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What We Did This Summer at PSST
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, August 03, 2011

What We Did This Summer (at PSST)

We are happy to report that the attendance for the PSST meetings this summer has been consistently high. It is encouraging to see the number of parents who are not only assisting their child in their recovery but also learning how to work their own recovery. Addiction is a family illness.

ROCCO'S DISCLAIMER:Regrettably the number of attendees has made it difficult to keep the meeting summaries updated. So this is my attempt to summarize our summer of 2011 at PSST.

Please feel free to edit, correct or add to my summary as needed in the comment section below. I will not be offended.

First we thank our professionals, Val and Lloyd from Juvenile Probation and Kathy T, Justin, Jocelyn and Michelle from Wesley Spectrum for their advice and assistance at the meetings and for supporting our families.

Secondly we would like to thank our PSST Parents.

As Sally said "We are not Super Heroes; We are Real Heroes. Super Heroes have super powers and are indestructible. PSST Parents are Real Heroes because they are ordinary people who are destructible and who will work through the pain of addiction and do whatever is needed to save their child’s life."

Sally and Rocco have a 19 year old son, Cisco, who started around age 14 “just using” marijuana. In a very short time he progressed to just using a little DMX, just trying a few percs and then a little heroin. For the last 4 years we have been through the chaos of addiction and recovery and the nightmare of dealing with our insurance providers (should be labeled insurance deniers).

Cisco has been progressing well in his recovery. He had a relapse in early summer, admitted it and voluntarily entered an inpatient recovery program. He has returned to his halfway house, is attending meetings regularly and trying to launch himself in a job and living on his own.

At his counselor’s suggestion we had a meeting with Cisco’s support group (friends and counselors) and it went well. However Cisco hesitated in inviting any of his friends in recovery so we want to try this again with his entire support group. As his counselor noted “Cisco says he thought that his friends in recovery and his ‘normal’ friends would feel uncomfortable. What he meant to say is that he would feel uncomfortable.”

Sally and I have been working on our own recovery for the last two years and have relapsed [read: enabled / let our codependency resurface] a few times. With the help of PSST we have made a lot of progress and are doing well.

Daisy is a single mom with a 16 year old son, Ozzie. Daisy has been with PSST for about 1-1/2 years and has progressed with getting back the control in her house and over her son. Daisy stood up in court and had Ozzie placed into an inpatient facility when she realized that he was not doing well in his outpatient program.

As one of “PSST’s Charlie’s Angels” she grew stronger as her son progressed in his recovery. He came home to a new order at home this spring and finished up the school year but slowly regressed.

When Daisy confronted him a few weeks ago he warned her that if she dared to “force” him back into another inpatient program he would come home worse than he ever was. Daisy asked him “What makes you think you can come home again?” This is something that Daisy could not have said a year ago and certainly got his attention. At our last meeting Ozzie was in Shuman Detention Center awaiting an opening in an inpatient program.

Max and Melhave two sons in recovery, Michael 19 and David 16. their younger son David has spent the last year in an out-of-state program. He has done well and was scheduled to come home in August.

Their older son Michael completed his program and is working. He has had some good discussions with Max and Mel but Michael tends to argue over trivial matters. Max is doing her best to detach and back away from working Michael’s recovery. This is a tough point for parents, especially moms [I am observing here not trying to be chauvinistic].

We really want for our teens to work their recovery successfully - never the less - we need to understand that they are the only ones that can work their programs.

Michael chose not to complete high school and will work on getting his G.E.D. His goal is to get a good enough job so that he can get his own apartment and live on his own. This is a good thing.

As we have noted in the meetings if your teenager’s goal is to live at home and depend on their parents to support them, it is probably a bad sign. Along those lines they informed Michael that as of Sept 1 he will need to start paying rent or find another place to live. Max and Mel as always are there to support him, not enable him.

Violet is another single mom. Her 19 year old son, Vinnie,, is a heroin addict. He too has been through several recovery programs but the latest one, a youth forestry program, has worked better than the rest.

