Quote of the Week

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

We are opening our meeting this saturday at 8 AM!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Its our holiday meeting. People may want to come early. We will attempt hot coffee by 8:00 AM. Come in early and help us celebrate the holiday.

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Ask me again. Ask me again! (who is the big dog?)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, December 10, 2007

This role-play or technique if you will, comes up again and again at our meetings as parents discover it's effectiveness in stopping teens from debating and pestering. It came up at our Alliance Meeting on 12-8-07, as one of our parents reported again on how effective this has been since he heard about it from one of the other parents.

Teens have learned that they can sometimes wear parents down by constantly badgering them. That especially, if parents allow themselves to engage in the big "debate" over whether or not a teen should be allowed to do a certain thing, that eventually they become weary of the discussion and may weaken to the point of saying something to the effect of, "oh it's on you- go ahead, remember I told you this was a bad idea," or "OK, but just this once don't ask again." This approach reminds me of a persistent hockey team playing against the best goalie in the world. Their game plan is to just put enough traffic in front of the goal so that something can slip in. Likewise, a teen is just going to torture his parents until he gets the answer the he wants.

Parents can declare freedom from this pressure when they admit a couple of things to their teenager.

1st. We are not going to convince our teens that we are right when we say "NO." We can sit there all night and debate and our teen will only get more annoyed or angry with the parent. The teen does not wish to understand. The teen wishes to have his own way. There is a big difference between wanting your own way and wanting to understand.

2ND. Some times our teenagers need to ask us a million times if they can do something. This is partly because they may have learned that it is one way to get their own way.

3rd. If we try to leave the teen to his own struggles, the teen might just stalk us around the house until we give in. Don't run if you think you will pursued. Stop. Face your stalker. Use strong body language and show your teen that you won't run from the issue. Exception; if you have opportunity to retreat to part of the house or to the car where there is sanctuary- then that's fine- however, often there is no safe haven and we must stop running if we can't get away anyhow.

Teen: Mom can I go out tonight.

Mom: No.

Teen: Please.

Mom: No it's late. Stay home.

Teen: Why? Give me one good reason why not?

Mom: It's too late.

Teen: I'll be home by eleven. That's not too late. You let me stay out that late before.

Mom: Not tonight.

Teen: Give me one good reason.

Mom: No

Teen: What do you mean "No."

Mom: Look, [leaning in closer and lowering voice]. I will never convince you that you should not go out tonight.

Teen: What does that mean?

Mom: Just this. We could discuss this all night. Come morning, you would still think that you should have been allowed out. I don't have the power to convince you that you should stay home.

Teen: Right. I know. So let me go.

Mom: No.

Teen: Just like that. Just because you say so- is it one of those again?

Mom: Yes.

Teen: I don't understand.

Mom: I know. And that's my point honey. You won't understand - no matter how long we talk about it, no matter how many reasons I give you- it won't be enough to convince you. So, I'm not gong to try to convince you. It's just the way it is. Deal with it.

Teen: You have no right to treat me like I'm 14.

Mom: Nevertheless, stay home- do not go out.

Teen: You don't even know where I want to go! I want to go over Laura's. You KNOW she's a good kid, Mom.

Mom: Regardless, stay home.

Teen: Mom, you have to let me go! I have to go. I have to see Laura. I have to talk to her tonight- you don't know how much this means to me!!!!!!.

Mom: OK, I can see where this is going.

Teen: You can? So you'll let me go? I love you- I promise I won't be out past 12.

Mom: That's not want I meant.

Teen: What do you mean - you see where this is going? It's going to where I wanna know why i can't go out- that's where it's going.

Mom: Like I said, I can't convince you honey but I can see that you need to ask me repeatedly about this. OK, lets get it over with. Ask me now.

Teen: What are you talking about?

Mom: Well you need to ask me, I suppose, 20 or 30 times to try to get me to change my mind. Go ahead. Ask me now. [mother moves closer.]

Teen: Can I go out tonight?

Mom: NO- ask me again.

Teen: Can I go out tonight?

Mom: No- ask me again.

