Quote of the Week

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

12 signs that your disease is active. (For recovering teenagers on probation.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, April 27, 2011

These are things that teenagers usually come up with after they are discharged from inpatient treatment.  They might be red-flags that a relapse is around the corner.  Sometimes I see these thinking errors crop up even before discharge.  A relapse can be set up before the  release from rehab.   There may be some shred of truth to all 12; however the disease uses these truths to move people away from recovery and closer to relapse. 

(1) You decide that meetings aren't helping. You believe that meetings only make you want to get high. You tell your PO that you shouldn't have to go to meetings anymore because you aren't getting anything out of them.

(2) You decide that it's OK to be with friends that use as long as they don't use around you. You tell your PO that your old friends are no problem.

(3) You decide that your PO and your parents know almost nothing about recovery and that anything they have to say is unimportant. You've decided that people in "the rooms" are the only ones you have to listen to. You tell your PO and parents to "quit trying to work my program for me."  "I don't want anyone telling me how to stay clean.  Are you a drug addict? No. So you don't know anything about it do you?"

(4) You decide that staying in contact with old friends that you used with is OK as long as you don't hang out. Texting, facebook, phone calls, etc. are OK. You tell your PO that contact with old friends is no problem because you don't really hang out with them.

(5) You decide that the only rule you have to follow is to stay clean. All the other "rules" aren't important. "Just so they don't bust me with a bad urine," you tell yourself, "and I'm sure I'll be OK."

(6) You decide that you don't want to be one of those people that can't live a normal life because they are addicted to meetings. "They are in some sort of cult," you tell yourself "and I wanted more variety in my life."  You've been out of the rehab for 30 days but already you are afraid that you might become so addicted to meetings that you can't have any life outside of meetings.

(7) You decide that you'll make one big exception to the Old People, Places and Things rule. You'll date the opposite sex no matter if they use drugs because it's too hard to find a clean person to date. You tell yourself that it's OK as long as it's not drugs that you want.

(8) You decide it's too boring to be in recovery. It's OK to be clean and live dirty. For example, I can go to raves and not use. I can sell drugs and not use. I sneak out and be out all night.  I can lie to my parents about where I was.  I can shoplift.  I'm young, I can be a "player" and have several girlfriends or boyfriends and let them all think I'm "going steady" with them. I can do any of these and still have a strong recovery program going on.

(9) You decide you're different. You think, I'm not like other addicts and I don't have to follow the same rules or take the same suggestions.  When you go to meetings you focus on how different you are and you miss the similarities between yourself and other addicts.  For example, you focus on how much more drugs and for how many more years they used than you did.  You don't look at how much trouble drugs caused you and how much trouble other addicts had because of their drug problems.

(10) You believe that you "got this." You hated having to leave your home to enter into a rehab and you know you'll never do anything that will lead to loss of your freedom again. You are a 101 percent convinced that it's going to be that easy. No need to worry about it any longer. After rehab you're sure you don't even want to get high anymore.

(11) You decide that you are expert at knowing if and when you need to go to a meeting. And you'll go, IF you need to.

(12) You figure that being on probation is your big problem. Not your disease. In fact, it might seem to you like probation is holding you back from really recovering. You might think that if you don't finally get off probation you'll pick up a drug for sure!

For Parents:  I think it might be helpful to review these with the teenager while he is still in the rehab. Ask him to pick which of the following might apply. We are asking the teenager to know his disease well enough to predict his disease's next move.

For Teenagers:  Really, how well do you know your disease?  What's your disease telling you?  Can you predict your disease's next move?  Can you tell on your disease in discussion meetings, to your sponsor, to your recovering peers, or even to your parents?  What would your parents say if you told them that your disease is trying to screw up your recovery by telling you _____?

In recovery thoughts like the above are normal.  It doesn't mean that anything is wrong IF you are telling on your disease to other people and if you keep reminding yourself that you can't figure everything out by yourself.  Staying clean takes hard work and it takes help from others.  Your disease wants you to think that you are strong enough to do it all by yourself. Share

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Posted by:Sally--Monday, April 25, 2011


It has been awhile since I wrote about our son, Cisco. The reason that I have not written is two-fold.

First, he is starting to make marked improvements and I don't want to jinx it.

Second, I have made some changes of my own; I have learned how to detach. I now focus on other aspects of my life. It seems to me that the real changes started to happen for Cisco when Rocco and I truly started to change our ways.

At one point we told Cisco that he could never return home to live. There are too many triggers at our home and he would have to make his way in the world on his own at eighteen years of age. Maybe this is when Cisco hit his bottom. He was homeless, penniless and most-likely felt like an orphan.

He is living at an adult halfway house, we will call 'Second Run'. I would love to tell you the real name of the place because it is run by a very dedicated and wonderful man, I will call Tom, who is getting through to Cisco. However, I did not ask permission to use the real names of the facility or director so I do not feel comfortable doing so.

Cisco has been at 'Second Run' for four months. There are times when he hates it there but 'Tom' has a way of talking him through things. He doesn't expect Cisco to do everything right. Instead, when Cisco makes a poor decision, Tom discusses it with Cisco and uses it as a learning tool. The best part is that Cisco has not made the choice to walk away from the program.

Cisco's choices are really becoming more positive. However, that issue about returning to our home crops up frequently. It is a goal that Cisco, and also, Rocco and I would like to work towards, however we are keeping neutral on that one for the moment. We acknowledge that the possibility exists, however, it is too early to say so....or to say when. One day at a time.

The first two weeks that Cisco was at 'Second Run' visiting was not allowed. This was followed by short visits at the facility for a few hours. Then he had some home passes that would last for eight to ten hours. Of course, there were some behavioral issues to address concerning the home visits and we did that with Tom's help.

And now, at four months Cisco had his first weekend pass from 'Second Run'. He called me at work in the middle of the week to discuss this. He was required to have a plan to follow for the entire weekend and to stick to it. The plan included visiting with a reliable friend and sleeping at this reliable friends home for one of the two nights.

