Quote of the Week

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

Sad Day in Western PA-13 yr old dies fr Smoking Synthetic Marijuana
Posted by:Cheryl, Jim, Andy + 3 Stooges--Friday, October 28, 2011

"Boy, 13, Ill From Synthetic Marijuana Dies

A western Pennsylvania boy who became ill after smoking synthetic marijuana (spice) and had a double lung transplant has died. A 13-year-old, died Thursday morning at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC. The boy smoked the fake marijuana out of a plastic PEZ candy dispenser and suffered chemical burns to both lungs as a result. He was put on a respirator in June and had a double-lung transplant in September.

Gov. Tom Corbett signed a law outlawing such substances a few days after the boy smoked the substances. The ban took effect in August" WPXI TV

Thank you Gov. Corbett for enacting this law. This family will NEVER be the same.

Parents, if you are struggling with a teen abusing substances or even suspect it, come to the next PSST meeting 11/5/11. You will find help and support from a team of professionals and seasoned parents. You won't regret it!

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The Transitioning Your Teen Trip ~ By Sally and Rocco
Posted by:Sally--Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What a Long Strange Trip It Has Been

It is a long and winding road to recovery for most addicts and their families.

It has been about five years now since Sally and Rocco first saw some major red flags and realized that Cisco needed help.

He had gone from our happy well behaved kid with a great sense of humor, an inspired imagination, a love for all kinds of animals and very outgoing personality to a very angry teen who was getting in fights, having a lot of school issues, withdrawing from our family and bringing home some rather dubious “friends”.

We started on our adventure with an outdated road map, a couple of well intentioned glossy brochures and no idea where we were headed. We had no GPS or AAA TripTik® . We knew where wanted to get to but had very little idea of how to get there, how long it would take or what we would find on our way down the road.

If you have followed our posts over the last two years you may be aware that we got Cisco into counseling for anger management back in 2006. His first overdose occurred in September of 2007 . The get-a-way weekend that Rocco and I planned for our thirtieth anniversary ended up as a nightmare in the emergency room.

So here we are five years, 2 overdoses, a couple of relapses, eight or nine court appearances and seven placements down the road and we are (as we like to say in PSST) cautiously optimistic.

We have all made adjustments in our lives and we are working on our own recovery. Rocco and Sally have gradually learned, modified our lifestyle and understand addiction better now. We just got done talking with our cousin (who became acquainted with addiction herself through her two brothers who suffer from it). She said that she had noticed a big change in Cisco lately. We agree.

We thought, at first, that the toughest part of addiction was Cisco causing trouble at school and creating general chaos in our home.

We used to think the toughest part of addiction was when Cisco was getting high and was having emotional issues.

We used to think the toughest part of addiction was when Cisco was stealing and dealing to get drugs.

We then thought that the toughest part of addiction was when Cisco was confronted by the police who told us that they were filing charges against our son.

No! No! The very toughest part had to be when he was finally placed into an inpatient recovery program and we had to deal with how much he hated us and the F##ing facility and he was going to use again as soon as he got out...

…or could it be when we had to meet in court and Cisco had to go before a hearing officer…

...or maybe when we first experienced all of the buzzers and banging doors at the Shuman Detention Center...

…or maybe when he would successfully completed his treatment program and we thought that we could get on with our lives and then he would relapse.

Well, now we know that the “next” toughest part of our journey still lies ahead of us

What really is happening is that each new day holds its own set of toughest challenges, bumps in the road and detours.

Cisco, Sally and Rocco have come a long way. Cisco has started a full time job. This in itself holds a lot of challenges for all three of us. At this point we are allowing him to stay at home, on a part time basis, as we adjust to each other once again.

With the help of Cisco’s counselors, and his P.O., we are trying to assist Cisco in his transition to a “normal” life style.

We are trying to work him into living back at home until he can manage (and afford) to live independently. Cisco needs to adjust how he deals with our family, how he handles his money, how he handles friends and how he acquires career training skills. He needs to work on his skills for handling the pressures of work and his personal life.

Most important, of course, is how Cisco continues to work on his recovery. He should attend meetings on a regular basis. He should make his sponsor a big part of his recovery and his life. He should avoid people and places that affect his attitude or that puts him into circumstances that jeopardize his recovery. He needs to sharpen up his ability to make good decisions and good choices on his own. He needs to be able to ask for help when he needs it without hesitation.

As for Sally and Rocco, we need to redevelop our trust in Cisco; that he can eventually handle this on his own and to accept that while Cisco will not do it perfectly; he has and he still is making progress. In the meantime he is doing well at his job and he is following our home rules. Sally has worked up a budget with him but he is still debating it.

We have both explained that, IF he really wants to purchase a car, besides the initial price he will need to save a lot of his paycheck for fuel, insurance and repairs. That will be Stop #1 on Cisco’s own road to independent living.

Will keep you posted on how the trip is going…

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Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, October 23, 2011


Once trust in another person has been damaged or lost, rebuilding that trust can be a very emotional and difficult journey for both parties. For most PSST parents, our teenagers have shattered our trust in them – trust that was so freely given at first, but now lies in ruins. On their journey to recovery, our teens hopefully will want to know what they can do to restore that trust. If we believe that they are truly serious, and that they are willing to commit to the demanding process involved, here is a step-by-step approach that we can try. The Four Steps to Trust and Freedom, developed by Larry Babaczewski of Milwaukee Solution Focus, was discussed at a PSST meeting by one of our guests.

Four Steps to Trust and Freedom!!

1) Do as I/we say.

Certainly not a fan favorite coming right out of the chute, but … classrooms, ball fields, and McDonald’s all begin with the ability to LISTEN and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS. No soccer game, term paper, or Big Mac was ever conquered without this first basic stepping stone of proving that you can get the job done according to plan.

○ On a scale of 1-10, rate the current level of trust – e.g. 5 [parent rating].

○ Then, ask if step #1 was followed for two full weeks – what would the trust level be – e.g. 6. In a month, what would the trust level be – e.g. 7.

○ At the end of two weeks, everyone rates how well the step was followed – on a scale of 1-10. Any rating below an 8 calls for another two weeks of step #1. Ratings above 8 call for a discussion of moving to step #2 – and perhaps, moving to step #2.

2) Ask me first.

So, if you can do the first step well, then maybe the authority figure you are facing may actually listen to you as you carefully and respectfully describe whatever it is you are wanting. This challenges your DISCUSSION and NEGOTIATION skills. Want to change the topic of the class term paper or argue for a later curfew time? Absolutely! … unless you forgot to do step #1.

Conveying what you want respectfully and carefully does not guarantee you will get what you want – so it may be wise to start “small” – e.g. ask for a chance to see a movie and not for a car of your own. This step is an opportunity to get better at negotiation [develop your effective ‘voice’] – all parents feel more positive when they see and hear that their child is developing an effective voice [versus a ranting or whining/”poor me” voice]. This is a time to let your parents know that you have used good judgment or used your head “out there” – e.g. you chose to call them to take you home from a party where there was underage drinking.

