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PSST Meeting Recap - March 12, 2011 Wexford
Posted by:Max--Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PSST Meeting Recap - March 12 - Wexford

Today's meeting was led by PSST power couple Cheryl and Jim, assisted by Val Ketter from Juvenile Probation, and Kathie T from Wesley Spectrum Services.

Absent in body only (attendance to this meeting was via text to Val) was Lloyd Woodward, at home healing up. Lloyd, we missed you and hope you will be with us next meeting at Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church!

Cheryl and Jim started the weekly update with a progress report on son Andy. He is still in his half-way house doing well...he was voted "Peer of the Week"!! He is currently a "level 2", and his medical situation is being monitored. All is well at this time, and all of us pray that it continues to be so!

Daisy's son Ozzie came home from placement. He has been gone for about 6 months, and Daisy feels "like he never left"...I am sure that is a common experience for many parents when their kid comes home after a long time out of the house...re-entry is difficult. Ozzie is really testing Daisy to see if in fact she has changed, and if he has any power at home any more. Daisy is using her best PSST techniques as much as possible. As a matter of fact, before Daisy could respond to one of Ozzie's requests, he said "and don't use that 'I'm not comfortable' stuff...that's PSST!!" Little pitchers have big ears...the darlings. Daisy, what you are going through now is tough, but all of us at PSST are here to support you....You WILL get through this tough period!

Michael, Max and Mel's oldest, decided to try life on his own and moved out of the house a week ago. It was an amicable decision; Michael wants to live on his terms, not having to follow house rules. Max and Mel said "if that's what you really want to do, we won't stop you". Currently he is couch surfing, not attending school, but very responsible at work, which he loves. In fact, all he really wants to do is work so he can sometime soon get an apartment. He keeps his parents posted by text messages, although they are becoming less frequent. Max and Mel are waiting and watching, hoping that sometime (sooner rather than later) Michael has an epiphany that will help him figure out what he really wants and how to obtain it, in a safe way. Michael knows how much he is loved and that he is welcome home anytime, as long as he follows house rules.

Rocco and Sally's Cisco
is at a "different level with his addiction", according to Rocco. Cisco has been more honest lately, even admitting to having broken house rules, which resulted in a lock-down, and him missing a family reunion. Rocco and Sally have seen maturity in Cisco; he wants to buy his own cell phone, and rebuffed Sally's offer of help. His anger, once a huge issue, has been well under control. The family really likes Cisco's counselor, who has advised family counseling NOW, before Cisco comes home; this will aid in a smoother transition when it is time for Cisco to come home - after being out of the home almost 2 years! Rocco and Sally, you guys are The Little Engine That Could!

Kitty is cautiously optimistic regarding son Carlyle's imminant discharge from his rehab. She says, "last year at this time, I didn't see my kids at all; now I'm out in Aliquippa 3 times a week"! Her older son, Cat, is also at a half-way house on the same campus. Kitty knows that although things seem good, her son knows how to push her buttons, and vice-versa. Kitty has been dealing with her older son's addiction for several years, so I will call her a veteran, even though she has only just started coming to PSST meetings. She has managed to "detach with love" from her 2 kids, and has made taking care of herself a priority. We all have to learn how to do this, and most of us agree, it is one of the most difficult things we have to do. Kitty, any advice would be most welcome!

Angela's daughter Samantha was just discharged from her RTF after being there for 90 days. She continues there to finish high school as well as a partial program. Samantha wants to go back to her home high school, but that is out of the question.

Angela has given Samantha back her phone, as well as monitored use of the computer. She is under house arrest. It is difficult and stressful being home with this teen; it has been a struggle every day, according to Angela.

Her husband will be out of town for a week, and the prospect of going at this alone is frightening...she needs "Chuck Norris to move in"!

Angela, I think you and Daisy ought to meet for coffee! On a good note - Angela overheard Samantha talking on the phone to one of her "old" friends that was one of her main contacts. She told him "I won't be talking to you for at least 90 days."

She got that one right!

Posey's son Thor had decided to leave the house about 3 weeks ago. It has been very stressful as she didn't know where he was. He suddenly showed up again; he failed a drug test at his alternative school, and Posey was called to pick him up. Thor said he wanted to come home, and Posey, being a good PSST-er, said "if you want to live here, you have to follow the rules". He slept in his bed - not the sofa or the basement - for the first time in a long while. Posey, are we living parallel lives? Am I your doppleganger? Michael liked to sleep on the sofa too....

Francoise and Brigitte have their hands and hearts full of son Pierre. He has just started his inpatient program, and prior to this, they were unsure as to whether or not a PO was needed. As we often say in PSST, the kid will show you exactly what he needs; they practically ask for it.

