Quote of the Week

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

Finding Hope ~ written by Jim
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Despite life’s everyday trials and tribulations, Cheryl and I (Jim) have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Our entire family is enjoying good health. Our granddaughter (who became the glue in repairing several family “tears” that addiction had ripped open) is now a beautiful toddler. Our third son, a Marine, is safe on U.S. soil for this holiday season.

In particular, we are so blessed our son, Andy surpassed his thirty-ninth month of sobriety. We are living a reality that at one point we would not have allowed ourselves to even dream it would come to pass. When your addict emerges from the darkness of addiction, everyday is a blessing.

For anyone reading this that has an addict still struggling, remember to just work to keep him/her alive for another day. Even in the face of overwhelming despair, there is always hope…always!

I saw recently saw this poem online and thought it was appropriate for the journey of an addict and hope.

Recovery Poem

There's a time I remember, A time I had Fun
No stress and no worries, When I was Young
Many moments of joy, Hanging out by the Sea
Many moments of Freedom, Many places to Be

As I grew Older, Some friends that I Met
We all started Using, For that I Regret
As Time went by Quickly, I used & Drank More
I soon Realized, It's the Booze I Adore

Problems with Family
And friends all the Time
My pain and my suffering
These faults are all Mine
The fun I once Had
Seems so distant and Far
My reality of Life
Was a lost distant Star

My pride and my Ego, So shameful to Be
This life I Created, Just wasn't Me
Relapse and Rehabs, Were right in my Sight
My future I Created, Did not look that Bright

My soul wanted Out, Like a cough from my Breath
Jails, Institutions, And then there is Death
I woke up one Day, To get the help that I Need
To start from the Beginning, Just like a Seed

To Grow more in Spirit, Have faith and I'll See
The true unseen Beauty, That lies inside Me
There's a time I Remember, A time I had Fun
I want that all Back, It has to be Done

With hard work and much Effort, The future I See
My reward for not Using, HAS NOW SET ME FREE ! ! !

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Holiday Celebration - Dec 6, 2014
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, November 23, 2014

The PSST 11th Anniversary / Holiday Celebration will be held on Dec 6, 2014 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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I Feel Alive
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I Feel Alive

I feel alive when I want to die.
The drug enters my veins,
I can fly.
Heroin turns life around in the blink
of an eye.
Steals your confidence, worth, dreams,
your future.
It’s like torture.
Everything I said I’d never do.
Break all my morals, so do you.
Whenever you feel like it’s under control,
the voice says “I’m not done.”
And you’re screwed.
First thing on your mind
when you wake.  It’ll have your skin
crawling until the next hit.
It’ll turn you insane,
fill you with pain.
They say it’s progressive, sometimes fatal.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough for the battle.

Torrian R.

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Role-Play Saturday - Sat, Nov 22
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Role-Play Saturday . . . coming Saturday, Nov 22nd!

November has 5 Saturdays, so that means 2 Saturdays in a row without PSST, & that's a long time to go without great PSST support.  In addition, there are meetings where we just don't have as much time as we'd like to spend on role-plays, practicing our PSST skills.  Here's our chance!

There will be a special PSST meeting, focused on role-plays, scheduled for Saturday, Nov 22nd at the Wilkinsburg Probation Office.  The meeting will be held at the normal time, 9am-11:30am.  This is the regular meeting site where we hold our first PSST meeting each month; the address is 907 West St., Wilkinsburg, PA 15221.

Hope to see you there!!

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Won't you give me three steps, gimme three steps mister...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, November 08, 2014

This article was originally written and posted on the blog on Nov 10, 2009, and is just as relevant today. As we discussed in today's PSST meeting, finding a way to agree with our teenagers can help to defuse a potentially explosive situation, reinforce our boundaries, and model adult behavior, while taking steps to build greater intimacy with our teens.

Won't you give me three steps, gimme three steps mister......gimme three steps towards the door! The method that we often cover at PSST is three simple steps. Keeping things simple is one of the primary goals of skills training at PSST. Some say that these are not really three steps- but what we hope is that you will keep three things in mind when you interact with your oppositional defiant, drug abusive, willful teenager.

The First Step is to agree with only a part of what they are saying; however, for the part that you have chosen to agree with - agree wholeheartedly with it. In other words, don't just say a quick agreeing statement followed by a "but" because that "but" negates the agreeing part.

