Quote of the Week

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

Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, May 11, 2008

All too often, we are intimidated by our powerful, headstrong, deliberate teens. Sometimes we are afraid of causing a relapse in our teenager. While this is normal, it is not a very realistic fear. Mostly, however, we are afraid of upsetting our teenager.

As to the first fear- if our teenager is going to relapse he is probably going to relapse no matter we do or do not do. There are exceptions. Read the posting on minimizing resentments for example. Things like lecturing on and on, comparing teens to their siblings, arguing, and yelling certainly put pressure on teenagers that can make it more difficult for them to avoid a relapse. Confrontation and accountability, however does not necessarily do that. In fact, not having confrontation and accountability might set up a relapse even more.

As one parent put it in Parent Group on Saturday. "It's not just that I'm intimidated because I think he might relapse because I know I felt intimidated by him before he ever started abusing drugs." It's not rocket science to grasp how easy it is for parents to become intimidated. Our teenagers have temper tantrums. We hate that. We try with all of our might to avoid the dreaded temper tantrum.

When our teen flips out we go though intense feelings ourselves. We feel guilty that we have upset our teen. We feel powerless to do or say anything to stop the tantrum. In the past we have appeased our teenagers, just to get them to stop the temper tantrum. There in lies the fly in the ointment. By appeasing our teenager, we teach that having a temper tantrum is indeed an effective way to get good things. Maybe it will be the good thing that the teen desires or maybe it will be some other good thing that a parent uses to try to pacify the teen; either way something good comes out of a temper tantrum.

Let's remember also that attention is the most powerful reinforcement. Think about it. When a teenager has a temper tantrum he is usually guaranteed that he will receive a lot of attention. Everyone drops what they are doing and comes in to see what's going on. Everyone tries to find out what the problem is so that it can be remedied. By doing this fact finding and problem solving the adults give the teen a lot of attention. It is ironic that the teen is having the tantrum because he has learned that it is an effective way to get attention and other stuff. The fact finding and problem solving provides more attention so that the parents continue to reward the teen for the acting out behavior. How can we prevent this vicious cycle?

First, we have to accept that we are powerless to prevent temper tantrums, unless you count giving them everything they want whenever they want it. Obviously, that would not be a healthy thing.

Secondly, we need to let the teen know that it is OK to express anger and if necessary have a temper tantrum. We can tell them things like, "OK, get that out- that's right- you can get that out- go ahead yell, scream, do what you need to do."

Third, stay aware of how much attention you provide to your teenager during a temper tantrum. Once you realize that you are reinforcing behavior that you would rather extinguish, you can stop it. Say something to the effect of, "OK, get that out- that's right- you can get that out- go ahead yell, scream. But you know what? Take it to your bedroom so we don't have to hear it, OK? By letting the teen know that it is OK to have a temper tantrum you take the wind out of your teen's sail and when you tell him to take it to his bedroom you stop the reinforcement of the behavior. What if your teenager will not go to his bedroom? Go to yours until the behavior stops. If he pursues you into your bedroom you might have to ride it out with him and if so, do not respond and try to minimize eye contact. Never give the teen what he wants when he has a tantrum. Once he starts with the tantrum you can not give in to his demands- it's like negotiating with Terrorists. In the end it always fails. Your teen must learn that this behavior is not an effective way to get what he wants.

Fourth, remember that every temper tantrum has a silver lining. For example, a parent can agree that the teenager must be listening to what the parent says if he is getting angry. "Yes, you are right- exactly, I AM saying that you can not go out- that you can't have your friends in the house, that you will not have your cell phone and that you are grounded until further notice. If that is what is making you angry then you are exactly right- that is what I said and I meant it. Nothing that you do right now is going to change that. In fact, the more you carry on the worse it's probably going to be so just go to your room and carry on so that we don't all have to hear it. You will be responsible for anything you break."

Finding something to agree with your teenager about is often an effective way to communicate. In this case you can agree with him that he is angry because he heard you right! And in fact, you are saying THAT and MORE kind of thing.

What is recommended here is the parent attempt to reverse the dynamic that creates the vicious cycle. The vicious cycle is as follows:

1. Teen has temper tantrum.

2. Parents must do everything they can to calm down their teen.

3. Teen knows that parents can't stand it when he has a temper tantrum and that they will become increasingly more desperate to try and pacify him.

4. Teen continues to have temper tantrums so that he can have his own way or so that he can get what he wants, including increased attention from everyone.

