Quote of the Week

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

Cisco Does Not Pass Go - Starts Over (Sally and Rocco’s Rollercoaster Ride Continues)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, January 19, 2010

So here we go again. Our son has relapsed and had yet another opportunity to visit Shuman Center (his fourth visit since October). Cisco is leaving Shuman today for the inpatient program at Gateway YES. I feel strangely disconnected. I am not angry or sad maybe a bit disappointed but not really surprised.

Cisco came out of his summer inpatient program in August and went into a 90 day outpatient program. He went back to high school to redo 10th grade and regularly attended 3 or 4 N.A. meetings per week. He hit a few bumps in the road to recovery which resulted in, as I noted, somewhere around 2 or 3 weeks total in detention and being on a home monitor for about 30 days.

Let note that Cisco has worked hard and has improved greatly since last spring. Nevertheless we keep reminding ourselves that it has only been 6-1/2 months since he began his recovery and we are still learning how to be parents of an addict. Within days of successfully completing his IOP Cisco tested positive for THC but he says that he doesn’t understand what our problem is and that his P.O. is out to put him away. With the help and encouragement of all of our friends at PSST, we kind of knew what to expect and we are sure that we are headed in the right direction. We are determined to learn more about his addiction and the Gateway Yes program and we will try to discern what will be the best moves to make for Cisco so that he has the best possible chance to get himself out of the mess he got himself into.

Even though Cisco has memorized the steps to his recovery he is not ready to comply with the program. He is not ready to accept that his addiction problem is his fault, he cannot turn control of his life over to anyone especially a “higher power”, he has a very hard time following rules, he cannot give up old fiends and old places and he has a great skill at twisting words around.

For example, he explains how even though he continues failing most of his classes at school he is doing great and will have no problem catching up and passing. He enlightens us as to how everyone at his N.A. meetings agree that there is no problem with relapsing so it is not a big deal if he does. He assures us that he needs to hang out with his old friends because they are the only ones who can understand him. He can’t understand why we freak whenever he disappears for 4 or 5 hours to “hang out”.

Also, he advises us how he is going to complete his 90 days at Gateway YES with flying colors and get right back to doing what he wants to do. He told us last night that recovery programs have nothing to teach him and that this is nothing more than a 90 day punishment. He was even detailing out how his upcoming home visits should go. He is the Energizer Bunny – he just keeps going and going.

So today we start down a new road – we will keep you updated on how this part of our journey goes.

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Wisdom from Wexford (December 12th)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Here are the tips that parents shared at our second Sixth Annual Reunion/ Holiday Meeting. Once again Valerie took notes. Also, once again, the food was excellent and we even thought that we should post receipes from the meeting. So if you want to post a recipe for one of those great dishes, email Lloyd. By the way, we are doing this one last time at our Mt Lebanon meeting so if you have missed the fun you have one more opportunity and that would be this Saturday morning. Check the calendar on the right and the location finders on the left.

1. Don't enable

2. Before coming to PSST my self esteem had gotten so low and I have regained it through these meetings.

3. You need to detach to avoid becoming co-dependent.

4. Don't feel guilty that you don't like your kid sometimes (who would?).

5. It's ok to admit a mistake and recoop a mistake.

6. Get a greater knowledge of the system to alleviate your fears and distrust and then you will know better how to use it to help your situation (you get the inside scoop when you come to PSST about the system and how to use it best to your teenager's advantage.)

7. The stories that others share at PSST helps me because I can relate.

8. Read the NA text book. It is very helpful especially in trying to understand recovery.

9. Do what you think is right no matter how many professionals seem to disagree.

10. Read, listen, call and find the experts and a good book is How To Control Your Out-of-control Kid: author is Bayard.

11. Decide what part of the problem is yours and what part of the problem is your teenagers.

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Rocco’s response to Tips from the Sixth-Year PSST Reunion.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, December 07, 2009

"It's not like we stuck our heads in the sand. We accepted that he had problems. We sought out counselors, psychiatrists, tutors, advocates and advice on how to help him. We were on a first name basis with principles, vice-principles and school counselors and we started our run through the "rat-in-the-maze" world of health insurance for behavioral therapy.

"After two years, two overdoses and visits from the police we were not sure what options we had left. We were drained emotionally, mentally, physically and financially and our son still didn't care."

Thanks Val and Lloyd for creating and maintaining PSST.

We enjoyed last Saturday's meeting and appreciated the advice from both the veterans and the newer parents.

Following are my thoughts on the posting.

