Quote of the Week

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

Free Professional Training Conference
Posted by:Sally--Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reducing Risk: Understanding the Adolescent Brain
Wondering why teens and adults don't see eye to eye?
This free conference may help.

Searching for better strategies to protect adolescents?
Looking for effective ways to prevent alcohol, tobacco & other drug use?
Register now for a one day conference for school professionals including: counselors, SAP coordinators, administrators, health teachers, curriculum specialists; and for tobacco prevention and cessation specialists; community providers; student assistance program professionals; health professionals and other adolescent gatekeepers. This training will be conducted by the Director and staff of Addiction Medicine Services, Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic, UPMC, including two Commonwealth of PA approved Student Assistance Program CAT (CAT) Trainers. CEU Credits are available to participants: Act 48 – 5 credits, CAC / CPS, NBCC, LSW/LCSW/LPC/LMFT.
Training conferences will be held in four locations : April 7 (State College), April 14 (Stroudsburg), April 20 ( Westmoreland Co. Community College ), and April 23 (Clarion).

For additional details or to register, go to: www.tobaccofreeallegheny.org

The Pennsylvania Department of Health Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control, the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and the Department of Education, Division of Student and Safe School Services are jointly sponsoring this training, which is endorsed and supported by the Student Assistance Program (SAP) Interagency Committee.
Participants will receive a copy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) curriculum series: The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology through the Study of Addiction and related evidenced based materials, as well as a copy of Pennsylvania ’s 100% Tobacco Free Schools Toolkit. Included with the NIH curriculum is a CD Rom containing lesson plans and other materials for use in the class room.
Conference Faculty:
· Cele Fichter DeSando, MPM is the director for prevention at Addiction Medicine Services, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC), UPMC as an author, and national conference presenter with more than 25 years in the field, Ms Fichter-DeSando is an oft- requested trainer on addiction-related topics.

· Marge Modro, MS, CPS is a Commonwealth of PA approved Student Assistance Program trainer for Addiction Medicine Services, WPIC, UPMC. Ms Modro is certified as a Pennsylvania prevention specialist and holds national certification as a crisis management trainer and receives high praise for her evidenced-based trainings.

· Susan Tarasevich, Ed.D is a nationally recognized leader in the design, implementation and evaluation of Student Assistance Programs and is a Commonwealth of PA approved Student Assistance Program trainer for Addiction Medicine Services, WPIC, UPMC. Dr. Tarasevich is sought after for her expertise in the strategic application of research-based principles.

Phyllis Zitzer
Public Health Program Administrator
Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control
Bureau of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction
Pennsylvania Department of Health
625 Forster Street Room 1032 Health & Welfare Building
Harrisburg , PA 17120-0701
Phone: 717-783-6600 Fax: 717-214-6690
Email: pzitzer@state.pa.us

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A Mom's Insight into Missing What Didn't Happen
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, March 15, 2010

During a recent visit with our son at Gateway YES he expressed his unhappiness that his addiction had cheated him out of his teenage years. We strongly agreed with him. We as a family had lost what should have been some of our best memories.

A few years ago PSST parent (who we know as Lori) was compassionate enough to post the story of her teen's drug addiction. She wrote about the consequences of his addiction, not just his consequences, but the whole family's.

Losing a Teenager and Gaining an Adult - Part 1 of 6 - by Lori

“I describe the events leading to my realization that I had lost my teenager to drugs and the steps I took to cope with that realization, get my son help, and rebuild my family with our new adult son in drug recovery. I am offering my story to help raise the awareness of the teen drug problem, to help destroy the stereotype of the drug addiction as being an inner city issue, and to share some of the lessons I have learned with the hope that they may benefit you and your family...