Instead of trying desperately to stop your teen from having the tantrum, try telling him that it's OK to have the tantrum because of blah blah blah (insert active listening response here.) Tell him to get it out right now. Here then, is the new paradigm:

1. Teen has temper tantrum.

2. Parents give permission for teen to express anger and encourage him to "get it all out."

3. Parent tells teen to take it to his room or some other part of the house.

4. The teen gets nothing that he wants, including increased attention when he has a tantrum.

5. The teen learns that having tantrums is not an effective way to get what he wants and that his parents are not desperate to do anything to get him to stop. In fact, in his own room he is free to rant and rave. However, the real fun of it all is gone.

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Home Contract from Caron Foundation
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, May 06, 2008

This contract represents another way to structure the home experience for the recovering teenager coming out of a drug rehab. Caron was happy to let us publish this here. You can learn more about Caron Foundation at http://www.caron.org/.

Caron Adolescent Treatment Center
Home Contract

Patient Name:_________________ Date:______________ Patient #:__________

Mother:_______________________ Step-Mother: ____________________________

Father: _______________________ Step-Father: ____________________________

Siblings: ______________________________________________________________

Siblings: ______________________________________________________________

This is a three-month Home Contract that is intended to provide structure, consistency and boundaries that any family needs at this time in recovery. It is between the patient and his or her family. It can be changed only when all who are involved are present and can agree on the changes.

Basic Rules

This section outlines the bottom line rules that are to be followed by all patients upon discharge.

1. Mutual respect between family members (includes Honesty, Openness and Willingness to listen to each other.)
2. Attendance is required for all aftercare appointments.
3. Other family members agree not to abuse chemicals (specifically parents)
4. Active and regular participation in a 12-Step Fellowship, finding a sponsor within 14 days and attending at least ___ meetings per week.
5. No new relationships

People, Places and Things

The next session outlines the People, Places and Things that the patient feels may be problematic for his/her early recovery. It also outlines some of the more supportive aspects of their environment.

People Who may NEGATIVELY influence recovery and/or attitudes are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________

People who may be able to support recovery and healthy attitudes are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________

Places where my recovery could be put in danger or negatively influenced are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________
Places where I can gain support and positive direction are:

1. ______________________ 6. _______________________ 11. _________________
2. ______________________ 7. _______________________ 12. _________________
3. ______________________ 8. _______________________ 13. _________________
4. ______________________ 9. _______________________ 14. _________________
5. ______________________10._______________________ 15. _________________

Things are attitudes, behaviors and patterns that effect recovery. The things I need to change are:

Behaviors: I will follow the following curfew times:

During the Week
· In the House by ________p.m.

· Wake up by _________ a.m.

On the Weekend
· In the house by __________p.m.

· Wake up by __________ a.m.

I will help out in the house by doing the following chores:

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

_________________________ ________ Daily _______Weekly _____ As Needed

We will begin to change the patterns within our family by holding one family meeting per week at which time we will attempt to share openly and honestly. This is a time to confront attitudes, problems, share feelings and take family inventory.

Day _______________________________ Time ___________________

I will also be changing my patterns for when I do go out.

When I go out I will:

1. Make sure it is okay with my parents.

2. Let them know exactly Where I am going to be.

3. Let them know Who I am going to be with.

4. Let them know When I plan on getting back.

5. Call if my plans change at all while I am out.

6. Discuss any major upcoming events well in advance.

In an attempt to increase the level of accountability, the following consequences will occur when I fail to uphold this Home Contract. The first set of consequences is for non-chemical violations (such as doing chores, skipping out of responsibilities, etc.), the second set of consequences is for major violations, primarily chemical use but could include running away and other addictive behaviors.

When I fail to meet my basic responsibilities, I will accept the following consequences:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________________________

4. ____________________________________________________________________

If I use chemicals, there may be two Scenarios. If I am able to be up front and honest about a relapse, I will call my sponsor, call my counselor, share my experience with my aftercare group and my family. I will also accept the following consequences:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

If I use chemicals and need to be confronted about it, or if I continue to display addictive attitudes, avoidance and defiance, I will have a family session with my aftercare counselor and accept the following consequences:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

I have helped write this contract and feel that I will be able to follow the guidelines that are written in it.

Patient Signature Parent Signature

Parent Signature Therapist Signature


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If we continue to cause our teenagers to be deeply resentful, we might as well shoot ourselves in the head for all the good it does us.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, May 01, 2008

After our meeting last Saturday I realized that this post needed to be rewritten. Thanks in part to the ideas from parents in group we now have seven ways to minimize resentment instead of three. If we continue to do things that cause our teenagers to be deeply resentful towards us, we might as well shoot ourselves in the head for all the good it does us in the end. No doubt, all resentment can not be avoided, but how do we minimize it?