We attended our first PSST meeting in either late 2006 or early 2007 and quite frankly we were a bit overwhelmed by it. These parents were talking about their teens using not just marijuana and alcohol but crack cocaine and heroin. Their teens were stealing and dealing to support their habits,refusing therapy and running away from treatment centers.

We felt that son was nowhere near that wild. He was 14 years old and his grades were falling fast, he was becoming a discipline problem at school and at home, he was distancing himself from our family and he was hanging out with a lot of new-found bad "friends" (NOTE: trust your first impressions here). We suspected that he was using marijuana, probably some alcohol and we knew that he was able to pick-up packs of cigarettes whenever he wanted them.

If we confronted him he was very defensive about all of these issues. School sucked, his teachers were out to get him, family was boring, we were stupid and his new "friends" were the only ones that understood him. But we just knew that our son was nowhere near as wild as these other kids, yet.

It's not like we stuck our heads in the sand. We accepted that he had problems. We sought out counselors, psychiatrists, tutors, advocates and advice on how to help him. We were on a first name basis with principles,vice-principles and school counselors and we started our run through the "rat-in-the-maze" world of health insurance for behavioral therapy.

Our son's consistent response to all of this was "I don't care." We didn't understand or accept this but we slowly came to realize that he meant it.

After two years, two overdoses and visits from the police we were not sure what options we had left. We were drained emotionally, mentally, physically and financially and our son still didn't care.

We finally attended our second PSST meeting in May 2009. Since then we have, at least for now, saved our son's life and we have most importantly saved our own lives and our marriage.

And this is just my response to point #1.

Point #2 - You may feel that some of the new techniques offered at PSST may be uncomfortable, may seem harsh, and quite frankly might not work but you know in your heart that your old methods definitely do not work. See point #18.

Point #4 - You will never get the little girl or boy you knew and loved back but you may keep them alive and have the time to get over the issues and pain that their addiction caused.

Point #5 - Do not continue to blame yourself - see Point #12.

Point #6 - We have used this and it works.

Point #9, #17 and #20 - We have not needed to resort to these but we are ready to try them if necessary.

Point #10 - Another parent advised us in one of our first meetings "It seems like you will never get through this but you will" and it is starting to come true.

Point #11 - It is crucial for parents to stay on the same page. We don't always gree but we discuss. Our discussions are none of our son's d@mn business. Failure to follow this will either confuse the kid or more likely supply them with additional ammo to manipulate you.

Point #13 - The meetings are very beneficial to us. We found that we could finally talk openly to people that know exactly what we are going through.

Point #14 - We have used this and it works. Thanks Lloyd.

Point #15 - We used this and it is wonderful to be able to enjoy our home again.

Point #19 - See Point #1.

I agree with Sally that we should continue this format in the next meeting or two to get input from some other parents.

Once again I would like to thank Val and Lloyd as well as Cathy and Kathy from Wesley Spectrum for their continued support and encouragement.

[find other posts by Sally and Rocco below]

Message from PSST parent: 8-30-09

Thanks for empowering us: 9-12-09

Sally finds the right tools to get the job done 9-15-09

Update from Sally: 9-26-09

Relapse-takes-mom-for-ride-on-emotional Roller Coaster 10-26-09

Sally, Rocco, and Cisco: To be continued. 10-26-09

Learning to unlearn 10-22-09

Rocco Sally and Cisco: the story continues.

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Tips from the Sixth-Year PSST Reunion. (Use comments to add more wisdom to this post please.)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, December 06, 2009

The tips that parents were giving to each other were so good that Val started taking notes on her Blackberry during this rare reunion meeting. We saw some faces that we haven't seen for a while. Some parents who showed up first started attending PSST five years ago. There were about 13 parent/family members present. Instead of going around the circle like we often do, we shared by who had the most PSST seniority.

1. If it seems like things aren't working out right, keep coming back to PSST and there's a good chance that things will get better.

2 Once you find yourself at a PSST meeting you can never go back, i.e., you can never go back to the old ways of interacting with your teenager because you realize that the old ways don't work anymore. You're past the point of no return and you have to move forward with the new techniques even if seems at first like it's not working.

3. Acceptance, expectations and keep the focus on yourself. For example, you may have warned your teenager that if they didn't do better in high school they would have to go to Community College. Now, you would love to see him go to Community College.

4. Admit that there are times that you don't like or feel the love towards your teenager. It's OK to admitt that and in light of what you've been through- it's very normal.

5. Hold your teenager accountable for his behavior, decisions, etc. This came up more than once.

6. It's OK to stand up to your teenager and even call the police if it feels horribly uncomfortable. It gets easier after the first time.