A while ago, Francoise and Brigitte removed Pierre's bedroom door as a consequence. Before going to inpatient, in a defiant move, Pierre proceeded to smoke weed in his bedroom for all to see - no doubt he was telling his parents "in your face, Mere et Pere!" (though not said that nice, and probably not in French).

This left no doubt in anyone's mind that a PO will be necessary upon Pierre's discharge.

Now, there is much anxiety, because when they tell him this, he will no doubt become enraged. This is true, but Francoise and Brigitte have something important on their side; they are telling this tough news to Pierre while he is in patient. This is the best atmosphere in which to give difficult news to a difficult kid; the parents will be supported and protected, and Pierre will get the help he needs from his counselors when they see how he reacts and acts out.

Many of our kids are the "perfect patient" when they go in patient. The counselors report "what a great kid! He is really cooperative!" and don't see what we see at home. It is important that they have a true understanding what the parents are up against; all the rants and raves and knocking down chairs while they are in a facility HELPS your situation, and actually helps them get the help they really need...don't fear it!

F & B, we are looking forward to hearing the outcome of this showdown. We have all been there and done that, and will continue to be there for you, too.

The Kramdons joined us today, and as always had interesting stories to share.

Ralph gave kudos to Lloyd..he apparently predicted that older son Norton, who ran away to his birth family out of the country, would make contact in 6 months. Well, it was 6 months and one week that Norton emailed Ralph saying "dad, I want to come home".

Lloyd was then dubbed "The Oricle Of Juvenile Probation", and "A Sage" (none of this, by the way, is good for Lloyds head..).

All jokes aside, the Kramdons knew, even as Norton pulled on heartstrings, that this could be just a cry for money and not a real desire to return. Norton has legal issues; if he were to really come back, he would be on probation, dealing with court, fines, and possible jail time.

In his email Norton suggested that Ralph "fly down and meet" him, another signal. The Kramdons stood tough and refused to enable. If Norton really wants to come home, face his charges and make amends with his folks, he will find a way to get home by hisself, without help from Ralph and Alice. A painful, but very wise decision by the Kramdons.

On a happier note, son Ed continues to do well at home and school. As any normal teen, Ed is ready for more freedom, but Alice and Ralph are dubious. There needs to be more action on Ed's part to earn back their trust. Ed is trying to figure out how he can do this - more phone calls to check in for a start. The Kramdons reward these efforts by giving him "little nuggets of supervised freedom".

Jenn and Brad's son Dylan was recently released from an acute mental health program. They have been having family based counseling which seemed to be going well.

After returning to his home school, he "blew up" in class; all were in agreement when the decision was made to send Dylan back to the alternative school where he just left - he also has friends there which made it easy for him.

On the short break between the two schools, Dylan "had to celebrate". He became out of control and manipulative; When his parents showed up to get him at the appointed time, he said "I'm not ready yet, come back at 2 a.m.".

Wisely his parents said no. As luck would have it the police were called to the home of the party where Dylan was. There were underage kids drinking, and no adults present. Dylan was released to his parents, totally un-phased.

A magistrate hearing was set up, in part to "scare Dylan straight" - one would think a small taste of the legal system would frighten most teens. Not so in this case (I had the same situation with my younger son! Read Max and Mel's Terrible Adventure Part I & II)

Dylan announced "I'm not going to listen to anyone, I am doing whatever I want, I can't commit to any rules".

Although Jenn and Brad have a nice relationship with the local police, who show up when needed for some support, Dylan needs more; the plan is Act 53; a wise move. Dylan does have mental health issues, but drugs and/or alcohol can easily exacerbate the situation. When the teen is clean for a reasonable period, mental health services can better diagnose and treat the patient.

For more information on Act 53 and if it is right for you, there is more on this blog. Enter it into the search bar, or look on the left to older posts.

In the meantime, Jenn and Brad, we are with you in your difficult journey. Hang in there, you are not alone.

Wilma has her hands full (who in this group doesn't, I ask?); not only is Bam-Bam not cooperative in his treatment (he refused to "perform" for his drug test, and doesn't want his parents at family night), her spouse Fred is not on the same parenting page (although he did make some delicious cookies the other week, it is not a substitute!).

Wilma decided to drug test her son herself, and he was positive for weed. Wilma rightfully wanted to ground Bam-Bam until he tested negative, to which Bam replied "but that means 30 days!!" Fred sadly chimed in "I think that's too long, too!". Wilma has had enough and wants to press charges. Val advised her to proceed with Act 53.