While sitting in the confines of 'Second Run', Cisco rattled off that he would start out with a sleepover at Bills (he had permission from Bill's mom), he would come home early the next day to help us move grandpap out of his apartment and then do some other chores. He would hang out with some good friends on Saturday night. Then he would go to church with us on Sunday.

He had everything planned out. We even tweaked a few things and he discussed it all with maturity. It felt right so I said let's give it a go.

Friday night came and Rocco and I were out with some friends. I contacted Cisco by cell phone and he had arrived at Bill's house and everything was okay. I told him we wanted to start moving stuff out of grandpap's apartment at 8:30 in the morning.

Well, the next morning, I found out that Rocco told our other son, Frodo, that they would meet at 7:30 to start the move. So Rocco and Frodo left early and I waited to get in touch with Cisco. At 8:15 I attempted to call Cisco but his phone was out of service! I did not panic because Cisco pays for his own phone and it is often shut off because of lack of funds.

However, it was still a pleasant surprise when Rocco called to inform me that he just read a text that Cisco sent on Friday night - "My phone is dead. Call me at Bill's number - 412-555-**** I will try to push myself to get up early tomorrow."

It did take three tries to get through to Cisco on Bill's number since they were up late playing video games. But we started off at 8:50 to help with the move and I felt great. It was so nice to be dealing with normal teenage stuff. Sleeping in 20 minutes late is nothing compared to the struggles of addiction.

Saturday went well. we had a mixture of work and play. Cisco did some chores and then he went out with some friends.

Rocco never did believe that Cisco would go to church with us on Sunday. And of course, when I went to wake Cisco on Sunday morn, he rolled over in bed and said, "Forget it mom, I am tired."

I had to appreciate that we had come a long way from the 'WTF !! HOW DARE YOU EVEN WAKE ME UP FOR THAT CRAP! days.

Rocco did not want a commotion on Sunday morning and even though I was miffed, I did not want a commotion either. So Rocco and I got dressed and we were in the car and ready to go to church sans Cisco.

Rocco turned the key in the ignition and I glanced up in the direction of the patio. There was Cisco relaxing in his shorts, feet up and smoking a cigarette. There was something wrong with this picture.

I jumped out of the car and scooted up the steps to the patio and caught my dress on a nail sticking out from the fence. This got me even madder. I told Cisco, "If you aren't going to church than neither am I."

I must have looked ridiculous because I was still caught on this nail and I kept batting my hand at my dress but could not pull loose. Cisco said, "You are a religious crazy person, mom."

I could only think of the time he told me that he feigned being sick on Christmas Eve so that he could stay home from church and get high. I suspect it could happen again.

Cisco finally said that he would go to church with us. My dress was no longer caught on the nail. I said fine, go with dad, I am not going to go. I just knew what would happen. He would go to church but he would not pay any attention to what was going on and then he would walk out in the middle of the service to smoke. We had done this too many times before and I will not do it again. You cannot force anyone to have faith. Faith is a gift from God and Cisco has not accepted his gift as of yet.

Rocco suggested that we all go see Cisco's P.O. Lloyd. We were going to do this after church anyway. On the way Rocco came up with a great idea for Cisco's next weekend pass. He asked Cisco to find an NA Meeting that is held on a Sunday morning and that we would find a church that has a service nearby at the same time.

Cisco agreed and the rest of our day went well. We are finally at a point where we can discuss and come to a solution to our conflicts. No shouting matches, no threats, no swearing, no slamming doors, no holes in the wall and no using.

Cisco did go to an NA meeting later that night and we let him drive back to 'Beginning the Walk'. He was proud of the fact that he was out of the facility for 72 hours and was still clean. We agreed and hugged him goodbye until next weekend.

(We found a church that holds their service at the same time as one of Cisco's favorite NA meetings so we have a plan for the next weekend pass.)

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Eight Things I Wish I Would Have Learned Sooner....
Posted by:Sally--Monday, April 25, 2011

This was written by Lori back in 2007. (Lori is a long time member of PSST.)

Wilma discovered it yesterday as she was browsing through the archived posts. The message is still relevant today.

I had a little boy once,
My bundle of joy.
Happy, spirited, affectionate.
He is my life.

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

How do we deal with all those feelings surrounding being parents of a drug addicted teenager? It sure isn’t easy. Could anything in life be worse? Just the heartbreak alone is overwhelming enough, as you watch your child melt away into something you cannot even recognize. Add onto that the added responsibility of doing what is right by your child, by stepping up into your parental authority, as you never had to before. How do we do that? Well know this, regardless of where you live or how educated you are, how competent you think you are, no matter how good of a parent you are or believe that you are, believe this ---- You are in way over your head! You cannot do this alone. You cannot do this in isolation to the family.
CLICK HERE - To read the rest of this archived post. It is worth reading.

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A Harsh Tale ~ Written Anonymously
Posted by:Sally--Monday, April 25, 2011

Once upon a time there was a group of teens who hung out together, smoked dope together and generally enjoyed each other’s company. They would teach each other the ins and outs of drug dealing and swore loyalty to each other to defend themselves against others engaging in the same lifestyle. One place they liked to hang out at was Miss Betty Boop’s apartment. Now Miss Betty was a bit older, used and dealt a little but generally got her money through being a sex worker. Her little kids were a sorry sight who often had little food in their bellies. The teens felt bad for the little kids and would give them whatever they had to eat and sometimes would take them to a nearby park and push them on the swings.

One day, Miss Betty was distraught because some man up the street had ripped her off in a drug deal. She goaded the teens to do something to help her get her money back.

Well being young men, full of themselves and with their minds buzzed from the weed they were smoking, they had sympathy for her plight and listened to her goading them into doing something to that bast*rd. One young man had access to guns so he went and got them, and for safety’s sake, they discussed that he probably needed some ‘deputies’ to accompany him to get the money back from this man up the street. They figured they could do this a little later when they were just a little bit more stoned, since as chivalrous as they were, they still had just the little bit of a nagging thought that somehow this was not a video game.

