Quote of the Week

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

Don't be a Party to Teenage Drinking!
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, December 29, 2013

TEENAGERS LOVE TO PARTY – especially during the holidays. Often alcohol is involved. Some parents think that hosting their teenager’s party in the home will keep the kids out of trouble. You may not understand that it’s illegal, unsafe and unhealthy for anyone under age 21 to drink alcohol in Pennsylvania?

See this recent article about a father facing charges after his son's party leads to a drunk driving death. 

Here are the facts: If you make alcohol available at teenager parties, you can be prosecuted. If you allow teen drinking parties in your home, you can be prosecuted. So parents, please protect yourselves and your kids — don’t be a party to teenage drinking. Do your part to help make this holiday season safe for everybody.

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Twas the Night Before Christmas...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

We thought our teenager was snug in his bed,
Or listening to his music, ear phones stuck on his head.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my teenage son and some friends he holds dear.

From experience I knew what was happening quick,
I knew in a moment stealing our car was his trick.
More rapid than than eagles I ran outside to our lane.
I cursed him, yelled and called my son a bad name!

“Now Son, what the hell! You have no permission
To drive our car with your friends or with this vixen!
For I could see that his new girlfriend was tall,
And very cute to my eyes, then my son cried, “run-a-way all!”

The car had been wrecked for my eyes did not lie
When I saw that the windshield was crushed and my son was all high!
So I rang 911, the emergency number I knew,
And soon there were police cars with blinking lights too.

And then, in a twinkling, I looked for the proof
Inside I saw beer bottles (and a bag of weed left on the roof.)
My son looked awful loaded and as he was turning around,
He saw that I was the one who had called the cops down.

His anger was plain from his head to his foot
as he gave me his most threatening look.
But I didn't care about any of his threats
because I knew that he had just bet his last bet.

His eyes – how red and blood shot they looked,
His cheeks were flushed and his red nose looked cooked!
His droll little mouth stunk with alcohol
yet still, he looked over at me and he called…

“Hey Dad, please tell the cops to go away,
You know I’ll be good - tomorrow’s Christmas Day!”
But the stump of a weed pipe he held tight in his teeth,
The cop noticed it and said, "I’ll take that please!"

“You’re under arrest- and your rights I will tell,
But you are on your way straight to Shuman, the teenager-Jail."
He spoke lots more words as he went about his work.
He cuffed my son and his friends and then he called them all jerks.

He confiscated the weed, the beer, and the blow-
Giving a nod, the cop said “It’s time to go.”
The police lights were flashing, the teenagers crying;
I knew my son was safer in jail than outside of jail dying.

My son put his head out the window and pleaded,
“Just one more chance, Dad, I know I can beat this
addiction and This time I won’t let you down.
Please, don’t let the cops take me downtown!

I sprang to my senses and searched for the words that were best,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all -NEVERTHELESS!”

(Happy Christmas to all PSST parents both near and far and thanks for your support all year long. Without you all there is no PSST ;-)

(Written by Clement C. Moore and Lloyd Woodward and reprinted from 2009 PSST BLOG)


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Treating Drug Addiction
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, December 20, 2013

Thanks to Mary Canary for sharing the following information.

 The following principles of effective drug addiction treatment were issued by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (part of the National Institutes of Health, which is under the US Dept of Health and Human Services).  Although many PSST parents are already aware of many of these principles, there are some good reminders here about the complexities of drug addiction and its treatment. 

Principles of Effective Drug Addiction Treatment
1.      Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.   Drugs of abuse alter the brain’s structure and function, resulting in changes that persist long after drug use has ceased. This may explain why drug abusers are at risk for relapse even after long periods of abstinence and despite the potentially devastating consequences.

2.      No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.  Treatment varies depending on the type of drug and the characteristics of the patients. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to an individual’s particular problems and needs is critical to his or her ultimate success in returning to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and society.

3.      Treatment needs to be readily available.   Because drug-addicted individuals may be uncertain about entering treatment, taking advantage of available services the moment people are ready for treatment is critical. Potential patients can be lost if treatment is not immediately available or readily accessible. As with other chronic diseases, the earlier treatment is offered in the disease process, the greater the likelihood of positive outcomes.

4.      Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.     To be effective, treatment must address the individual’s drug abuse and any associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems. It is also important that treatment be appropriate to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.