We noted a few things at this point. One is, there is more than one parent amongst us who has to go it alone, without the full support of the spouse. This is difficult and painful to do, but it has been done.

Kudos to Jane, who stood up in court more than once to get son Elroy in treatment. Val, who was present, praised her for the great job she did. No one means to suggest that the enabling parent doesn't love their kid. They love them a lot. They just haven't seen the PSST light!

Once you see the truth about manipulations and what constitutes enabling, you can't go back!

Another discussion ensued regarding adoption. Of the PSST parents present, several have adopted kids with issues.

Why is that so? A few responses; kids having kids who then place those babies for adoption, no doubt had issues of their own. Perhaps they were involved with drugs or alcohol, had ADD or other mental health issues, which made them more impulsive with partners and less likely to have "safe protected sex".

This isn't true in all cases, but many. So our adopted kids have some inherited biological tendencies that we ourselves never had to deal with.

Nurture AND Nature makes up a person. We all are doing our best on the nurture side of things, but as we all know there are some things we cannot change. The Serenity Prayer works well about now.

Our final family before our break was Jane and son Elroy. Elroy is doing well at his RTF. Jane is pleased but cautious, as she knows her son can say what eveyone wants to hear, although she does see some positive changes.

At the latest family meeting, George, who is another spouse that isn't always on Janes page, attended. The excercise was "write your son's obituary". The kid had to write their own, which was thought provoking. Jane stood up to read hers, and cried all the way through it like most moms would, citing the things Elroy had meant to her.

Georges turn; he said "Elroy won't be missed by anyone, or known for anything because of all his stupid mistakes". Jane was horrified - how could George be so heartless?

Suddenly all the other dads in the room were "high-fiving" George for "speaking the truth". When Elroy was asked how he felt about his dad's obituary, he thought for a moment and said "it's true". Jane thought about this and realized that her husband may have said something constructive after all; maybe he did get through to Elroy.

She went home to acknowledge a good point made by George.

Some of us parents, mostly the moms get very emotional and protective of our kids, and when some spouses jump in with a harsher tone, with no thought if it will hurt anyone's feelings, we become upset with our spouse. We hate to admit it, but sometimes that is the more appropriate approach with our kids.

BREAK TIME - We took a short break for some coffee, tea, cookies and other treats and some interesting discussions.

PLAY TIME - We did a role play about handling a son who has returned home from a few months in a Recovery Treatment Facility. Mom is finding out that old line "The more things change, the more they stay the same" to be truer than she hoped for.

Our teens returning home for a visit (especially our teens returning home for good) is a source of anxiety for most parents. It can trigger our co-dependency addiction days, even weeks, prior to them even coming home, no matter how well they have done in their recovery program. It is important to you to have a plan with a contract in place ahead of time.

Quite frankly not all recovery programs do very well in preparing parents or their child for their return home. This is where PSST comes in - come to our meetings and learn how to prepare and stick to your plan. Of course things will rarely go the way you plan, never-the-less you will have the whole group here to listen to you, support you and help you through this tough time.

So the role play was a son returning home (on electronic home monitoring a.k.a. ankle bracelet) pushing the boundaries and generally test his mom to see if he gain the power back in their home. In this role play he wants to know why he can't have a cell phone of his own (Hint: He already knows why but he is going to badger his mom about it until she breaks down)

Son: ...but mom I need a phone! I am going nuts in this house with no friends to talk to!!!"

Mom: Sorry, you know we can't do that, you know that you can't have a cell..."

Son: "Man, you sound just like that stupid P.O.! What are you like one of his zombies? I am going to flip out here mom, you can't expect me not to talk to anyone except you!!!"

Mom: Listen I know it is going to be a really tough 90 days but that's what we agreed to, it's what is in our contract."

Son: That stupid @ss contract is worth sh*t mom, that's just some bullsh*t that that goofy P.O. wants..."

Mom: "Honey I am not comfortable with you having..."

Son: "Mom! That's more of that stupid P.O. bullsh*t! That I'm not comfortable crap! Don't you remember mom, I was there the night he came and talked to the parents. I heard all of his sh*t talk..."

Mom: "Listen, I understand that you are going to have a hard time with this, never the less it is our contract and we will stick to it and that includes no cell phone."

Son: "Mom I am going to flip out here! If I can't talk to my fiends then I am going to leave! I am just going to walk out of here! This is worse than my RTF, I had it easier in my RTF! You are like my biggest trigger, if I flip out it is going to be all your fault! I would rather be back in my RTF..."