...I still need my son to be 9 years old, because I am still waiting for all those teenage things that have yet to happen. I am still waiting for a relationship with my teenage son. Helping him with high school projects, driving him to school because he missed the bus, talking about his friends, a girlfriend, seeing him at school events, helping him pick a suit for the prom, having those special moments with him when everyone else has gone to bed, hanging his senior pictures by his sister’s, talking to him about who to invite to his graduation party and watching him grow into a man. I picture myself spending time with him talking about life, talking about what he wants from life, spending weekends with him visiting universities, and watching him begin to realize his dreams. I am still waiting for those moments. And I continue to search my memory for these events, but they never happened. How can he be 21 years old?"

To start Lori's story, use the link below or click on the titile of this post above:

Losing a Teenager and Gaining an Adult - Part 1 of 6 - by Lori

Each week I will post the next entry or you can link to them through the PSST blog.

Thank you Lori - This is a big help to us. We are just now going through this realization ourselves.


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A Summary of the PSST - March 13th Meeting
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, March 14, 2010

A lot was accomplished at the PSST meeting at Trinity Lutheran Church in Wexford this past Saturday. We had eleven parents show up; three of which were new to the meetings. As they told their stories about their teenagers the regular attendees understood well. We also had congratulations for one parent who we haven't seen in a long time. She came to tell us the good news about her son. He graduated from college and has been in recovery for a few years now. Val, Lloyd and Kathie enlightened us with their practical knowledge and helped us through some rough dicisions with their genuine concern.

The role plays really sharpened our ability to deal with our teenagers. They were played out well by several parents. We went over the following techniques: NeverTheLess/Regardless, I'm NOT Comfortable with That, Ask Me Again Ask Me Again. We learned to agree with something the teenager is saying and then twist the conversation around to what they need to hear. One mother in her role-play used the very effective "I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe." routine. We learned also how important our body language is when speaking with our teens.

Rocco and I attended the PSST meeting and then we moved on to Gateway YES to pick up Cisco for his first three hour pass. Lloyd commented on Rocco and my dedication in attending his PSST meeting on the same day that Cisco had a pass. Heck, Rocco and I were there to be empowered. Once again, we were! We used most of the techniques listed above in our three hour visit with Cisco. The visit went well. I will have to get you caught up on Ciscos's story when I get a chance. All is well, hope to see you at the next meeting.

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Sally wrote great summary of our March 13th (see above) and I would like to add a couple thoughts.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, March 14, 2010

One of our roleplays featured a parent saying something to the effect of: "Yes, I did report you to your PO and I'll bust your a$$ again to keep you safe from drugs." This was very powerful. This is a talking point that PSST encourages parents to use. See some of our other talking points by clicking on the Talking Points brochure (Ken) on the right side of this post. You can access it in both Word and PDF formats.

1. I will do anything I can to keep you safe.

2. I will not keep secrets for you.

3. I will call the police, your PO, the school, neighbors, your friends parents, or anyone else I think can help me keep you safe from drugs.

These are a few of the messages that are on the Talking Points brochure. Another parent in group mentioned something like, "If you walk out that door I'm going to be on the phone with every parent of each of your friends and I'm going to tell them that you don't listen to me, that you continue to do illicit drugs, and that they should really take a good look at what their teens are up to." This was not a roleplay, but this is what she actually told her teenager who was trying walk out the door. He didn't go.

Also, Lori was at our meeting. This is her pen name and if you would like to read some of her writings on our blog, Rocco just reprinted the first of a six part series that Lori wrote a while back. Also, you can put "Lori" in our search window in the upper left hand corner. One of the things she said at our meeting in response to a parent who was asking "Why did my teen say ______?" Paraphrasing her response: "Your teenager just wants to manipulate you. You take what he said seriously and respond in a thoughtful manner. Meanwhile, as you are talking to your teen, all he hears is "Blah, blah, blah" and what he's thinking is "How can I get 20 bucks off this bi!@#." It was a funny moment.

At one point Lori was telling a new parent that she needs to be more concerned about her teens drug problem than she is about the possibility that he might have a juvenile record. Of course, at PSST we agree with that; and yet, we appreciate that parents are concerned about the possibility of a juvenile record.