1. Listen to your teenagers. I know that a lot of parents complain that their teens do not say much. Sometimes when teens do try to tell us something we immediately shut them down with our response. Instead, practice Active Listening Responses. It's not the only thing that you say- but it's what you can say before you say the stuff that you really want to say. The formulae is "You feel ____ because ____." Just try to repackage what they say and feed it back to them. If they nod their head and say something like "Yeah" then you got it. Now listen carefully because the next thing they say might be a little different. If they say, "I wouldn't put it that way" or "no" then try a different response. Continue until your teen seems to be finished. Now say what you were going to say first.

2. Don't lecture on and on. It's not getting through and it causes resentment. It also discourages teens from talking because who wants to hear all that? Remember, our teens really only hear our message if we take some action. "Walk softly and carry a big stick" is what President Roosevelt used to say; however, before you decide how big a stick, read #3.

3. When sanctioning, don't use a bigger stick than you need. Of course we never recommend corporal punishment and we think that it's never OK to strike your teenager with or without a stick. That is counterproductive and causes much resentment. However, just use enough force with a sanction to send a message. If the behavior continues then increase your force. Use enough of a sanction to get your teen back on track but don't over do it. Consider the crime. Make a sanction that is commensurate with the crime. Also, if you have to ground your teen- then you decide what activities they are allowed to attend while they are grounded. If your teen has planned and planned for the High School Prom, but now she is grounded for a non drug related behavior, then also depriving her of going to the prom might be overdoing it. Also, when you cause your teen to miss important events, the resentment can last for many years. Sometimes it is wise to allow your teen to attend 12-step meetings even if they are grounded (if you trust that they will actually go to one) and after school sports activities while they are grounded. Otherwise, as parents we might cut off their proverbial nose to spite their face!

4. Treat your children with respect: Don't call them names. Don't hit them. Don't talk down to them. Don't yell. Don't act as though they are the stupidest people you ever met. You can be tough parents without being disrespectful.

5. Don't abuse substances yourself: If you drink- stop. Your teenager has just come out of a drug rehabilitation. They will resent you if you continue to drink. It may not seem fair that you have to give up drinking when you are a fine upstanding citizen and after all you are not on probation. However, there is really no wiggle room on this one. If you continue to drink you will loose your teenager's respect and increase their resentment. If that seems awfully unfair check with whoever it was that originally told you to have kids. Ask them why they never explained that things like this could happen. It's always a roll of the dice when you decide to have children. The good news is that if your teenager stays in recovery, a lot of good things can come out it for both the teen and the parents.

6. Make sure to spend time with your teenager just building a relationship. Do things together. Find out what your teens are passionate about. Become interested in whatever that is, at least to the degree that you can converse about it. Do activities together as much as is possible. Even if it is taking in a movie- then do that. You might not be able to take up skateboarding, but you can read something about it on the Internet and you can go to watch your teen do it. Spend more time on activities or hanging out than you do holding them accountable. If you always seem to be dealing with a control issue when you are with your teen, then something is wrong. Try to add more time doing other things.

7. Use humor to deflect the tension. Often, self deprecating humor works best. When we can laugh at ourselves and allow our teens to get a chuckle at our expense, it is like money in the old perverbial minimizing resentment bank! I recall sitting next to a teen at a Hockey Game who apparently was holding a lot of resentment towards me. I had forgotten my camera. She had a camera. I suggested that she take a picture of our group for our club's blog. Her quick reply clued me in to just how the resentment that she felt was swiming just below the surface. I suddenly realized how difficult it must be for her to even be sitting near me at this event

Girl: [Said with a rude tone.]"Oh, do you think I'd want to take a picture of you with my camera? Think again Lloyd!"

I sat there kind of feeling stunned for a minute. I did not expect to get hit with this expression of resentment at this Hockey Game because I knew that this young lady loved to see the Penguins play. I thought that we could all put our feelings on hold for a night- like a temporary truce. However, I had forgotten that it is very difficult even for adults to put strong feelings like resentments on hold. Suddenly, I had idea. I tapped her on the shoulder.

Me: [with a dead serious affect] "You know what? I think you are completely wrong about wanting to take my picture with your camera."
Girl: "Oh is that right- well I doubt that I want your picture Lloyd, thanks anyway."
Me: "Yeah, actually, I think if you got a digital shot of me you could email to someplace on the Internet that will make it into a nice dart board."
She suddenly was laughing at that idea and not only agreed that it was a capitol idea, but she added:
Girl: "Yeah, better yet, I could have it made into a great punching bag!"
The tension was eased considerably as we both enjoyed the laugh.

