The possible side effects include significant hallucination, cardiac effects, seizures, rapid heart rate, hypertension, severe agitation, passing out, and panic attacks.”

Rozga believes a K2 high led to his son’s suicide. The Indianola police chief, Steve Bonnett, wrote a letter saying David “had a severe panic attack after smoking K2, which resulted in his death.”

“David suffered greatly,” Mike Rozga says. “He was tormented by this drug.”

Leading health experts believe more tragedy is to come -- and that athletes may be at particular risk.

“We’re receiving more reports of its use in the athlete population,” says Frank Uryasz, director of the National Center of Drug-Free Sport. “It appears to be marketed heavily to young people -- high school age and below, and college. We’re getting reports from colleges, where athletes are asking about it.”

One such report to the Drug-Free Sport hotline, from an NCAA athletic trainer, reads:

“Three student-athletes were breaking apart cigarettes, mixing it with K2, rolling it back up into papers and then smoking. One young man, who had NO past medical history, had a seizure and lost consciousness. He was found outside the dorm by campus security convulsing. His heart rate was elevated above 200 for enough time that he was admitted for 24 hours of observation … When asked why he did it: "I didn't think it would be that much of a rush, I had no control over my body in that I could see but could not talk or speak.”

Here’s another report, from another athletic trainer:

“We have a student-athlete who was in the emergency room over the weekend! Says he was smoking ‘Spice.’ His heart was racing, his blood pressure was off the charts, and he was hallucinating. This went on for hours!!”

K2, which was first identified in December 2008 is very similar to the compound that produces the high of marijuana. But K2 does not produce a positive drug test, and that is part of why its use has skyrocketed in the U.S. over the last two years.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 14 cases of K2 exposure in the 48 states plus the District of Columbia in 2009. In 2010, that number exploded to 2,888. Already this year, there have been nearly 1,000. In the last four months alone, 151 Navy sailors have been accused of using or possessing the drug.

The U.S. Naval Academy expelled eight midshipmen last month for using K2.

Several forms of synthetic marijuana were added to the DEA’s controlled substance list last week, including JWH-018, but it’s virtually impossible to identify and ban all of them.

K2 is relatively inexpensive and widely available; it’s even sold at some gas stations, according to several experts. David Rozga got his at a mall near Des Moines, according to his father.

ThePostGame.com recently bought a three-gram package of “K2 Peach” at a smoke shop in Orlando for $59.95. The package said “Not for consumption,” and it came with a small leaflet that said “Not … for human consumption” three times.

But it is being consumed, and athletes who use it are at particular risk, some experts say. “For athletes, you run the danger of having cardiovascular effects,” says David Kroll, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at North Carolina Central University. “I would hypothesize that with enough people using this stuff, you’re bound to see a heart attack.”

Performance-enhancing drugs may add yet another layer of risk. “If you combine these products and steroids, I can’t begin to predict the negative consequences,” says Anthony Scalzo, director of toxicology at St. Louis University. “If you add these stresses to the heart, someone’s probably going to have a heart attack from it.”

But those who use it often fail to see the danger behind the high.

“I used it freshman year,” one Division I NCAA athlete told ThePostGame.com, on condition of anonymity. “We tried it and realized that it has similar effects to weed. It was the first time where you could do something that you shouldn’t be doing but you couldn’t get in trouble for it.”

There are no confirmed deaths from K2, however the Drug Abuse Warning Network reports there were 374 emergency room admits last year because of K2 and similar substances.

“Sometimes you feel like your heart is going to come out of your chest, going to explode,” says the D-I athlete. “Your pulse just goes up like crazy. You literally feel like sometimes you’re going to die. But you wake up the next morning and you’re like, ‘Whatever, it’s fine.’

“If you smoke weed, you’re just chill. When you smoke K2, you are (messed) up. Sometimes I felt almost like drops of water were landing on my body somewhere. You’ll feel like a cool drop somewhere and I’ll check but there’s nothing. It’s weird. It’ll trigger different kind of senses around your body.”