7. Our teenager will probably eventually be OK. We will be OK either way.

8. Go to NARANON for additional help.

9. If your teen won't get out of bed in the morning "skip the spritzers and dump the water!

10. It might not look good now but you will get through this.

11. Parents need to stay on the same page and prevent "splitting."

12. Drug addiction is a disease- but there is hope.

13 Coming to PSST makes you realize that you are not alone ("I realized once I got here- Everyone here has a teen like mine! And that was such a good feeling.")

14. Sometimes when your kid is released from an institution or treatment program he acts like a cat that just got out of a pillow case. (and then Lloyd will come for him in the middle of the night.)

15. Take time to focus on fixing the damage at home while your teen is in placement.

16. Chaos does not have to be the norm.

17. Once they are out of the house, don't invite them back.

18. A lot of things you learn in PSST don't feel right when you first try them. Keep trying.

19. Just like in any field, all counselors, therapists, and other helping professionals are not good at what they do. If you're getting advice from someone, and it feels wrong- get a second opinion. Several parents shared stories of how they were undermined by professionals and how hard it can be to find out "what to do."

20. Use ACT 53.

21. Perhaps the funniest advice all meeting was: If you are driving your teen to rehab and you are afraid he might run, take him the longest way possible so that he has no idea where he is but so that he believes that he is really really far away. Later, he will probably tell you that he "found a much better way to get there."

You really had to be there to get the import of some of this wisdom. It's contextual. It was a very powerful meeting. Thanks to all who showed up to lend a hand and support PSST.

Should we do again the same way next week in Wexford?

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Let's count the things to be thankful about.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 26, 2009

Your teenager may not be doing as well as you'd hoped he would be doing by now. Or, perhaps even when it appears that your teenager has turned the corner you are still harboring tremendous fears about relapse or about him her harming himself. Let's look at the positives for a moment.

First: Has your teenager obviously turned the corner and perhaps working a good 12-step program? That's the number one thing to be thankful for. It feels like an abosulte miracle when it happens and the change can be powerful and remarkable. Perhaps your teenager has really turned the corner and is not relying on a 12-step program. OK, we wish he was working a good 12-step program but we can be really thankful if he is off drugs and doing well in life.

Two: Is you teenager yet to make the decision to change himself but he is clean and sober today, perhaps in a drug treatment program or halfway house? That's a lot to be thankful for too and the miracle can happen at any time. Often it seems like Drug Treatment Professionals are really in the business of keeping the client drug-free and as safe as possible until the miracle happens.

Three: Is your teenage clearly not ready to change his life but he is experiecing the consequences for his choice to actively pursue a life of drug seeking? And is he still alive? Then let's be thankful that whatever those consequences are that they might help your teenager to see the folly of the path he has chosen and, once again, let's hope for the miracle. Be careful not to rescue from the consequences as they may be the real treatment that is available for your teenager.

Four: Have you changed because of your struggles with your teenager's drug proplem. Have you found growth at PSST or Naranon meetings or Brige To Hope meetings? Have you found support. Have you been able to reaize that your happiness does not hang on the success or failure of your teenagers? Then you have a lot to be thankful for too.

Remember, that 12-step rooms are jammed with miracle-stories of people really deeply immersed in addicition who find a way to arrest this fatal disease.

Happy Thanksgiving to all PSST and PSST blog readers; may you soon find even more reasons to be thankful. Thanks to each and everyone one of you for your support at PSST meetings and for following this blog.

Please feel free to post what you are thankful for this Holiday Season as a comment on this post or email your post to lloyd.woodward@court.allegheny.pa.us. Many parents like to use a pen-name or post anonymously.

Image on card is from CreataCard Gold, which I own and am licensed to use.

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Ever wonder what those pills are that you found in your teenagers bookbag?
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ever find pills at home and wonder what your teenager is taking?
Look up the pills yourself on Drugs.com. This is a way to look up
the very popular perscription drugs but may not help to identify street drugs like escstasy. To go to the source of the picture on the right click Pill Identification Tool provided by WebMD.

If you need to look up Ecstasy pills try Ecstasydata.org. I like this website becasue each pill pictured gives you the lab test result. MDMA is Ecstasy; however if you page through you will see that everything teens think is Ecstasy is not. Methamphetamines and other substances are also found.

Or if you want to link to pictures of street drugs and other paraphernaila try The National Institute on Chemical Dependency

Type rest of the post here

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Candyland Post #2
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, November 22, 2009

In my first research on this term (see below) it appears that I missed a common reference to Candyland meaning trips with Salvia Divinorum. Like all drug terms the meanings often vary between users and localities. Clearly, a trip to Candyland refers to a drug experience of some sort but without more information it may be difficult to say exactly what drug is being used.