Just then one of the young men got a phone call from his mom telling him to come home, his newborn baby niece had just arrived for a visit and didn’t he want to see her? The boys all knew that that mom was crazy and would show up at each of their houses till she found him to drag him home if he didn’t leave right away. So with high fives and the standard goodbye of the group “be safe” infused with more feeling than he had ever meant it in the past, he went home.
Later that evening, shots were heard in the neighborhood. Something went wrong terribly wrong with the boys’ mission. The man met them with his own gun. At the end of the brief encounter the man was injured, one teen lay shot in the back and the other two teens were on the run, dazed and confused over how something that seemed so straightforward, could not have gone as planned.

The injured teen died in the hospital. The man was treated by the judicial system as a robbery victim without consideration that he too had done plenty of robbing and destruction of others’ lives. The two other young men were caught, thrown into the adult system (age does not matter with some crimes) and were pitted against each other so they would rat on each other. Well the younger of the two was the more impulsive and unpredictable of them. No one would be surprised if he didn’t have at least ADHD if not some other mental health conditions, but no matter, he got life for the death of his friend. The older young man has a few years of time to do, but will come back to a community that knows he sold out his friend to save himself.

The family of the dead teen does not feel justice has been done, they were just glad the courtroom fiasco was finally over. Nothing can bring their boy back and there is no joy in knowing their neighbor’s boy has been locked up for life.

But what about that boy who went to see the new baby? This story is a lot for him to think about. He could have played any of the roles in this tragic tale, if not for a crazy mom who never was off his back. Now as he sits in a residential D&A rehab program, he has to make up his mind about what to do with his life and how he is going to handle the complex community dynamics that resulted in the destruction of the lives of his friends and their families and that continue to ripple throughout the whole community. Like a stone thrown into the water, the waves from that day continue to keep the water’s surface unclear. What will he decide to do in that pond? Will he focus on his life or will he allow himself to get entangled into the chaotic lives of others in the community again? Fortunately where he is now, he has plenty of time to think, and professional help with the thinking process. Crazy mom is grateful indeed.

(Photographer: Simon Howden)

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Reflections on Addiction by Wilma
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, April 21, 2011

This hasn't been the best week for our family so I'm feeling a little down.

I watched an episode of "Army Wives" tonight and there were two quotes from the show that I wanted to share as I've been feeling them both this week. Other parents may have felt this way at one time or another.

The first was a father talking to one of the soldiers in the show about his son who died in combat. He said: "I won't pretend that he was the son I wanted
but now that he's gone I'd give my life to have him back."
My son isn't "gone" physically but he's not the son I used to have before drugs and alcohol. That son is gone and I don't know if he will ever be back. I miss the son I could talk to without wondering if a lamp will be flying through the air or punching a hole in a door because he's upset or walking on eggshells and avoiding him so that there is a little peace and quiet in the house. I know we can't turn back the clock but the other day I saw a mom walking with her toddler and started crying in the car wishing for those days back. I miss those days of closeness with my son when we were innocent of this new life we have of drug addiction. Today I would give my life to have his back.

The other quote was Roxy talking to her alcoholic mother " you're my mother (for us - son, daughter, child) I could never not love you but I can't have you in my life anymore, I can't."
I hate that I feel this way but for today that is how I feel. I'm hoping it goes away, things change, but right now I can't live like this anymore.

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Wilma, A PSST Mom Talks About 'Pharm' Parties
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, April 21, 2011

We talked a little about prescription drugs and our kids at the last PSST meeting. Last week I read an article in Readers Digest December 2010-January 2011 entitled Little.Legal.Lethal. about kids taking lethal combinations of prescription drugs and alcohol and how they think its safe since the drugs are legal. A small town had three deaths in the space of a couple of days and it was kids combining stuff like methadon, klonopin washed down with beer and dying.

Prior to reading this article I had heard about kids having "pharm" parties where the kids bring anything they can find from the family medicine cabinet, toss it all together and take random pills swallowed down with alchol. Very scary behavior. After learning about this practice we started locking up all of our prescription and non-prescription medicines. When my son was in 7th grade and there were alcohol incidents with a couple of his friends we started locking up any alcohol in the house. Those are steps we took but I know not all parents take those steps. Just recently our son was at the house of one his best friends (where we have told him he wasn't allowed to be), we got him out of there, and a couple days later text messages back and forth with him and friend told the story that the plan was to drink at that house that night. The dad was clueless (maybe) about who was at the house at the time. Anyway, I though other parents would be interested in the Readers Digest Article.


We appreciate this information that Wilma, our astute PSST mom found. She sent us the following link titled: The Killers in Your Medicine Cabinet. Just click on Killers to go to the link.

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Farewell and Good Luck to Lloyd's Intern ~ Rebecca
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, April 19, 2011

~ Thank you ~
As I finish my internship with juvenile probation, I want to say how much I appreciate everything I have learned from Lloyd, Kathie, Val and all the parents of PSST. Initially a little unsure of how a social work internship with juvenile probation would work, I am now convinced it is the best choice I could have made.

Working with Lloyd and Kathie, I have seen innovative approaches to working with a tough population in need of both intensive and compassionate services – teenage addicts and their families involved with the juvenile justice system in Allegheny County. I discovered a hopeful place where parents meet to hone the skills that help them take back the power balance in their families, and ultimately work to help their children learn to save their own lives. I saw the potential for our teenage clients to turn their lives around, and also the tragic consequences that the destructive disease of addiction can have on people’s lives.

This year I felt privileged to be part of a team that is dedicated to preserving and restoring the lives of troubled adolescents and their families. I worked closely with two exceptional people who have changed the way I see my work and my career. I knew from previous experience that Lloyd was an unusual and talented probation officer. Seeing his deep passion for his work, and his commitment to his clients, and his endless creativity, I can see why his colleagues, clients, and families respect him so much. Lloyd has mastered the art of communicating with and respect for the idiosyncrasies of the teenage addict’s mind. He is the “teenage whisperer.” Kathie’s work with her clients, and her hope for change is never ending and my respect for her drive and determination to never to give up on a young life is immense.