Mom: (Remaining calm) "Your right I probably am your biggest trigger and guess what you are my biggest trigger too. Like I said, we knew this was not going to be easy. It is not easy for me or you. I would love to be able to give you things that you want but you know that is my issue, enabling you. I need to stop enabling you. So the answer is no. Now listen I am going up to my room to relax. I need you to relax yourself, go watch TV, or read or something."

Mom ends the conversation and walks away.

Son: At first just standing there but then following his mom and crying: "I'm sorry mom. I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't get so angry mom. But listen I just get so upset..."

Mom: Stopping for just a minute: "I understand honey, now I am going to my room and I suggest that you go to your room and calm down."

Son: "But mom don't you understand..."

Mom: "Yes honey I really do understand. Right now I need some quiet time for me."

Son: "But mom just talk to me, we can work this out mom..."

Mom: "Son, do you see this space where my door used to be before you broke it off. Let's pretend it is still there and I am closing it. Now you go back to your room and pretend that you are closing your door that was there before I took it off and threw it away and just relax for a while."

Role plays are different from reality - most of us have experienced this.
Never-the-Less don't miss out on a chance to try them. They will help you to be prepared when reality strikes. The more you practice them the better you will be, not perfect, better. Thanks to our two veteran PSST Parents Max and Ralph for doing the role play - Max does a great recovering son and Ralph does a great mom!

Thanks as usual to our PSST Pro's for being there for us and for all of the PSST Parents that made it to the meeting.

Years ago, Sally and Rocco attended an elementary school meeting on self esteem and were told: “Your child has a big advantage in their life because you cared enough to attend this meeting.”

Although your son or daughter may be in a “bad place” right now they have a “big advantage” in their life because you cared enough to attend a PSST meeting.

More than likely your teenager will not grasp the “big advantage” concept. In all probability they will resent that you go to “those meetings where you are misled by that crazy dude.” Or as our kids put it so well "You guys belong to that PSST Cult!"

NEVERTHELESS they are in a better place because YOU DO CARE enough to try to save your child's life.

We all would like to sincerely thank Trinity Lutheran Church for the use of their first class facilities to allow PSST to empower parents of out-of-control teenagers. This is another great example of how Trinity Lutheran has been reaching out and serving Wexford and the northern suburbs since 1845.

We look forward to seeing more concerned parents at the next PSST Meeting ~ SAturday March 19 at the **NEW MT LEBANON LOCATION**

Mt Lebanon United Methodist Church
3319 West Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216


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Alcohol poisoning ~ Alcohol Can Kill ~ By Wilma
Posted by:Sally--Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shelby's Rules: Dig Life

I read an article in Good Housekeeping last night about this young girl, Shelby Allen, who died at a friends house of alcohol poisoning.

The greatest tragedy of all was that her death may have been prevented if one of her "friends" would have called for help.

The teens were at a friend's house with ADULTS present who left an unattended full bar with teenagers sitting around it who then went to bed with a verbal warning not to drink.

How many kids would listen to that? What a temptation!

Afterward Shelby's parents discovered this home was a "safe home" for underage drinking.

Click on the title above to link to the Shelby's Rules website. It talks about what happened and about the foundation her mom started to bring awareness to teens and adults about the dangers of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning.

The article in Good Housekeeping was very good and informative.

When my son was in 7th grade a classmate was drinking at the high school football game and taken to the emergency room for alcohol poisoning. She was a small girl and very lucky to survive.

When I picked the boys up from the game they were talking about it and asked me if she could die and I told them she could die or she could survive and have permanent brain damage (become a vegetable) and the van became very silent. They had shocked looks on their faces. I don't think any of them every thought you could die from drinking.


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K2 Gains Popularity Among Athletes
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, March 15, 2011

K2 Gains Popularity Among Athletes
Monday March 7, 2011
Written by: Eric Adelson and Teddy Mitrosilis

Mike Rozga started the site K2DrugFacts.com as a way to warn the public. It’s too late to save his son. He watched the Packers win the Super Bowl in his home, weeks after spreading some of David’s ashes in an end zone at Lambeau Field.

David Rozga loved the Packers. He had a No. 4 tattoo for Brett Favre on his right shoulder, and he planned to add a No. 12 for Aaron Rodgers. He played football until he broke his leg as a sophomore in high school, and he often made the trip with his dad to Lambeau Field from his home in Indianola, Iowa. David Rozga dreamed of seeing the Pack win a Super Bowl.

He didn’t get the chance. Last June, he left a high school graduation party, returned home and took his own life.

David Rozga was 18.