Here is a quote from a drug user reporting on his experience on Salvia Divinorum: "I started to feel the usual effects that come with (smoked) salvia; a swirling that I best describe as someone grabbing my brain and spinning it in my head, an alternate gravity pulling me (like being in a tilt-o-whirl and sticking your head out in the center), and a distance from myself, not physically, but mentally. I looked around and my eyes got caught on it, the door. I was in a winding hallway with candycanes, gumdrops, and all sorts of sweets. The last thought that 'I' had was, 'Whoa, candyland!' I was being guided gently and slowly through the aforementioned hallway, passing little pink creatures doing various things, such as building a moose (yes, I know, weird) and flying around sprinkling powder on things. All of a sudden I was at a door guarded by two men who were, seemingly, made of candycanes."

Part of the attractiveness of this drug for teenagers on Probation is that it is difficult to urine-screen for it.

I am going to link to several posts where drug users are referring to Salvia Divinorum's experience as a "trip to candyland" apparently because the experience itself entails halucinations that make one think of a trip to candyland.
Journey To Candyland by Dion.

Baby Zig in Candyland

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Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Saturday, November 21, 2009

Candyland: "Many users suck on lollipops (or pacifiers) to block the teethgrinding that E can cause." E being Ecstasy- the drug teens do at raves. If you follow that link look to the bottom-middle of the second page of the pamphlet. Apparently, there is also a movie being considered or in production using that name. It features teens on drugs. Turn your volume up and click the link to the movie trailer on the right.

Here is another good link to the movie described as "Crystal Meth and the trip a group of teens takes when they discover the drug (sometimes it doesn't end up so well.)

There is also a song called Candyland. It sounds more like it's about sex than drugs until you realize that it's posted on a "Rave Radio" website:

Author: Aqua

Title: Lollipop (Candyman)

Posted On: 2002-08-28 00:00:00

Posted By: » El_Leader_Maximo

I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland
I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland

I Wish That You Were My Lollipop
Sweet Things I Will Never Get Enough
If You Show Me To The Sugar Tree
Will You Give Me A Sodapop For Free

Come With Me Honey
I'm Your Sweet Sugar Candyman
Run Like The Wind Fly With Me To Bountyland
Bite Me I'm Yours If You're Hungry Please Understand
This Is The End Of The Sweet Sugar Candyman

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top
You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top

I Wish That I Were A Bubble Yum
Chewing On Me Baby All Day Long
I Will Be Begging For Sweet Delight
Until You Say I'm Yours Tonight

Come With Me Honey
I'm Your Sweet Sugar Candyman
Run Like The Wind Fly With Me To Bountyland
Bite Me I'm Yours If You're Hungry Please Understand
This Is The End Of The Sweet Sugar Candyman

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland
I Am The Candyman Coming From Bountyland

Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Your Word Is My Command
Oh My Love I Know You Are My Candyman
And Oh My Love Let Us Fly To Bountyland

You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top
You Are My Lollipop Sugar Sugar Top

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Sally, Rocco, & Cisco: the story continues...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, November 19, 2009

I can still hear the deep, male voice of the stranger on the phone and his words echo in my mind. "We have your son, he is at Auberle, your son is safe. If you have any questions please call this number...."

That was a month ago and we have had some positive changes in Cisco's behavior since then but it took three stays at Shuman (one of which was combined with that stay at Auberle) before we saw a turn around.

Cisco was taken to Shuman the first time because he had a dirty urine screening while attending Gateway Rehab. He was 130 days clean and relapsed on marajauna. The courts allowed him to come home to us but he was now on home detention.
Cisco was placed at Shuman the second time because he left our home in the wee hours of the night even though he was on home detention. My husband and I believe it is necessary to show Cisco that there are consequences for violating rules so we drove him to Shuman immediately. Never the less, I really wanted him back home so I wrote down 11 ways that Cisco was positively working his recovery program. The hearing officer ruled that Cisco could return home as soon as he was set up with an electronic monitoring device. Rocco was too involved with a big project at work and could not attend this hearing. I didn't mind going alone since I was driven by this notion that Cisco should continue making progress at home where he belongs . But now I was hoping I was right and I was sweating it out.