I also want to thank all the parents who I have met at PSST. The way you face daily challenges head on, with humor, grit and tenacity, is inspiring. I will take with me a much deeper understanding of the issues families face as they struggle to cope with children with addictions, but also of the hope that can be found in the shared support of parents gathered at PSST meetings.

To everyone, Lloyd, Kathie, Val, Jocelyn and Justin, the parents from PSST and the young men and women on probation who struggle daily to fight their addictions, for your generosity in sharing knowledge and your experiences with me, thank you.


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You can't outrun teenagers.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's this have to do with it?
 We worked this in PSST on Saturday in Wexford. What do you do when you are trying to end the discussion with your teenager and they pursue, badgering, stalking, not letting it drop, demanding that you continue to give them an audience?

Stop running first of all, unless you can make it safely to a room with a good lock where you can get a few breaths. Turn, face your teen and make a very big agreement...

Mom: It doesn't matter what I do you're NOT going to let this drop. [Using strong body language but keeping safety** in mind also]

Teen: No, you lied about this.

Mom: Yes, I'm the evil witch of the west and as soon as you've had your say, I'm going for my broom and I'm getting the heck out of here for a while.

Teen: Will you be serious??!!!

Mom: I'll try- go ahead have your say.

Teen: What?

Mom: Obviously, I can't outrun you can I?

Teen: I want to go out and I need money. You promised to give me some money and I need it today.

Mom: No. Not going to happen today.

Teen: You promised.

Mom: Nevertheless.

Teen: You are a bitch.

Mom: OK OK this is going on long enough I think. Tell you what.

Teen: What

Mom: [continuing with very strong body language," taking an inch" of her teenagers' personal space and keeping safety** in mind] why don't you tell me exactly what you think of me, and don't hold back this time, OK?

Teen: I just did [glaring].

Mom: OK, well I want to give you the last word, OK?

Teen: You're standing too close to me!

Mom: You're right this is too close! [Not backing up] and this meeting has gone on way too long!

Teen: Well, back off!

Mom: You're right, I need to back off, I'm getting entirely too fired up- now why don't you just tell me what you think of me, get if off your chest, no more holding back, and then have your last word about this money thing and this not leaving the house thing because you are grounded Mister. Now go ahead, I'll shut up and I'll back off, to what, how's this is this good distance for you?

Teen: Yeah.

Mom: Go ahead, have your say.

Teen: What, why are you doing this?

Mom: Obviously, I can't outrun you and you follow me around not letting this thing drop so you have apparently more things you need to say- so lets have out with it and be done with it now.

Teen: You said I could have money and I could go out. I already told you Robert doesn't get high anymore. You're not listening to me I told you all this.

Mom: OK, you're absolutely right, you know what's going on here?

Teen: What?

Mom: You are doing a good job of being crystal clear with me about how you see things. You think I'm a liar and apparently since I refuse to give you money today that I was going to give you, you think I'm a thief of sorts too I suppose.

Teen: Sorta yeah.

Mom: Well, I'm not doing as good a job AS YOU ARE of being crystal clear.  Very good. Let me try to do better, OK?

Teen: What?

Mom: I...am...not...giving...you...any...money...today. I've...changed...my...mind. I...know...you...don't...agree...with...my...reasons. Never-the-less...you...are...grounded...until...further...notice. Now...is...there...any...part...of...that...that...is...still...muddy...or...unclear?

Teen: No

Mom: The fact that you think me a liar, thief, and a bitch does not change the fact that I've changed my mind. Is that clear?

Teen: [glares]

Mom: Just for the record, any time I'm NOT comfortable with your plans I will change my mind.

Teen: Just yesterday, you said you were starting to trust me!

Mom: Yes, and that was true yesterday.

Teen: So, that was a lie?

Mom: No, but you want to believe I'm a liar, so go ahead and believe what you like. You don't want to understand my reasons, we already had this discussion. It's too complicated apparently. We'll talk about it when you've calmed down.

Teen: I've calmed down.

Mom: You have?

Teen: Yes.

Mom: So if I tell you why again, you won't argue, debate, and stalk me through the house until you badger me into changing my mind back?

Teen: Yes.

Mom: Yes what?

Teen: Yes, I won't follow you around anymore.

Mom:And you won't debate?

Teen: I'll try.

Mom: Good, THANK YOU! I'm not comfortable with you hanging out with Robert again.

Teen: But he's clean I told you!

Mom: You're debating.

Teen: OK OK, I won't go out with Robert can I still go out and have the money?

Mom: Absolutely not.

Teen: Why not?

Mom: I'm sorry, but for one thing I don't give money and privileges to young men who call me bitch, liar, thief and follow me around the house arguing when I clearly wanted to end the conversation. No, I'm afraid that I'm just NOT comfortable with THAT. But you know, you have surprised me today.

Teen: How? [still glaring].

Mom: You're usually the one who wants these meetings to end. But today I'm trying to end it and you just seem like you want to chat all day!

Teen: Up yours! [walks away].

Mom: [thinks: if I move quick I can make it too my broom stick and get the heck out of here!]

**Keeping safety in mind means that if you've been hurt by your teenager or if you have reason to believe that "taking an inch" of their space will lead to violence,then don't do that particular thing; however, it is still strongly recommended that you don't give any space to your teenager by backing up when you're doing this. That would show fear and showing fear can also incite teenagers to violence. Be safe. If you believe that you are not safe in your own home talk to someone about a Safety Plan and see if there are changes that you can make to increase your safety. For example, you might invite a local police to your home to inform your teenager about how easy it is to file assault charges and what the filing of those charges would mean. Always remember that calling 911 and telling dispatch operator that you need an "officer to keep the peace" is a good way to increase your safety in your home. If your teenager believes that you will make that call, then he may be reluctant to start violence.