His parents, Mike and Jan, blamed themselves. “It really made us look deeply at ourselves,” Mike says. “How terrible parents we were to not have seen this in our son.”

Two days later, David’s girlfriend, Carrie, came by with a confession: On the day he died, she said, David had been smoking a synthetic marijuana called K2, also known as Spice.

David’s parents had never heard of it. Carrie hadn’t, either. But when Mike Rozga called the police, he began to learn about an herbal blend sprayed with chemicals that mimic the high from marijuana. It’s marketed as incense but it is nothing like the stuff that makes your kitchen smell like potpourri.

Reporting by ThePostGame.com shows K2 use may be on the rise in the athlete population –- not only at various levels of amateur sport, but in professional sports as well. “I go straight weed in the off-season,” one NFL veteran told ThePostGame.com on condition of anonymity. “Then, in-season, when they test, I go to [K2].”

“It’s a danger to anybody who thinks this is a legal way to get high without being caught,” says Jay Schauben, director of the Florida Poison Control Center. “The possible side effects include significant hallucination, cardiac effects, seizures, rapid heart rate, hypertension, severe agitation, passing out, and panic attacks.”

Rozga believes a K2 high led to his son’s suicide. The Indianola police chief, Steve Bonnett, wrote a letter saying David “had a severe panic attack after smoking K2, which resulted in his death.”

“David suffered greatly,” Mike Rozga says. “He was tormented by this drug.”

Leading health experts believe more tragedy is to come -- and that athletes may be at particular risk.

“We’re receiving more reports of its use in the athlete population,” says Frank Uryasz, director of the National Center of Drug-Free Sport. “It appears to be marketed heavily to young people -- high school age and below, and college. We’re getting reports from colleges, where athletes are asking about it.”

One such report to the Drug-Free Sport hotline, from an NCAA athletic trainer, reads:

“Three student-athletes were breaking apart cigarettes, mixing it with K2, rolling it back up into papers and then smoking. One young man, who had NO past medical history, had a seizure and lost consciousness. He was found outside the dorm by campus security convulsing. His heart rate was elevated above 200 for enough time that he was admitted for 24 hours of observation … When asked why he did it: "I didn't think it would be that much of a rush, I had no control over my body in that I could see but could not talk or speak.”

Here’s another report, from another athletic trainer:

“We have a student-athlete who was in the emergency room over the weekend! Says he was smoking ‘Spice.’ His heart was racing, his blood pressure was off the charts, and he was hallucinating. This went on for hours!!”

K2, which was first identified in December 2008 is very similar to the compound that produces the high of marijuana. But K2 does not produce a positive drug test, and that is part of why its use has skyrocketed in the U.S. over the last two years.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 14 cases of K2 exposure in the 48 states plus the District of Columbia in 2009. In 2010, that number exploded to 2,888. Already this year, there have been nearly 1,000. In the last four months alone, 151 Navy sailors have been accused of using or possessing the drug.

The U.S. Naval Academy expelled eight midshipmen last month for using K2.

Several forms of synthetic marijuana were added to the DEA’s controlled substance list last week, including JWH-018, but it’s virtually impossible to identify and ban all of them.

K2 is relatively inexpensive and widely available; it’s even sold at some gas stations, according to several experts. David Rozga got his at a mall near Des Moines, according to his father.

ThePostGame.com recently bought a three-gram package of “K2 Peach” at a smoke shop in Orlando for $59.95. The package said “Not for consumption,” and it came with a small leaflet that said “Not … for human consumption” three times.

But it is being consumed, and athletes who use it are at particular risk, some experts say. “For athletes, you run the danger of having cardiovascular effects,” says David Kroll, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at North Carolina Central University. “I would hypothesize that with enough people using this stuff, you’re bound to see a heart attack.”

Performance-enhancing drugs may add yet another layer of risk. “If you combine these products and steroids, I can’t begin to predict the negative consequences,” says Anthony Scalzo, director of toxicology at St. Louis University. “If you add these stresses to the heart, someone’s probably going to have a heart attack from it.”

But those who use it often fail to see the danger behind the high.

“I used it freshman year,” one Division I NCAA athlete told ThePostGame.com, on condition of anonymity. “We tried it and realized that it has similar effects to weed. It was the first time where you could do something that you shouldn’t be doing but you couldn’t get in trouble for it.”

There are no confirmed deaths from K2, however the Drug Abuse Warning Network reports there were 374 emergency room admits last year because of K2 and similar substances.

“Sometimes you feel like your heart is going to come out of your chest, going to explode,” says the D-I athlete. “Your pulse just goes up like crazy. You literally feel like sometimes you’re going to die. But you wake up the next morning and you’re like, ‘Whatever, it’s fine.’