It took us about a week to get the phone line set up for the home detention monitor. There was no guarantee that it would keep Cisco from going out at night but we still thought it was the best solution. Rocco and I picked Cisco up on a Sunday. Cisco was happy to be out in the cold fresh air and talked about his stay and about returning to school and his recovery program. He had been doing well in school but now had some catching up to do. We were beginning to see a positive change in attitude but there was yet another episode in store.

It was only a couple of days before Cisco chose to violate our rule and visit a friend after school. He understood that he was supposed to come directly home from school but he did not expect his dad and I would be home early that day. He got angry when we questioned his whereabouts. This short visit to his friend probably would have been dismissed by us if he had been honest about where he was. But we quickly realized after making a few phone calls that he had lied. Now we were wondering where he really had been. Cisco was sitting at the computer listening to his loud music when Rocco calmly asked him questions to get to the bottom of this. Cisco told him to go away and turned up the volume trying to end the discussion. Rocco pulled the plug out of the computer and began to take it away. Cisco got up and pushed him up against the wall. Rocco asked me to call the 9-1-1 and I did. Cisco was still angry when the police arrived but calmed himself down. After we consulted with his P.O. he found himself once again going back to Shuman without much resistance, this time in the back of a police car. This was his third violation in less than a month and this time we thought that there was no doubt that Cisco would be put in placement.

We spent that evening preparing ourselves for this. But to our surprised Cisco's P.O. called the day before his hearing and asked us if we wanted Cisco to be put in placement or to come home. Since the altercation was against him I felt that Rocco should ‘call the shots' and I told him I would back up his choice 100%.
It really did not take Rocco long to decide that it would be best to try to convince the court that Cisco should be home. Cisco had for the most part been positively working his recovery program and following his consent agreement. This time we added three stipulations that Cisco must make in order to come back home.

1) He would continue to follow all the rules of his original contract.

2) The computer and all his music on it would be removed from the house.

3) Cisco is on a Consent Decree and we asked that he would admit on record to a misdemeanor from this spring (This was not part of his original consent agreement). This needed to be done for two reasons. A) Cisco needed to publicly admit that he did something wrong. B) If it is ever necessary to go back to court and have Cisco placed there is no need to prove anything thru a hearing because the courts have his admission on record.

Once again we got our wish and the morning of Cisco’s hearing we met with both the public defender and Cisco’s P.O. The Public Defender insisted that Cisco should not admit to anything even to the point of going into placement. The P.O. told us to stick with our conviction that without an admission that Cisco could not come home. This chess match continued until the time that we were being seated in the hearing room. The Public Defender finally gave in and asked us what Cisco would need to admit to. After getting Cisco’s concurrence and some discussions with the Hearing Officer, followed by a stern lecture and a warning that his next violation would be sent directly to court, Cisco was allowed to come home with us. Straight from court this time!

In the past, Cisco felt that we were just waiting for, even setting him up to fail and that we really did not want him to live with us. But Rocco and I both had our chance in court to advocate for Cisco and to let him know that we want him home as long as he follows some basic rules.

Along with all the recovery things Cisco has been doing in the past; Cisco is also being polite and less self centered. He is acting more responsible at home and in school. He is participating in many more family activities and now it is obvious that he CARES about himself and those who he loves.

When a family member changes it sets the whole family in motion and now both Rocco and I need to change our ways. We must still stand very firm and define clear boundaries for him but we need to start trusting him a little bit more each day. Our family has evolved into something finer.

Editor Note: You can read all of Sally's posts to date:

#1: Message from PSST parent: 8-30-09

#2: Thanks for empowering us. 9-12-09

#3: Sally finds the right tools to get the job done: 9-15-09

#4: Update from Sally: 9-26-09

#5: Relapse Takes Mom for a Ride on an Emotional Roller Coaster 10-17-09.

#6: Sally, Rocco, & Cisco: To Be Continued. 10-26-09

Also Rocco posted this Learning to Unlearn 10-22-09

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Some scenarios from our Wexford PSST and...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, November 16, 2009

...let's look for the agreeing statements in each scenario. Some of this is the way it happened at PSST and some of it is just inspired by what we did.

Scenario 1
Son: Mom, it's your fault if I break up with my girlfriend cause you are always talking to her- keep your nose out of my business.
Mom: Yes, you're right- I do talk talk to your girlfriend a lot and I guess she and I have a close relationship.
Son: Well I don't like that. It's your fault if we break up!
Mom: You never know what we're talking about do you?
Son: It's not your place to talk to my girlfriend at all.
Mom: Well it is unusual that a mom and her son's boyfriend talk like we do.
Son: Yes, very.
Mom: You know, I wouldn't be surprised if she and I stay friends even after you and her break up!