As pointed out in comments by Anonymous more information about safety can be read at When Teenagers Harrass Parents.

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Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Editor's Note: Please stay tuned. I apologize for the amount of time it has been taking to complete the summaries and to get them posted lately but hang in there with us and check back in for updates. We are getting to them as time allows - Thanks for your patience, Rocco

We had a great turnout Saturday for our PARENT SURVIVAL SKILLS TRAINING (PSST) Meeting on April 2, held at the Wilkinsburg location.

We had our PSST Pros Val, Lloyd and Rebecca from Allegheny County Juvenile Probation. Also joining us from Allegheny County Juvenile Probation was Kathleen. Thanks Kathleen, we always appreciate having the opportunity to hear from other professionals in the field.

The meeting was attended by 16 outstanding parents representing 13 families including one returning PSST Alumna also known as Ethel.


Val explained that there are now a number of web sites where our teens can readily purchase fake (novelty) state or national I.D cards. These cards are very realistic including lamination and holograms.

WEB WATCH: The sellers, of course, put their worthless disclaimers on their sites such as:

“You hereby represent and warrant that: a. You are at least eighteen (18) years of age; b. You understand and acknowledge that the Novelty ID(s) are intended to be used solely for entertainment purposes and are not intended or designed to be used as, or represented to be, evidence of your identity, likeness or age; and c. You will not use the Novelty ID(s) (1) for any unlawful or illegal purpose or in connection with or in furtherance of any unlawful or illegal activity; (2) in violation of any applicable law or regulation…”

There is even one web site that has the audacity to warn potential clients:

“Never pay for your ID cards to companies that only accept cash. Companies that also accept credit card through a secure site is the only companies are safe way to pay.”

So while you are checking your teens for drugs and paraphernalia be sure to keep an eye out for fake I.D. cards.

Val also told us that the sale of stimulants being sold as bath salts have been increasing in our area. Like K-2 and other artificial marijuana products these products are promoted as bath salts and by using weasel words like “not for human consumption” to get around laws and regulations.

Likewise the manufacturers of K-2 and other artificial marijuana products keep on altering the ingredients in their products to skirt laws and regulations as soon as they are passed. She said that just one local hospital reported eight patients admitted due to severe side effects caused by the use of K-2 in one week.

Rocco reminds any parents out there that would like some additional assistance and counseling on parenting an adolescent addict; please feel free to join us at the Families Anonymous Meeting every Tuesday night from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at:

Gateway Rehab, 5818 Forbes Ave, 2nd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15217


Ethel was nominated to chair the meeting and she handled the duties well. Each parent had a chance to give a brief summary of how their children are doing and how they are doing.

Ethel kicked off the meeting by explaining that she was there to provide a bit of hope for us parents and our children. A while back she had been looking for help for her daughter, Lucy, for almost two years. Finally she found PSST. Lucy is now clean, in recovery and is stationed in the Mediterranean in the U.S. Navy.

Click on “A Letter of Commendation from a Grateful Parent” to read about Ethel and Lucy’s story.

Ethel reminded everyone to keep coming to PSST meetings, detach with love, take your time [the process to get your teen to accept their recovery can take at least two years] and don’t be afraid to take some very uncomfortable steps to reach your goals.

She cautioned that there are no guarantees but with help of PSST she was able to save her daughter’s life. Lloyd remembered that just a few years ago Lucy was the teenage girl who would put cigarettes out in her palm to see if she was drunk enough.

As Lloyd noted in a previous post “No one could have done this except for you Ethel. It was risky as these things always are, but you knew that Lucy was at great risk no matter what path you chose. You considered the stakes and you were prepared to do whatever you had to do to try and reach Lucy...Out of all the people who went above and beyond to provide Lucy with the opportunity to change her life you are by far the one at the top of the list.

Thanks Ethel for coming back and sharing with the group. You give us all a glimmer of hope in our continuing struggles.

Violet took a pass at her turn – she was upset with her son Vinnie and said she would talk later.

Jessica has a son Herman who has just left his second inpatient recovery program and is in a halfway house before returning home. He was released too early from his first program. Jessica and her husband Roger instinctively knew that it was too early but all of the “experts” were telling them that Herman was ready to come home. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Be sure to read Jessica's comment following this post]

Without outside assistance and counseling parents of troubled teens are often overwhelmed by the programs themselves, a lack of information and by the nightmare health insurance maze we are run through. Most of us PSST parents have been there. It is a confused and hopeless feeling.

Since Jessica and Roger began attending PSST meetings and they have taken the power back and are capably handling their own recovery well and supporting Herman with his recovery. Herman is, like most of our teens, not enthusiastically embracing his recovery.

Never-the-less Jessica was not feeling comfortable. Her son’s actions are setting off her codependency triggers resulting in anxiety.

To put into PSSTerminology she was feeling WISSY – click on “Dr. Max explains it all to you: Diagnosis: W.I.S – What If Syndrome”

Jessica acknowledged that Roger seemed to be handling Herman’s actions and attitude a little better. Roger feels that it is Herman’s job to work his recovery, to stay clean, to take responsibility for his own life and if he stumbles he must take the consequences.

CONSEQUENCES - That word can set off “bells and whistles” even more so for parents than for our teens. We understand the consequences all too well, our teenagers don't always understand or even care about them. We need to detach from them, they need to understand them.

These are all issues that PSST Parents can relate to. This is why PSST is here; so that you can talk it over with other parents and professionals and so we can reach out to help you to get through your trepidations.

Jessica, you and Roger are doing the best that you can with your son. It is not always easy or comfortable but it is the correct thing to do. We are always here to support you.

Wilma’s son Bam-Bam has used a variety of drugs like Marijuana, K-2 Spice and alcohol. Like many of our teens he will not acknowledge that he has a problem yet. Bam Bam is definitely not doing what he needs to do for his recovery but he is doing his best to take the power in their home.

Wilma is being proactive and is showing him that she is not about to concede the power to him.