Teen: This is stupid.

Mom: Yes - I agree. But you need to get this out of your system so go ahead. Ask me again. Ask me now.

Teen: No. [walks off angry.]

The idea is that once you give the teenager permission to ask you- it somehow becomes a "paradoxical task," or "reverse psychology." In any case it seems to take the wind out of the sail of the teen and they no longer wish to do it once they have permission to "fire away." The teen can sense the futility in the exercise.

The other thing that often happens is that the teenager pursues the parent into different corners of the house continuing to torture the parent who will not relent.

If you were in group in Wexford on Saturday or at Greentree last Tuesday, you may remember me telling about the time when I was small and I tried to outrun a dog who had jumped over a fence. I couldn't out run the dog. I got bit on the rear end. Stitches and everything. Very traumatic. What did i learn? Don't show your rear end. Keep good solid eye contact. Don't back down because if you do retreat you will get bit. The exception of course is if you can get away- then that is a different story. So many times, however, the parent knows that in their home for various reasons, there is no where to hide.

The remedy for this is to face the teenager. Bridge the gap. This is often a tactic that we recommend in group. Get closer. Face to face. Take a wee bit of their personal space away. Don't become their prey. If you are being pursued in your own home as you run from room to room, then it is clear who has all the power. If you allow yourself to become the prey then you are fast on the way to loosing any position of power.

Once you face down your teen you may sense the shift in power. In fact, with strong body language, you can now allow yourself to be conciliatory. This is often a very good way to take the offensive.

Mom: [trying to get away from teenager she starts walking away still saying these words] I'm done talking about this- this conversation is over.

Teen: [raising voice] Don't you walk away from me you little Ho, I'm not finished discussing this one. There is no reason - you can't give me one reason -that you have to treat me like this. I did nothing to you. I even helped you with the laundry today, and now you won't give me the car to use? What kind of shit is that?

Mom: [reverses direction- faces teen- moves into personal space of teen but keeps voice very low and very measured] OK- I can see that you still have things to say about this.

Teen: [startled with the reverse direction and the teen backs up a step to try to keep things more in her comfort zone] You're damn right I've got things to say.

Mom: OK, well I want to hear what you have to say. In fact, I'm going to give you the last word. Go ahead, you take the last word. I'll shut up and listen.

Teen: I want to go out.


Mom: Keep going.

Teen: I am going out. I need the keys to the car tonight. It's very important. If you knew how important it was to me you would let me go out.

Mom: Keep going. I'm listening.

Teen: Please Please Please let me have the car tonight- Please Mom I swear I'll be home by midnight.

Mom: Keep talking- let me have it.

Teen: Mom! Answer me.

Mom: No- I've said my piece. This is your chance to have the last word. You can tell me off or say anything you want. I'm listening.

Teen: That's no fair.

Mom: What's not fair?

Teen: You aren't going to let me go-it doesn't matter what I say.

Mom: It apparently matters to you - that's why you follow me around the house with this stuff- lets just get it out of your system. I'm not arguing - I'm giving you the last word so that we don't compete to see who gets to have it. You can have the last say. Go ahead- tell me what you need to tell me. I'm listening.

Teen: Can I have the car tonight please?

Mom: No you may not. Ask me again if you need to- go ahead.

Teen: Fu$& you. [walks away]

Both of these situations involve the parent giving permission for the teen to continue to ask or to have the last word. But now, to the teen, there appears to be no point.

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A little holiday fun
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We had a suggestion (good idea Barb!) at our last meeting to share some holiday treats and joy during our 12/15 meeting at the Eastern Probation Office. Purely voluntary if you want to bring something. We will have a regular format meeting, just more to eat!

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Report on recent meetings and Holiday Vist role-play.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We had four parents two weeks ago at Eastern, 12 parents this last Saturday at Eastern, and three parents at Gateway Greentree. At the 12-parent meeting we also had two guests from Wesley-Spectrum Family Therapy.

It was very nice to have guests at our Wilkinsburg meeting. Wesley-Spectrum therapists are involved with more and more of our parents in group and reports that we get are very positive about the great work they do.