On a scale of 1-10, everyone rates how it is going with step #2 – e.g. “asking”/negotiating = 3 because it was not done – you went ahead without asking; or a 7 because it was done in a way that “discussion” and “negotiation” occurred and if a “no” was the response it was accepted. Here, mom and dad need to be clear about what is a “no” that is not negotiable – e.g. while you live under our roof you may not have your boyfriend sleep overnight in your bedroom! And what might be negotiable – if you get nothing less than a B for two grading periods, you can get your driver’s permit.

As negotiating gets stronger/more effective, using a scaling, you are ready to move to the next step – e.g. if you and your parents rate you at an 8 or 9 for a month.

3) Keep us informed/Tell us later.

By now you have earned enough trust and freedom and proven you are responsible so well that you can let your parents know if plans have changed – keep them informed or explain later what changed and why – if you make something up … whoops! … go back to step #1 for a while.

With cell phones and texting, it is easy to keep your parents informed, so err in this direction instead of telling them later. Be prompt about letting them know – let them know as soon as you know. Again use a 1-10 scale to measure how well you are doing with this step. If your rating differs from theirs, it is a chance to use your negotiation skills. This step may need to go on for a while before moving to the next step – yet another chance for negotiating.

4) You’re on your own.

Congratulations! You must have proven yourself to dress appropriately for school, hang around with decent enough friends or eat right, so that your decisions/judgments in these areas of your life are not even questioned by the powers that be. You’ve ESTABLISHED a sense of independent operations … at least in some areas of your life. But remember, do something dumb and fail to honor the basics of step #1, and back to basics you’ll go.

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Bam Bam is still Flexing his Muscles ~ by Wilma
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bam Bam is still Flexing his Muscles

25 days in the DAS (Diversion and Acute Stabilization) program, and what is Bam Bam up to?

Well, in his first two weeks he “fell” on his already fractured hand and had to go to the ER and orthopedic surgeon where his re-fractured hand was wrapped up. THE NIGHT he went to the orthopedic doctor he was mad because his dad wouldn’t pick him up if he signed himself out so he punched a wall with the FRACTURED HAND. He called home begging Fred or me to go up there to take him to the ER.

We were told it was not an emergency and refused to be manipulated into picking him up.

I think this demand came from the day before the trip to the orthopedic doctor, when Fred drove up to Quarry Rock and picked Bam up to take him to the ER at our local hospital to check him out for chest pain. It was determined that there was no physical problem but that Bam Bam was suffering from anxiety.

The ER doc gave him a Xanax. Neither Bam nor Fred informed the doc that Bam Bam was a recovering addict.

After the hospital visit, Fred took Bam Bam home to change clothes, spray on some body spray and then stopped for some fast food on the way back to Quarry Rock. No wonder he wants Fred to take him to the hospital ER!

Since he punched a wall with his fractured hand, he again was taken to the ER by Quarry Rock staff and another appointment made for the orthopedic doc. This time the hand was casted. However, Bam Bam decided he didn’t need a cast so two days later he took it off himself.

We had a family meeting this past Thursday and we discussed Bam’s aftercare plans as Quarry Rock was planning on discharging him next Tuesday. At first the meeting was going o.k.

Then Bam decides he’s going to manipulate the meeting.

He tells us he’s not going back to school (he already had agreed to go back to his home school) and wants to go back to cyber school (he likes how cyber school with a teacher works in placement) which he’d already failed at earlier in the year and we had said NO CYBER SCHOOL, started making demands about his phone and friends, said he wouldn’t go back to his psychiatrist.

We all just stared at him – WHAT IS GOING ON? He is less than a week from discharge!!

The therapist told him she wasn’t taking sides, but that we as parents are not being unreasonable to have him earn his phone back, ease into friends, and that he had already agreed to return to his psychiatrist.

For those who don’t know, Bam was on the outs with his psychiatrist when she called him out on drug seeking behavior. He didn’t want to go back. However, I could not find another adolescent psychiatrist participating with our insurance that would take a dual diagnosis patient that had not been clean for longer than 16 months.

By the end of the meeting Bam was back on board with all the after care plans, which by the way he was involved in making. After the meeting he and Fred fished in the pond on the grounds even though it was drizzling and freezing.

At this point I felt o.k. with bringing him home on Tuesday. HOWEVER, that evening he called twice. Even after the first call I thought we still have a plan. After the 2nd phone call I felt as if we were at SQUARE ONE again.

Bam Bam told me he wasn’t going back to school, he wanted to do cyber-school as the teacher at Quarry Rock told him he was doing a good job there. Bam said after all he doesn’t have an x-box or i-pod to distract him, and of course he would have probation (by the way, he has charges now). I tried to explain to him that Miss Meg from Quarry Rock wasn’t moving in to monitor his school work and that his P.O. wouldn’t be sitting with him all day to make sure he does his school work.

All I could envision is that Bam comes home Tuesday, Wednesday he refuses to go to school. This is exactly the type of situation that brings cops to our house!

I called the case manager and therapist the next day and told them unless Bam Bam has the school piece of his discharge in place (even if it is an alternative school but not cyber school at home) we would not pick him up.

Of course we were informed that then CYF would be involved and I said I knew that and I’d go through with it. If Bam Bam wants to make his own rules and not follow rules at home, he doesn’t have to come home. His discharge was moved back to Thursday. He and the therapist have more work to do and then we all get back together on Tuesday.

Fred and I decided not to go up on Saturday and take Bam out for a meal as it felt like we would be rewarding him for all of the upheaval. Needless to say Bam Bam was not happy. He called his aunt who went up for a visit and took him fishing at the pond. I was actually glad that he reached out to her. He has not wanted to be around family for a long time. Except his cousin, Cool J, who was arrested for possession a couple of months ago.

Bam called us later Saturday evening about coming up on Sunday, but we told him we couldn’t. He told Fred then he wouldn’t go back to school if we didn’t come up! He called later to tell me his he broke his closet door frame at Quarry Rock because he was mad.

And he is supposed to come home this Thursday!

So, it is Sunday night and I am wondering what is going to happen tomorrow??

I just want to say that posting our story on the blog is cathartic and helps me by talking about it. I also hope it might help someone else out there going through a similar situation.

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Should I try to get my teenager a Juvenile Probation Officer?
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, October 19, 2011

There is a lot of good information in the PSST Blog archives. Here is some information for parents wondering why they would ever want to get a Juvenile Probation Officer for their teenager. It worked well for our son Cisco and Sally and me, however, you will need to determine if it would help your teen and you. As always, if you are looking for help with your troubled teenager, we invite you to our PSST Meetings to discuss this and other ways to get help for your family and to restore order in your home.

Should I try to get my teenager a Juvenile Probation Officer?
Posted by Lloyd Woodward --May 25, 2009

Sometimes parents in group hear other parents talk about how helpful it was to have a Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) for their teenager. This post will deal with the pros and cons to having a JPO and also cover the process of how Juvenile Court determines which teenagers to supervise. Also, if a parent decides that it would be a good idea to get a JPO to help supervise their teenager, it is not necessarily an easy thing to do.

First, we'll cover the process for getting a JPO and we will follow that with the downside and upside of having one for your teenager. Before you decide whether or not to go down this road make sure to read the downside part too.

To read the entire post click on the title: Should I try to get my teenager a Juvenile Probation Officer?

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What if My Teen is Using Drugs?
Posted by:Rocco--Friday, October 14, 2011

What if My Teen is Using Drugs?