The DEA plans to keep K2 illegal for at least a year. The NCAA has also decided to ban it, effective August 1 of this year, but according to NCAA associate director of health and safety Mary Wilfert, “We don’t have a punishment until a student tests positive.” And tests for K2 are not widely accessible.

“This market is always going to be available,” says the D-I athlete. “No matter what laws they pass, there will be a way to get around it. I don’t think there’s a way to test for (K2), so athletes are going to use it. Athletes are going to keep doing stuff they can get away with.”

That’s Mike Rozga’s biggest fear. He started the site K2DrugFacts.com as a way to warn the public, but it’s too late to save his son. He watched the Packers win the Super Bowl in his home, weeks after spreading some of David’s ashes in an end zone at Lambeau Field.

“We would have watched the Super Bowl together, without a doubt,” Rozga says. “As a lifelong fan, I was really happy. But it was one of the many things I’ll never get to share with David. I’ll never go to another Packers game with him.”

K2 Gains Popularity Among Athletes

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Website is owned and operated by Sports Media Ventures, Inc.

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What is Heroin?
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, March 15, 2011



What are the street names/slang terms?
Big H, Blacktar, Brown sugar, Dope, Horse, Junk, Muc, Skag, Smac

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy. It is a “downer” or depressant that affects the brain’s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain’s ability to perceive pain.

What does it look like?

White to dark brown powder or tar-like substance.

How is it used?

Heroin can be used in a variety of ways, depending on user
preference and the purity of the drug. Heroin can be injected into a vein (“mainlining”), injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw, known as “chasing the dragon,” snorted as powder via the nose.

What are its short-term effects?

The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of eroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects included slowed and slurred speech, slow gait, constricted pupils, droopy eyelids, impaired night vision, vomiting, constipation.

What are its long-term effects?

Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulites, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not really dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect.

As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements (“kicking the habit”), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last does and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can be fatal.

What is its federal classification?

Schedule I

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

THE PARTNERSHIP AT DRUGFREE.ORG is a drug abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resource, existing to help parents and caregivers effectively address alcohol and drug abuse with their teens and young adults.

© 2011 The Partnership at Drugfree.org

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Breaking the anger-remorse cycle
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, March 14, 2011

Do as I say or the hairdryer gets it!
When teenagers have anger issues, temper tantrums, violent episodes the teenager may follow closely with remorse. While on the surface it is certainly a good sign the teenager is able to feel remorse it is not necessarily a good sign if this pattern continues. This post attempts to address how to help your teenager break this I'm angry- now I'm sorry cycle.

Excerpt from post: At this point Mom has to decide. Is she going to take this opportunity to instruct her son that she did not lie, that while she likes saving money that the real reason that she took the phone is exactly what she told him that it was, i.e., that he had restricted calls on his phone? If she does go down that path now there is hardly any turning back. This will become the new issue and the first issue may never be addressed. If she falls for that, then her son has successfully manipulated her away from the real issue.

It feels to the parent like the most critical intervention is during the anger stage. Indeed, it is a critical time, e.g., if a teenager is realizing a benefit to the tantrum then the parent has reinforced this behavior. So, if a parent gives in once the teenager begins his anger episode it can be very difficult to reverse this behavior because it has been historically reinforced; however, it is not as well understood that the the time of remorse is an excellent window in which to address this behavior. This posts attempts to highlight the importance of the remorse phase of the cycle.

Son: Mom, I want to know why you decided to take my phone off of me.

Mom: We discussed that.

Son: But you lied! You said I misused it but really you didn't want to pay the bill anymore.

Mom: You misused your phone by calling unapproved peers.

Son: I told you that was an accident but you just wanted to get rid of my phone. If you would have told me the truth I would have still been mad, but what I'm really mad at is your lying to me- why do you have to be a lying bitch?

Mom: OK, that's it- this discussion is over.

Son: No it's not [grabbing a hair dryer of mother's and throwing it at the wall] why are you always lying [yelling].