Scenario 2
Son: You put me in here. Its' your fault I'm going away cause you told my PO and he is the worst PO- he's much worse than all my friend's POs.
Mom: Yes, that phone call I made to Lloyd was very important for me wasn't it?
Son: Yeah, important if you just wanted to send me away.
Mom: And you're right too; I wanted to see you get more treatment.
Son: See that is so wrong. No other parents would have done that. I don't even have a problem. I was just using a little bit. You just wanted me to get sent away.
Mom: Yes, I wanted you to get more treatment.
Son: This place isn't doing anything for me.
Mom: No, I guess you haven't got much out of this place yet.
Son: I'm not going to get anything out of it; you just wasted my time and everyone's time up here! I'm 18 now! You have to realize that I'm a man now.
Mom: Yes, you are getting older fast.
Son: I don't even believe how you did me in. Even Dad says you screwed me. Why didn't you just let me go live with him?
Mom: You're right. Your Dad would've handled things differently.
Son: Any parent would have given me a break- except you! You're a bitch.
Mom: I guess I can be a bitch, huh?
Son: yeah and you got me sent away.
Mom: Well just so you know- I would do it all over again just to keep you safe.
Son: I was only doing it a little.
Mom: Nevertheless, I would do it all over again just to keep you safe.
Son: You're crazy and you and my PO are the only reasons I'm here. You didn't even give me a chance- I was only home for two weeks.
Mom: Regardless, I would do it again- and again - and again.
Son: You're just trying to make me mad now.
Mom: It's easy for you to blame everyone else.
Son: Cause it's your fault.
Mom: Nevertheless, as long as you persist in blaming others, it's better if you are in treatment where it's safe.
Son: It's not my fault.
Mom: Nevertheless, I'm just glad that you are here.
Son: Why, this place isn't doing anything for me
Mom: You might be able to learn how not to blame other people.
Son: NO! I'm not learning that either.
Mom: You're so right. You haven't learned that yet.

Scenario 3:
Son: Mom, if you would just quit nagging at me I think I could be OK, but nooooo, you just can't shut up can you?
Mom: You are so tired of hearing me say the same things over and over and over.
Son: Yeah, I really am. Could you just shut up? please?
Mom: How about if you write down the things that you already know that you don't want me to nag you about- then I'd know you know that stuff already.
Son: No! I'm done with the lists. I'm not writing anything for else for you.
Mom: Why should you write a list when you already know that stuff and you don't feel like writing it down. For example, what's one thing that I should stop nagging you about because you already know it?
Son: What?
Mom: Just give me one example of something I keep naggin you about that that you already know, so I can stop nagging.
Son: About my friends.
Mom: OK, so I'm nagging about old people, places, and things and you already know about that so I can shut up already?
Son: Yes! I already know who I can hang out with and who not too. Some of my old friends are OK now. They cut way back or even quit using drugs and I can still hang with them. They're coming over today cause I wrote them that I was going to have this one-day home pass and don't start nagging me about it; I don't want to hear it.
Mom: OK, well that's important. I do nag a little.
Son: Yes, that's what I'm saying - I can't believe you finally hear me.
Mom: It is surprising that I'm hearing how you feel about the nagging. I agree.
Son: Yes, so just stop.
Mom: I'm glad that you are so open about this. And you did a good job standing up to me right now.
Son: I did?
Mom: Yep. You see this home pass is all about trying to see if you've changed and your counselor and I need to know if you've changed or not. It's great that you're so up front with us about this. I give you a lot of credit- you don't go behind my back- you stand right up to me and tell me where you stand.
Son: Yeah, I'm a man about it.
Mom: You are a man about it. You stand up for what you believe. I've always liked that about you. You don't even care that the consequences for violating the old people, places and things rule might mean that you don't get to come home again for a while- you still are going to stand up for what you believe in.
Son: What the {blankedy blank} are you talking about?
Mom: Well, your counselor agreed with me, that if you can't follow these home pass rules, you won't need to come again very soon- probably not for the holidays- but we'll see.
Son: What that's {blankedy blank}! I been gone way to long already! Just chill. He won't even ask about that stuff.
Mom: You'd like me to keep that as our secret, huh?
Son: You wouldn't screw up my next pass Mom! You want me home for Xmas as bad as I want to come home.
Mom: You're so right! I want you home for Xmas maybe even more than you want to come home!
Son: Exactly!
Mom: And it's going to be hard for me to report to your counselor that you refuse to follow the old people places and things rule- you're right about that too.
Son: Ha ha nice try. You ain't saying nuttin- you're not like that!
Mom: It's hard to believe that I can change. Sometimes I surprise myself. Nevertheless, I'm not keeping your secrets anymore! But the good news is- you're right about me nagging too much! It doesn't help! I'm going to try to quit or at least cut down on the nagging. You know the rules and I think you know the consequences, so it's on you Son, not me. If you got any questions, let me know. I told your counselor I'd call and check in at 5:00 O'clock so I got a few hours before my check-in, so let me know what you decide.
Son: Mom! You don't check in- I make the check-in calls!
Mom: Usually only the teenager checks in but I suggested to your counselor that I check in too and he thought that was a good idea.
[mom walks away]