Adapted from the Complete Guide to Family Health, Nutrition & Fitness, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.


(Throughout this section, unless otherwise stated, the words drug or drugs will be used to indicate any potentially harmful substance — tobacco, alcohol, prescription medications or illegal drugs.)

Even closely knit families with strong values and ongoing drug-proofing have no guarantee that substance abuse won't affect one or more of their children. The problems may range from a brief encounter with cigarettes to an episode of intoxication (perhaps with legal consequences) to an addiction.

As you begin to cope with one or more chemical intruders in your home, keep the following principles in mind:

1. Don't deny or ignore the problem
2. Don't waste time wallowing in false guilt or wondering who to blame
3. Seek help from professionals experienced with treating drug problems
4. Be prepared to make difficult, "tough love" decisions
5. Do not look for or expect quick-fix solutions
6. Remember the father of the Prodigal Son

1. Don't deny or ignore the problem - If you do, it will worsen until your family life is turned inside out. Take the bull by the horns - be sure to find out exactly how big and ugly the bull is.

The marijuana cigarette you discovered may be a one-time experiment or just the tip of the iceberg.

Talk to your child and anyone else who may know the extent of the problem. You may not like what you hear, but better to get the hard truth now than a regrettable surprise later.

Editor’s Note: Ignoring the Problem is NOT a Solution.

2. Don't waste time wallowing in false guilt or wondering who to blame - Many parents assume a great deal of self-blame when a drug problem erupts in their home. Others waste a lot of time looking for someone to blame for their child’s issues.

Neither one of these actions will help your teen.

Remember that drug users must accept responsibility before they can resolve their issues.

Editor's Note: - the emphasis here is "don't waste time", you have a critical situation that needs immediate attention - there will be a lot of time later to discuss your teen's choice to use.

3. Seek help from professionals experienced with treating drug problems - Talk to your physician, minister or counselor. Seek out a 12 Step Program [or a group like Parent Survival Skills Training – PSST]. They can refer you to a professional who is experienced in dealing with all of your teen’s issues and how it affects your family.

This may include educational sessions, individual and family counseling, medical treatment and long-term follow-up.

If your teen’s behavior is out of control and he is unwilling to acknowledge that there is a problem, a carefully planned intervention by family members and others affected may need to be carried out under the supervision of an experienced counselor.

The goal is to convince the drug user in a firm but loving way of the need for change — NOW.

The confrontation should include specific alternatives for the type of treatment he will undergo and clear-cut consequences if he is not willing to cooperate.

4. Be prepared to make difficult, "tough love" decisions - If you have a drug-dependent adolescent who will not submit to treatment and insists on continuing drug use and other destructive actions, you will need to take the stomach-churning step of informing him that he cannot continue to live in your home while carrying on this behavior.

This will be necessary not only to motivate him to change but to prevent his drug-induced turbulence from destroying the rest of your family.

If you must take this drastic step, it would be helpful to present him with one or more options.

These might include entering an inpatient drug-treatment center, halfway house, boot-camp program, boarding school or youth home, or possibly staying with a relative or another family who is willing to accept him for a defined period of time.

More ominous possibilities may need to be discussed as well, such as making him a ward of the court or even turning him over to the police if he has been involved in criminal activity.

If you continue to shield him from the consequences of his behavior or bail him out when his drugs get him into trouble, [a.k.a. Enable him] he will not change and you will be left with deep-seated anger and frustration.

Editor's Note: Do not be discouraged when your teenager blames you for their problems and tells you how much they hate you – this is their addictive behavior talking.

Do not accept the blame and don’t be overly-concerned with trying to get them to “love” you [a.k.a. Enabling] or convince them how much you love them. Trying to use adult logic/common sense with a teen drug addict is frustrating at best.

5. Do not look for or expect quick-fix solutions -
It is normal to wish for a single intervention that will make a drug problem go away. But one conversation, one counseling session, one prayer or one trip to the doctor will not be enough.

Think in terms of a long term comprehensive response encompassing specific treatment, counseling and aftercare.

Editor’s Note: Since most of our teenage drug abusers rarely go voluntarily into a recovery program, and seldom admit that they have a problem, they generally do not immediately embrace their recovery. Do not be discouraged if it takes several tries before they accept responsibility for their own recovery.

6. Remember the father of the Prodigal Son - Tough love means allowing the consequences of bad decisions to be fully experienced by one who is making those decisions.

It also means that your child knows a parent's love for him is there for him in tough times. Never give up hope, never stop praying, and never slam the door on reconciliation and restoration when your child comes to own his recovery.

Other things to keep in mind:

- Do not be afraid to question your counselor. If something that they say does not feel right with you do not be afraid to speak up, question them or let them know that you disagree. If you need to, do not hesitate to find another counselor.

- Addiction of any kind is a "Family Disease". While your child is working on their recovery; you and your family need professional help to work on your own recovery. If your child returns to the same family situation with unresolved issues the chances of his relapse increase dramatically.

- Someone has to step up and be the adult here - "It's only [tobacco - marijuana - alcohol]", "I would would feel like a hypocrite, I used..." and "He'll turn 18 soon and it will be his problem" are all cop outs. Tobacco, marijuana and alcohol are all highly addictive, and potentially deadly drugs, to your teenager. The longer you wait to get help the more serious the consequences will be.

- Your child's life and their future is more important than your social or professional standing, what your family, friends, neighbors, church, coworkers or boss will think, or their sports, school activity, scholarship or choice of college.

Why Would My Teen Use Drugs?

What are the factors that influence kids to use drugs?

Adapted from the Complete Guide to Family Health, Nutrition & Fitness

Attitudes - Tobacco, alcohol and other drug-related behaviors among families will usually be duplicated in their children.

Attractiveness – Alcohol and Tobacco are widely promoted as something enjoyed by sophisticated, fun-loving, attractive and sexy people — what most adolescents want to be.

Illegal drugs are "advertised" by those using them in teen peer groups.

Peer-pressure - The need for peer acceptance is especially strong during the early adolescent years and "Just Say No" may not resonate when it comes to peer-pressure mixed with tobacco, alcohol or using drugs.

Curiosity - Unless your family lives in total isolation, your child will be aware of tobacco, alcohol and drug use well before adolescence from talk at school, radio, TV, movies and direct observation. Some curiosity is inevitable.

Thrill-seeking - Unfortunately, many children and adolescents seek drug experiences to produce thrills that they think that normal life can't duplicate.
Rebellion - Teens may engage in tobacco, alcohol and drug use as a show of independence from family norms and values.

Availability of tobacco, alcohol and drugs - Finding tobacco, alcohol or drugs are not difficult for adolescents in most communities – Urban, Suburban, Rural, Affluent, Middle Class or Poor.

Editor’s Note: “Tobacco, alcohol and drugs are equal opportunity destroyers.”

The high induced by drugs - If drug use wasn't pleasurable, it would be relatively easy to keep teens and harmful substances separated. But the reality is that many teens enjoy the way they feel on drugs — at least for a while.

Escape from life/relief from pain - Teens often feel anxious, angry, depressed, oppressed, stressed, bored, unfulfilled. The idea of a chemical "timeout" may look very attractive.