5.      Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.  The appropriate duration for an individual depends on the type and degree of the patient’s problems and needs. Research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment. Recovery from drug addiction is a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment. As with other chronic illnesses, relapses to drug abuse can occur and should signal a need for treatment to be reinstated or adjusted. Because individuals often leave treatment prematurely, programs should include strategies to engage and keep patients in treatment.

6.      Behavioral therapies—including individual, family, or group counseling—are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.   Behavioral therapies vary in their focus and may involve addressing a patient’s motivation to change, providing incentives for abstinence, building skills to resist drug use, replacing drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding activities, improving problem-solving skills, and facilitating better interpersonal relationships. Also, participation in group therapy and other peer support programs during and following treatment can help maintain abstinence.

7.      Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.  For example, methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone (including a new long-acting formulation) are effective in helping individuals addicted to heroin or other opioids stabilize their lives and reduce their illicit drug use. Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are medications approved for treating alcohol dependence. For persons addicted to nicotine, a nicotine replacement product (available as patches, gum, lozenges, or nasal spray) or an oral medication (such as bupropion or varenicline) can be an effective component of treatment when part of a comprehensive behavioral treatment program.

8.      An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.  A patient may require varying combinations of services and treatment components during the course of treatment and recovery. In addition to counseling or psychotherapy, a patient may require medication, medical services, family therapy, parenting instruction, vocational rehabilitation, and/or social and legal services. For many patients, a continuing care approach provides the best results, with the treatment intensity varying according to a person’s changing needs.

9.      Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental disorders.  Because drug abuse and addiction—both of which are mental disorders—often co-occur with other mental illnesses, patients presenting with one condition should be assessed for the other(s). And when these problems co-occur, treatment should address both (or all), including the use of medications as appropriate.

10.   Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse.  Although medically assisted detoxification can safely manage the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal and can, for some, pave the way for effective long-term addiction treatment, detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicted individuals achieve long-term abstinence. Thus, patients should be encouraged to continue drug treatment following detoxification. Motivational enhancement and incentive strategies, begun at initial patient intake, can improve treatment engagement.

11.   Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective.  Sanctions or enticements from family, employment settings, and/or the criminal justice system can significantly increase treatment entry, retention rates, and the ultimate success of drug treatment interventions.

12.   Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur.  Knowing their drug use is being monitored can be a powerful incentive for patients and can help them withstand urges to use drugs. Monitoring also provides an early indication of a return to drug use, signaling a possible need to adjust an individual’s treatment plan to better meet his or her needs.

13.   Treatment programs should test patients for the presence of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as provide targeted risk-reduction counseling, linking patients to treatment if necessary.   Typically, drug abuse treatment addresses some of the drug-related behaviors that put people at risk of infectious diseases. Targeted counseling focused on reducing infectious disease risk can help patients further reduce or avoid substance-related and other high-risk behaviors. Counseling can also help those who are already infected to manage their illness. Moreover, engaging in substance abuse treatment can facilitate adherence to other medical treatments. Substance abuse treatment facilities should provide onsite, rapid HIV testing rather than referrals to offsite testing—research shows that doing so increases the likelihood that patients will be tested and receive their test results. Treatment providers should also inform patients that highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has proven effective in combating HIV, including among drug-abusing populations, and help link them to HIV treatment if they test positive. 

These principles are included in a publication called “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)”, which is contained in its entirety at http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment.   The guide was released in 1999, with the most recent update in December 2012.

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PLEASE: No gifts for staff please!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, December 07, 2013

I am very sorry I didn't think to post this earlier :-(

However, Valerie, Julie and I are not permitted by County Policy to accept gifts. It's very difficult to say "No" because we do not want to offend and also because we appreciate our thoughtful and appreciative PSST parents. We are in a tight spot here so please be considerate and don't offer us anything. I believe that Wesley Spectrum has a similar policy so don't be offended if none of the fine Wesley Spectrum Family Therapists won't accept gifts either.

All of us want you all to know that the best gift that you can give us is just your presence at our meetings. Also, many of you have your ways of showing us that you appreciate us all year long. That's one of the reasons that we are so lucky! We know that you appreciate us. We appreciate you all as well. :-)

Just be there if and when you can -that's the best gift of all!