If you are reading this and thinking, "Sometimes there is nothing that I can agree with" then I challenge you to look that statement over again. There is practically always something that you can affirm, even if it's the fact that your teenager has not lost their sense of humor. I refer back to one thing that Deb Cohen said at our last PSST, that interventions are best built around the strength of a teenager (strength-based) and when you find a small part- or a large part- of what a teenager says that you can build on, you are off to a good start at formulating an effective response.

The Second Step is to put your spin on the agreement. Turn it into your own talking point. Twist- not in a disrespectful or facetious manner but in a matter-of-fact way, just put your spin on it. We will give examples below. When thinking of this- it may be that the First Step and the Second Step are really one step because the part of the thing that you are agreeing with is often the same as the "twist." It may be that the reframing that we are looking for is really formed by the choice of what part of the thing you will agree with.

The Third Step is to hold your ground. This is often aided by starting with the phrase "nevertheless" or "regardless." These two words are truly power-words. Other words can be used; however, these two serve the purpose of keeping the speaker on track without making a judgment. For example, one can say "whatever" and that would also serve the purpose of keeping the speaker on track, but it carries a negative connotation or judgment of the thing that the other speaker was trying to use as a distraction. Just saying nevertheless and regardless does not hint at any judgment of the distraction- it just keeps the speaker on track. Another way to say it might be, "Even if that's true," and go back to the talking point but it's probably easier just to say regardless or nevertheless.

The door: I liked the analogy of "Gimme three steps, gimme three steps Mister, give me three steps towards the door" because we should not forget that these little interactions do not have to go on and on and on. Say it- mean it- and move on. Don't linger too long in an unproductive interaction because by lingering you give the impression that this issue is still up for debate. An exception to this is the technique we cover at PSST where you say, "Ask me again, ask me again." This is not really a contradiction however because when you move to the "ask me again, ask me again" maneuver, the subject is truly as closed as if you had simply just walked away.

Fluidity: We notice at PSST when we are role-playing this technique that we are often going back to step one. That is because teenagers continue to change what they are saying. When they see that they can't manipulate the parent one way- they quickly move to another angle. At that point it is possible to agree quickly with some part of the new angle- twist it- and land with a nevertheless just the same way. In fact, it's good if the teen keeps changing the angle because it is a demonstration that they get it that the original angle is closed. Eventually there will be no angles left.


Son: Dad I need twenty bucks to go to the movies tonight- you can't really get in for less, after you buy popcorn and soda.

Dad: I know!!!! It's ridiculous how expensive it is to go to the movies. In fact, it cost more for snacks sometimes than you paid to get in!

Son: Right, so can I have the money?

Dad: No, I'm not giving you twenty bucks for the movies tonight Son.

Son: Why not?

Dad: I'm not feeling it tonight Son. I have twenty bucks but I don't want to let go of it.

Son: That sucks- you are always so stingy. I mean I'm not saying you're the cheapest dad in the world, but you're up there in the top ten! And you know for sure that I'm not trying to buy drugs or anything and you still won't give me the money.

{This last comment allows two choices for what to agree with. You can go with the "yes I'm cheap" or you can go with the "I know you're not trying to buy drugs." The first one always works while the second one only works if the teen has been doing some good work on his recovery." }

Dad: I think you are exactly right Son- I trust that you would spend the money at the movies and it didn't even cross my mind that you might spend it on drugs. I know you did that two months ago when I gave you money- but I think you grown up a lot since then, and you seem so much more involved in your recovery now that I trust that you would not be buying drugs with the money.

{The twist here is to mention in a non-threatening way that in fact it was only two months ago that this young man did misuse money. Sometimes the twist is mild and it only allows you to mention something in a positive way but it still brings it up and puts it squarely on the table.}

Son: Right! I'm going to meetings every day- I call my sponsor, I go to my home group- so I deserve to go to the movies!

Dad: You deserve much in my book! My goodness- you've done some great stuff. And you're showing a lot more maturity- I mean hecks- just a month ago, when you didn't get your own way you had a really tough time with that- temper tantrums- and all kinds of stuff. But now you seem much more able to accept "No" for an answer- I think that's one of the biggest things that I've seen change in you.

{the agreement is that he has done great but the twist is that he is much more able to accept not having his own way. Now if he does not accept not having his own way in regards to the $20, he has just proved that he has not changed- it's up to him but the twist provides productivity}

Son: Great. So give me the money?