Whether one is down and out or rich and comfortable, substances that bring about relaxation, stimulation or pure escape can be appealing.

A conviction that "it can't happen to me" or that the "consequences don't matter" - Many teenagers and young adults are prone to assume their own invulnerability or immortality, make shortsighted impulsive decisions, or shrug off the most fervent warnings about the pitfalls and perils with a smirk or the defiant pronouncement "I don't care."

Unfortunately, many of them will become deeply involved in drug use and will remain stuck in this immature, self-destructive mind-set.

Adapted from the Complete Guide to Family Health, Nutrition & Fitness, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2006, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.






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Just for fun - some South Park parenting
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Cartman's mother admits that she can't control Cartman. Delightful comedy. Obviously, there is obscene language in this so don't play it in front of children.

This episode has Nanny 911, Super Nanny and The Dog Whisperer.

South Park "TSST"

Disclaimer: While there may some truths about parenting and enabling (or else why would I post it?), PSST is not recommending that anyone follow this approach. As the heading says, this is just for fun.

We have no connection to South Park Studios.com. We are simply providing one picture and one link in hopes that viewers will view this video from it's place of origin, i.e., South Park Studios. If South Park Studios or other owners of this video do not want this graphic picture of Cartman and his mom on our blog, of course we will remove it. We have provided this graphic not for financial gain but only so that we can comment on it.

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Letter from Jail
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Originally Posted by:Ken Sutton -- Sunday, February 25, 2007

Re-posted due to update: see comment #6

This is a letter from jail written by the son of a friend. The letter was written over a year ago to someone he does not know but who is having similar challenges. He is out of jail now and doing well. They have both been gracious enough to share this letter thinking it may help someone else.

The letter is a scanned copy of the original. Click each page to make it bigger then use your web browser screen controls to scroll to read it as needed.

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Volunteers wanted to sit at booth on 19th and 20th
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Alliance Against Drugs is having a two day training entitled "Drug Impairment Training for Education Professionals." I'm not sure as of this writing where the two day conference is being held, but I will update this post with that information as soon as I receive it. Debbie Kehoe, Executive Director has indicated that she will have booths outside the training for the two day period. There is no cost for the booth.

If anyone is interested please send me email at lloyd.woodward@alleghenycourts.us

Type rest of the post here

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Posted by:Rocco--Saturday, October 08, 2011


This week’s PSST Meeting was held in Wexford. We had the expertise of Lloyd and Julie of Allegheny Juvenile Probation and Kathie T and Justin of Wesley-Spectrum.

There was also another great turnout of of 17 concerned parents, some regulars, some returning alum and some new parents.

EDITOR'S DISCLAIMER: This is an attempt to summarize our latest PSST meeting. We don’t always have the chance to get it done quickly and we sometimes cannot read Rocco’s handwriting [or even imagine what it was he was trying to write] so, Please feel free to edit, elucidate, correct, amend or add to our summary as required in the comment section below. We will not be offended.

Wilma did a super job at keeping us focused as our group leader this week.


- We had an opportunity to congratulate Daisy as "2011 Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Parent of the Year"

- Lloyd is looking for volunteers for a PSST Booth at an upcoming Alliance Against Drugs Training program scheduled for Oct 19-20 (Wednesday-Thursday) 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at A.W. Career Center, 9600 Babcock Blvd, Allison Park, PA 15101 - Lloyd will post more information on the blog.

- Wilma reminded us about the live workshop on Oppositional Defiant and Anger Issues in Children and Adolescents at the Embassy Suites at the Airport on November 11, 2011. CLICK HERE if you wish to look at the information online.

- DO YOU NEED SOME MORE PARENTAL SUPPORT? ~ "S.O.S. FAMILIES ANONYMOUS GROUP" Squirrel Hill meets Every Tuesday night from 6:00 - 7:30PM

NO Fees - NO last names used - NO forms to fill out ~ NO formal sign-up

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.

~ Like PSST, there is no cost and no commitment to attend Families Anonymous

LET’S TALK - because of the large turnout we went around to do short introductions so we could get back to those with more to discuss.

Wilma's son Bam Bam completed his IRF this summer but was not ready to buy into his recovery. Mary worked her best PSST skills to get Bam Bam into a Mental Health Facility. She reported that Bam is doing okay.

Tess’ 18 year old son Linus is doing okay and is adjusting to a 1/2 way house before returning home. She said that they were just informed that Linus has more charges pending.

Remember we here at PSST are here to support you through this Tess. Feel free to reach out to us as you need to.

Rose has an 18 year old son, Joe that completed his High School Diploma while in his Inpatient Recovery Facility (IRF) this spring. Joe's drug of choice is "robo-tripping" [using over the counter cough/cold medications in combinations that produce a high] and he had not lived at home with Rose for over a year. When he completed his IRF this June he left town to be with his dad and try a job in North Carolina. He did okay with the work and saved a nice amount of money over the summer. He stayed clean but lost the job. He decided to return to Rose's house last week. Before the week was over he had ordered "legal" artificial drugs over the internet [labeled "Not for Human Consumption" of course] and relapsed.

*More on this later in this post*

Jessica's son Herman, 18, has been through a couple of Inpatient Recovery Programs and a halfway house but is not ready to accept his recovery and now is in another Inpatient Recovery Program. If Herman really wants to come home [and he says he does] then he is going to need to learn how to assimilate with his family. He will need to live by rules that Jessica and Roger never thought they would need to have in their house but then they didn't know what it was to be parents of an addict.

If Herman is not ready to live by their regulations then he may need to start working on a plan to live independently on his own. They will visit Herman this weekend.

Jessica and Roger now know that they hold the power. They now feel comfortable disagreeing with counselors and other "experts".

Jessica, you and Roger have been through the whole spectrum of recovery in a little less than one year and you guys are doing well and appear to be taking good care of yourselves and your family. Thanks so much for being part of PSST and being there for others.

Joan's daughter Melissa, 20, drug of choice is opiates. She is currently in an inpatient Recovery Program and is clean for 5 months. Melissa has not been home for the last 10 months has indicated that she wants to rebuild her relationship with the family. Joan understands, intellectually, that this reconciliation will need to be carefully laid out and planned and worked on but her heart tells her to hurry up.

Joan realizes that Melissa probably cannot come back home and will need to work on "personal responsibility" and learn how to support herself independently.

For today Joan is "cautiously optimistic."

Daisy has a 16 year old son Ozzie. Daisy is a single mom and an inspiration to us at PSST for how she has turned her own life around. Ozzie is another teen who did not accept his recovery and is in his third IRF. Daisy told us that she has had some good family sessions with Ozzie but that his anger seems to be resurfacing.

This might be because when the therapists and counselors ask Daisy if she could give in a little and maybe compromise a little; she firmly tells them "No I am not comfortable compromising, but ask me again if you need too." She knows that she never wants to go back to the way things were.

Thanks for being a big part of PSST Daisy and one more time, Congratulations on being named 2011 Parent of the Year.

Emily has a 16 year old son, Jerry. Jerry recently was assigned probation has been in an IRF for almost three months. He is almost ready to complete his program but Emily is not sure if Jerry is ready to accept his recovery or to come home yet.

Lloyd said he will work with her to review this and help determine where Jerry stands at this time.