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Bright Ideas?!
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, December 05, 2013

Bright Ideas with Deadly Consequences
by Roxie

Lenny and I have a cordial relationship while he decides if and when he should enroll in a halfway house or the military. Both are illusions. He still lives at the house, works part-time at McDonald’s, and I call the police for his drunken behavior when required. I was hesitantly hopeful that he would enter a drug rehab program, until my Lowe’s light bulb pack was tampered with.

I prefer bright light, so I searched stores for 100-watt bulbs to brighten the dark, overcast environment of my home. After using three bulbs out of a 10-pack, I realized there were none remaining in a two-week period. Questioning Lenny brought about numerous defensive answers. I conclude that he involved himself and friends in smoking illegal substances out of the bulbs.

After investigating, I found that broken light bulbs are used for smoking crystal meth and crack. The light bulb serves as the conduit to heat up for inhaling the drugs. What techniques and chemically engineered drugs will they come up with next? Recently Wilma, a PSST parent, shared her discovery that today’s ‘ear-wax’ marijuana can be as potent as 90% THC, a mind-altering / hallucinogenic property that can have a deadly effect on brain receptors (see highly-potent-ear-wax-marijuana-concerns-health-officials for more information).

Back in my day of the 1970’s, other drugs used for colorfully created delusions were mushrooms and mescaline. The mushroom spores can be purchased today online and mescaline (aka peyote) is available on Amazon.com in the Lawn and Garden section.

Pun intended, the availability and strength of the drugs today will knock our kids’ lights out permanently. As parents, we need to stay informed of the creative ways our kids are getting high. We may not be able to stop them, but knowledge gives us power and a slight edge in the awareness of products accessible in the illegal drug market.

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Posted by:Jenn--Monday, December 02, 2013

Transformation - written by Elizabeth

This is the story of a young girl who struggles with addiction.
The mother (Elizabeth) had a strained relationship with her youngest daughter Gwen. As you see, without professional help, addiction tears families apart. Gwen was in placement with hopes of getting her high school diploma. Family visits were allowed every two weeks. During those visits, Elizabeth and Gwen would work on art projects and play games while getting reacquainted. Elizabeth was very thankful to be part of Gwen's recovery.  She feared for her very beautiful – as Gwen's probation officer put it, “movie star beautiful” – daughter's life. Elizabeth prayed for God and Jesus to present themselves to Gwen, Elizabeth knowing this to be very possible.

After one particular Saturday visit, Elizabeth needed time to gather her thoughts. She pulled over along a stream in one of Pennsylvania's National Forests. Elizabeth parked her car, and then looked up.  She couldn't believe she was seeing hundreds of Tiger Swallowtail butterflies pouring from between the trees like a waterfall. The butterflies surrounded her car.  She got out of her car and watched the butterflies fly towards the sun in a beam of sunlight. Forty or more swallowtails remained, while Elizabeth watched them dwindle down to two. Then, Elizabeth "Got It."  Gwen was going to be more than just OK, and as Gwen now knows and accepts, she is on the earth for a great purpose!

Before Elizabeth could tell Gwen of her experience, Gwen had found the same type of swallowtail in the greenhouse and sent it to her Mom.  (A mere coincidence?  Elizabeth doesn’t think so!)

Gwen recently received her high school diploma. As a graduation gift, Elizabeth wrote her this story and presented her daughter with a hand-made pendant with a Tiger Swallowtail wing inside, created by an artist in San Francisco. Just as caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies, Gwen has transformed into a courageous young woman.   
This is a true story and a testament to the power of God's love.

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This Year at Thanksgiving I'll Count all my Best Blessings Twice,
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, November 28, 2013

Originally Posted by:Sally -- Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sometimes life is difficult. We face many challenges and disappointments that we may find hard to accept. If your child is in placement and there is a chance that he or she will not be home for the holidays it is enough to make you cry.
Our son, Cisco, is in placement and even though I am a seasoned PSST mom; (I have been attending meetings for well over a year) there are times when I let our situation get the best of me. That is okay, sometimes I need to work through the lonely feelings and being sad sometimes allows me to do this.
Our family has a thirty-three year old tradition of gathering together to select and chop down our Christmas tree. Cisco has always enjoyed this romp in the woods. I have many happy memories of him trekking up a glistening hillside along side his older brother. The snow softly falling and both boys so young and healthy ...... it felt like we were in the middle of a Norman Rockwell Poster.
I especially remember one warm but wet Christmas season when he fell in the creek and was muddy from head to toe but still wanted to go straight to dinner at a restaurant afterwards, that one puts a smile on my face too.