Mom goes for phone and dials 911 and immediately asks for an officer to keep the peace. Teen begins to calm down while officer is on the way. He is remorseful. He says it is mostly (but not all) his fault. He asks for another chance. He begs her not to call the police. He promised her that she won't be sorry if she doesn't tell his PO, his father, his therapist, or whomever is involved with his case.

Before we continue on with this role-play (hold that thought) lets examine some current ideas on this:

"Harmful Adaptations to Anger and Abuse: Walking on Eggshells. The most insidious aspect of abuse is not the obvious nervous reactions to shouting, name-calling, criticism or other demeaning behavior. It's the adaptations you make to try to prevent those painful episodes. You walk on eggshells to keep the peace or a semblance of connection.

"Women are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of walking on eggshells due to their greater vulnerability to anxiety. Many brave women engage in constant self-editing and self-criticism to keep from "pushing his buttons." Emotionally abused women can second guess themselves so much that they feel as though they have lost themselves in a deep hole."

These excerpts were taken from Compassion Power.

I realize that this website is not about parenting per se; nevertheless, I feel that this cycle of abuse remorse between adults is revelant to what happens between parent and teenager.  

Keeping this eggshells analogy in mind, let's go back to our example above. At the point where the teenager turns remorseful, the parent is going to feel relieved. Crisis managed. Now the child is being nice. Now the parent wants to reinforce this behavior and therefore relaxes with the idea that the crisis is over; however, this may be as important a time to manage the crisis, with the idea that you are now setting the stage for the next crisis to be managed. Now is the time to use your PSST powers to good advantage.

Son: Mom, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I just got mad cause you know you don't always tell me the truth.

Mom: Excuse me? You make it sound like it was my fault that you blew up and broke my hair dryer and called me names.

Son: No, it's not your fault. It's my fault. I'm so sorry, [looks like he could cry if you look at him to hard]

Mom: Look, honey, I agree with what you first said, this was your responsibility. Whether you liked the way I said it or what I said, you are responsible for your feelings and your behavior. So, I'm with you- yeah you're sorry about that and I really feel that. Boy, that was a huge screw up.

Son: But I said I was sorry! You're not going to tell my PO are you? [Starting to get fired up again. A lot of times this is where the Mom backs down realizing that she doesn't want him to revert to the "bad teen" again so she starts her "walking on egg shells." But this mother knows that she has a window of opportunity here and she is not going to squander it.]

Mom: And I agree that you are sorry. I would be sorry too if I had acted like that and I agree that your PO will be very disappointed b/c you just talked to him about doing this kind of stuff.

Son: Mom he's going to drag me off to Shuman! Is that what you want? I wouldn't have got so mad at you if you hadn't lied to me. Now your going to have me sent away but you know I can't being lied to [crys and sobs].

Mom: OK, you know what, I'm just going to give you a chance to get yourself together- we'll talk about this when you get a grip on it. [Mom gets up and is ready to exit the room.]

Son: I'm stopping! [starts to raise voice again] God it's like you punish me for crying! I'm just expressing my feelings like my therapist told me to do.

Mom: You can do that. And if you need a moment to compose yourself that's just fine honey.

Son: Well, he said cause you gave me too much information when I was growing up, you know told me stuff about bills and stuff that I didn't need to know, that now I have trouble when people don't level with me. You should just tell me the truth or just don't tell me nothing but don't make something up. 

PIVOTAL JUNCTURE: [At this point Mom has to decide. Is she going to take this opportunity to instruct her son that she did not lie, that while she likes saving money that the real reason that she took the phone is exactly what she told him that it was, i.e., that he had restricted calls on his phone? If she does go down that path now there is hardly any turning back. This will become the new issue and the first issue may never be addressed.

If she falls for that, then her son has successfully manipulated her away from the real issue.

For this example, our mother decides not to debate this one but to stick with the primary issue- i.e., (1)him being 100 percent responsible for what he did, and (2)what he is prepared to do to see that this doesn't happen again. This is the window to deal with this and if while you are addressing this he has another blow up- oh well, at least you showed him that you're not going to be intimated and start walking on "egg shells."