Jenn has a son, Dylan, 15, has been in an IRF for about 5 months. Dylan is coming along well in his recovery but is still having some anger issues. Because of this he has missed out on his 3rd home pass. He is having an issue with following rules. On the good side he is not complaining that someone else is to blame for him missing his pass or making him angry. He is taking responsibility his mistakes.

Thanks to Jenn and Brad for their contribution to PSST and for being a good example of moving on with their lives. Hope that Brad had a good time taking some time off on a beautiful Satuday like we had.

Sally and Rocco's 19 year old son Cisco is currently in an adult 1/2 way house and is doing very well in his recovery and working towards finding a life skill so that he can eventually live on his own.

Cisco had an interview for a job last week and indications are that will get it. This is a good thing in itself and is something that we have been working towards. It does not act as a trigger to us [since Cisco never really had a steady job] but it does wave a couple of red flags in front of Rocco and Sally.

The little angel on our right shoulder is telling us "Cisco will handle the job, learn how to budget his money well, buy his car and mature with the responsibility and take another clean and sober step towards his independence. Everything will be just fine. Remember this is exactly what you wanted."

The little devil on our left shoulder is screaming at us "OMG!! Cisco will blow his money, on clothes, on cigarettes, on fast food and he will be tempted to spend his money on drugs and alcohol!!!" That little devil is also warning us that Cisco will come back home and 2 weeks later he will either quit his job or get fired and we will have him back home with no job and no ambition to find one and relapsing! "Are you guys crazy?!"

The reality, of course, is somewhere in between.

But there are a lot of issues that have popped up quickly and we both need to heed Jerry's advice and take a deep breath, take a step back and move slowly. Because Cisco brings up coming home NOW doesn't mean we need to make a decision NOW.

We have scheduled a meeting with Cisco and Jerry for Wednesday to discuss and plan where we go from here. One day at a time.

Brigitte's 17 year old son Pierre has been home from his IRF for almost 2 months and has had some issues. He is doing well in school, he is keeping his room clean and has a good attitude. Brigitte and Francois are feeling better about where he is but it will take time for the family to heal and for Pierre to regain their trust. Addiction is a family disease and each member needs to work on their own recovery.

Violet has a son, Sal, about to turn 20. Sal has been through a few Inpatient Recovery Programs. He is currently attending his second year of college and is doing well both in school and in his recovery.

Violet is working on her recovery. Like so many of us she knows in her head where she should be but is not quite there in her heart. She feels like she may never get to the point where she will be able to trust Sal, like she is waiting for the other shoe to drop. It all takes time.

At first we just want our child to get some help and to have a few months of clean time. Then we are looking for a major change in attitude. Then we are looking for them to begin to think about their own future and all along the way they have their ups and downs, Relapse and more recovery. We wish it could all just end but it takes time. We still have our child and we have some order in our homes and our lives. It is more than we could imagine a year or two ago.

As we noted before, lets look for progress, not perfection in our own recovery and our child's recovery.

Kitty has two sons, Carlyle, 18, and his older brother Cat, 23, who was home for about 2 months from a recovery facility before relapsing. Kitty told him that he needs to check himself in to another recovery program and that he can not live at home while he is using. Kitty heard that he was living in a garage in the neighborhood and sure enough when she checked she found him sleeping in her garage. She will not enable him but she is letting him keep his phone so that she can stay in touch with him. Kitty knows that there is not much that you can do to force your adult son into his recovery but she is checking all of her options and open to suggestions.

Her younger son, Carlyle, is clean and doing well and had his hearing and is off of his home monitor. He is still on 5 months of "Observation." He seems to be on the right track and is looking for a job. He plans to register for the spring semester at Community College.

Vera has a 16 year old son Tommy. Tommy is currently in an Inpatient Recovery Facility (IRF). He has a 12 hour home pass last weekend and Vera said he did well. He wanted to go to an N/A meeting and to do some shopping and to spend some tim eat home to see his sister. Vera explained to him that there would be no friends, that his was a visit to reconnect with his family and he was okay with that. He thinks that he will be ready to be released after 45 day in his inpatient program but Vera wants him to stay for the full 90 days.

At first most of our kids visualize their Inpatient Recovery Program more as a jail sentence [especially if they are court ordered into the program]. instead of accepting and working on their recovery they count the days they are there. If anyone even mentions to them that it is possible to be released in 30 or 45 days that is all they can think of. It is like "Hey, I've done my time. I am getting off early for good behavior. My counselor told me."

Having been in this situation, during Cisco's first placement, Sally and I can relate to the panic and confusion that you feel with the idea of them coming home before they are ready. We had endless conversations explaining to our son that it was not about "time" it was about his accepting and working on his recovery. This took a while to sink in for him and still pops up once in a while.

Unfortunately some counselors do bring up the subject of an early release and parents need to be prepared to tell them and their child that they are "Not Comfortable with that decision". A suggestion that worked for us was to tell Cisco that if he and his counselor insisted on his early release then he would need to be released into a 1/2 way home for 3 to 6 months because, again, we are "Not Comfortable" with him coming directly home and will not accept him. Cisco was more than happy to complete his 90 days after that.

Another determining factor here, unfortunately, is that many times our totally callous and perfunctory health insurance industry [better known as our Health Insurance Denier]. The reality is that many times our health insurance will just outright deny payment for our children's recovery.

Maria, one of our PSST Alumna Moms, returned to tell us that her 20 year old son, Bert, is now 2 years clean and doing well. He is living with his dad and working. Unfortunately he does not communicate all that much with his Maria. But she can accept that his being alive and clean is the most important thing at this time.

This is a regrettable situation with some of our children in recovery. In order for them to work their recovery successfully they need to almost completely detach from their parents and family for a time.

Thanks you so much for visiting with us at PSST Maria, it is always good to see you and encouraging to hear about one of our children making it in their recovery.

New to PSST is Maddie and her mom, Agnes. Maddie has two sons Davey, 17, and Herb ,16 and they live with Agnes and her husband.

Davey began using around age 14 and has progressed from marijuana and alcohol to opiates and any other drugs he could get hold of. Maddie used ACT 53 to get Davey into an Inpatient Recovery Program which he successfully completed. He did well enough that his ACT 53 was closed in late summer of 2010.

Since that time Davey's drug abuse increased, as well as poor school attendence, his disregard of rules and his anger problem. All of these issues are tied closely together and a lot of us at PSST have experienced them with our teenage addicts.

Davey spent the first 3 months of this year in another Inpatient Recovery Program and was released with an in-home intensive outpatient program. He has totally disregarded his program, and gone back to his same friends and old habits. His in-home program discharged him with the recommendation to use ACT 53 and to file charges to get him onto juvenile probation.

Davey has a hearing for this at the end of this month and Maddie and Agnes are both concerned about 1.) telling him that he has a hearing and 2.) getting him to his hearing.

Her younger son Herb continues to use marijuana despite all of the trouble he has witnessed with his older brother's drug use. He also has a hearing coming up.

You certainly have your hands full Maddie but you certainly are a pro-active parent and hopefully with the support of PSST things will begin to work better for you and your parents in the near future. Thanks for attending the meeting and please continue with PSST. We all have had very similar experiences and are here to support and encourage you in your family's recovery.