Cisco will not be there this year. How do we fill that void?

Our kids each have their own personal box of Christmas ornaments. Cisco will not be there when we decorate the tree to put all his special hand-made ornaments on it.

He will be missed.

The toughest thing at any time of the year is opening the door to his empty, all too quiet bedroom. I cannot even describe how lonely that makes me feel.

If your family cannot be together because of addiction do not let it ruin your holiday. That would be like letting the addiction win another round. Instead count your blessings.

The top five things I am grateful for:

1. I am thankful for Cisco. He is alive. He ran away from an adult facility six weeks ago. He has been very sensible and respectful ever since his return.

2. I am thankful for Rocco. Thankful that Rocco and I are working together on this disease that affects the whole family.

3. I am thankful for the support we get from our other son, Frodo and our daughter-in-law, Feona and all our extended family.

4. We are very thankful of our PSST friends who are always there for us and understand our highs and lows.

5. We are very thankful for Val, Lloyd, Kathie and all the experts from Juvenile Probation, Wesley Spectrum and Gateway who empower us.

All of these wonderful people in my life help fill the loneliness that occurs when my son is in placement. I think I will count all of these blessings twice.


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Mirror Mirror on the wall..
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to all PSST parents everywhere! We love our parents at the meetings and also those of you who follow us on this blog and on our Yahoo Groups email.

Just a note to say that we fixed our search window. If you find anything interesting in our archives please post a comment to let us know what you found. I just put "Thankful" in the window and found the above post by Sally and I re-posted. The other day I put "Parent Rights" in the window and found a post that I wrote for July 4th 2012. It had been such a long time that I felt like I was reading someone else's post.

I stand behind that "Parent Rights" post but I couldn't help but notice that it says nothing of parent responsibilities. For example, of course it's a parent's right to disagree with experts (#12) and of course parents are really expert on their own children but what if a parents disagrees with most of the experts most of the time? What if a parent's disagreements with professionals undermines the treatment that a teenager is receiving in an inpatient program? Isn't it also a parent-responsibility to support rather than undermine the treatment that the teenager is there to receive? Sometimes Parent Rights and Parent Responsibilities collide.

For example, inpatient challenges the teen to take responsibility. In the beginning the teenager blames everyone else for his predicament. After a time in treatment he begins to see that he has played a role and that he has done that by making poor decisions. This is the sort of turn around we are hoping for and when the teenager stands up and says, "You know that's something that I have to change in myself," we all applaud!

It could very well be that the thing he glimpses that he needs to change is whether or not to continue to go through life as a victim!

For each of us there is plenty of evidence that we are victimized. We are victimized by so many situations and people on a daily basis: from the person who misinformed us about our new mortgage to the person at the grocery store who never should have bagged the bananas with the bleach!

Where does our responsibility come into it? We signed the mortgage so should we have known what we were signing? Should we have asked more questions? Maybe not but I'm just saying do we take the time to examine our role or are we eager to find someone to blame for each of our predicaments? Should we have watched the grocery person throw those two things into our bag? Perhaps that's something we expect not to have to worry about and yet, we are also there are we not?

Here's why this is so important. If we decide to go through life operating from a victim's stance then it becomes very difficult to change ourselves. Instead, we go through life trying to change everyone else and boy is that a frustrating endeavor! Once we decide to abandon our victim's stance, we begin to examine our role in things and that allows the spark that can start a blaze of self growth. Without that spark there is small chance for change.

As we have often said in this blog, one of the gifts that we can offer to our teenagers is good role-modeling. We will be imitated by our children. So, if we choose to act primarily as victims, we do little to help our teenager to grow up and become a responsible person. Raising responsible people, that's our job as parents and when we have our teen inpatient it's an ideal time to begin to become more responsible ourselves.