Thanks to Violet’s initiative and fortitude Vinnie has made it through his first year of college and is looking and sounding better than ever. He will complete his program in time to return to his second year of college.

Like a lot of us Violet has been through all of the stages of recovery with her son from hopefulness to despair to relief to anger, regardless she has hung in there to do everything she can to give her son a chance at college and at life.

Violet’s words of wisdom to us, when Vinnie tried to tell her how she should behave, were “You can’t work my program.” Thanks Violet, I have since used this line successfully on my son.

Alice and Ralph have two sons, Norton and Ed. Their younger son Ed has successfully completed his inpatient program and is attending school and running a landscaping business. He attended his 90 meetings in 90 days and Ralph and Alice have held him strictly to his contract. Now that Ed has his driver’s license he has a driving contract. Ed has pushed a few boundaries but as of the last time we met he has accepted the consequences and has dealt with them for any violations.

Ralph noted that you do not need to have all of the consequences spelled out in the contract. In fact in some cases it makes sense to deal with the consequences depending on the seriousness of the infraction or even to have your teen wait and contemplate what the consequence will be for a few hours.

Their older son Norton, as Ralph thought he would, has returned to the state and is willing to accept his consequences which may include jail time for skipping probation.

Unfortunately Norton was an adult when he was charged with his crime so he cannot be helped by the juvenile system. But like with Ed, Ralph and Alice will do what they can to assist Norton but will not cross that line into enabling him.

Candy and Aaron have a 19 year old daughter, Tori in recovery. Last summer, even though Tori had already turned 18, they were able to file charges in juvenile court to have her placed into an inpatient recovery program. Without these charges Tori may have lost her life by now.

She has completed her inpatient program and her stay at an out of town halfway house. She has decided to stay in that town and get an apartment with some others in recovery. While this has Candy a bit on edge she realizes that this is not a totally bad thing.

Sometimes they can work their recovery better if our children do not come home. And as we noted above sometimes this is a sign that they have the desire to work their own recovery rather than moving back home and being dependent on mom and dad to support them.

June is a single mom. Her 18 year old son Beaver spent about 16 months in several inpatient recovery programs. He has come home and has worked his recovery as June has worked hers. She too has gone through all of the feelings of recovery and all of the stages from the “Super-Glue” stage of sticking with him 24/7 to the “letting go and trust [a little] stage to the “Darn it, I am not a failure of a Mom!” stage.

June you are far from a failure – you are a PSST Strong Mom and have saved your son’s life.

Jane is not a single mom but had to drag her husband George protesting into their son’s recovery. Jane [the second of PSST’s “Charlie’s Angels”] stood up in court to have her son Elroy placed into an inpatient program for his recovery. While he was in his recovery program she worked on her own recovery as well.

Elroy completed his inpatient program and has returned home. Jane tried to set up help for Elroy but all she got back was anger, resentment and blame directed at her. Elroy is on house arrest for underage alcohol use.

At the last meeting that Jane attended she said she was going to let Elroy work on his recovery and planned to spend more time on her younger son and on herself and getting rid of her negative feelings.

Becky and Tom’s 16 year old son Syd completed his inpatient program and returned home. He has done pretty well but Becky and Tom were disappointed that their school system insisted on Syd returning back to the high school. Becky says that the best thing for him in his recovery is his job.

Kitty has two sons in recovery, Carlyle is 18 and Cat who is 22. Kitty is in waiting mode. Carlyle completed his inpatient recovery and did okay when he first returned home. He was dismissed unsuccessfully from his outpatient program and is violation of his probation. Kitty is waiting for his hearing to see what steps she will take.

Kitty asked us, like a lot of us have wondered, how can you tell what typical teenage behavior is as opposed to ADHD behavior or as opposed to addictive behavior? The best I can answer is to trust your feelings, especially moms [there I go being chauvinistic again]. We sometimes want our teen’s recovery more than they do and often over- rationalizes their behavior. If you have an answer for Kitty please add it to the comment section below.