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Posted by:Rocco--Friday, October 07, 2011


Once again, a parent from PSST was named Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Parent of the Year. The award was presented to Daisy on October 6th at the Juvenile Justice Week's Awards Night.

She was nominated by numerous people including her fellow PSST Parents.

She earned the award for continued acts of bravery, excellent command of PSST skills, for showing a lot of growth, for reaching out to other parents and for saving her son's life.

Click on READ MORE to read Daisy's Acceptance Speech.

"Thank you so much for this award.

I would like to thank each and every person that is a part of PSST. Without them, I would not have the strength to stand here today.

I am the single mother of a 16 year old son, who is currently in his third placement, over the past year. His father died of a drug/alcohol overdose when he was five years old.

Up until high school, my son was a straight-A student and a great athlete. His first year of high school, I noticed a drastic change in his behavior. His grades dropped to the point of almost failing. He lost all interest in sports. He became disrespectful, angry, and even violent.

Everyone kept asking me if I thought he was involved in drugs – what else could explain this change in him?

I, of course, did not believe that was possible. After all -- I had been there for him and I had been a good mother. I taught him that drugs were wrong.

His anger escalated to the point that he broke my bedroom door down to where there was not one shred of wood left.

I became terrified of him and he knew it. He was half my size and had gained complete control.

I completely isolated myself from everyone, even my sister, the person I was closest to.

I was too ashamed to discuss the situation with anyone. I felt like a failure as a mother and was a prisoner in my own home.

Then one day, a friend, a PSST Parent, invited me to go to a meeting. That was the turning point for me.

Listening to everyone else, all people who seemed like good parents, sharing their stories that were so similar to mine, made me realize that I was not alone in this fight.

I began attending PSST meetings regularly and have gained more strength than I ever thought possible.

I have received so much support and help through the professionals and parents.

Someone gave an example of how, when you are on an airplane, you are told in case of an emergency to put the oxygen mask on yourself first so that you can help others.

I have learned that in order to help my son, I have to first help myself and that is what I have begun to do with the help and support of PSST.

Without PSST and without my faith, I would not have been able to do that.

Because of the changes in me, I am now beginning to see positive changes in my son.

I just want to say in closing that I am so grateful to Val Ketter and Lloyd Woodward of Juvenile Probation and Kathie Tagmyer of Wesley Spectrum for their DEDICATION and for the PASSION they have for our kids.

I am also so grateful to my sister, who has been there for me through it all. And my closest friend, Max, who spent countless hours listening to me cry and always knew just what to say.

Thank you very much."

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Articles on Bath Salts ~ Contributed by Jane
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, October 04, 2011

PSST parents know that if their teen is using bath salts, s/he has not started on a new cleanliness craze! Thanks to Jane for sharing the following two articles – click on the links to download the articles as Word documents.

Bath Salts: An 'Ivory Wave' Epidemic? Click Here to Download Word Document

What are "bath salts?" How are they abused and what are the potential consequences of abuse?

DEA Moves to Make 'Bath Salts' Illegal as Overdoses Rise
Click Here to Download Word Document

"The physical effects of PABS include tachycardia, hypertension, arrhythmias, hyperthermia, seizures, stroke, myocardial infarction, and even death. Behavioral and mental effects include panic attacks, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, aggressive or violent behavior (such as self-mutilation, suicide attempts, and homicidal activity), insomnia, anorexia, and depression."

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Actual outgoing message from a school in Australia-provided by Daisy
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 04, 2011

This school adopted a policy that required students and parents to be resonsible for thier children's abscenses and missing homework. As a result many parents sued the school demanding passing grades for their children no matter how many days of school they missed. As a result the teachers from this school voted to put this actual ougoing message on their school's answering machine, I suppose to send a message to the "enabling parents."

It's pretty funny. Thanks Daisy for this contribution.

Type rest of the post here

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7 Rules for Compassionate Communication
Posted by:Cheryl, Jim, Andy + 3 Stooges--Monday, October 03, 2011

In preparing for our first visit with Andy at his new facility; I am attempting to 'let go' of the ANGER within me so that our first visit will be a productive one. Difficult, as I seem to regress to past chapters in our life with him and not focus on the current under construction chapter.

I need to learn to pick my battles; as the worst in me is always peeking around the corner, ready to enter the room. What is causing my teen to disregard laws & respect of others property?

While searching the skies for help I came across Dr. Orloff's 7 points on communication that might help other parents struggling with knee-jerk reactions when sitting down with your teens; whether in placement or at home.

Judith Orloff, MD writes:

"The key to addressing anger is compassionate communication. I'm defining this as an information exchange for the greater good that involves both expressing yourself and empathically listening to another. Then a relationship has the possibility of transformational bonding--the ability to grow deeper as a result of communicating well--rather than pulling away or silencing angry feelings. Of course, it's wise to pick your battles. You don't want to die on just any hill. But once you've determined an issue is worth addressing, the following exercise will yield the best results.

Here are seven rules for compassionate communication:

  1. Calmly express your feelings.
  2. Be specific about why you're angry; stick to one issue.
  3. Request a small, doable change that could meet your need. Clarify how it will benefit your relationship.
  4. Listen non-defensively to another's position; don't interrupt.
  5. Empathize with the person's feelings. Ask yourself: What pain or shortcoming is causing someone to act so angrily, to behave in a manner that doesn't meet my (our family) needs? Take some quiet moments to intuitively sense where the person's heart is hurting or closed. Then compassion will come more easily.
  6. Work out a compromise or resolution. Don't stay attached to simply being "right."
  7. If a person is unwilling to change, you can either accept the situation as-is and try to emotionally detach from it or limit contact.

While communicating, always speak to the best in people, to their intelligence, integrity, or intuition. This will bring out the best in you too. The worst in us is waiting to emerge, but don't go for it. Refrain from getting curt, condescending, or mean; it'll backfire. (Any waitress can vouch for the horrors of what happens to a rude customer's food, including being spit into.) Avoid generalizing, becoming vague, or asking for too much. Stay cool: Don't explode or issue ultimatums before attempting to find common ground. Compassionate communication is a holy exchange, a meeting of hearts that overrides the fascism of malice.

I can only hope Andy has a lot of compassionate communication while meeting with his parents.

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Laughter - It's Good For Us ~ Contributed by Joan
Posted by:Sally--Monday, October 03, 2011

The most wasted day of all is that on which we have not laughed.
--Sebastien R. N. Chamfort

When we first started going to Twelve Step meetings we were often stunned to hear so much laughter. But we soon learned that a good hearty laugh or a joyful smile is as important to our recovery as all the serious issues we explore.

Learning to laugh is part of our growth. It recognizes our shared experiences and helps us feel closer to one another. It also reminds us we are able to smile again, and that a better perspective on life is returning.

We only have today to live, and we are getting better today, so why not smile and enjoy it? Why not open ourselves up to a good laugh and let it push our pain or sorrow out? Now that we are once again choosing how we feel, we have the power to opt for joy.

Today I am grateful for my ability to laugh and share laughter and fun.

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Posted by:Rocco--Sunday, October 02, 2011


This week’s PSST Meeting was held in Wilkinsburg. We had the expertise of Val of Allegheny Juvenile Probation and Kathie T, Jocelyn and Michelle of Wesley-Spectrum. Lloyd called in sick [hope you're feeling better]. We also had the pleasure of welcoming Julie an intern for Juvenile Probation form Cal U.