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Vigil of Hope
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Bridge to Hope Family Support Group
“Vigil of Hope”
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Kearns Spirituality Center
Kearns is sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence
9000 Babcock Boulevard, Allison Park, PA 15101
Message by Father Scott Seethaler
7:00 P.M.
Third Annual Day of Remembrance

Too many lives which held so much promise have been lost to drugs and alcohol. Too many families and friends have suffered these losses and our world is less rich because the flame of talent was extinguished long before its promise burned bright. The families, the parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins and friends feel their loss each day.

The families and friends who have suffered the loss of promise tell us that if it happened to them, it can happen to anyone. Drug and alcohol use and its attendant tragedies have touched so many Americans from all walks of life and from all backgrounds. Over the years, parents and friends have found individual ways to remember their loved ones; but now there is an event which brings people together to call attention to the extent and nature of the drug and alcohol epidemic. To support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one to drugs or alcohol, and to raise awareness about the terrible toll taken on families, friends and society, there will be a vigil of hope on Wednesday, June 11th at the Kearns Spirituality Center at 7:00 P.M.

This event is for all of us: families who have lost someone to drugs and alcohol and for those who care about all the promise and potential that was lost.

Please join us and Light a Candle…

-To remember those who have died from drugs & alcohol
-To shine a light of hope for tomorrow
-To share your light with other families who may be touched by drugs & alcohol.

Locally sponsored by:
The Bridge to Hope Family Support Group
For more information call
Suzanne @ 724/933-6248 or Diane @ 724/934-1953

For information about Bridge to Hope family support group meetings,
call Jean Wagner, Passavant Hospital Foundation, 412 367-6643

(This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Department of Community and Economic Development)

From Downtown Pittsburgh Area: Take 279 North and exit at Exit 11. Follow McKnight Road. Stay on McKnight Road for ten traffic lights (approximately 6 miles). At the tenth light, which intersects Peebles and McKnight Road, the McIntyre Square Shopping Center will be on your right. Go straight through this light and before the next light, bear to the right and follow the sign to Passavant Hospital. This is Babcock Blvd. and it leads to Kearns Spirituality Center. Follow Babcock Blvd. through the traffic light at Duncan Avenue. Pass the driveway to La Roche College on the right. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn right into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

From Route 8: Look for the Green Belt signs. There will be a light onto Duncan Avenue. Traveling north, this will be on your left; traveling south, to your right. Turn onto Duncan Avenue and the Green Belt. At the first stop sign, go straight and continue to follow the Green belt. At the 5-way stop sign, turn right and stay on the Green Belt and Duncan Avenue. At the next light, go straight on Duncan Avenue – the Green Belt turns left. After about _ mile, you will be at the light of the intersection of Duncan Avenue and Babcock Blvd. Make a right turn. Pass the driveway to La Roche College on the right. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn right into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

From Route 19 North and PA Turnpike Exit 28: Take Exit 28 and head toward Cranberry. Do not take Exit 10 to Pittsburgh. Upon exiting 28, immediately get into left lane for Route 19/Cranberry/South. Go left at light and stay on Route 19 South for (7 miles). Take the right ramp to McKnight Road (Truck Route19), and exit off Route 19. At the fourth traffic light, move into the left turning lane, and turn left onto Cumberland Road. Cross over McKnight Road and continue down Cumberland. At the bottom of a hill, you will come to the Babcock Boulevard/Cumberland intersection. At the light, turn right onto Babcock Blvd. You will see the Provincial House and a pond on the left. At this time, move into the center turning lane. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn left into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

From Route 79: Take Mt. Nebo Road Exit 68. Turn right at end of ramp, and follow Mt. Nebo Road and the Yellow Belt. At the traffic light (8/10th of mile), continue going straight. At the next light (1.7 miles) turn left onto Arndt Road. At the top of Arndt (2.5 miles), turn left. You will still be on the Yellow Belt. At the four-way stop sign (3.8 miles), go straight onto Ingomar Heights-Ingomar Road. At the three-way stop sign at Highland (4.9 miles), go straight. At the traffic light at Harmony Road (5.2 miles) go straight. At traffic light at Route 19 (6.2 miles) go straight. At the Y in the road, (6.6 miles), go right onto ramp to Truck South 19, also known as McKnight Road. (You are now leaving the Yellow Belt.) At the next traffic light (7.2 miles), continue to go straight, but get into the left lane. At the next traffic light (7.5 miles- McKnight Road and Cumberland) turn left onto Cumberland Rd. At the bottom of a hill, you will come to the Babcock Boulevard/Cumberland intersection. At the light, turn right onto Babcock Blvd. You will see the Provincial House and a pond on the left. At this time, move into the center turning lane. You will see the blue sign for Kearns Spirituality Center. Turn left into the next driveway between two stone pillars. At the top of the driveway, go through the stop sign, and follow the green signs to Kearns Spirituality Center.