The meeting:
This was a really good meeting. Thanks to all the folks who showed up to support PSST. About Eleven parents showed up and everyone had great things to contribute. One Mom brought her daughter who does not have a drug problem. She did a fantastic role-play, where she played her brother! Very challenging for me to handle her because she was so powerful. And at the end of group, in her final statement she cautioned our PSST parents not to neglect the brothers and sisters of the addict who don't have a drug problem. Here, here! That was so well-said and hopefully, we will see a post from her soon!

We also had some veteran parents come back to tell us how things are going! We love seeing parents helping parents.

Out Holiday meeting will be the first week of December at Eastern. The doors will open at 8:00 AM and please bring a dish if you like. I'll be putting a post up about it soon and not only is it our holiday meeting but it is our Six-Year Anniversary!

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Parents should know what teens know about sneaking out.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, October 27, 2009

wikiHow coaches teenagers on how to sneak out of the house. If parents knew what teenagers know and what they think before they actually sneak out of the house, parents would be in a better position to guard against this dangerous behavior. Especially, notice the part entitled, "TRICKS PARENTS USE TO CATCH KIDS." If you're not already aware of these tricks, add them to your arsenal.

Type rest of the post here

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Sally, Rocco, and Cisco: To Be Continued.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, October 26, 2009

Cisco walked in the door at 6:15AM. He thought he would make it back before we woke up. He was wrong. We told him this was a violation of his house arrest and that we were taking him up to Shuman Center. He went willingly.

Fortunately, Cisco has an excellent P.O. who had all the paper work in order and Cisco was admitted within fifteen minutes. We attended our PSST meeting that afternoon. I don't remember everything about the meeting because Cisco's welfare was on my mind but one thing that stands out clear is that a parent who attended the PSST meeting talked about the death of a child, due to drugs.

I take this moment to pause and be thankful that Cisco is in the system. That he has not fatally hurt anyone including himself and that we did the right thing by taking him to Shuman.

Our son spent 90 days at a rehabilation center this summer and was home and clean for an additional 40 days, he was attending a program at Gateway Rehab, he was doing ninety 12-step meetings in 90 days, his grades were good. He has a supportive network. I wrote down these and other reasons and asked his P.O. to consider letting him come back home. It was a positive experience to explain to Cisco that we wanted him home, there would be rules and restrictions that needed to be followed but we wanted him home.

Cisco had a hearing on Tuesday.

Luckily, the judge agreed to let Cisco come home after a home detention monitor was set up.

It's curious but this is when I went onto an emotional roller coaster. I truly wanted Cisco home but began to doubt if it was the best decision. After all, what do I know about addictions? I was wondering if Cisco would make it even a day on the home monitor. He might be impulsive and run away or something. I doubted if Cisco had enough respect for Rocco and myself to follow the rules.

After the hearing, the reasons why he should be placed all came flooding into my consciousness. He may hurt someone or hurt himself. I would be the one to blame because I went to court and expressed that he should be home.

Fear and doubt led to sleepless nights and sleepless nights lead to confusion.

To make matters worse there was technical difficulty in getting the phone line into our house for the home detention monitor.

Then I came home from work one day to a message that Cisco was shipped out to Auberle and that he was safe. That was the whole message: "Hello, This is So-and-so, we have your son at Auberle Male Shelter and he is safe. If you have any questions please call 412-XXX-XXXX.

- to be continued -

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Learning To "Un-learn" by Rocco
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, October 22, 2009

Try this little exercise. First fold your hands loosely. Relax. Notice how comfortable you feel. Next move all of your fingers down one. Notice how uncomfortable it feels.

I once participated in a week long very intensive and comprehensive driving class so that I could transport company personnel. One of our first lessons was to learn to “un-learn” some of our driving skills. Some of this took us out of our comfort zone, especially when they explained Rule #1:

“If you determine that there is no way to avoid crashing your vehicle then save yourself first and worry about your passengers later.”