“If you smoke weed, you’re just chill. When you smoke K2, you are (messed) up. Sometimes I felt almost like drops of water were landing on my body somewhere. You’ll feel like a cool drop somewhere and I’ll check but there’s nothing. It’s weird. It’ll trigger different kind of senses around your body.”

The DEA plans to keep K2 illegal for at least a year. The NCAA has also decided to ban it, effective August 1 of this year, but according to NCAA associate director of health and safety Mary Wilfert, “We don’t have a punishment until a student tests positive.” And tests for K2 are not widely accessible.

“This market is always going to be available,” says the D-I athlete. “No matter what laws they pass, there will be a way to get around it. I don’t think there’s a way to test for (K2), so athletes are going to use it. Athletes are going to keep doing stuff they can get away with.”

That’s Mike Rozga’s biggest fear. He started the site K2DrugFacts.com as a way to warn the public, but it’s too late to save his son. He watched the Packers win the Super Bowl in his home, weeks after spreading some of David’s ashes in an end zone at Lambeau Field.

“We would have watched the Super Bowl together, without a doubt,” Rozga says. “As a lifelong fan, I was really happy. But it was one of the many things I’ll never get to share with David. I’ll never go to another Packers game with him.”

K2 Gains Popularity Among Athletes

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What is Heroin?
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, March 15, 2011



What are the street names/slang terms?
Big H, Blacktar, Brown sugar, Dope, Horse, Junk, Muc, Skag, Smac

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy. It is a “downer” or depressant that affects the brain’s pleasure systems and interferes with the brain’s ability to perceive pain.

What does it look like?

White to dark brown powder or tar-like substance.

How is it used?

Heroin can be used in a variety of ways, depending on user
preference and the purity of the drug. Heroin can be injected into a vein (“mainlining”), injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw, known as “chasing the dragon,” snorted as powder via the nose.

What are its short-term effects?

The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of eroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (“rush”) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects included slowed and slurred speech, slow gait, constricted pupils, droopy eyelids, impaired night vision, vomiting, constipation.

What are its long-term effects?

Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulites, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not really dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect.

As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), kicking movements (“kicking the habit”), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last does and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can be fatal.

What is its federal classification?

Schedule I

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

THE PARTNERSHIP AT DRUGFREE.ORG is a drug abuse prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery resource, existing to help parents and caregivers effectively address alcohol and drug abuse with their teens and young adults.

© 2011 The Partnership at Drugfree.org

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Breaking the anger-remorse cycle
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, March 14, 2011

Do as I say or the hairdryer gets it!
When teenagers have anger issues, temper tantrums, violent episodes the teenager may follow closely with remorse. While on the surface it is certainly a good sign the teenager is able to feel remorse it is not necessarily a good sign if this pattern continues. This post attempts to address how to help your teenager break this I'm angry- now I'm sorry cycle.

Excerpt from post: At this point Mom has to decide. Is she going to take this opportunity to instruct her son that she did not lie, that while she likes saving money that the real reason that she took the phone is exactly what she told him that it was, i.e., that he had restricted calls on his phone? If she does go down that path now there is hardly any turning back. This will become the new issue and the first issue may never be addressed. If she falls for that, then her son has successfully manipulated her away from the real issue.

It feels to the parent like the most critical intervention is during the anger stage. Indeed, it is a critical time, e.g., if a teenager is realizing a benefit to the tantrum then the parent has reinforced this behavior. So, if a parent gives in once the teenager begins his anger episode it can be very difficult to reverse this behavior because it has been historically reinforced; however, it is not as well understood that the the time of remorse is an excellent window in which to address this behavior. This posts attempts to highlight the importance of the remorse phase of the cycle.

Son: Mom, I want to know why you decided to take my phone off of me.

Mom: We discussed that.

Son: But you lied! You said I misused it but really you didn't want to pay the bill anymore.

Mom: You misused your phone by calling unapproved peers.

Son: I told you that was an accident but you just wanted to get rid of my phone. If you would have told me the truth I would have still been mad, but what I'm really mad at is your lying to me- why do you have to be a lying bitch?

Mom: OK, that's it- this discussion is over.

Son: No it's not [grabbing a hair dryer of mother's and throwing it at the wall] why are you always lying [yelling].

Mom goes for phone and dials 911 and immediately asks for an officer to keep the peace. Teen begins to calm down while officer is on the way. He is remorseful. He says it is mostly (but not all) his fault. He asks for another chance. He begs her not to call the police. He promised her that she won't be sorry if she doesn't tell his PO, his father, his therapist, or whomever is involved with his case.