All in all it was a great meeting. Even with 12 parents everyone finished updates by close to 10:30 AM leaving us time for an extra long break followed by role-plays. The smaller meetings that we have had lately have allowed more time for more intimate sharing and more time for longer role-plays.

At one meeting we explored how much power that teenagers still exert on the family even when they are in placement. How do they manage it? Mostly through the application of guilt. Parents are often particularly susceptible to these tactics because they already feel so guilty about having their teen in placement, even though it means that they are temporarily safe from continued substance abuse.

Add to this equation the fact that the holidays are upon us and you see tremendous pressure. For example, consider this exchange from a recent role-play.

Teen: Mom, you know you can have me home at on Christmas.
Mom: I thought you had to be here longer to get a home pass. You just got here a month ago.
Teen: No, Mom! That doesn't matter. All you need is a Court Order, and they say it's fine for me to go home at Christmas.
Mom: A court order?
Teen: Yes, you can do that Mom. Just call the PO. Tell them you insist, that you expect me to at least have a Christmas Visit. Look at this place Mom! And you put me here- the least you can do is spring me for one day!
Mom: Oh I don't know about that honey...
Teen: MOM! [getting a bit louder] it's Christmas! Oh my gawd, even Tiny Tim had a Christmas! You remember our favorite holiday movie we used to watch- or did you even forget what wonderful Christmases we had when I was little.
Mom: No honey, I didn't forget...
Teen: Then you'll call the PO and ask for the order?

We can see how much pressure this teen puts on the parent. Note that the natural tendency for the parent is to say, "no, honey. I can't do that." Or "I'll call the PO" and later say, "you Know honey, I called the PO and they say we can't do that. Sorry I did what I could. You know I want you home for Christmas and if I could have done anything at all- I would have."

But lets look at this reply. It accomplishes one thing. It keeps the teen in the placement where she is safe over the holidays. However, it does that without transferring any power to the parent. The power-players in this scenario is the Teen for applying a generous amount of guilt and the PO who says "no- way." The parent is correctly viewed as powerless. Also, the parent really does nothing to garner support or appreciation from the teen who could care less how much mom tried- the bottom line is Mom failed. Plus the teen might correctly assume that Mom didn't really try that hard. No, this is not what we need. What we need is for the Mom to be powerful, and in the beginning of the role-play you can see that the Teen attributes power to the Mom. The teen is more or less saying, "hey Mom, you are powerful." And Mom's response is "no, I'm not powerful." This is like throwing money away. Part of the problem that we are trying to address is the imbalance of power that happens along with Chemical Dependency. The addicted family person ends up with way to much power. When the addicted person is in treatment, we are trying to correct this imbalance. Consider the following wrap-up to the above role-play:

Mom: Honey, you are so right!
Teen: About what? You mean you will ask for the Court order?
Mom: Honey, what I mean is this. If we had a Court order you could come home for Christmas. A Court order goes a long way in this business, I'm learning that.
Teen: And?
Mom: Well, this is going to make you mad I'm afraid, but I'm not going to ask for a Court order for a Christmas Visit.
Teen: What!? You don't want me home do you.
Mom: No, not yet.
Teen: you bi%@*. You want me to stay in this hell hole that YOU put me in, while you out having a nice Christmas.
Mom: Yes, I want you to be here where you are safe.
Teen: Oh don't give me that s*&t. I have done really well here, and you know the staff spit on that one girl- what kind of place is this you put me in. You put me here. You don't even know what this place is like, do you MOM? You don't know a thing about this place. The things I could tell you about this place would keep you up at night if only knew what goes on in here...
Mom: Yes, I think it's bad here.
Teen: Bad? You have no idea. Did you ever have to stay in a place like this? Huh? Did you? No you didn't.
Mom: No. I don't' know what goes on in here.
Teen: So how can you say that?
Mom: I prefer that you are where you can not do drugs, stay out all night, go out with older men who give you drugs. That's all. And I want you to come home to visit only when you have earned that privilege here.
Teen: You don't have a clue. Give me one good reason why I can't come home for Christmas?
Mom: Honey, you know if we talk about this for hours, it won't matter. I can't convince you that you should spend Christmas in here.
Teen: You're right! You can't.
Mom: So, I'm not going to try.
Teen: Well, you just want me out of the way, don't you? Admit it. It's just "easier" for you that way.
Mom: Well, yes, it is easier for me to enjoy Christmas knowing that you are safe here from drugs and alcohol.
Teen: So, this is all about what is best for you, isn't it.
Mom: Yes, part of is all about me. I want you safe this Christmas. I don't' want to worry about you getting high, running off with that older man, stealing money from me and from our relatives, and hurting yourself in any of the ways that you have done in the past.
Teen: Why won't you trust me? I'm not going to do any of that this year!
Mom: Nevertheless, you'll be here for Christmas this year.
Teen: I hate you! Don't even come to visit me for Christmas. I don't want to see you anymore. I hate you.
Mom: You break my heart baby.
Teen: Oh sure. I don't think you feel bad at all. If you did, you would get me out of here for just ONE DAY!
Mom: Yes, you are right. I guess I don't feel as badly about it as I would have last year. I guess it's OK for you to be mad at me. I'm OK with that.
Teen: What do you mean by that? That is an ignorant thing to say.
Mom: Well, it use to bother me soooooo much if you were mad at me. Then, I would make decisions that maybe weren't good ones, just so that you wouldn't be mad at me. But I've changed. I have a job to do as your mother. Sometimes when I do my job you're going to be mad at me. I've accepted that.
Teen: Bi$%. Just don't visit me. You got that?
Mom: Yes, I got that.
Teen: Just think about me rotting away while you have your little Christmas, OK? Just picture me stuck in here with all these felons, rapists, and bank robbers. OK?
Mom: I confess that while I will miss you- and you don't believe that- my holidays will be happier this year just because I know you safe from Drug Abuse. That's the nicest gift I could get this year.
Teen: I hate you. Please leave now.
Mom: OK, I think maybe we covered everything. [gives girl a hug, which girl fights off.] Love you. [Mom walks away.]
Teen: [Wants to yell obscenities at Mom but mom is walking aways and is in ear-shot of staff who girl does not want to overhear their problems, so she fumes quietly.

OK, not a happy ending. Not yet. But in this role-play Mom is powerful. This isn't about the PO. Mom takes all the blame. With blame comes power. You don't get the power without taking the blame. Mom does a Harry Truman. The bucks stops here. Note that Mom may have not been able to get the order, however, that is not relevant. Mom does not wish to enable daughter anymore. She refuses to seek the order, preferring that her daughter stays where she is safe and that she "earn" her home passes the regular way. This Mom knows that being in the institution instead of at home is really part and parcel to the treatment that her daughter is receiving.

Will the girl make good on her threat not to have mom visit? Perhaps. Even so, mother can opt to visit or not to visit but her point is well-make. She will not be manipulated into making bad decisions because her daughter is angry and making threats. Period. This mother has made a statement that goes to the core of the daughter having too much power. The reaction of the teen is likely to produce one more thing. If she flips out over this, then Mom has provided "grist" for the "treatment mill." This daughter is blaming Mom and manipulating. This is important information for staff to have. This tells everyone that this young lady has a long way to go towards taking responsibly. No matter how excellent she may be doing inside, her interaction with her mother provides useful information on where she really stands on making changes.

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Cancelled Sat. Nov. 27th Alliance Meeting And Happy Thanksgiving from Val and Lloyd!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 22, 2007

This meeting is cancelled due to the holiday weekend.
At this time, Val and I want to take this opportunity to wish all parents everywhere a Very Happy Thanksgiving. We are grateful for all of you who have come out meeting after meeting. You are all making a difference in this world.
Each of us has a lot to be thankful for. Gratitude is an action word. We say it best when we show it. What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Help us out by writing your gratitude comments after this post. You may do so anonymously if you choose.