Val pointed out that Consent Decrees carry no Juvenile Record and that teens with Misdemeanors can have their records expunged just by going downtown to the Family Court House and signing a piece of paper. I think this is a good subject for a separate post. At the least we should add that to the Should I get My Teen a PO post.

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When the going gets weird, The weird....get green food coloring
Posted by:Sally--Monday, March 08, 2010

Contributed by an anonymous single mom

When I first realized that drug testing was going to be yet another part of my single-mom job description, I really wanted a do over, because well—yuck.

I’m still waiting for my “17 again” reprieve, but I did figure out a way to use the past even if I never get to revisit it. Here’s what happened:

In the beginning, I thought that the whole "single mom of a teenage son" situation meant that this new opportunity for life experience would be too weird to handle properly. Then I remembered the good old days when my biggest problem seemed to be my plumbing. What I learned from that mess was about to serve me in fresh ways, back then my plumber had me use green dye tablets to see if the water from my toilet tank was migrating to the bowl. You can imagine my joy when I realized that I could use food coloring, leftover from cookies and craft projects, in much more inventive ways. And you know what they say; it really is good to create new memories with your child.

So, here’s the process: I turn off the water to the house first. It’s an old house, and I’m the only one who knows where the valve is. I do this for two reasons. First, I eliminate the flushing and refilling problem. Second, I do not want to get him mad when he inevitably isn’t as interested in this version of family time as I am, but I do know that he’ll want to get a shower eventually. So I tell him, “I can turn on the water as soon as you fill the cup,” as if I won’t have the ability to find or move the water valve until the cup gives the missing skills back to me. Perfect.

I flush the toilets after turning off the valve to remove as much water in the tank and bowl as possible. That’s probably just overkill. Like the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day, one flush by your offspring probably isn’t going to get rid of all that green. But I digress. Just like any plumber would tell you, coloring toilet water only requires a few drops in the tank and bowl of every toilet, which makes me grateful for my more modest circumstances and limited number of bathrooms.

So, I hope that if the going gets weird for you, you can use this handy tip to make family memories you’ll never forget either. Note, if you get bored, change colors. Just think of what you could do on President’s Day even in a 1 1/2 bath home. Or maybe there’s a scrapbooking opportunity here. I haven’t thought it through.

Comment From The Editor:

Thank you for the very interesting idea for the single moms in our group when they need to give their teenage son a urine drug test. A.) Locate the main water valve and turn it off. B.) Place 3-4 drops of food coloring in each toilet bowl and toilet tank. C.) flush the toilet(s) in your house to empty the tank D.) Be prepared for an unhappy teenager who will cooperate only because you promise him the use of the shower. E) If you get a positive reading on the test; seek the help which your son needs. Sally

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Another Single Mom's Story
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, March 07, 2010

Emily has earned many off-campus visits with me, has had 2 successful day passes at home, and may have an overnight visit this weekend or next. She is up to level C now and doing fairly well in RTF. She still involves herself in others' business and is still overly concerned with the "fairness" of how she is treated compared to the other residents and often gets in trouble for voicing her feelings or acting out inappropriately in response.

She has been put on Lithium by the psychiatrist at the RTF, which I initially was originally very apprehensive about. I mean, that was a drug they used in Mental Hospitals! How could they put her on that? But, I have noticed a remarkable change in her since being on it, so who am I to interfere? I also hate the idea of "substituting" one drug for another which is how I view it, personally. However, I am not a doctor nor a Behavioral Health professional, nor an addiction professional, so I am letting them take charge here, and stepping out of their way, which can be difficult for me to do as a single mom who always calls the shots.

Emily is in school at the RTF and continues to struggle. But she is putting forth the effort towards her classes. She is still overly social with the boys and gets up and leaves class whenever she gets bored or overwhelmed, to pass notes to the boys or just to walk around the halls. They are working on ways to combat that. One way is to have her earn free-time on the school's computer where she can do her photography and other things except go on-line. Another thing we all agreed on was that if her behavior for the week was really bad, then I would cut my visit short that weekend. We did that 2 weeks ago and I only stayed for a couple hours. That seemed to hit home.