Mom: OK, [The teen has stopped crying- without that there was no point in continuing- it's just too powerful an effect when a man cries and we don't want to reinforce that behavior by giving him attention.] You don't need a moment to compose yourself?

Son: No. I'm fine.

Mom: Good. I see you are fine. Good job. Now, thanks for listening to me I know that you are upset and this isn't easy for you either.

Son: It's not. I just think we need to communicate better. We need to do what my counselor said and work on this together cause there's things you do that push my buttons and I push your buttons too.

Mom: I agree we certainly need to do that.  We are always ready to set each other off aren't we?  I'm glad you brought that up because what really sets me off is when I think I hear you saying that this breaking of my hair dryer and name calling is partly my fault.  Yes, that really pushes my buttons and frankly I'm worried about how you are looking at this.

Son: What?

Mom: That I could be responsible in whatever way because you broke my hair dryer and called me a bitch. That is not something that I'm willing to share with you.   You think I lied and that somehow kinda justifies you breaking my hair dryer and calling me a bitch. I don't buy that.

Son: But even my therapist says...

Mom: [moves in and lowers voice talking slowly] I'm not willing to take that responsibility from you.

Son: But it takes two of us

Mom: Yes, I agree that it DOES take two of us to have an issue and like I said I agree that we are both good at pushing each other's buttons- regardless, when you start breaking things and calling me names, I can't own that one.

Son: Well, it was 70 percent my fault but I still say it was 30 percent your fault. You shouldn't have lied to me to begin with.

Mom: I agree with one big thing you just said.

Son: What?

Mom: 70 percent and 30 percent equals 100 percent and you're right it is important to see who owns that 100 percent. Nevertheless, when you start with the throwing things and calling names no matter what i've said it's 100 percent your part now buddy. That's completely unnaceptable and dangerous!

Mom:  And another thing I agree with is that as long as you believe that this is partially my fault that you become violent and out-of-control, your unnacceptable behavior will continue. This is not the first incident like this and from the looks of things it won't be the last incident.  You are going to continue to repeat this mistake until you take responsibility and do what you need to do to stop it.

Son: But my therapist says that this happens because you always gave me too much information.

Mom: Your therapist is right honey, I gave you way to much power when you started acting out-of-control and I'm stopping it right now.

Son: What?

Mom:  I tried to tiptoe around you trying hard not to say the wrong thing so that you wouldn't explode.  That was wrong and you can tell your therapist that I can admitt that today.

Mom: I know I've been afraid of waking that angry beast inside you and I'm done with that now. I don't cause you to act that way, I can't control you when you get angry and I'm going to try to stop acting like it's even partially my fault. From now on when you are out-of-control, and hear me, I don't care if I lied to you ten times in one day!  It's your responsibility to own this behavior and I won't allow you to pull me into it like that. I didn't call you names. I didn't break your stuff. You did that to me and if we don't get somethings straight here your going to continue doing stuff like that.

Son: Now I'm getting mad again- you're making me feel mad again.

Mom: Fine! Deal with it. Now what, you going to break some more of my stuff? [moving in closer lowing voice] Want to call me a bitch again? Do you think I'm lying to you now when I tell you that if you start breaking stuff again I'm calling the police back and I'm probably getting the same officer who was just here.  But if that's what helps you calm down...

Son: That's not necessary.  I'm just mad again is all.

Mom: OK, enough talk. Let's wrap this up. I agree your sorry.

Son: I am.

Mom: That's good. Well, I'm going to give you a chance to prove that one- I need the basement cleaned up - a really good job- I am grounding you until that's done. Also, the phone is finished now and you can be sure I'm not lying about that!-

Son: You said you were taking it for a week!

Mom: Yeah but I'm the one whose sorry now, cause I'm sorry but I'm confiscating it until further notice and we'll see if you can learn to control your temper before I even consider returning it.

Son: But you said...