We all felt a little uncomfortable with that. We all had that time-honored ideal instilled in us of sacrificing ourselves to keep others out of harm’s way.

But they made it clear that, as the driver, you are the most important person in that vehicle. You are responsible for keeping as much control of the vehicle as possible. If you are incapacitated, then you have lost the ability to control the vehicle and then all of your passengers are in extreme danger.

Looking back over the past few years we can see now that we needed to learn to “un-learn” some of our parenting skills and to try something a lot less comfortable.

Our son’s attitude and grades were deteriorating and he was having more and more difficulty dealing with teachers and other students. We knew that we were good parents and were ready to use all of our best parenting skills to help our son through his issues. To address his problems we researched pamphlets, books and the internet. We worked closely with him, his school, private tutors and several counselors to get a handle on his problems.

We didn’t realize that our biggest roadblock was that he was quickly becoming an addict and that, as an addict, our son considered his school, his tutors, his counselors and especially his parents as his biggest problem. The last thing that he wanted to hear was that the individuals that he was hanging with were using him as much as he was using them. Using them to get high and to gain affirmation that there was nothing wrong with their behavior. They reaffirmed that it was everyone else that caused all of his problems. It was the school and all their bullsh*t rules, it was the other kids that he felt were just as bad if not worse than he was (but got away with it) and it was especially his parents forcing all of their family time garbage, church crap and their useless counselors on him. He didn’t “get it” that his attitude and his failing grades were making his difficulties worse. He didn’t “get it” that “guilt by association” and more and more encounters with the police were making everything worse for him outside of school.

And I am sorry to say that at that time we didn’t “get it” either.

Our family was out of control and we were sacrificing ourselves; our family, our emotions, our social life, our jobs and our own physical and mental health. We can’t say exactly when it happened because it is all kind of a blur now but we knew we were out of control and we were about to crash. We were out of options emotionally and financially. We needed some intensive and comprehensive lessons on how to learn to “un-learn” some of our parenting skills and to become competent at something a lot less comfortable…

… “to save ourselves first”.

We needed to take back control of our family and our own lives before we could save our son’s life.

We were very fortunate at that point to find and to begin attending the PSST sessions. They have provided us with some very uncomfortable but valuable lessons on how to handle our son’s addiction and to take back the power and how to talk less and act more. These are by no means the easiest methods to employ. It felt awkward, painful and unpleasant to admit that yes my child has an addiction problem, they were out of control and we needed to take assertive action. Nevertheless the more that we learn and the more we put into these lessons into practice the easier it becomes. You will see that once you get your child into the system you will discover a storehouse full of valuable resources to help you that you didn’t realize were available.

Over the last year we have seen encouraging results. We are not through with our problems yet but we have regained much of our control and are on a better course. We now realize that we are not alone in this. We have found a lot of caring people who understand exactly what we are going through and who offer a lot of support and encouragement.

We can only urge you to take the time to stop into a session and to try something a little uncomfortable that can make some real changes in your life.

What we have learned is that, yes we are good parents and that we are doing the best that we can for ourselves and our son.

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Posted by:Ken Sutton--Sunday, October 18, 2009

Posted for a parent named Linda

As a parent of an ADHD child, I have always been a bit confused by the diagnostic label since my son could focus on quite a few different activities from reading to sports to computer games for long periods of times. Attending to boring (for him) math was a different issue altogether. But was that an attention problem or an interest problem? From my perspective, what I always felt my son lacked was self regulation and impulse control.

A social worker sent me this website for LD OnLine a resource for learning disabilities and for ADHD information. The page this link takes you to is written by Dr. Sam Goldstein who explains that ADHD is more a problem of self-control than attention. FINALLY, an explanation that makes sense and matches perfectly what we have observed in our home all these years!


The LD OnLine website has lots of articles on it as well as forums for readers to discuss common issues.

One article I found on the website was a review of the research on kids with learning disabilities that looks at their high rates of involvement in risk behaviors, school failure, substance use and abuse, and juvenile delinquency. The article casts a critical eye at the research findings and asks good questions about whether the learning disability (ADHD and many other diagnoses seem to be lumped together in the category of learning disability) caused the other problems or if something like the lack of success in school triggered low self esteem that triggered the other problems. The article points out that of course most kids with LD do not end up as juvenile offenders, but if you are reading my post here and have a kid with ADHD or a LD, it might be safe to say that our kids could have qualified to be in these studies. Anyway, the writers of the article found that the most promising resiliency forces for the kids included awareness and knowledge. The more we know, the better we and our kids can help ourselves.


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