Emily has her Consent Decree hearing on May 3rd. That is when it expires. They are only good for a year. On May 11th, Emily will have been gone for a whole year. It is hard for me to comprehend that. A year! I still miss her. I do. And it has taken a long time, but the pain of not being with her has been replaced with a sense of relief that she is NOT home doing drugs, having boys over the house while I am at work, trashing the house, or breaking the law. I really didn't expect to feel this way. The first few months, I cried myself to sleep every night and wrote to her a couple times a week. There was such a hole in my heart. I was lonely for my daughter. I missed her smell, her pretty face, her singing in her room, us snuggling together, or watching movies on Friday nights. But I came to realize that those were the few good times we had, and the bad times were more prevalent. When your child is away, you tend to glorify the good times because you miss them, while forgetting the bad times. I have found it necessary to remind myself of the bad times, to keep myself in check, as well as to keep HER in check.

She still tries to play the victim. I do not accept that at ALL anymore. I did at the beginning because Emily was a victim of sexual abuse as a small child. But, I cannot keep doing that because it doesn't help her. It gives her an excuse to not succeed. I can't let her do that anymore. She will never make any real progress if she keeps believing she is a victim. Until she stops playing the victim and takes her recovery into her own hands, and allows the professionals to show her how, she won't get better or heal.

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A Quick Summary of March 6th, 2010 Eastern Division, PSST Meeting
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, March 07, 2010

How nice it was....We had a great turnout of parents and professionals in attendance. There was a whopping turnout of seventeen (17) parents. Some were familiar and others were brand new.

Val and Lloyd and Cathy were there as usual but we were also fortunate enough to have two professionals from C.I.S.P. in attendance. They were Marvin Randall and Ron Bell. Marvin heads up the Community Intensive Supervision Program which services the Wilkinsburg, McKeesport, Garfield, Homewood and the Hill District. It was good to see some new faces for even though all our stories are similar they are not the same and new wisdom is always conveyed.

I was introduced to a single mom who has some insight into "How to Drug Test Your Son" (It can prove embarassing to give a urine test to an adult son and she had a simple way to make sure the test speciman was his!) Look for her post which may be coming soon! Because of the full room we had time for only one role-play but we role-played it two ways. (One) With the teenager being in control and using the GIMME THREE STEP METHOD, NEVER THE LESS/REGARDLESS & I AM NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THAT methods (two) With the teenager being out of control and using the WE ARE GOING TO BE NICE ENOUGH TO LET YOU KNOW THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAND YOU OVER TO THE JUVENIAL COURT SYSTEM method. We had a newbee play the out of control teenager and he "brought down the house"! Bravo to him. In summation, my fellow-mom who sat next to me stated that "Our kids may always be manipulative" and yes, they probably will, therefore we must always and persistantly continue to keep the power in our homes. Thank you PSST for showing us the way to keep the power.

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You Gotta Break a Few Eggs...
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Sometimes You Gotta Break a Few Eggs to Make an Omelet!

For new visitors let me explain that one year ago Sally and I were about to crack. We had an addict for a teenage son (we call Cisco). We had tried various forms of counseling, out-patient therapy and 12-Step Meetings for three years and it was not working. In fact Cisco was slipping deeper into the world of drugs and becoming more and more out of control. We were not only considering Act 53 (involuntary commitment of minors into drug and alcohol treatment) for him but we were seriously beginning to ask about how we could make Cisco a Ward of the State. We didn’t think we would ever get our lives or our home back in order and we were not sure how much longer Cisco would survive. He had already overdosed twice by age 16.

In our search we found PSST and have been regularly attending PSST meetings for ten months. They have guided us to professional resources for assistance for our son and for ourselves. We have also connected with a lot of other parents having very similar experiences with their teenagers. There are other very good Help Groups in the area (you can find links to some of them on the right side of the page) but we have found this group to be the one that suits us best.