Dad: Aaaa- no- regardless Son, I'm just not generous today. Maybe I'm a bit on the cheap side like you said.

Son: So, when you see me suddenly relapse cause I'm getting so frustrated what will you think then? You'll probably wish you just gave me the money huh?

Dad: You're right again. I'll feel horrible if you relapse. I'd be scared for you and very disappointed too - especially cause it seems like you're really trying to stay clean this time.

{He is threatening us with a relapse- this is not a good sign as to where he is with his recovery; however, we will jump back to step one and it's easy as pie to agree at any time that a relapse is horrible and, yes, we will feel bad about it when it happens- then we twist by repeating what we already said that he seems to be doing things right this time and that would really make a relapse sad. By twisting in this direction we are taking this threat of a relapse to the bank and this is not where our young man wants us to go- now read down where we continue to twist this threat of relapse into some uncomfortable territory]


Dad: Sounds like you're really worried about relapsing.


Dad: I think that's something else that you do differently. Before- you never talked about urges and relapse prevention. But now I hear you being concerned about relapsing- you're talking about it- and you seem to know that you're not out-of-the woods with your recovery. You are often walking a very thin line between relapse and staying clean- and at least you're aware of it and you're talking about it. Good for you, Son.

{Now our twist has him walking a very thin line. This is not a person that we are going to hand $20 bucks too but we don't have to say that because we weren't giving up the money anyway but he will see that we are turning this threat back at him and he is going to have to try to do some damage control or back pedaling with this threat- which is fine- we hope that he does get off the threat thing}

Son: I'm not going to use Dad!

Dad: Oh I'm sorry. I thought that's just what you were saying- that you were worried about relapsing. [This is often the case with reframing or twisting. We are helping him to see what he is saying.]

Son: I'm just asking you how you'd feel if I relapsed because you didn't give me the 20 bucks that's all.

Dad: No matter the reason Son, I'll feel terrible if you relapse- like I said, I'll be worried that you might die and I'll feel disappointed. But, you're saying that you are NOT going to relapse over the 20$ so I guess I don't have to worry about that today then? I feel a bit better now that you put it that way!

{rather than argue about whether or not he threatened to relapse, we just go with the new statement instead and agree with that- in other words, back to step one}
Son: I'm not gonna use! [Looking angry] But I meant how would you feel if you thought that a relapse was your fault?

{He can't completely let go of that threat so we agree and twist it again}

Dad: You're right on the money with that Son! I'd feel worse even. In fact, I've really asked myself that a lot.

Son: What do you mean?

Dad: Well, you know, as a parent it's hard to wonder if I was a better parent if you wouldn't have become an addict. Like, you know I used to let you get what you wanted no matter what it was, cause I didn't want to see you have a tantrum. You know what I'm talking about. And I look back and I ask myself if that wasn't a large part of the problem- that I just didn't want to deal with you flipping out, breaking stuff, yelling at me, threatening me and stuff like that. Well, I'm not saying I caused your addiction, but I could have made better decisions and for goodness sakes I could have said "No" to you more often. Well, I don't know if you're noticing, but I'm working on that today.

Son: Yeah, so this is just you saying "no" for the sake of saying "no."

{that is so perfect we can simply agree and not bother to twist it. He expects us to deny that we are saying no for the sake of saying no but really it is part of the reason that we are saying no so just agree and move on.}

Dad: Yes! I think that is a good enough way to put it.

Son: [Glaring!]

Dad: listen, I got to run- if there's something else we can chat later OK? Call me if you need me Son. Oh, and I am proud of the changes you're making in your life- you know that, right?

{he's not coming at us with any new angles, so we take the opportunity to move towards the door}

Son: yeah.

It may appear as though this three-step thing takes a lot of thinking fast on the feet. Well, it does and it doesn't. Since the teenager keeps coming at you from different angles it does take some thinking; however, the themes keep repeating. After a while, you've heard them all and your responses stay the same. Once you've practised this with your teenager you'll begin to see how these themes repeat and you'll be ready with your agreement/twists. Then follow that up with a nevertheless or regardless if appropriate and head for the door!

Dad: later!

Note: The picture used is from Wikipedia. This post references the lyrics from Gimme Three Steps by Lynyrd Skyrnrd. No profit is made off of this picture or off of the link to the lyric and is only used here with reference given to source.

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