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Three Pictures from the Pirate Home Opener
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, April 13, 2008

I am not really a baseball fan but last Monday was so beautiful, and I had a little time, so I thought I would head down to the game and maybe take a few pictures.

I was struck by two things.

The beauty of the city

and the . . .

. . .amount of alcohol that is involved in a baseball game on a Monday afternoon.

There were several trashcans like this outside the stadium at the point where you can no longer take a drink into the game. It was a reminder to me the challenges our kids face every day.

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Giving Consequences
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, April 01, 2008

I asked some teens for help. Here's what a group of teenagers said about what they hated most about getting consequences.

1. Too much lecture along with the consequences. This was a major theme. These teens weren’t complaining so much about the consequences but about all the stuff they have to listen to when their parent dish out the consequences. The less said at consequence time the better. This is a case where less is more.

Of course, getting yelled at can be a part of the consequences, and sometimes it constitutes all of the consequences. However, when you yell at your teen it often has a counterproductive effect. Just say it and move on is the better course of action. "Getting yelled at" is not a good consequence because it causes resentments and anger. "Why is Billy so angry?" Maybe we don't have to look to far to see that answer.

2. They don't listen to me. The teens felt that parents make very little effort to hear what they are saying.

Some parents might be afraid that if they let their teen know that they "hear" what the teen is saying that it is the same as agreeing. It is not. Quite often the teen is saying that life is unfair, or that the parents are being unfair. But parents want to show that they are being fair. And Parents want to convince Billy that they are fair. They want Billy to admit that they are fair. Consequently, parents tend to be defensive about that whole "fair thing."

In reality, a teenager can accept the consequences much easier if he feels that the parents have listened. Also, the parent is free to apply the same consequences whether or not they have attempted an active listening response. Active listening responses are not necessarily agreeing that the teen is "right." Except that parents are agreeing that the teen feels that way. The parents are also agreeing that their teenagers has good reasons to feel the way he feels. Don't forget that everyone has good reasons to feel the way that they feel- or at least they appear to be good reasons at the time that the feelings are generated.

Active Listening can be the glue that keeps relationships going though these difficult times. It is often a way to get your teenager to do better at accepting the consequences. But it isn't just a way to get your teen to do better at accepting the consequences. More than that, it's a great way to improve your relationship with your teenager.

More in my next post about Active Listening skills. I will break it down. You feel ___ because ___ is the formula. In the next post we will look at ways to creatively say that.

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Let's Take Back 4/20
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sometimes things just get to me. True story. I was hanging out with my son, he is watching Cops on G4, a national cable channel owned by Comcast that targets his demographic; 16-24, male, video game player, likes action/adventure. I am sure they would be surprised to find me in front of the set. Oh, and this is around 4 PM on a weekday, you will see why the time matters in a second.

The commercial break comes and the nice folks at G4 run an add for their “420 lineup” for several drug related movies and cartoons. The voice-over is the vintage Cheech and Chong druggie stereotype. And now I am mad. Mad, because this is just another version of “just marijuana” and it is being run on TV shows that target our kids right after school and major corporations are sponsoring it.

For those of you who may not know, April 20th, 4/20, is some kind of national pot smoking day. The lore says it comes from 420 being the police call for marijuana use but I don’t know. All the kids know though.

So I called my local cable company and complained. They were very nice but not interested in doing anything. I found the G4 web site and found they were owned by Comcast. Comcast has an email address so I told them my story. They said they didn’t know anything about G4, they carry a lot of channels and see you later. I wrote back and gave them the clip from the G4 website that says that Comcast is the majority owner of G4. Comcast said OK but we don’t control programming content!?

I am still mad so I went to the FCC web site and filed a complaint online. I felt better.

Maybe we should try to take back April 20th? What if parents stand up and say that on 4/20 everyone comes straight home from school and stays in for the evening because it is dangerous out? Could the schools increase their vigilance for one day and go on the alert for drug use, maybe cancel all after school activities that day? Would the press get involved? Maybe probation officers could drug screen every client on 4/21. Maybe we could call our local police and ask them to set up DUI points on 4/20 just like New Years Eve.

How long is it going to take until we are as indignant about a major corporation encouraging drug use as we are about cartoon images of Joe Camel?

Did I mention that the G4 420 advertisement ran between two Cops segments that involved people getting arrested for drug use!

OK, I feel better. Let’s discuss this at our next PSST meeting.

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No meeting on 3-29-08.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, March 28, 2008

It's the Fifth Saturday of the Month!

We are being featured in an Alliance Video being shot on the morning of the 29th. If you are interested email Lloyd at lloyd.woodward@court.allegheny.pa.us or call me at 412-861-6757.