So, let's go back to disagreeing with the experts. Sure, we can and should do that; however, if we find that a couple of these experts are saying the same thing it should raise a questioning flag. Even if our opinion is that "they" are all incompetent and "they" are all wrong and we begin to feel like we know more than the psychiatrist, more than the family therapist, more than the social worker, more than the probation officer and more than the judge, then maybe it's time to realize that while we have the right to disagree with the experts we also have a responsibility to support the treatment that our teen is getting. If our disagreements range so large as to undermine the very treatment that our teen is getting and especially if our intervention continually reinforces the fact that our teen is a victim, that he isn't competent, and that he really can't do any better, then at the end of the day let's be thankful there are mirrors and let's find one and take a good look.

I am thankful that parents who attend PSST usually don't undermine the treatment that their teenager is in inpatient to receive! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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PSST Tenth Anniversary / Holiday Celebration
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, November 24, 2013

The PSST Tenth Anniversary / Holiday Celebration will be held on Dec 7, 2013 at our Wilkinsburg meeting.  Invitees include all PSST parents (both current attendees and alumni), in addition to all Wesley Spectrum therapists and Juvenile Probation staff who have been part of the PSST family.  
Please put the date on your calendar, and plan to join us!  Feel free to bring a food item to share - in the past, attendees have brought holiday goodies, pastries, a hot breakfast/brunch item, fruit, crackers & cheese, chips & dips, chili, etc.

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Thanks to "our" Fabulous Interns!
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanks to “our” fantastic Wesley Spectrum interns, Abby & Elizabeth, for sharing valuable information at our special PSST meeting today.  The topics discussed were improving family communication (listening and dealing with conflict) and grief education/counseling. The parents who attended were in for a surprise, because we didn’t have to choose one of the two topics, instead we experienced both!

The information was helpful, and there was a lot of sharing within the group - even role-plays! 


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Mark Your Calendars for this Special Event on Sat, Nov 23!!
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, November 17, 2013

Learning is . . . life's greatest adventure . . .  ~   Taylor Caldwell, American author

You are invited to attend your choice of two educational groups open to the community and PSST parents. The groups will feature the topics of how to improve family communication (listening and dealing with conflict) and grief education/counseling. The workshops are free, and will be informative and interactive in nature.

Wesley Spectrum interns Abby Temple and Elizabeth Bayley will host the groups. The groups will run from 9-11:30 at Saints Simon and Jude Church, 1607 Greentree Road, Scott Twp, PA 15220 (our usual 3rd week meeting location) on Saturday, November 23.   Please join us! 

Note:  The groups are in fulfillment of graduation requirements for a Masters in Counseling Education from Duquesne University.

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From Role Play to Real Life
Posted by:Brigitte--Sunday, November 10, 2013

At the Saturday Wexford meeting, Francois and I "volunteered" to have our specific situation depicted in a role play. As is so often the case, the role play and discussion that followed turned my thinking upside down. I came to the meeting convinced that I had arrived at a place of detachment and strength regarding my drug-abusing son. As I found out, there was much more bubbling below the surface.    

The situation involved letting our son, Pierre, know that we were not comfortable with him dropping by and hanging out at our house while he waited for his girlfriend to pick him up. We felt like prisoners in our home--following him around, having to remind him that he could not lock the door to his former bedroom, locking upstairs bedroom doors, hiding our money. Francois and I had already told him that he could not shower or sleep at our house and, although he hadn't handled that very well, he no longer asked to do those things. We now needed to let him know that we did not want him using our house as a temporary hangout.

As the role play unfolded, I realized that I was not coming from a place of love and detachment, but of anger, resentment and fear. As Francois and I continue to work on creating peace in our home and a better relationship with our other two sons, it hit me that I was trying to push Pierre away; I no longer wanted a weekly reminder that I have a son who continues to use drugs and may be involved in other, equally dangerous, activities. During the discussion, there was mention that, because of his lifestyle choices, each encounter with our son could be our last. It was difficult to hear, but also a jarring eye opener.

Pierre stopped by that afternoon. Francois and I know that a three-way conversation with Pierre is impossible, so I attempted my version of the role play when Pierre and I were sitting at the kitchen table. It went something like this:

Pierre: So what did you want to talk about?

Brigitte: Well, I just wanted to apologize for something.

Pierre: Oh yeah?

Brigitte: As you probably can tell, I am struggling with a few things lately. I have been feeling a lot of anger, fear, and disappointment in the choices you've been making and I don't think I've been handling it very well. (pause) I'm sure it hasn't been fun for you to stop by when Dad and I are following you around the house every second and acting so tense when you are here.