Val and I are thankful for all of you that have made it your business to come out and help the other parents at PSST. In 12-step they say that you have to "give it away, if you are going to keep it." We belive that dynamic is very much alive in PSST. The real pleasure for us is seeing the power of each parent to reach out and empower one another. We know that it is not what either of us do that presents the major power for change in this group. Not at all. It is what you each do with each other. It's our priviledge to be a part of it and to be able to witness the change that is taking place in you all. You are so inspiring. Words fail to express just how lucky we feel to be a part of PSST. Each and every one of you is a true hero!

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New Talking Points Brochure
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back in April, one of the meeting topics covered key "talking points" to make with our kids. The idea was to get these points into the conversation over and over again. With your input (and lots of editing by Lloyd and Val) we created a print brochure that covers the key points. Click the link below to download.

Download Talking Points Brochure in Word Format

Now, my memory is not that good that I could pinpoint the meeting in April that we started this project. All I did was use the search box in the top left hand heading of the blog and typed "talking points". Try it. It is very quick way to find topics that we have covered in the past quickly like curfew, Shuman, smoking.

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INTERVENTION on A&E by Lorraine
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 23, 2007

There is a great show on A&E that deals with substance abuse. It is a reality TV show that proceeds through the intervention process with the addict and the family. It provides real life scenarios of families and how they deal with their addicted family member. It truly is a must see.

I not only watch every episode, I have it programmed on my digital cable to automatically copy into the DVR box so that I can keep all the episodes for awhile. There is one episode that is very close to my son's story and I will probably never delete that one. The new season will start on Monday, Nov 5th at 9PM. Their website is ... http://www.aetv.com/intervention/ It has information on the show, but is also a good resource for information on street drugs and treatment centers. Intervention is must see TV for anyone dealing with substance abuse within their family!!

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"The Real Deal” w/ KDKA’s Marty Griffin, Nov. 2, 2007 at Orchard Hill Church in Wexford
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 23, 2007

This year, The Alliance Against Highly Addictive Drugs has invited parents from PSST to participate on the panel. This will broadcast live. The radio part of the show will begin at 9:00 AM and run through Noon. The booth in the lobby where we can pass out literature will start at 8:30 and also run though noon. Please click "Read More" for a listing of the other group participants. We are also invited to have a booth out in the front lobby where we can hand out pamphlets and get the word out about PSST. We need volunteers for both. Please click Orchard Hill Church for directions.

The Alliance Against Drugs
Invites you to attend an Open House Resource Fair to address


Featuring KDKA’s Marty Griffin & “The Real Deal”

Date: November 2, 2007

Location: Orchard Hill Church 2551 Brandt School Road Wexford, PA 15090

Time: 8:30 to 1:00 PM Resource Fair
9:00 to Noon Live Radio Program w/ Panels of Experts

Alliance Members, School Delegations, Faith Based Delegations, Law Enforcement, Government Officials, Medical Professionals, Business & Community Leaders, Concerned Community at Large. Adults only please

To discuss “What Help Looks Like” when dealing with drug use & addiction issues.

Agency Professionals will be on hand to provide materials and answer questions as they relate to prevention, screening/assessments, intervention, treatment, recovery and family support.

Marty Griffin & KDKA will broadcast a 3 hour program that will include live testimonials from recovering addicts and family members. Panels of Experts will discuss the various ways that concerned families can seek help for drug related issues. THERE IS HOPE.

This Event is an opportunity to meet and have conversation with your community leaders and numerous community experts who support the message that we share a responsibility to be part of the solution regarding youth drug use and addiction, and who support the work of our community coalition; THE ALLIANCE. There will be special messages from numerous community leaders and the Alliance’s Honorary Chairperson:

If you are from an Alliance Member School or from a Faith Based Congregation, the Alliance requests that you attend with a delegation of 10 or more people. Please consider inviting School Administrators, Board Members, Counselors, SADD Sponsors, PTA/PTO Members, Booster Parents, Youth Leaders, Pastors, Community Leaders, and Friends & Neighbors. All community members are invited to bring delegations.