One of the first things to do to retain your power is to make regular random searches of their rooms. You do not need to wait until they are out for the day and you don't need a search warrant. One of our more innovative PSST moms invited the police to bring their drug sniffing dog to her home. It is your house and you have the right to know what is in it.

Wilma found Coricidin HPB Cold & Flu on a recent search. Fortunately the Cold & Flu formula does not contain Dextromethorphan (DMX). DMX is an active ingredient in Coricidin HPB Cough & Cold and is a commonly abused drug. As most of our drug abusing teens would, Bam Bam denied knowing how it got there.

Other bad signs for Bam Bam's recovery are that he has been bumped up to the partial program at his Outpatient Recovery Program for drug use, and a text message about he received asking him to meet at the local 7/11 to do a drug exchange. He, of course, denied any knowledge of what this was about also.

Wilma locked off his texting which resulted in Bam Bam punching walls and slamming doors.

Do not hesitate to block phone numbers, shut off texting, shut off the cell phone completely or confiscate their cell phones [Even if they purchased it with their own money]. Cell phones are Drug Paraphernalia. In addition to easy access to drugs, they provide quick access to Face Book, My Space and other internet web sites.

Finally for "PSST Show and Tell" Wilma brought in Bam Bam’s latest craft project – a 2 liter soda bottle with a socket taped to the top – can you say BONG? – he told her that he was making a whistle. Do you need anymore evidence that abusing drugs kind of dulls their minds?

Remember: Whatever you find (including text messages) should be kept as future evidence. Do not throw it away, destroy it, delete it or otherwise cover up for your teen. And be sure to either lock it in a secure place at home or at some place you can trust or as some of our PSST Parents have done take it to your local police to keep as evidence.

Thanks so much Wilma for being part of PSST. Like so many of us you are doing many things that are not comfortable in order to save your son’s life and to give him a chance for a decent future. Remember PSST is here for you.

WEB WATCH: There are web sites advising how to obtain and use DMX [Dextromethorphan / Coricidin HPB] - Slang terms to watch for include CCC, robo, red devils, DMX, dex, triple c, skittles & tussin.


Cough syrup and cough and cold tablets or gel caps that are available without a prescription. Also, Dextromethorphan can be purchased in a powder form over the internet.


The effects of dextromethorphan abuse vary with the amount taken. Common DXM effects can include confusion, dizziness, double or blurred vision, slurred speech, impaired physical coordination, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart beat, drowsiness, numbness of fingers and toes, and disorientation. DXM abusers describe different levels ranging from mild distortions of color and sound to visual hallucinations and "out-of-body," dissociative, sensations, and loss of motor control. Also be aware that many of these products contain other drugs that will damage the liver if used repeatedly.

Click on “Drugfree.org – Drug Info” for more information on DMX and other commonly abused drugs.

Brigitte and Francoise have a son Pierre who just returned home following 3 weeks in an inpatient recovery program. Because of his deliberate drug use and his attitude they filed charges to get him onto juvenile probation.

Pierre is doing well – he is back at school, he has cleared his phone of the “friends” that he used with and he has even cleaned his room. He is talking sincerely with his parents.

Brigitte and Francoise would like to thank all of the people at PSST. Pierre was a little surprised at all of the people that showed up at his hearing and wanted to know “Who are all of these people?”

We would like to thank you, Brigitte and Francoise, for being part of PSST. We hope that your son continues to do well in his recovery.

Jane has a son Elroy who is 18 and has used marijuana, alcohol and K-2. She has worked very hard to save her son Elroy from a life of addiction without much help or support from her husband George. George would rather pretend there are no problems, than to actually deal with them. Elroy got himself into the juvenile justice system and now in an inpatient recovery program. Elroy is still has some behavioral issues, like most of our teens, with rule bending.

Jane worries that if Elroy has trouble with the little rules now, how will he be able to deal with the big rules later.

Elroy has had a couple of 3 hour passes that have been less than satisfying due in no small part to George’s enabling. Jane is looking forward to the next 3 hour pass without George. She has made it clear to Elroy that she will not keep secrets.

Jane said that she has laid it on the line. She is exhausted and won’t go back to the way things used to be. She is living by her new motto “I will not go back to living like I used to.”

Elroy must learn to understand this and learn to follow the rules before he can return home.

This is a very empowering statement for parents and much better than lecturing to a teenager “You better do this and you better do that”…which all begins to sound to them like “Blah, blah, blah…”

“I am not going to live like this anymore.”

Thanks Lori, these are very powerful words for all of us to live by. Thanks for continuing to join us at our meetings.

Daisy has a 16 year old son Ozzie. He has been home from inpatient recovery, on an electronic monitor (i.e. ankle bracelet) now for about 3 weeks. He acted up enough a while back that Daisy had to call in the P.O. for a visit. This calmed Oz down for a brief period.

Now Ozzie is trying to pull out his old badgering routine – “Let’s follow mom around the house and repeat and repeat and repeat the same questions and see if I can get her to snap.”

Daisy is not taking the bait this time. No matter how much Ozzie acts out Daisy is not going to cry for him.

Ozzie: “You know mom, as soon as they cut this monitor off of me I am going to run.”
Daisy: [calmly] “Thanks for letting me know that Oz. I’ll be sure to share that with your P.O.”

Ozzie: “As soon as I am off of probation in November I am going to smoke!”
Daisy: [calmly] “Really Oz? That’s too bad. It is your life and your choice. I hope that you will figure out what is best for you.”

Daisy: [calmly] “Because for now it is the best thing that I can do to keep you clean.”

These are not exact quotations. They are more like the gist of how far Daisy has come in the year since coming to PSST. She doesn’t have a perfect kid (none of us do) but he is at home and clean and slowly getting that Daisy has the power in the home and that he is not getting it back.

Daisy you are doing all of the right things. You are not doing it the easy way; you are doing it the PSST way.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Daisy – When you ready to pick up a good solid bedroom door I will personally be glad to install it for you.