Pierre: I don't know why you do that anyway.

Brigitte: Well, as I said, it's my problem. I'm feeling a lot of distrust and worried that something might get stolen, and I am not able to get past it right now. I'm working on it, but in the meantime, I am really uncomfortable when you're here and roaming around the house.

Pierre: So?

Brigitte: Well, we love seeing you and you're welcome to come here as long as dad and I know in advance when you are coming and how long the visit will be. We just aren't comfortable with unannounced visits or having you hang out in other parts of the house. We can visit together when you are here.

Pierre: Okay, whatever. I don't really like coming here that much anyway. It's so boring here.

Brigitte: Yep, it's very boring here (resisting the temptation to add "Finally!"). By the way, are you coming for Thanksgiving?

Pierre: Only if it's here and not at Aunt _____'s house. I hate driving all the way there and staying all day.

Brigitte: Oh good, I was planning on having it here anyway so that works out well.

Pierre: Okay. Hey, I built bookshelves for my house and they look sweet.
(The visit continued with chit chat about his new place and who he is living with.)

It's amazing to me that, after three years of attending PSST, I can still be surprised by the depth of insight, compassion and strength that this group has to offer. I am so grateful for that, and also for the extra hugs and kind words!

Thank you so much--

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Marijuana and E-Cigs
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, October 21, 2013

Local reports from Florida, New York, and Philadelphia have reported on the trend of using electronic cigarettes to vaporize marijuana, citing concerns of parents, law makers, and law enforcement agents who worry that electronic cigarettes allow users to get high without detection. Both products are legal in some states and not in others, making enforcement even more challenging.

For the full article, click here.

Thanks to Lloyd for sharing this link!

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A Teen's View of Prescription Drug Abuse
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, October 20, 2013

(Thanks to Mary Canary for sharing this article.)

With his new documentary, “Out of Reach,” filmmaker Cyrus Stowe, a senior at a Dallas high school, set out to uncover the growing problem of friends sharing and abusing prescription medications in his hometown.

"I’m grateful that my film can open eyes and prompt action, and that can start with talking with your kids about medicine abuse, and safeguarding your medicine. It’s as simple as going into your bathroom, opening up your medicine cabinet and understanding the orange bottles in front of you are easy targets for abuse. Keep them safe and out of reach."

Read the rest of Stowe's account about the problem, along with his experience in making the film, by clicking here.

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Parents of the Year Speech
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, October 12, 2013

Quote from Paul & Anne's Parents of the Year acceptance speech at the Allegheny County awards ceremony, October 2013:

Please remember this in regards to our child's addiction:
    * We didn't cause it.
    * We can't control it.
    * We can't cure it.
We can't want their sobriety more than they do.  When we do, it leads to enabling behavior that is ultimately detrimental to our child's well being.

The one thing Paul & I have learned from this journey is:  Even when we can't change a situation, we can change our response to it!

We still take it one day at a time, but believe us . . .  there is hope when all seems hopeless!

2013 Allegheny County Juvenile Court Parents of the Year (full speech)

  • This is sort of like winning the prettiest person award in an ugly contest. You wish that you weren't eligible to be considered, but yet proud to be selected.
  • Thank you for this recognition, it has been added and checked off on our bucket list!  Who knew!
  • We have met so many parents throughout our journey that are so much more deserving of this award than us, but thank you.
  • There isn't a parent here tonight who didn't have a different hope and dreams for their child, but life has a way of thrusting us into situations we never dreamed we would face.
  • We stand before you this evening with a message of hope,
          o  Because frankly, sometimes, hope is all we have.
          o  But hope needs help!  It needs the assistance of perseverance.

  • We must be an advocate for our children . . . be their voice when navigating through the system.