Please RSVP your attendance and approximately how many delegates you will be bringing no later than October 29th to:

Debbie Kehoe, Executive Director
The Alliance Against Drugs
724 612-5554



Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office: Michael Manko
Allegheny County EMS Services: Knox Walk
Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office: Dr. Williams and Steve Koehler
Pennsylvania’s DUI Association: Catherine Tress
Allegheny County D&A Department: James Allen


The Alliance Against Drugs: Dr. Al Wille and Debra Kehoe
The Reality Tour: Norma Norris
Allegheny County Police: Michael Spagnoletti
ENCORE (Emergency Nurse Association): Donna Galbreath


Testimonial: Ryan
School Student Assistance Counselor: Jeff Longo
School Based Mental Health Assessment: Terry Reynolds
Treatment Assessment and Plan of Action: Josie Morgano, Pyramid Healthcare
Judicial Placement: Lynn Redick, Act 53 Program


Testimonials from panel of young adults and parents
West View/Ross Magistrate: Richard Opiela


Testimonial: Suboxone Patient
Testimonial: Patrick Boyle
Physician Authorized to prescribe Suboxone: Dr. Elizabeth Marsala
Allegheny County Medical Society President: Dr. Adam Gordon
Gateway Rehabilitation Director: Dr. Neil Capretto
Addiction Specialist: Dr. George Lloyd


Testimonials: Recovering addicts from Teen Challenge
Teen Challenge Counselor: Dave Louis
The Doorway: Joyce Erdner
North Hills Youth Ministry Counseling Center: Rev Ron Barnes


Testimonials from parents who attend a support group
Parent Survival Skills Training: Valerie Ketter and PSST parents.
Bridge to Hope: Joan Ward, Diane Clayton
Celebrate Recovery: Dave Herbert, Peg Schindler


State Representative Michael Turzai
State Representative Randy Vulakovich
Superintendent Dr. James Manley
Community Business Leader Robert Wright


Richard Opiela
James Manley
Pastor Kurt Bjorklund
Michael Turzai
Randy Vulakovich
Ben Roethlisburger
Robert Wright
Steve Zappala
Jason Altmire
Tom Corbett
Larry Bracko

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Letter from mother to daughter by Paula.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In a way this is a letter to the disease of addiction. It is powerfully written by a mother to her daughter, however, it is the disease of addiction that possesses our loved ones and creates the pain that everyone around the addict feels. Paula granted permission to post this actual letter that she wrote her daughter. Much thanks to Paula for sharing. Judy is not Paula's daughter's real name.

October 9, 2007

Dear Judy:

I hope this letter finds you are well and safe. I wanted to let you know what’s going on with me and let you know what my reaction to your behavior is.
First and foremost, I love you very much and I always will. Unfortunately, this is not a question of love. Instead, it is a situation that calls for strength and the ability to stand-by what I say. This situation that we are both in involves you---to stand on your own two feet, and pull yourself out of this abyss.

You are spiraling downward. You need to learn…I mean really learn and understand that you do not call the shots…you do not run the show. Ridgeview was a blessing in disguise. QUIT CALLING THE SHOTS, JUDY. I am you mother and I am weary of you. You deplete people –you suck them dry and put them aside…people are tired. I am tired. What is it going to take for you to realize that you are on the road to killing yourself!

This isn’t about marijuana or any other drug for that matter, Judy. This is about attitude, self-respect, humility, and honesty. Your attitude is one of righteousness and arrogance. Humility? Not even close. Honesty is not part of your vocabulary.

I am not going to be around forever. I am your greatest enabler. I am not going to do that anymore either. I am going to do everything in my power to help you get better…to help you want to live a lifestyle that is without drugs. Think about it, Judy. If this weren’t such a horrible way to live, no one would be clean. You must go through the agony of getting better before you are better. It takes time. It takes work on your part. It takes a desire where you will do anything to not use…just as you do anything now to stay high.

When you came in the house the other day with a bruise on your chin crying…saying someone punched you…you know, Judy, I don’t know what the truth is and what the lies are anymore. You intermingle them and so it is hard to determine. Anyway, at the time, your spirit was broken, you were crying, hurting and you said that you would do anything not to live this way. You asked me not to give up on you…and two hours later you were on the run again.