Visiting this week was April Wateska a counselor from Phoenix Rising. Thanks for attending April, we appreciate your input and hope to see you again.

There was also an overflow crowd of understanding and compassion with the presence of 26 concerned parents, some regulars, some returning alum and some new parents.

Many of us were here to celebrate the Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Parent of the Year announcement [more on that later].

EDITOR'S DISCLAIMER: This is an attempt to summarize our latest PSST meeting. We don’t always have the chance to get it done quickly and we sometimes cannot read Rocco’s handwriting [or even imagine what it was he was trying to write] so, Please feel free to edit, elucidate, correct, amend or add to our summary as required in the comment section below. We will not be offended.

Max did an excellent job at keeping the meeting on track as our group leader this week.


- Val invited everyone interested to visit the Juvenile Justice Week Open House on Wednesday Oct 5 and to the Awards Ceremony on Thursday, Oct 6 at 6:00 p.m. The celebration will take place in the 2nd floor waiting area of the Juvenile Court [use the Ross Street entrance]. This is when the Parent of the Year Award will be presented to one of our outstanding PSST Parents for acts of bravery, excellent command of PSST skills, for showing a lot of growth, and for reaching out to other parents --- click on Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Parent-of-the-Year to read more.

- Wilma reminded us about the live workshop on Oppositional Defiant and Anger Issues in Children and Adolescents at the Embassy Suites at the Airport on November 11, 2011. CLICK HERE if you wish to look at the information online.

- Max encouraged anyone that needs more support to attend the S.0.S. Chapter of Families Anonymous. They meet on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at Gateway Squirrel Hill. (Forbes Ave.) This twelve-step program focuses on helping parents become less co-dependent. All are welcome to attend these helpful meetings. Once again there is No Cost and No Commitment.

LET’S TALK - because of the large turnout we went around to do short introductions so we could get back to those with more to discuss.

Max began by telling us that her sons Michael and David are doing well. Michael, 19, is doing well in his recovery and is working his way towards having his own place to live.

Kitty also has two sons, Carlyle and his older brother Cat, a heroin addict that recently relapsed. Kitty told him that he could no longer live at home. More on this later.

Vera has been with PSST for a month. Her 16 year old son Tommy is a friend of Kitty's son Carlyle. Tommy is currently in an Inpatient Recovery Facility (IRF) and is an angry teen. He has a pass this weekend and Vera is concerned about how it will go. Vera says he has had problems for about two years. She doesn't understand why he acts the way he does, she wants to help him and save his life. Like most of our kids at this stage Tommy doesn't think he needs any help and is not accepting his recovery and is blaming everyone else especially his mom.

Thanks for coming to PSST Vera; please keep coming to our meetings, we are here to support you.

Tess and Danny’s 18 year old son Linus has been in an Inpatient Recovery Facility (IRF) since July and has over 60 days of clean time. He is doing okay and will be going to a 1/2 way house before returning home.

Olivia and John, Parents of the Year 2009, returned for a visit and to help us celebrate the 2011 Parent of the Year. Their son, Jarred is about to turn 21, has a job, his own place and is doing very well. Thanks for returning guys. It was great to see you and helps our current parents to see that there is hope.

Cheryl and Jim have an son, 18, Andy who just experience what the Adult Justice System is all about. He spent 5 weeks in the county jail. Val and Lloyd worked with Cheryl and Jim to get him back into the juvenile system and after a brief stay at Shuman Andy is in a IRF. As Jim noted they will not bail Andy out of his trouble but they will continue to get him whatever help he needs to work on his recovery.

Ruth is a single mom and relatively new to PSST. Her son Bo, 13, is in a IRF and is clean for 6 months. Please keep coming to PSST Ruth ans keep on praying. The combination can be a powerful tool.

Jenn and Brad have a son, Dylan currently in an IRF. They have been with us at PSST for about 10 months now and have become a good example of how to turn your life back to normal. Dylan is coming along well in his recovery.

Violet has a 19 year old son, Sal. Sal has been through a few IRF's and is currently attending his second year of college. Violet has stood up in court and stood up to counselors and to anyone that she didn't necessarily agree with to make sure her son received the best care that he could. Violet is our PSST Poster Mom for NOT being "Pathologically Compliant to Authority Figures".

Kathy is new to PSST. Her 18 year old son Cody is 5 months clean from heroin usage. he is attending meetings regularly and was proud to be given the key to his home group. Please keep coming to PSST Kathy, we will do what we can to support you.

Brigitte and Francois’ 17 year old son Pierre has been home from his IRF for 5 weeks and has had some issues. Never the Less, some alert actions by Brigitte has helped to get him to where he needs to be. He is doing well this week.

Becky's son Syd completed his IRF came home and relapsed and is in another IRF. This is very common. Our teens usually don't volunteer to go into their first inpatient program and it sometimes takes a few more times before the accept their recovery. Becky and Tom understand this and are handling it well.

Sally and Rocco's 19 year old son Cisco is currently in an adult 1/2 way house and is doing very well in his recovery and working towards finding a life skill so that he can eventually live on his own. He has a very good 6-step plan laid out and had a minor infraction this week. Because of this he did not get his weekend pass but was able to accept it and deal with it very maturely. Something that even a year ago he would not have been able to do.

Wilma's son Bam Bam completed his IRF this summer but was not ready to buy into his recovery. To make it tougher his dad, Fred, was acting as his prime enabler. Mary was shocked, but happy, when she received a recent call from Fred saying that he had had enough and had called the police on Bam Bam. Mary worked her best PSST skills to get Bam Bam into a Mental Health Facility. She let everyone know clearly that she while she understands that her son is allowed to sign himself out of the facility that she will not allow him to return home.

Jane another of our PSST Strong Moms has been with us for almost one year now. I remember meeting Jane at our informal "between the meetings" meeting at Crazy Mocha last October. Her son Elroy was out of control and about to turn 18. She wanted to get him into the juvenile system to get him into his recovery. Like Wilma, Jane had to do this with very little to no cooperation from her husband. Elroy also went through an IRF and a 1/2 way house but was not ready to work on his recovery. He is now back into a second IRF for the last month.

Jennifer's son Maxwell, 18, is currently in an IRF and has worked his way past the 1st phase. He is getting his first home visit since May and is hoping to reunite with his family.

Emily has a 16 year old son, Jerry. Jerry recently was assigned probation has been in an IRF for about one month. Emily is not sure if Jerry is ready to accept his recovery yet but he has his first home pass this weekend.

George and Gracie have a 19 year old son Ronnie. He relapsed this summer and checked himself into a recovery facility. He is attending 4 NA Meetings and a counseling session weekly. They feel he is doing okay but needs to stay focused. Their concern now is that Ronnie has got a job and will have more money to handle. They are Cautiously Optimistic.

Daisy has a 16 year old son Ozzie. Daisy is a single mom and an inspiration to us at PSST for how she has turned her own life around, helped her son in his recovery and reached out to so many of us here. Ozzie is another teen who did not accept his recovery and is in his second IRF. Daisy told us that she had her first good family session with Ozzie last week and is looking forward to another one this weekend.