Becky has a 16 year old son Syd who has been home from an inpatient recovery program for a week. Becky and Tom do not feel that Syd is in a good place in his recovery. To add a hardship to this he is also having trouble with his feelings about being adopted. There are currently a lot of adoptive parents attending PSST Meetings and we do discuss this regularly.

Becky and Tom are stepping up their actions starting with taking his cell phone away. Syd was in contact with all of the wrong people and was keeping a picture of a leaf for his phone’s wallpaper. These are all bad signs that have Becky and Tom rightly concerned.

In particular, Syd is talking with a friend who is praising him for the great job he is doing by keeping clean but saying that she cannot stop using. Syd, as many of our kids do, says that he is just trying to help her. Never-the-Less, even if he is telling the truth; he is way too early in his own recovery to help anyone with their recovery (especially someone who is not ready for it). If he stays in contact with this person he will relapse long before she will get into recovery.

To add to these issues their school district is dragging their feet about helping Becky and Tom find a alternate school for Syd. They have suggested that Syd might return to his regular high school. Becky and Tom feel that it would be a BIG MISTAKE to allow Syd back into the high school and are refusing to at this time. Editor’s Note: I AGREE with you two.

On the good side they know that if Syd can get a job that a lot of the problems may not go away but they will diminish. Syd really enjoys work and puts himself into his work as he showed while he was at Liberty Station. The busier he stays the easier it will be for Syd to keep clean.

They also have not been afraid to call in The P.O. as needed and The P.O. has been there for them. This is a result of them doing the “uncomfortable thing” and having their teen placed on juvenile probation. It becomes a major tool in your tool box to help you help your teen stay clean.

Becky you and Tom are doing a good job of healing your family and you are giving your son his best chances to stay clean. You two have become PSST Pros and PSST is here to help your family down the bumpy road to recovery.


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Stolen Dreams - The Screening of a Documentary on the Adult Justice System
Posted by:Sally--Wednesday, April 06, 2011

One of our well-informed PSST Moms, Lindy Lou, gave us this information on the screening of a documentary that will be shown at Pitt this coming Tuesday. The 26 minute documentary will be followed by a discussion lead by a group called YASP (Youth Art and Self empowerment Project)

All who are interested are invited to attend.

Stolen Dreams
Where: School of Social Work,
Conference Center,
2017 Cathedral of Learning

When: Tuesday, April 12th at noon
Join the School of Social Work,
School of Social Work Continuing
Education Program and the
Student Government Association,
School of Public Health at the
screening of the documentary “Stolen Dreams”
(26 minutes) followed by a discussion with
members of the Youth Art & Selfempowerment
Project (YASP). Come and
hear about the experience and consequences
of being tried as an adult from young people
who went through the criminal justice system
and are now working to reform policy and

Sponsored by: School of Social Work, School of Social
Work Continuing Education Program, and the Student
Government Association, School of Public Health
The Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project's Mission:
The number of teenagers under the age of 18 who are held in adult
jails and prisons in Pennsylvania has increased drastically over the
last fifteen years. The Youth Art & Self-empowerment Project
(YASP) is building a youth-led movement to stop this trend by
ending the practice of automatically trying and incarcerating young
people as adults. Through its work in the Philadelphia jails, YASP
provides space for incarcerated young people to express themselves
creatively and to develop as leaders both within and beyond the
prison walls. Young people who have been through the adult court
system are at the forefront of YASP, leading the movement to keep
teenagers out of adult prisons and to create new possibilities for
youth around the city.

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DO NOT USE THIS WORD (unless you really mean it)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, April 06, 2011

This word can work like magic. If we are careful to only use "NOW" when we mean it we can see a dramatic shifting of power. If "NOW" is used and not meant then the magic can weaken.

EXCERPT:  Consider the other way: You nag nag nag your teenager to bring those cups downstairs. He says "OK later," but he never does it. The dishes stack up until one of two things happen. Either all your dishes are now in your teenager's bedroom or you go in and take them downstairs for him. Either way, he is in the dominant position of power and you are in the submissive position. Now you have given up the power seat and have given up the advantage when bigger issues such as curfew, drug abuse, and hanging with old friends comes along.

Here's the basic idea: if we can do something to get our teenager's behavior where we want it, without punishing and without bribery or even rewarding, then we are way ahead of the Who's In Charge Game.

For example, your teenager has dirty dishes in his room. You have asked him over and over again to bring the dishes down and it's always the same response: "OK, in a minute." But the minute never comes. As a parent you are getting angrier and angrier and you fear that bugs or rodents might make a move on your teenager's room and of course infest the whole house.

You can threaten to take his cell phone or his Black Opps video game if he doesn't clean up his room but then you are into punishment. We sometimes need punishment in order to hold our teenagers accountable; however, it is much better (when possible) that we hold our teenager's accountable without punishment. One way to do this is by saying and meaning the word NOW.

Sometimes this is difficult for parents to see.  If we don't punish it may feel as though "he got away with it" but that's not what's happening.  What's happening is that you have helped get his behavior where you want it.  Once you do that you've succeeded and then continue to do that until this behavior is rountine.  Consistency is so important if we want our teens to learn a routine.

Parents sometime say to me, "I shouldn't have to tell him to do his chores- he's 18!"  I agree with them and I add, "You shouldn't have had to go to Court.  You shouldn't have had to support your teen in rehab by going to parent's meeting.  You shouldn't have had to go to those meetings at school.  You shouldn't have had to do a lot of things.  But you do.   So let's look at effective things that might help.  Telling teens over and over in a consistent manor that they have to get thier chores done "now" helps them to set up the routine.  That's the goal. And if you can do that without punishment so much the merrier. 

So, how does it work? When you spot the dishes and glasses in his room walk in and confront him by saying something like this:

Dad: Son, I need these dishes and glasses carried downstairs.

Son: I'll get it later Dad, I'm busy playing this game.

Dad: [Dad moves in closer to his son so that he is about a foot away but he keeps his voice low and calm and he has good strong eye-contact] Not later Son; I need you to do it now.