There are so many people that we'd like to thank for helping keep our son alive until he came to the realization that he had to change.  We call them, Team Cameron:

  • Sheri Magill, Act 53                              *  Lloyd Woodward
  • Kathie Tagmyer                                   *  Val Ketter
  • Justin Innocent, Wesley Spectrum / Juvenile Probation Officer
  • Elizabeth Bayley, Wesley Spectrum       *  Bob Banos
  • Judge Dwayne Woodruff                       *  Judge Borkowski

Just to give you an idea of the journey Team Cameron has traveled, here are the places we have all been to beginning in April 2008:
  • Western Psych                                      April-May 2008:
  • Pyramid Ridgeview                                May-July 2008:
  • Shuman                                                July 5-August 2010:
  • Abraxas I                                              August 2010-February 2011:
  • Liberty Station                                       February-May 2011:
  • Shuman                                                May 2011:
  • Alpha House                                          May-August 2, 2011:
  • August 2-August 9: Ran from Alpha, relapsed
  • CLEAN DATE:            August 8, 2011
  • Allegheny County Jail                             August 9-September 2011:
  • Shuman                                                September 2011:
  • Abraxas LDP                                          September 2011-February 2012
  • Gateway YES                                         February-April 2012:
  • Liberty Station                                      April-June 2012:
  • Shuman                                               June 2012:
  • Rutter House                                        June-August 2012:
  • Shuman                                               August 2012:
  • First Step                                             August-September 2012:
  • Shuman                                               September 2012:
  • September 7, 2012:  Regained freedom after 2 years and 2 months of institutions
  • Pathways 3/4 House                              September-October 31, 2012:
  • Own Apartment in Mt. Lebanon              October 31-Present:

We came to the decision that for our son's best interest, he could never live with us again.  That was one of the most difficult decisions that we've ever been faced with.  But it was the right decision for our relationship with Cameron.

Additionally, we'd like to thank:
  • Jesse Yunker; who, without your guidance and friendship and empty bedroom!  You have provided a safe, comfortable and clean environment for Cameron so that we may rest without too much worry each night.
  • Cameron's brothers:  Jason, Brian & Aaron for welcoming him back into our family with your unconditional love and support and praise for where he is today.  Dad & I know how difficult the years were for YOU and we will NEVER forget your understanding of the decisions we made concerning your little brother.
  • And Amber and Ashlynn for being the BEST additions to our crazy family.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY . . . PSST parents - we could not have gotten through this without your tears & laughter as we gave our updates and reached out for support, ideas or just HUGS when we were at the bottom of a very very deep hole.
Please remember this in regards to our child's addiction:
  • We didn't cause it.
  • We can't control it.
  • We can't cure it.

We can't want their sobriety more than they do.  When we do, it leads to enabling behavior that is ultimately detrimental to our child's well being.

The one thing Paul & I have learned from this journey is:  Even when we can't change a situation, we can change our response to it!

I'd like to read the Facebook post Cameron made immediately after hearing that Paul & I were chosen "Parents of the Year".

My mom just told me that her and my dad have been chosen Allegheny County Juvenile Court Parents of the Year.  I'm so happy they finally get the recognition they deserve.  Everybody tells me how great I'm doing and how far I've come, but people rarely realize the hell and embarrassment I put them and the rest of my family through.  I couldn't have accomplished everything I've done in the last 2 years without their love, support and annoying me enough to motivate myself to go do something with myself.  Love you mom and dad"

Words we never thought we'd ever hear from Cameron!

Ladies and gentlemen:  Please give a round of applause for our son, Cameron, who is now 26 months clean and successfully working the Narcotics Anonymous program.

We still take it one day at a time, but believe us . . . there is hope when all seems hopeless!

Read More......

The Word is Out . . .
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Allegheny County Juvenile Probation Awards Ceremony was held tonight in Pittsburgh, so now it’s official!
Anne & Paul at the PSST meeting celebration

Paul & Anne are the Allegheny County Parents of the Year!  Members of their personal family, as well as members of their PSST family, were at the ceremony to show their support and pride for what this couple has achieved.  For their firm yet compassionate dealings with their son, for what they’ve been through & survived together as a family, and for their encouragement in helping others in the PSST group – they truly set an example for us all. 

After their speech at the ceremony, their son (now 26 months clean) joined them at the front of the room to give them hugs – such a fitting and heartwarming gesture. 

Lloyd, Val, Cam, Anne, Paul & others at the
Allegheny County Awards Ceremony

Justin is the Probation Officer Rookie of the Year!  His supervisor nominated him based on his ability to pick up his new job duties so quickly and efficiently, his dedication to his work, and his willingness to help the organization in whatever capacity he was needed.


Congratulations to all of these deserving individuals!

Read More......


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