That’s a no-brainer. You scored with some kind of drug and you went to who was providing it to you. When I spoke to you in the phone at 4:30PM the next day, you acted as if nothing ever happened. I understand. You got what you needed. You told me that “I’m fine, Mom. I’m fine.” You had a drug in you…and yes; it does temporarily make you “fine”. The problem with that is that it doesn’t stay forever and three hours from that point, chances are you will be running around looking for money, looking for drugs, once again. It never ends. It never ends. It never ends until you are so sick of the cycle that you would do ANYTHING to stop.

I am going to make this difficult for you, Judy. I don’t know what I would do if I found you dead, overdosed, beaten to death, getting HIV, which today is a death sentence many times…. I will be changing the locks on the doors. You are not wanted at my house anymore, Judy. If you are big enough and grown enough to quit school, to refuse to sign releases so you can be funded, to stay out all night and not come home, and all the other things that you do, then you are grown enough to find a shelter and some food. To eat, there are food kitchens all over the place. You can eat there.

The most I will give you is a blanket. Nothing more. O.K. so go be grown. Feed yourself. Shelter yourself. Pay for your gas, your light, your heat, and your phone. You have that phone only because I pay for it. I will not enable you any longer. You must learn this on your own, Judy. Even though I will hate to let it come to pass, I must let you suffer all these consequences. Then may be you will get tired of living as you are now living.

I want you to think back to when you were at Ridgeview. How adamant you were about leaving. How you told everyone to fuck off. How you were so tunnel-visioned about leaving-that was your addiction calling you, Judy. That’s all. You wanted to get loaded. And you did.

This is your trip, Judy…not mine. I already had my “fun”…. anguish, degradation, etc. You can save yourself from it…I cannot save you. You are the only one that can save you. It is all on YOU.
Need I go on?
Hopefully, someday, God willing, you have children. Only then will you understand this relationship…I hope that your child does not put you through the hell that I am now experiencing.

I do not intend to be dramatic…merely factual. The scenes that conjure up in my mind when you pull your MIA’s (Missing in Action) are frightening, horrible, but not outside the realm of possibility.

1. I see you dying, being used, raped, and beaten.

2. I remember the last thing I said to you, the last time you left.

3. I remember the first time I rested my eyes on you, when you were born, and all the happy flashbacks in between: building sandcastles at the beach, hiding from you in the store to teach you and your brother a lesson not to hide from me.

4. I remember Christmases of the past. All of these visions come back and I remember you as you were through each age period.

5. Now I see a transformation in you that hurts my heart to watch. You are slowing dying in front of me. I am not exaggerating. I’ve seen this too many times. I am beginning to notice hardness about you.

You know, Judy, after you experience so many of those bad scenes, you are no longer innocent…nor do you project that to others. You are taking on the persona of a hardened street girl. It is not attractive at all. Your softness is leaving you. You’ve been through some horrible circumstances at such a young age that your face, your smile…. it is all leaving, Judy. The innocence that you had is fading. You are more rigid…cynical.

I am, and have been watching this outward transformation for a while now. It rips my heart out as I continue to see flashbacks of my little girl who was so full of life and so wanted to live, my little girl who was overflowing with compassion and understanding. The little girl who whispered in her grandma’s ear and comforted her when she was dying by telling her that it was O.K. to go…that we were all O.K. My daughter, the one who treated the child with Down’s syndrome so kindly and so unselfishly, where is she? Where is she? Where is she?

Please, please, Judy. Don’t become another Jessie. She’s dead now because she didn’t stop…couldn’t stop. You cannot stop on your own. You need help desperately. You can just as easily become another Jessie.
I am crying for you Judy. Please, please cry for yourself. Then get up, brush yourself off, and run the other way. This disease will take everything…including your life.

I will love you forever,


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Ken receives Parent of the Year on October 4, 2007.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ken was recognized both for his outstanding parenting and for his generous volunteer work to help other parents. He almost singlehandedly started the successful North Hills PSST meeting. He started, maintains and edits this blog, the Relapse Blog, the

Coffee House Nation Blog, and the Bridge To Hope Blog. He shows leadership wherever he goes. Other parents often call Ken to ask his opinion and he has even done home visits to help identify drug paraphernalia.