Please consider attending a PSST Saturday morning meeting if for no other reason other than to VENT your feelings with others that understand what you are going through. You will be reassured, as we were, to see a number of parents nodding in agreement as you tell your story. Within a month or so of attending the PSST meetings we found an amazing thing – Sally and I regained our ability to laugh again. This was a big turning point that we weren’t sure we would ever reach. We, as well as our son, still have a way to go to on the road to healing (with some speed bumps, some usual and possibly unusual detours and plenty of potholes ahead) but we now have our GPS set for Recovery.

On the left side of this page you will find directions to the PSST Saturday morning meetings. On the right side of this page you will notice some links titled “Recommended Posts” and “Key Role-Plays”. A lot of these are based on discussions in the PSST meetings and address subjects and topics common to parents of addicts. They go back to 2001 and contain a lot of experience and wisdom.

One that I have keyed in on several times is “Breaking a Few Eggs” from March, 2007.

The post goes into how we as parents of addicts tend to “walk on eggshells” to keep peace and order in our lives. Our tiptoeing at least provides us “the perception” of peace and order in our lives. Just for the record, let me clarify that I was the one that thought that this was the better approach. Sally learned early on to be a little more direct and frank with Cisco and tended to “stomp on eggshells” to make sure she got her point across to him.

Cisco, like most addicts, needed to be the one in control. He would "play nice" with us as long as it got him what he wanted. But whenever challenged he would get loud, agressive and agitated. This had the effect that he wanted. We sympathized, reassured, apologized, commiserated, comforted and encouraged him just as all good parents do.

To put it into one simple phrase – We Enabled him.

To paraphrase the previous post: …all of our apologies, statements of love, and determination to “understand” were seen as a sign of weakness by our teenager. He played along of course. He understood this game well. The name of the game is “How Many Ways Can I Make This MOM and Dad’s FAULT?

In the last 10 months Cisco has been arrested, voluntarily entered inpatient treatment, violated probation, visited Shuman Center and juvenile court a few times, been on house arrest for a month, successfully completed an Intensive Outpatient Program, attended a lot of 12 Step Meetings, relapsed, gone into a second inpatient treatment facility and has matured quite a bit. He is scheduled to take his G.E.D. this month and is beginning to think about his future. The drug induced fog is starting to lift and Cisco is beginning to “get it.”

During this same time Sally and I, with the help of PSST, have been going through our own recovery process. The abuse and chaos of the last few years is settling we are regaining real peace and order in our lives. But NOT by “walking on eggshells” this time around. Sally and I now “get it” too.

Breaking eggs does not make us bad parents.

We now are dealing with Cisco being placed in a halfway house before returning home. We presented it to him and he didn’t like it. We felt bad but we got over it. Cisco did very well controlling his anger but still tried his best to “guilt us”. We felt bad again, but you know what? We got over it again.

To borrow from the post again: “…we can break a few eggs. In fact, we can break a few on purpose. Why? Because we come to understand that our child’s well being is not fostered by the whole “tiptoe around the eggs thing.” Furthermore, our teenager is not the only one that needs to express a few feelings! As parents, we need to express some things too!”

We realize that if Cisco is going to believe that we have truly changed, then we better show him some of these changes while he is still in placement.

We need to take risks in order to have any chance of helping our teenager make good decisions.

We need to be strong, take-the-bull-by-the-horns parents, who do not shy from confrontation.

“We need to break a few eggs.”

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Suggested Reading for Parents of Alcohol and Drug Users
Posted by:Sally--Monday, March 01, 2010

Hope These Books are Helpful to You.