Before we continue on with this role-play (hold that thought) lets examine some current ideas on this:

"Harmful Adaptations to Anger and Abuse: Walking on Eggshells. The most insidious aspect of abuse is not the obvious nervous reactions to shouting, name-calling, criticism or other demeaning behavior. It's the adaptations you make to try to prevent those painful episodes. You walk on eggshells to keep the peace or a semblance of connection.

"Women are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of walking on eggshells due to their greater vulnerability to anxiety. Many brave women engage in constant self-editing and self-criticism to keep from "pushing his buttons." Emotionally abused women can second guess themselves so much that they feel as though they have lost themselves in a deep hole."

These excerpts were taken from Compassion Power.

I realize that this website is not about parenting per se; nevertheless, I feel that this cycle of abuse remorse between adults is revelant to what happens between parent and teenager.  

Keeping this eggshells analogy in mind, let's go back to our example above. At the point where the teenager turns remorseful, the parent is going to feel relieved. Crisis managed. Now the child is being nice. Now the parent wants to reinforce this behavior and therefore relaxes with the idea that the crisis is over; however, this may be as important a time to manage the crisis, with the idea that you are now setting the stage for the next crisis to be managed. Now is the time to use your PSST powers to good advantage.

Son: Mom, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that. I just got mad cause you know you don't always tell me the truth.

Mom: Excuse me? You make it sound like it was my fault that you blew up and broke my hair dryer and called me names.

Son: No, it's not your fault. It's my fault. I'm so sorry, [looks like he could cry if you look at him to hard]

Mom: Look, honey, I agree with what you first said, this was your responsibility. Whether you liked the way I said it or what I said, you are responsible for your feelings and your behavior. So, I'm with you- yeah you're sorry about that and I really feel that. Boy, that was a huge screw up.

Son: But I said I was sorry! You're not going to tell my PO are you? [Starting to get fired up again. A lot of times this is where the Mom backs down realizing that she doesn't want him to revert to the "bad teen" again so she starts her "walking on egg shells." But this mother knows that she has a window of opportunity here and she is not going to squander it.]

Mom: And I agree that you are sorry. I would be sorry too if I had acted like that and I agree that your PO will be very disappointed b/c you just talked to him about doing this kind of stuff.

Son: Mom he's going to drag me off to Shuman! Is that what you want? I wouldn't have got so mad at you if you hadn't lied to me. Now your going to have me sent away but you know I can't being lied to [crys and sobs].

Mom: OK, you know what, I'm just going to give you a chance to get yourself together- we'll talk about this when you get a grip on it. [Mom gets up and is ready to exit the room.]

Son: I'm stopping! [starts to raise voice again] God it's like you punish me for crying! I'm just expressing my feelings like my therapist told me to do.

Mom: You can do that. And if you need a moment to compose yourself that's just fine honey.

Son: Well, he said cause you gave me too much information when I was growing up, you know told me stuff about bills and stuff that I didn't need to know, that now I have trouble when people don't level with me. You should just tell me the truth or just don't tell me nothing but don't make something up. 

PIVOTAL JUNCTURE: [At this point Mom has to decide. Is she going to take this opportunity to instruct her son that she did not lie, that while she likes saving money that the real reason that she took the phone is exactly what she told him that it was, i.e., that he had restricted calls on his phone? If she does go down that path now there is hardly any turning back. This will become the new issue and the first issue may never be addressed.

If she falls for that, then her son has successfully manipulated her away from the real issue.

For this example, our mother decides not to debate this one but to stick with the primary issue- i.e., (1)him being 100 percent responsible for what he did, and (2)what he is prepared to do to see that this doesn't happen again. This is the window to deal with this and if while you are addressing this he has another blow up- oh well, at least you showed him that you're not going to be intimated and start walking on "egg shells."

Mom: OK, [The teen has stopped crying- without that there was no point in continuing- it's just too powerful an effect when a man cries and we don't want to reinforce that behavior by giving him attention.] You don't need a moment to compose yourself?

Son: No. I'm fine.

Mom: Good. I see you are fine. Good job. Now, thanks for listening to me I know that you are upset and this isn't easy for you either.

Son: It's not. I just think we need to communicate better. We need to do what my counselor said and work on this together cause there's things you do that push my buttons and I push your buttons too.

Mom: I agree we certainly need to do that.  We are always ready to set each other off aren't we?  I'm glad you brought that up because what really sets me off is when I think I hear you saying that this breaking of my hair dryer and name calling is partly my fault.  Yes, that really pushes my buttons and frankly I'm worried about how you are looking at this.