Right Picture: Judge Mulligan, Judge Woodruff (Probowl Cornerback of the Pittsburgh Steelers), Judge Flahrety, James Rieland Director of the Juvenile and Adult Probation, and Ken.
Left Picture: Judge Mulligan, Judge Flahrety, James Rieland, Ken, Supervisor Valerie Ketter, PO Lloyd Woodward, Judge Rangos, Judge Woodruff, and Judge Clark.

Ken has tirelessly worked to help youth in Allegheny County by being of service to his community. His acceptance speach was so gracious and well done that I wish I had it recorded so that I could reprint it here. One point that Ken made was that the idea that a youth is "in the system" is not a bad thing: to the contrary. It is working in the system with Judges, Probation Officers, therapists, and caseworkers that can help save a teenager's life from this too ofen fatal disease of addiction. Hats off to Ken for a well deserved honor!

Probation Officer Jeff Nartowicz, Supervisor Valerie Ketter, and Probation Officer Lloyd Woodward all nominated Ken for this award.

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The Turn of a Phrase
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It was Sunday and I was visiting with my daughter J. at a half way house. The sun was warm, the weather was trying to decide if it was fall or summer and we were on the smoking deck outside. This place has been just one of many stops for her in the last 4 years as she tries again to arrest the drug induced downward slide of her life.

She had gone to church with some other women from the house that morning and our conversation somehow came around to how powerful words are. . .

. . .and how God used words to speak the world into being. I took the opportunity to talk to her about the importance of affirming self-talk.

Later, another young women came out to the smoking deck and told J. that she had just got word that two of her friends had overdosed. She said “.it should have been me..”. J nodded in agreement and echoed her words as if it was a ritualistic chant. After some hugs and lots of crying between day old friends who have years with the same struggles I pointed out to J. that there is no reason it should have been her and how saying so is not healthy. She seemed to understand, or at least her eyes sparked as she ran to comfort the other women.

So words are important. We all cringe when we hear “just marijuana”. Maybe we have to remind each other that the sentence “It was just marijuana that killed my child.” is a real possibility. I know that is harsh but how else to get the words right?

To appreciate the words we have to listen carefully and speak carefully. Look how different “relapse is part of recovery” is from the Lloyd Woodward version of “the consequences of relapse are part of recovery”. Or “this disease ends in jails, institutions or death” compared to “this disease ends in recovery, jails, institutions or death”.

I had come to believe that saying anything to J. would not help her with her struggles. It has never worked and all the platitudes, heart to heart talks, and emotional threats seem useless against such a huge problem. But when I hear Lloyd talk about our overall strategy of “buying clean time and waiting for a miracle” (miracle, now there is a word!) I have come back to the idea that the words, the right words, words with lots of thought and lots of love can be very powerful when spoken or prayed.

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Let's go out for Murder Mystery Dinner on October 26th.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 11, 2007

Here is a unique opportunity to support the work of one of the Coffee House Nation. Khalil has been working hard to change his life. He is the President of his Business Club at CCAC. The club is putting on a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre where the actors interact with the audience. All proceedings go to The American Cancer Society. Many of you have followed his progress at the Wilkinsburg PSST via reports from his mother.

Here are the details for the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre:
WHEN: Friday October 26th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
WHERE: Jones Hall CCAC Allegheny Campus (North side).
PRICE: $40.00 single or $70.00 for a couple.
WHO TO CONTACT FOR TICKETS: contact Khalil through his mother Sue at 412-726-8033.
I will be there. Sue will be there. Other parents have said that they are interested. PSST should be able to sit together. Khalil will be our waiter. Let's get together for a good cause and a good time!

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Bridge to Hope Video Premier
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Our friends at the Bridge to Hope are premiering their new video and you are invited.
Click here for details.

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ADHD/Special Needs Parent Classes - Click Picture for Details
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Monday, October 01, 2007

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