1.How to Tell When Kids Are in Trouble with Alcohol/Drugs - Hazelden/Johnson Institute - ISBN # 1562461427
2.Parents, It's Not Your Fault - Beverly J. Skogland - ISBN # 0894865501
3.Acceptence-A Way to Serenity and Peaco of Mind - Vincent P. Collins -ISBN#087029072x

4.Recovery of Chemically Dependent Families - Hazelden/Johnson Institute - ISBN#0935908390
5.Detachment - The Art of Letting Go While Lilving With an Alcoholic - Evelyn Leite - ISBN# 0935908021
6.Chemical Dependence and Recovery, A Family Affair - Hazelden/Johnson Institute - ISBN# 0935908005
7.The Dynamics of Addiction - George A. Monn MD - ISBN # 0935908382
8.The Family Enablers - Hazelden/Johnson Institute - ISBN # 0935908099
9.Choices and Consequences, What To Do When a Teenager Uses Alcohol/Drugs - Dick Shaefer ISBN # 0935908420
10.Addictive Thinking - Abraham J. Twerski MD - ISBN # 1568381387
11.Codependent No More - Melody Beattie - ISBN # 0894864025
12.Beyond Codependency - Melody Beattie - ISBN # 0894865838
13.Alcoholics Anonomous -Big Book - Alcoholics Anonomous World Services, Inc.
14.Adult Children of Alcoholics - Janet Woititz - ISBN # 1558741127
15.It Will Never Happen to Me - Claudia Black Ph.D./MSW - ISBN # 1568387989
16.Under the Influence - Ketchum - ISBN # 9780553274875
17.Beyond the Infuence - Ketchum - ISBN # 0553380141
18.Boundaries, When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life - Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend ISBN # 0310247454
19.The Selfish Brain - Dupont - ISBN # 1568383630

(Please Click on Above Title to link to another post about reading material.)

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The Spell Has Been Broken - Part Two
Posted by:Sally--Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Spell Has Been Broken - Part Two

One has to Repeat Breaking the Spell every day. Your teenager will keep guilting you and tugging at your heartstrings and doing whatever he/she can do to be in control. So even when you state: The Spell Has Now Been Broken; it is something that has to be worked on every day in order for it to stay broken. I can feel the frustration in some of your comments and believe me, I've been there.

As you know in my last post, Cisco did not want us to stay for the Saturday visit and we left after 5 minutes. I did great on Saturday but on Sunday I had to remind myself to stay busy and not dwell on missing him. I did that and it was not easy but I am getting better at it each time. We went to see him on Tuesday because he called and asked if we were coming. He was a little more receptive even though he was still unhappy about the possibility of a half-way house for his next step in recovery.

When I asked if we should come out to visit this coming Saturday he said 'No, I am always in a bad mood on Saturdays, but maybe if I get to go to an N.A. meeting this week I'll want company.' So he left it open... I think he wants to see us but he is struggling because he is losing control of us.

Rocco and I talked about it. He is allowed a phone call tonight (Friday). If he calls tonight and asks us to visit on Saturday, we will go. If not, Rocco and I are going shopping for a bike rack so we can enjoy bicycling this spring; provided of course, there is an END to WINTER!

I'm sure it is very hard to be a single mom and to go through all the drama that happens with an addict but please look at the positive side about that. You do not have to agree with anyone about any decisions. You get to call all of the shots. It is nice to have someone to lean on during these troubles but when there are two parents involved both have to work hard to "be on the same page".

I like the comment about - becoming aware that your teenager has taken control - awareness is the first step in getting the control back.

Here are some suggestions of things to do to keep busy and therefore be less focused on your teen. a.) take a credit or non-credit class. b.) plan a mini vacation. c.) throw a small party. I am having a 'We Want Winter to Go Away' Party. d.) Learn something new. e.) Volunteer at your local hospital, school or church. f.) If you are single, go out on a date. g.)If you are married, go out on a date with your spouse. h.) Look up a friend who you lost contact with, then reunite. i.) I encourage you to write a post for this blog, it is very helpful to put your feelings down and your thoughts in order. Use a pen name, no one will know who you are and I bet ninety percent of the people who read this are in the same boat and will understand. I know some of the above suggestions will only work while your child is in placement, such as b.) go on a mini vacation. You can't do that and leave your teenager at home, for goodness sake. You don't know what condition your house will be in when you get back home. Just do whatever you can do, whenever you can do it, to keep your life as normal as possible. Addiction is a family disease it does affect the whole family. Hang in there.