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New Bridge to Hope Meeting Thursdays in Cranberry
Posted by:Ken Sutton--Friday, March 21, 2008

Weekly support group meetings for families affected by substance abuse.

Every Thursday, 7 p.m.
Garden Montessori School _ 204 Commerce Park Drive _ Cranberry Township
(Directions follow)

There’s No Place Like Hope

The Bridge to Hope is an educational and support program, free of charge, for families and friends whose loved ones are affected by substance abuse.

The support group meets weekly at Garden Montessori School in Cranberry Township and is intended for people who have come to the realization that a family member is facing addiction.

The Bridge to Hope program is intended to bridge a gap between the realization of the problem and the need for solutions. It is a bridge to finding help and giving support to those who are - directly or indirectly - affected by addiction.

Please join us each Thursday evening. The Bridge to Hope support group is here for you to find Help, Support, and most important of all . . . to find Hope.

For additional information call:

412 367-6643

This Project was financed by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Department of Community and Economic Development.
We gratefully acknowledge Garden Montessori School for use of its facilities.
Directions to

204 Commerce Park Drive
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

From Pittsburgh and South:

a) Interstate 79-North to exit 78 onto Route 228, Cranberry/Mars
b) Turn left onto Route 228-West
c) At (major) traffic light intersection of Routes 228 and 19, turn right onto Route 19-North.
d) Continue on Route 19-North for 0.9-mile, and at fifth traffic light – turn left onto Rochester
e) Proceed approx. 300 feet and turn left onto Commerce Park Drive (just after car wash).
f) Continue on Commerce Park Drive for approx. _-mile to Building 2, 204 Commerce Park
Drive. Garden Montessori School will be on left side, close to end of building; sign on door.

From Erie and North:

a) Interstate 79-North to exit 78 onto Route 228, Cranberry/Mars
b) Turn right onto Route 228-West
c) At (major) traffic light intersection of Routes 228 and 19, turn right onto Route 19-North.
d) Continue on Route 19-North for 0.9-mile, and at fifth traffic light – turn left onto Rochester
e) Proceed approx. 300 feet and turn left onto Commerce Park Drive (just after car wash).
f) Continue on Commerce Park Drive for approx. _-mile to Building 2, 204 Commerce Park
Drive. Garden Montessori School will be on left side, close to end of building; sign on door.

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Thanks to PSST for 100.00 Donation and for a tremendous Holiday Party
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On 12-15-07, we held our Holiday Party at our Wilkinsburg location. The food was a tremedous display as most parents brought in a special dish. Then, Val and I got a big surprise when we opened the Christmas card. Two fifty dollar bills dropped out...

At first we thought, "Oh please, you folks know we are not allowed to accept gifts, but then we read the card, which said that this was a donation to the Coffee House Nation, a positive Peer group sober-fun activity club that in which myself, PO Tuma, and Val all participate. Of course we felt relieved and honored at this beautiful gesture. So far, the money has been spent taking the club to the movies, and paying for pizza on Hockey Night out! Thanks PSST for you support.

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I read the stories at PSST because...(written by Anonymous)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, January 13, 2008

I write this as an outsider, to let you all know that I have read what you have shared to empower myself, and in turn, empower my child for the future.

I read the stories at PSST because...

My child is not an addict. She is only 10 years old. She will ask me if even the slightest things are toxic. "Mom, there was beer in that bottle! Dad made beer and it was in a Mountain Dew bottle! I thought it was Mountain Dew. I drank a sip and I spit it out. OMG will it kill me?!!!!!!

"She's quite dramatic. While it is quite serious to her, I have to say, "No, the traces that you may have swallowed will not kill you." But I also think about how to handle the situation because I don't want her to ever drink.

You see, I did my share of drugs and I was lucky. When the drugs started calling my name and I found myself in the worst places looking for them, I realized that I was becoming the person I had hated the most when I was growing up- I was becoming drug addicted like one of my parents-and I walked away from it.

The stories on this blog move me to tears and make me cry for the parents going through the steps to save their children. Or worse, the grief of a parent who lost their child to drug addiction. I also read this blog to empower myself for what might come. Even though my child is only 10, she knows that drugs kill. She knows about Jessica and I tell her, "You know drugs can kill you even just from trying them. You don't know what's in them. Drugs can kill you and just trying them and experimenting with them can kill you. It just takes one time. Just one time that someone says, "Come on- you're a wimp if you don't." I tell my daughter, "Be a wimp and live, Honey. Don't listen to someone that doesn't care about you."