Son: I said I was busy Dad I'll get it in a minute![Son is getting a tad louder at this point]

Dad: Regardless, Son I need this carried down now. [Dad is using strong eye contact and now he is narrowing the gap, only about 10 inches from his son now and as he leans in to confront his son you can feel the power. When we did the role-play in group we could all feel the power. You might call it the Power of Command.]

At this point Dad is committed. He must stick with it until the dishes are carried downstairs. He has invoked the sacred word, "NOW" and if he invokes this word and then does not see the task through, then the word may never work the same for him again. It's magic will wane.

Therefore, DO NOT USE THIS WORD unless you really mean it and are prepared to drop everything and stay with your teenager until the task is accomplished. No threats are necessary and in fact, threatening at this point might be counter-productive and cause unnecessary resentment.

Threats are not helpful at the introduction of the word "NOW." Likewise, once a teenager carries the dishes and glasses downstairs do not follow that up with a lecture or with a punishment. It does not help at that point to say, "See wasn't that easy, don't you wish that you just did that on you own without me having to point it out." That' s sort of rubbing the teenagers' nose in it if you will, and it is now much more gracious to say, "Thanks Son, I appreciate that."

Once the teenager has carried the stuff downstairs you are free to thank him but no need to go overboard and print him a certificate. If he does it you have set in motion a powerful precedent. From now on when you say NOW you mean it and he must do it.

The reason that threats and punishments are not necessary is that the Dad has one huge advantage over the teenager. The teenager really really wants the Dad to go away so that he can resume his texting, TV watching, or game playing. Dad, on the other hand has nothing better to do at the moment except stand there and get close to his son's face and keep repeating:

Dad: I want that carried downstairs now Son.

Son: Why? Give me one good reason that crap has to be carried down now.

TRAP ALERT: Yes you have a million good reasons for wanting that stuff carried down right now but don't give him anything other than that's just the way you want it done. That's it. Otherwise, he will debate you endlessly and probably win.

Dad: I need you to carry that stuff down now Son. It's time for carrying stuff not for asking questions.

Son: Give me one good reason why now?

Dad: You need to move that stuff now Son- that's the reason.

Son: That's not a reason.

Dad: You're right Son, I'm not giving much of a reason. I need it done now-that's the reason.

(notice the agreement, without backing down)

Dad: Nevertheless, you need to carry these plates and glasses down to the kitchen now, Son.

Another benefit: using the NOW word and having your teenager comply means that you are the dominant in-charge adult at your house. Now your teen will have accepted that. The more you do this kind of thing the more you establish yourself as the in charge-adult. More important issues like curfew, drug abuse, hanging with old friends, and disrespectful behaviors are going to be easier to approach because you now speak with the voice of authority.

Consider the other way: You nag nag nag your teenager to bring those cups downstairs. He says "OK later," but he never does it. The dishes stack up until one of two things happen. Either all your dishes are now in your teenager's bedroom or you go in and take them downstairs for him. Either way, he is in the dominant position of power and you are in the submissive position. Now you have given up the power seat and have given up the advantage when bigger issues such as curfew, drug abuse, and hanging with old friends comes along.

You tell him that he better straighten up and fly right. Why should he listen to you? You're the same parent who was not strong enough to get him to bring his dishes downstairs so there is no way he is going to come in when you say. He is the big dog of the house now and he knows it.

Whoever said "don't sweat the small stuff" might not have been working with defiant teenagers. It's important to sweat some of the small stuff.  Although another way to look at this is that if those dishes in his room might attract bugs, that's not small stuff.  If your teenager doesn't develop rountine housekeeping skills and habbits that's not small stuff either.  If it's driving you crazy- it's not small stuff.

So get between your teenager and the TV he is watching. Take the cell phone he is texting on if that is going to get his attention. Stay with him until he gets off his butt and takes that garbage out. Sooner or later he will do those things just because he doesn't want you to pull the do it now thing on him and that's when you know two things. One: you are the one in charge. And two: you are teaching your teenager responsibility.

Original posted 3-25-10

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Letting Go ~ Gentle Thoughts from Joan ~ A PSST Mom
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, April 03, 2011

Letting Go ~ Gentle Thoughts from Joan

As I heard all of us at the PSST Meeting on Saturday, with our various struggles, my mind kept going back to this piece from Melody Beattie. While this focuses on ‘letting go’ and rebuilding our own lives, I think it can also apply to our interactions with – and about - our children. We struggle to deal with our addicts and with our families, to communicate with the various caregivers who surround them, including the court and the probation officers, to learn about the disease and about the ways to address the disease and to cope with the effects. If we can try to do all of that, ‘in gentleness and peace’ it has to be better for each of us.

I do not know how to ‘go easy’ but I know in my heart that trying to do so – and succeeding in doing so on occasion - will make my life and the lives of those around me better in the long run.

Actually you and Rocco seem to be ‘going easy’ at least much of the time. I aspire to that, and I thank you for sharing all that you do with all of us. You can feel free to share any of this with PSST.


Language of Letting Go - April 1

You are reading from the book "The Language of Letting Go"

Going Easy

Go easy. You may have to push forward, but you don't have to push so hard. Go in gentleness - go in peace.

Do not be in so much of a hurry. At no day, no hour, no time are you required to do more than you can do in peace.

Frantic behaviors and urgency are not the foundation for our new way of life.

Do not be in too much of a hurry to begin. Begin, but do not force the beginning if it is not time. Beginnings will arrive soon enough.

Enjoy and relish middles, the heart of the matter.

Do not be in too much of a hurry to finish. You may be almost done, but enjoy the final moments. Give yourself fully to those moments so that you may give and get all there is.

Let the pace flow naturally. Move forward. Start. Keep moving forward. Do it gently, though. Do it in peace. Cherish each moment.

Today, God, help me focus on a peaceful pace rather than a harried one. I will keep moving forward gently, not frantically. Help me let go of my need to be anxious, upset, and harried. Help me replace it with a need to be a peace and in harmony.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

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