Mom: I agree with you I'm a big liar then. And I change my mind sometimes.  Does that help? I lied about taking it for a couple days cause now I'm taking it until further notice. I will also need your game system and TV taken out of your room.

Son: What! What am I going to do here?

Mom: I don't know- but you said you were sorry so I guess we both can still agree on that one. When you call me a bitch and throw my stuff then it doesn't matter what a big liar I am- it's your responsibility. You have to deal with it and if you're as sorry as you say then you won't complain about the consequences. What you did was wrong, dangerous, unacceptable, and I refuse to keep that kind of behavior secret from your PO You can call him and tell him or I will.

Mom: One last thing. I'm glad you can talk to your therapist and I think he is great. When you see him this week, please talk to him about developing a plan to help you stop this cycle of anger-remorse. Nothing will be returned to you until I see that you are prepared to take responsibility for these unacceptable outbursts and do do something to see that you stop them.

Mom: That's it. We're done. This meeting is over.

Son: You don't believe I'm sorry.

Mom: I told you that I do believe you're sorry, but I suppose you think I'm lying about that too.

Son: Kinda I do, cause if you believed I was sorry you wouldn't do all this.

Mom: Oh I think you are sorry. I just think your even sorrier now that I've given you these consequences and I think that if this anger- remorse behavior continues you might find that you are even more sorry. Please understand this part: NEVER call me names. NEVER throw my stuff around.

Son: I won't.

Mom: And that hair dryer costs like fifty bucks so you need to add that to what you owe me.

Son: How am I supposed to pay that? I don't have a job!

Mom: Listen, good job listening. This was a huge confrontation and you heard a lot of stuff that upset you- but you didn't call me a bitch again and you didn't break anything else. That's a start. Don't worry about getting the TV and game system out of your room tonight- I can grab it tomorrow while you're at rehab-We'll talk later [gives hug but teen tries to not return it and walks away.]

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Mult-Systemic Therapy, or MST
Posted by:Max--Wednesday, March 09, 2011

PSST Parent Wilma has often mentioned she is using "MST" in her home with Bam-Bam. I keep asking her "what do you mean by that again?" Wilma kindly sent me information on Multi-Systemic Therapy, or MST. This is new to Allegheny County within the last 2 years. It is a home-based therapy where the goal is to keep the child in the home and not sent to a facility. It may not be right for everyone, but it may be a good alternative to know about for others. Please read on if you think these services can help your family.

Wilma's family is using a place called Harbor Creek Youth Services (MST at Harbor Creek www.hys-erie.org) The following information is from them, and is not endorsed by Juvenile Probation or PSST. It is simply information we would like you all to be aware of. Harbor Creek is now seeing patients with Managed Care insurance, so they may not have updated brochures yet. Wilma had a psych eval for son Bam-Bam conducted by a master level therapist who works for a psychological practice called Lancaster-Hugh Smith PhD Associates. New referrals will most likely start out with a psychological evaluation, so the child is properly assessed, as these services will not be appropriate for everyone. IMPORTANT HINT** If you have had previous evaluations for your kid, always offer them to a new tester, as it is valuable information for comparison. Also, any anecdotal information from forms filled out by teachers or previous therapists are also good to have on hand. The more well rounded picture of your teen, the more appropriate and targeted treatment can be.

MST Frequently Asked Questions:
Is MST for everyone?

No. In general, the MST program targets youth at risk for out-of-home placement for behaviors that are viewed as “willful misconduct”. Please contact the MST supervisor for a list of inclusionary and exclusionary criteria if there are questions regarding specific behaviors/criteria.

How is 24/7 availability defined?
This is always driven by the families needs; specifically, 24/7 means that the family has access to the primary therapist or a member of the MST team – at any time – who knows the details of the case and the appropriate response to the family’s needs or concerns.