I tell my daughter, "Hear me now- drugs will strip you of your joys, your loves and your life." I tell her every tragic story and make every child real to her. The pain is as apparent as the tears that roll down my face. I say, "Be different, be strong, live to be the person that you want to be when you grow up. Don't be a grave I have to visit because someone told you that drugs are OK. Don't be a grave I have to visit because some kid told you they wouldn't like you if you don't take drugs."

I tell her that school friends and fads and coolness will not matter in a few years although I know they are important to her now. Fortunately, she likes who she is at this point. Fortunately, the stories that I read to her off of your blog is knowledge- and knowledge is power.

I hope I never need to be in your group but as one who has been a drug abusing teen and a drug abusing adult- I want to use any preemptive measures I can to spare my child the same path.

Me? I could have been anything, anybody. Not to brag, but I have been tested at Borderline Genius IQ and I could have done anything with my life. Instead, I chose to be stoned, tripping, or drunk. I tried to escape my alcoholic father by becoming what I hated most. I was just lucky. I don't want my child to have to depend on luck.

As a parent I feel your pain. As a regular reader of this blog, I feel the tremendous dedication that you all have towards these kids and towards each other. So I write this as an outsider, to let you all know that I have read what you have shared to empower myself, and in turn, empower my child for the future. Please, keep doing what you do on this blog- if it makes a difference to me I believe that it makes a difference to many other parents as well. Many of us, God willing, will never make it to one of your meetings, but we are there with you each time we read what you have shared.

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Role-play: Dad stands with Mom. (15 Parents attend Alliance PSST on 1-11-08.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, January 13, 2008

With three newcomers, this meeting rocked! Veteran group members reached out to the newcomers with empathy and information. Especially, the role-playing took a very realistic turn, with several men "channeling" their teens in the role-play.

There is an old saying that "if you want to really learn something - teach it." Well, a lot of that might have been going on as parents reached out to our three newcomers. In fact, we tend to have some our better meetings when newcomers arrive. So, if anybody out there is reading this and thinking about coming to one of our groups, please do so. You end up helping our group as much as the group helps you.

The role-play we did is one about visiting your teen in the rehab. Your teen wants to blame you for it. You are hoping that your teenager can take some responsibility and admit that via the choices that he made, he put himself into rehab.

It is a bit unrealistic to expect the teen who is forced into rehab to admit that he put himself there. Also, when your teen blames you for putting him in rehab, a large part of what he is saying is that you are powerful. The last thing that we as parents should claim is that we have no power. Instead, we can start to look at the blame as credit. If your teen want to give you credit for putting them being in rehab go ahead and take some of it. (Of course, we know that you couldn't have done it without their help.)

One of the dynamics of our latest role-play is that Mom and Dad are not on the same page. We have done other role-plays with this theme and at the bottom of this post you can find links to related role-plays. In this one, Mom has to be the bad guy all the time. Dad gets to be the buddy. This presents a challenging situation because it is only natural that the teen will take the opportunity to exploit the chasm between you both.

For example, Mom feels that the son should absolutely be in rehab. The Dad thinks so too, but on any given day he might feel differently about that. On any given day he might belive that his son should not be in a drug rehab. Therefore, he is more vulnerable to the teenager's manipulations. He would benefit from working on that issue before he makes his first visit to the rehab.

The following role-play is inspired by the one we did in group but is really not at all what we did in group. .

Setting: The teen as been in the drug rehab for about a week. He was admitted to the rehab via Act 53.

Mom: Well Son you look good. Are they treating you OK up here?

Son: You Bitch; don't speak to me. I only want to speak to Dad. [Turning from Mom and looking at Dad] Dad, you know she put me in here. You know I don't belong in here. Get me out of here Dad. I know YOU want me home. Dad, let's get out of here.

Dad: Son, I don't like you calling your Mom names. THAT is unacceptable.

Son: But Dad, you know it's true. You know what she is like.

Dad: Your Mom and I do what we do because we love you.

Son: I know you love me Dad. You know I don't belong up here.

Dad: Listen Son, I'm glad you brought this up so that we can talk about it. I'd like to get things straightened out while you're up here.

Son: Can I come home Dad? That's all I want to know. I don't want to straighten nothing else out if I can't come home.

Dad: I have an apology to make to you son.

Son: It's OK Dad. I know you just went along with her. She and I just don't get along but I see you do things sometimes just to try to get along with her. But let's face it, neither of us can get along with her.

Dad: Son, you go ahead and talk. When you're done- you let us know. Your mother and I will wait until you are done. [Looking at Mom] Right honey, we can wait until he finishes before we have our turn to talk.

Mom: Yes, I will wait until he is ready to stop interrupting me.

Son: Can we go home? Now? Please?

Dad: No.

Son: Why not? Give me one good reason?