I have to get to work now but next time I will compile a list of good reading material.

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The Spell Has Been Broken - Part One
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, February 21, 2010

There seems to be a general concensus among the mothers of addicts that I have met; they confess that they are enablers. It seems that it is not just in our feminine make-up but society itself that expects it of us.

Cisco knows I am a softy and why shouldn't I be? He is my son and I love him and want him to be happy......So far, he has been in treatment at Gateway YES for 30 days. We had his ISP meeting this past Wednesday. One of the subjects that came up at this meeting is the question of his aftercare. It is natural that when one sees their child working very hard at a program and doing all that he should be doing, being calm and polite and loving. Reading and studying and praying and working on the 12-steps carefully one step at a time; it is natural to wistfully sigh and say aaaww I want him to come home and do just this at home. Cisco wants to be home so bad and he will be happy. Rocco will be happy and I will be happy.

Will he work his program as well at home? You suddenly recall an incident or two of when your teenager was using drugs and this ugly mental image is your saving grace.

The spell is broken. You realize that you must focus on one particular objective. You know your child needs to stay clean and sober, hopefully forever. You know that you don't have enough experience to draw from so you rely on the experts whose care he is in to recommend whatever treatment they see most fit for your son's recovery.

Cisco wants so much to come home. And I knew that it would be suggested he go to a halfway house called Liberty Station after his stay at Gateway YES to help ensure his success. I opted not to visit him the day before his ISP meeting so that he did not have a chance to beg me with those big, sad, brown eyes. Maybe even beg me to insist to his P.O. and therapist that he should be home with us. I am very fortunate to be married to Rocco, he understood this and did not mind going to visit Cisco on his own. They had a nice converstion and Cisco asked him about coming home but did not plead or beg etc. Hhhmmm, funny how he doesn't plead with Rocco as much.

When we walked into the meeting on Wednesday, Cisco gave me an ink drawing which he made in memory of his grandma, my dear mom who died two years ago. It was carefully drawn and very beautiful so he had me crying before the meeting even started. Cisco was very prepared for the ISP meeting and presented himself very well. He did not like the mention of Liberty Station but we explained that it is not for certain but it is likely that he will go there. He said he will go if we tell him he has to. Toward the end of the meeting I thought it would be easier to stay in control of my emotions if I flip over the beautiful drawing which reminded me of my mom. I flipped over the paper and saw the words......... push me away.
The tears started to fall and I asked if Rocco and I could spend a few minutes alone with Cisco.
After I got control of myself again I let Cisco know that I understood how hard it is to be in a treatment facility and we love him and do not want to push him away. Never the less we will do whatever is best for his long-term recovery. That needs to be our focus.

There are visiting hours on Saturday. Rocco and I were late getting there because we were at our PSST meeting. Cisco had been napping but they called him out of his room when we finally arrived almost an hour late. He gave each of us a hug but had very little to say except that he thought we were not coming. We tried to strike up a conversation but he said he was very tired and wanted to sleep. So our visit lasted 5 minutes and we each hugged again and Rocco and I left. It was sad. I am not going to say that Cisco was trying to guilt us, he really was half asleep. The only part of this situation that I could control is how I react. I think Rocco expected me to cry when the elevator door closed. I did not cry. I put my arms around Rocco and I said. "It's you and me kid. What do you want to do for the rest of this beautiful day?" Rocco smiled. He had many suggestions. He appreciated that I was in control of my emotions. I was not going to let Cisco get to me.