How is MST different from a Crisis Team?
The crisis team is designed for short-term crisis intervention, and can be contacted by the family (or temporary caregiver) at any time. MST Therapists are also prepared to respond to crises when families call. Also, for families who appear to be at risk for crisis development, MST Therapists receive on-going supervision and consultation to develop “safety plans”. Such plans would include calling the therapist. If, in the event of a crisis, the family chooses to utilize services other than, or in addition to, MST, the MST Therapist should be contacted as soon as possible in an effort to develop a collaborative plan of action for future crises. Ideally, this contact should be made by the family, but could also be made by a member of the Crisis Team (with proper consents).

How is a MST referral made?
A referral can be made by faxing the referral packet to the MST office. This packet should include the 412 referral form (CYF), Harborcreek Youth Services referral form, and all other relevant information pertaining to the case. After the referral is received, the MST Supervisor will contact the caseworker or JPO to obtain any additional information required for the acceptance/denial of the referral and a decision will be made at that time.

How persistent is MST?
Since MST Therapists are held accountable for case outcomes, every effort will be made to engage families in treatment. At the outset, engagement of the family is seen as a treatment challenge that can be addressed. Various strategies that are professional, persistent, and utilize assets within the ecology, will be attempted to engage the family in treatment.

Can MST initiate services before the targeted youth is home?
Yes. MST can begin 30 days prior to the youth’s return into the home. During this time, MST will prepare the parents/caregivers for the youth’s return home as well as work with the placement to ensure there is a smooth transition back into the home, school, and community.

How long do MST services last?
MST services typically last between 4-6 months. When there are indications that longer treatment will result in significant improvement in the youth’s behavior, treatment can be extended. The program supervisor and consultant must approve all extensions of treatment.

What does MST do about adolescents using/abusing substances?
The scientific literature indicates that adolescent substance use/abuse is maintained by the same factors that maintain other delinquent behavior. These include being with other peers who use/abuse substances, family factors, and school factors. As such, the MST Therapist works with the ecology surrounding the youth to change these factors…the same as the MST Therapist would do in reducing criminal behavior, aggressive behavior, or school truancy.

Who provides individual therapy?
The MST Therapist, but only in certain well-defined circumstances. In general, individual treatment of the adolescent is done when other ecological interventions have been implemented consistently and the youth’s behavior has not changed. In caregivers, individual treatment is done when a barrier to engagement or goal achievement is found. During individual treatment, empirically supported interventions are the focus of treatment (e.g., CBT).

Harbor Creek is not the only group doing MST. For other resources, please google MST Allegheny County.

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Families Anonymous Meeting - Tuesday Night - Squirrel Hill
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, March 09, 2011


"Families Anonymous" on Forbes Av. is now meeting,
Tuesdays nights from 6:00 - 7:30PM

We hope you will join us at:

Gateway Rehab Squirrel Hill
5818 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Click Here For Map

Near the intersection of Forbes Ave and Murray Ave

(412) 697-0928

What exactly is Families Anonymous? - click on Read More

Families Anonymous is a 12 Step Support Group for Anyone whose life has been adversely affected by another person's use of drugs, alcohol, or related behavioral issues.

NO Fees - NO last names used - NO forms to fill out

NO formal sign-up – NO obligation – NO commitment

NO saying “I’m Sorry”

Families Anonymous is a group of concerned parents, relatives and friends whose lives have been adversely affected by a loved one's addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Every one of us has made the same statement at one time or another...

"But I'm not the one who needs help!"

It was obvious that someone else near to us was the one with problems.

Many of us were amazed, annoyed, saddened or shocked that our children refused our help, maybe even resented our efforts to help and would not acknowledge that they have a problem.

Families Anonymous is dedicated to doing something constructive about our approach to our loved one's problems. We learn from our own experience, but we can also get a great deal of benefit from the shared misery and foolish mistakes we make while trying to do the best we possibly can do.

That realization, in itself, goes a long way in helping us to start feeling good about ourselves... and, amazingly, sets the stage for the recovery for both of us in many, many cases.

Please join us on Tuesday nights from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Allow Families Anonymous to Help You on Your Road to Recovery.

Click on Families Anonymous for more information on who and what we are.

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