Dad: No.

Son: No?

Dad: Not until it's our turn to talk. You go ahead and finish what you have to say first- we won't interrupt you and then when it's our turn, you won't interrupt us.

Son: Well, it sucks to be up here and even the staff can't figure out what the hell I'm doing up here. Everyone agrees that I don't need to be here.

Dad: Go ahead Son

Son: I need you to talk back to me; but not her. Just you.

Dad: It doesn't work that way.

Son: What the hell?

Dad: Your mother and I have the same things to say. You hear us both out or you don't hear either one of us.

Son: Fine. What?

Dad: You sure we can talk now?

Son: Yes. Talk Talk. [rolling eyes and giving out a big sigh.)

Dad: Son, I need to start in my own way- and so will you mother- so we want to make sure that you won't interrupt us. If you're not done talking yet, we can wait.

Son: What (beginning to raise voice) you mean I can't go home? Why the fu&* not?

Dad: First things first. I have something brief to say and then your mother has something to say to you. Here's mine. Listen, I really owe you an apology.

Son: What- no no no Dad.

Dad: [gives son a "Shush" by putting his index finger to his lips) Hear me out- please don't interrupt. We have not interrupted you. I see now that I have been trying all this time just to be your buddy. You need me to be a father, not a buddy.

Son: Dad, we are buddies- the Patriots are playing tonight Dad, you know you can't enjoy that game while I'm locked up here for no reason at all. [leaning in close to dad with his hand around his mouth as though he is speaking a secret- lowing voice] She's outta control Dad. She is really really outta control this time."

Dad: Son, your mother and I will enjoy the game, tonight but back to what I was saying. Because I have been trying to hard to be your buddy, I haven't been tough enough on you. And this has put your mother in a bad situation. She has had to become the bad guy. This is part of why you are so angry at her right now- you think that she is the only parent who wants you to get help. Well, Son [putting his hand up to stop Son from interrupting]. That is just not true. I want you to be in here to get help for your drug problem and I am just as responsible for you being in here as she is- maybe more so.

Son: (finally interrupting as he can not stand listening anymore) I don't belong here HELLO! I am not like these other people

Dad: Wait Son, it's our turn to speak. It is not OK for you to do drugs. It will not be OK for you to do drugs or to hang out with your friends that do drugs. Period. And I stand together with your mother to try to stop your abuse of drugs. It's something that I should have done a long time ago.

Son: That is such bull shit - can I talk now?

Dad: No- It's your mother's turn.

Son: No way! I don't want to talk to her.

Dad: [looking at Mom} Honey, if he's not going to let you have your say, I think this visit is over. Not much more we can do here until he is ready to deal with both of us.

Mom: I think you're right.

Son: What you are just going to leave me here?

Mom: Of course we are.

Son: You can't do that! You can't just walk out of here. It'll look like you are bad parents.

Dad: Well I think I would have been a better father if I had quit trying to be your buddy. You can tell the staff here that I said that!

Son: (Starts punching his hand with his fist and looking at his mother.)

Dad: We'll discuss this next visit Son. [parents exit- leaving Son sitting there fuming.

Other role-plays with similar themes:

Ganging Up On Mom.

Ask me again, ask me again

Blaming Parents (Single Mom)

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"Meanest Mom on the Planet" Talks About Car Ad (Written by Elizabeth Bishop)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, January 11, 2008

OLDS 1999 Intrigue:
"Totally uncool parents who obviously don't love teenage son, selling his car. Only driven for 3 weeks before snoopy mom who needs to get a life found booze under front seat. $3,700/offer. Call meanest mom on the planet."

Jane Hambleton told Good Morning America she never intended to generate so much publicity. She just wanted to sell her son's car and teach the 19-year-old a lesson after she found alcohol in the vehicle.

Still, the tone of the ad garnered much attention:

"I know that if you want to move something, you want to sell it, it has to stand out," she said.

It did. Hambleton got dozens of calls.

"I got about 70 parents, but nobody wanted to buy the car," said the 48-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa. People just called to support her and thank her for standing up for herself.

The "meanest mom on the planet" moniker was part of her salesmanship, and Hambleton said she figured every parent had been called that at least once.

Hambleton's son Steven said he learned of the classified listing when a friend called his mother's cell phone asking for the "meanest mom in the world."

"My friends gave me a hard time," he said.

Hambleton said she never intended to generate publicity. She really only wanted to sell the car and said she was not looking to gain attention.

"The intention was to sell the car," and not humiliate her son, she said.

The story exploded after Hambleton gave an interview to her local newspaper, the Des Moines Register. Full Story.

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"I am the mother of an addict..." by Jennifer
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, January 07, 2008



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