As of our last meeting Kitty had asked Carlyle to leave her home if he cannot follow her rules. Her older son Cat was home and, following a talk, is doing better than his younger brother.

Joan is a single mom. Her 19 year old daughter Melissa has walked away from / been asked to leave a number of recovery programs in the last few years. Joan has refused her permission to come home but Melissa has found her way in on several occasions. This led to Joan filing charges. Melissa is waiting for her next program.

Joan reminded us that we all need to work on ourselves, including therapy. Do not allow your child to isolate you from living your own life and your family friends.

Rose is a single mom of Joe, 18, who drug choice is Robo-tripping (DXM). He has recently graduated high school [he completed his required classes in his recovery program but got to walk at his own school] and has successfully released from his inpatient program.

Joe’s dad Manny recently returned into Joe’s life and asked him to come to work with him out of state. This was a major red flag to Rose who noted that although Manny is doing well now he has had issues in his past. On the other hand Manny is in recovery and it takes Joe away from his people, places and things. But it also takes him totally away from her and her ability to observe how he is doing.

After a lot of talking and a lot of soul searching it was decided that Joe should go with his dad and start a new life and a new job. As of our last meeting Joe was doing well and Rose was leaving to visit him. Keep us posted Rose.

Cheryl and Jim’s son Andy has almost 11 months of clean time. He completed his inpatient program but Cheryl and Jim knew that he was not ready to return home so Andy is in a halfway house. Many times this is a better choice than our teens returning back to their people, places and things. The halfway houses offer recovery assistance and can prepare our children to start a new life on their own with a job and a place to live.

Cheryl and Jim let Andy know that they were not comfortable with him coming home. This is tough decision for any parent to make but these are the things we learn how to do at PSST. They sent a very clear message to him that they are serious about his recovery.


Jennifer and Jonathan's 17 year old son Maxwell also “just began” using marijuana around age 14. In addition to his drug abuse issues Maxwell exhibited anger management concerns. Often our teen’s addictive behavior manifest itself in anger directed at their mom.

Maxwell was unsuccessful at his outpatient recovery program and is now in an inpatient recovery program.

Jennifer has expressed her concern about him relapsing when he completes his program. This is a very real concern. Relapse happens. Relapse is not failure if the addict returns for treatment. One of the advantages of having your son or daughter on probation is that “the use of any mind altering drug” is a violation and they can be “placed” back into a recovery program.

As many of us have found it sometimes takes multiple relapses and recovery programs before your child will accept and begin working their recovery in earnest. The key to helping them is to stay consistently strong and sure that there will be no use of drugs, alcohol or “any mind altering substances” illegal or legal, by anyone in your home.

We once had a mom [who will remain anonymous], attending one of her early PSST meetings, who found her child in recovery drunk and asked if she should report it. She received a resounding “YES” from the rest of us at the meeting.

Addictive behavior pushes family relations to the maximum limits. It takes some time before parents realize that logic and common sense don't work. They need to understand that addictive behavior causes tunnel vision. The ONLY thing an addict can consistently focus on is where I can find my next high. It does not mean that the addict doesn't love their parents, care about their family or even that they don't understand that they are making the wrong choice. Their addiction will insist that they need to do whatever they need to do to feed their addiction, and then they can get back to all that family stuff.

Until your adolescent’s mind is clean they cannot resolve any other issues that they might have including low self esteem, ADHD, depression and anger management.

Please Note: Remember to be careful if your teen exhibits aggression towards anyone and DO NOT HESITATE to leave the house and / or call 9-1-1 [for an officer to ‘Keep the Peace’].

Jessica and Roger’s 18 year old son Herman completed his second inpatient program and is currently in a halfway house. Jessica [the third member of the “PSST Charlie’s Angels”] has run through the whole bank of emotions with Herman – confusion to anger to hopeful to trusting to happy to doubt to reality stinks to untrusting to anger to confusion. Our teen addicts can do this to us – sometimes in one day.