Following a break for some celebratory cake for the 2011 Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Parent of the Year we reconvened for some more talk for those parents that needed it.

Kitty's older son, Cat, a heroin addict, has been clean for most of the year and was home for about 2 months before relapsing. Cat told him that he needs to check himself in to a recovery program and that he can not live at home while he is using. When she presented all of the evidence she found at home he basically went off blaming Kitty for everything from his using to his latest relapse. At this point he is not accepting help and she is not sure where he is.

Her younger son Carlyle sort of took her to task. He told her that Cat had been using in the house and that she needs to do something with him. He said that it is not good for his own recovery to have his older brother using at home. He asked her if she could ACT 53 him or something.

As much as Kitty would love to be able to do something; once our children are over 18 there is little that we can do to "make them" get help. They are legally adults and can check themselves into and out of programs. We can only be there to help them if they ask for our help.

Carlyle is doing well and has a hearing next week to determine if he can get off of home detention.

You know, looking at Kitty at the PSST meetings you wouldn't know that such a petite woman has such big shoulders...

...thanks so much for being part of PSST, thanks for the flowers and thanks for helping us. We will continue do what we can to support you.

Wilma is another lady with big shoulders. Until just recently she was pretty much carrying on the fight to help her son's recovery with no support from her husband, Fred. Fred finally had enough and called the police on their 14 year old son Bam-Bam. This has resulted in Bam-Bam entering a Mental Health facility.

Wilma is pursuing an ACT 53 hearing to get Bam Bam additional help. Bam like many of our kids has been making a case for himself. Since coming out of Inpatient Recovery he has refused drug testing, he will not go to meetings and he has stopped therapy.

Wilma mentioned that he had a text on his cell phone from someone asking for the money that he owed them. When asked why Bam still has a cell phone she told about how his counselor "suggested" that he should be able to "earn" his cell phone back and how Wilma should sit down with Bam's "friends" and get to know them.

Wilma now understands that a cell phone is not a good thing for teenage addicts and she has always known that Bam's "friends" are not good for him; Never-the-Less, when a counselor "suggest" these kind of things our teen addicts only hear "I am allowed to have a cell phone, my counselor said so!" and "What do you mean I need to stay away from my friends, my counselor said I can hang out with them!"

As we have mentioned before one of the first new skills that parents of teen addicts need to work on is NOT to be "Pathologically Compliant to Authority Figures". This is one of those things that we all need to learn to unlearn.

As Val K suggested we know our kids better than anyone and if a counselor "suggest" something that doesn't sound right to you, do not hesitate to let them know that you "are NOT comfortable with that!"

But with the counselor's suggesting and no support from Fred, Wilma was left to carry on the struggle pretty much on her own.

You have done well Wilma and hopefully with Fred on your side you will be able to do a lot more. Thanks for being a big part of PSST.

Violet is going through a phase of recovery similar to the one that Sally and I find ourselves in. Our sons have been though several years of their own recovery and have had ups and downs but they appear to be ready to move on in their lives.

We realize we "need to detach", we understand "how to detach" but we don't know "how to let go" of our fears, our own anger, out mistrust...

...as others said, our inner voice says trust him "but" then maybe if we prepare for the worst we won't be hurt as much if he falls, kind of like a post traumatic syndrome for recovering parents. We will heal but there will be scars that no amount of plastic surgery will ever fix.

Like all recovery processes, healing takes time. Healing is a long gradual process and our goal is progress, not perfection. Take your time Violet, make a little progress one day at a time.

Jim and Cheryl are also experiencing what others have. Addiction is a family disease. Their older son, Kyle, has asked them to choose him or Andy. He fears that they are being overly manipulated by Andy.

Fear and anger are two very big parts of codependency and very tough to get over.

Jim and Cheryl of course cannot and will not "choose" to abandon or keep either son. It will again take time to heal these relationships. They will talk to Kyle's heart and not his head. They will try to encourage him to detach from his fear and his anger and show him that they are okay themselves.

Jim and Cheryl, you guys have shown us how well you can reach out to others and especially to your sons. Like everything else healing the family will take time. As I noted above look for progress and not perfection. We here at PSST will be here to encourage and support you two."


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Parent Skill: The Secret Weapon #1
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, October 02, 2011

Parents have a secret weapon that is fairly easy to use, free, and parents have almost unlimited amounts. It isn't a silver bullet. It won't solve a lot problems by itself; however, it will give you the edge. Using this technique liberally, along with the other parenting skills could actually effect a change in your teenager.

The reason why is that this secret weapon is all about relationship building. Hit "read more" to see if you've guessed what skill this is.

Physical contact. You might call this one the Vitamin Skill because like a vitamin, it won't cure you of a disease but taken regularly it can help you fight off diseases or heal yourself faster.

When you first meet someone you know that except to shake their hand it's not really appropriate to hug, put your arm around them or even to take their hand outside of a shake. Why? Because when you first meet someone you know that you don't know them that well. Having physical contact with someone implies that you know them better. This is the universal symbol that two people have a somewhat close relationship. Of course being close enough to hug someone doesn't mean that you are life-long buddies or BFF. It does suggest a casual intimacy or an easy going friendship. Every time you hug someone you reaffirm that you still have at least a casual intimacy if not more than a casual intimacy.

The reverse is true too. If you aren't comfortable touching someone, whether or not that someone is one of your children, you reaffirm that you are not close or casually intimate. If you see someone and never touch them, that can mean business only please.

Some things happen in early adolescence that naturally decrease physical contact between parents and teenagers. First, teens often don't want that hug or that hand on their arm. They feel they've outgrown that. It's age appropriate that they see themselves as moving past all that; however, they really haven't outgrown the need for touching because people never outgrow it.

Your teenager might come right out and challenge you by saying that you are too "touchy feely" and please back off.

The flip side of the coin is that as a parent you feel betrayed when your teen develops a drug problem, and all the various behaviors that come along with it. Parents can build up resentments. Suddenly you are not as comfortable going to the hug. Also, people hate rejection. parents are no different. If you keep going to the well and it's dry, then you stop going to the well.

The point of this post is to encourage parents to see this physical touch thing as a challenge. The quick fix: hug your kids every chance you get. If you have to, sneak up on them and give them a quick-hug. Sneak up on them and give him/ her a back rub. Sneak up on him/ her and touch his arm. Don't allow your teenager to discount your involvement. Hug anyway although if the teen resists, you won't be hugging too much or for too long, but don't let the your teenager's rejection stop you from continuing to try the next time!

Become a ninja hugger. Sneak up on them and become master of the quick hug. If they confront you, just agree with them that you want so much to hug them that it's practically impossible to do stop- sorry. On some level the teenager will like that. The only caution is not let the hug last too long, especially if the teen is resistant.

The big exception to this might be male adults, step parents especially, hugging teenage girls. It's still recommended but more sensitivity to a teen's plea to stop might be in order so the wrong idea doesn't come across.

Hugging not only can change a teen's attitude towards the parent, but hugging can improve the parent's attitude towards the teenager. Both can feel the warmth. It might not feel warm when you do it but just keep it up regularly and see if you don't feel differently.

Stay tuned for Secret Weapon #2, coming soon.

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