When a couple has a teenager who is an addict, the addict takes control of the household.
In our household that SPELL IS NOW BROKEN. Cisco is no longer in control. For several years we could not go anywhere without worrying. There were many special events that we could not attend. We even cancelled a small but very special trip for our 30th anniversary because of Cisco's problem. It is time to put the control back into our hands. When that elevator door closed and I let Rocco know that Cisco did not have me upset it was a huge difference from my normal reaction. Cisco was not the center of attention; Rocco was. This is my new norm. This is how it should be. The Cisco spell is now broken.

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Feb 20th PSST Meeting - Very Therapeutic
Posted by:Sally--Saturday, February 20, 2010

South Hills PSST Meeting was attended by 7 parents and 5 professionals.
(Professionals are officers, therapists and directors)

After the opening announcements everyone had a chance to introduce themselves and tell as little or as much as they wished to tell about their teenager/parental relationship. There was a storehouse of information and knowledge and wisdom and laughter that was exchanged.

After a fifteen minute break we continued with two role-plays: 1.) Teenager Who Uses Persuasive Methods in Order to Get What They Want 2.) Parents Reaction when an Adult Child Wants to Come Home. We had four other suggestions for role-plays but ran out of time. They will be played out in the upcoming meetings. The other role-play suggestions were as follows: A.) I'M 18, I DON'T NEED A CURFEW. Treat me like an adult, give me freedom and let me make my own decisions. (Just keep cooking, cleaning up after me and giving me free room and board.)
B. ) How to Stop Enabling
C. ) Don't come and visit me (while I am in inpatient)....unless you change your mind about putting me in a halfway house.
D. ) My girlfriend is moving in with us mom!!

Thanks to all who attended this successful meeting. I know I walked away feeling empowered and hope you did also. The snacks were delicious and nutritious. The cheesecake was out-of-this world.

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Update: Sally Rocco and Cisco from inpatient treatment.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, February 11, 2010

On January 19th you heard from Rocco and he filled you in on Cisco's relapse. Cisco is controlling his anger and acting calm when we visit him at Gateway YES. He is doing eerything possible to get out and get home. He was angry with his PO and had his own ideas for his future.

Then something happened.....

He was told to write his 'Drug Use History.' He filled page after page with the drugs he used and how they affected him. When we visited him two Sunday's ago he as not as angry with Lloyd as he was with himself. He was mad that he let so much of his teen years waste away. We told him to remember the addiction just well enough to keep him from going down that path again but to forget it enough so that he could move on to something better. He seemed to understand that and slowly shook his head, yes.

He said he spends most of his free time reading and asked us to bring some books on the life of Eminen. (You know him, he is the (c) rap artist who grossed way too much money last year.) Rocco and I believe that impared reading is better than no reading at all so we set off to the library and picked up two biographies on Eminen and slipped in a mystery novel which looked interesting. Cisco read the two books he asked for and now started the novel.

We received a letter from Cisco and he apologized for all the heartache he caused us by his selfishness. He also sent us the lyrics for a rap song which he wrote expressing these feelings.

Because of the blizzard we were unable to visit Cisco this Saturday so he had some additional time to be introspective. Looking within is serving Cisco well and he now has a plan for his future. He has decided to work on obtaining a GED instead of going back to Tenth Grade. When we visited him this tuesday he said he wanted to break off ties with his girlfriend and his main priority when he gets out of rehab is to get a job and apply for Community College and not to look up all of his old friends. HE does not consider everyone his friend anymore. Cisco said that when he gets out he has the option of living at Liberty Station, which is a halfway house, or at home. Cisco said he wants to come home.
At this point, I did not say anything, but when this subject comes up again I am going to ask him to think hard about this and to choose the place where he feels he will have the best chance of staying clean.

He has come to the conclusion that Lloyd is okay and really does have his best interest at heart. We have all heard that it is imperative for addicts to change people, places and things to be successful in their recovery. One can only smile when someone repeats to you all that you have been telling them over and over again but now they have heard it anew.

Cisco has been in rehab for twenty-one days. He is still calm and he is saying everything he should say. I just hope and pray he means it enough that when he gets out it will turn into action and this action will turn into a new way of life.


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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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