She and Roger are concerned that Herman’s consent decree runs out by September, that Herman has not bought into his recovery program, that he won’t accept their rules and that he spent too much time on his last home pass in the bathroom [allegedly to get a shower] using something that smelled like bad incense.

Jessica is stepping back and let Roger prepare Herman’s home contract.

Wilma’s 17 year old son Bam-Bam has “just used” marijuana, acid, ecstasy, and mushrooms but insist that he does not have a drug problem. He spent a month in an inpatient recovery program and was deployed home. Wilma had no support from the program or her husband Fred the Enabler.

Since he has been home he has flipped out on his counselor, is breaking curfews, is not going to meetings and is not avoiding places or people that he should be. As Wilma said he is constantly exhibiting “Drug Seeking” behavior.

Brigitte and Francois have three sons. Their oldest son Pierre, 17 spent 3 weeks in an inpatient recovery program. To kick the summer off Pierre relapsed but let his parents know that his younger brother Jacques was also using.

Brigitte and Francois took quick action with Pierre’s relapse and, with the help of his P.O. and his therapist, took control of the situation. Following a short stay at Shuman and a hearing he was placed in another inpatient program for 60 days and is scheduled to come home shortly. He is doing well on his home passes and they are working on Pierre’s Home Contract.

As we have discussed at PSST meetings it is best to have these contracts completed while your teen is still in their recovery program. Their counselor can then evaluate how well they are accepting their recovery by how they work with you on the contract. Whether they are cooperating or if they are acting out it is best for them to do it, while they are in the program.

As for Jacques, 15, Brigitte and Francois acted quickly again and, together with Jacques friend’s parents, set up drug testing and consequences for all of them. They were very brave to confront the other parents and lucky enough to be dealing with other parents that would work with them.

Many of our children express anger and/or depression as we, the parents, take control back in our homes and our families. Much of this is their addiction realizing that we are changing and they are grieving their loss of power over the family. They realize their chances of manipulating their parents into enabling them get less and less as we learn to break our own codependency.

Jenn and Brad’s 18 year son Dylan also started his journey “just using” marijuana. He is currently in an inpatient recovery program and has run though the typical spectrum of behaviors from compliant to angry to showing his real self to showing signs that he is beginning to understand and maybe even accept his recovery.

Remember as much as we parents want our child to accept their recovery process we cannot work it for them. The most we can do by getting them into an inpatient program (either voluntarily or through placement) is to keep them away from the people, places and things that encourage their habits and to buy them clean time.

This last item is more important than many think. Their brain and their body can recover but only with abstinence from mind altering substances. The more time they have clean the more their brain can recover. This is especially important for the adolescent brain which keeps developing until around age 25.

Maria stopped by to let us know that her son Ernie celebrated two years clean. Ernie has done very well following his inpatient recovery program and a stay at a halfway house. He has a full time job, is successfully working his 12 Step program, attending meetings and encouraging other young men.

Unfortunately, despite his success he has cut off most communication with Maria. They do get to meet on occasion and she had had the opportunity to celebrate his 2nd anniversary.

Maria has learned to accept this and get on with her life and she knows that she did the right thing to son’s life.

George and Gracie are veteran PSST Parents. They have a 19 year old son Ronnie who was doing well in his recovery from a heroin addiction the last few years. Recently they sensed that something was going wrong and Ronnie admitted that he was “only using” marijuana.

George and Gracie have strong feelings for their son, as we all do, but they know that they cannot enable him. They had to take strong actions, which were not pleasant but were needed. Tjis included going to a magistrate and writing a dismissal letter, packing his bags and changing locks. Whatever it took to get him out of the house until he was ready to admit himself into a recovery program.

Click on PSST Parents Stand Firm to read the rest of the story.


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