Son: What?

Mom: That I could be responsible in whatever way because you broke my hair dryer and called me a bitch. That is not something that I'm willing to share with you.   You think I lied and that somehow kinda justifies you breaking my hair dryer and calling me a bitch. I don't buy that.

Son: But even my therapist says...

Mom: [moves in and lowers voice talking slowly] I'm not willing to take that responsibility from you.

Son: But it takes two of us

Mom: Yes, I agree that it DOES take two of us to have an issue and like I said I agree that we are both good at pushing each other's buttons- regardless, when you start breaking things and calling me names, I can't own that one.

Son: Well, it was 70 percent my fault but I still say it was 30 percent your fault. You shouldn't have lied to me to begin with.

Mom: I agree with one big thing you just said.

Son: What?

Mom: 70 percent and 30 percent equals 100 percent and you're right it is important to see who owns that 100 percent. Nevertheless, when you start with the throwing things and calling names no matter what i've said it's 100 percent your part now buddy. That's completely unnaceptable and dangerous!

Mom:  And another thing I agree with is that as long as you believe that this is partially my fault that you become violent and out-of-control, your unnacceptable behavior will continue. This is not the first incident like this and from the looks of things it won't be the last incident.  You are going to continue to repeat this mistake until you take responsibility and do what you need to do to stop it.

Son: But my therapist says that this happens because you always gave me too much information.

Mom: Your therapist is right honey, I gave you way to much power when you started acting out-of-control and I'm stopping it right now.

Son: What?

Mom:  I tried to tiptoe around you trying hard not to say the wrong thing so that you wouldn't explode.  That was wrong and you can tell your therapist that I can admitt that today.

Mom: I know I've been afraid of waking that angry beast inside you and I'm done with that now. I don't cause you to act that way, I can't control you when you get angry and I'm going to try to stop acting like it's even partially my fault. From now on when you are out-of-control, and hear me, I don't care if I lied to you ten times in one day!  It's your responsibility to own this behavior and I won't allow you to pull me into it like that. I didn't call you names. I didn't break your stuff. You did that to me and if we don't get somethings straight here your going to continue doing stuff like that.

Son: Now I'm getting mad again- you're making me feel mad again.

Mom: Fine! Deal with it. Now what, you going to break some more of my stuff? [moving in closer lowing voice] Want to call me a bitch again? Do you think I'm lying to you now when I tell you that if you start breaking stuff again I'm calling the police back and I'm probably getting the same officer who was just here.  But if that's what helps you calm down...

Son: That's not necessary.  I'm just mad again is all.

Mom: OK, enough talk. Let's wrap this up. I agree your sorry.

Son: I am.

Mom: That's good. Well, I'm going to give you a chance to prove that one- I need the basement cleaned up - a really good job- I am grounding you until that's done. Also, the phone is finished now and you can be sure I'm not lying about that!-

Son: You said you were taking it for a week!

Mom: Yeah but I'm the one whose sorry now, cause I'm sorry but I'm confiscating it until further notice and we'll see if you can learn to control your temper before I even consider returning it.

Son: But you said...

Mom: I agree with you I'm a big liar then. And I change my mind sometimes.  Does that help? I lied about taking it for a couple days cause now I'm taking it until further notice. I will also need your game system and TV taken out of your room.

Son: What! What am I going to do here?

Mom: I don't know- but you said you were sorry so I guess we both can still agree on that one. When you call me a bitch and throw my stuff then it doesn't matter what a big liar I am- it's your responsibility. You have to deal with it and if you're as sorry as you say then you won't complain about the consequences. What you did was wrong, dangerous, unacceptable, and I refuse to keep that kind of behavior secret from your PO You can call him and tell him or I will.

Mom: One last thing. I'm glad you can talk to your therapist and I think he is great. When you see him this week, please talk to him about developing a plan to help you stop this cycle of anger-remorse. Nothing will be returned to you until I see that you are prepared to take responsibility for these unacceptable outbursts and do do something to see that you stop them.

Mom: That's it. We're done. This meeting is over.

Son: You don't believe I'm sorry.

Mom: I told you that I do believe you're sorry, but I suppose you think I'm lying about that too.

Son: Kinda I do, cause if you believed I was sorry you wouldn't do all this.

Mom: Oh I think you are sorry. I just think your even sorrier now that I've given you these consequences and I think that if this anger- remorse behavior continues you might find that you are even more sorry. Please understand this part: NEVER call me names. NEVER throw my stuff around.

Son: I won't.

Mom: And that hair dryer costs like fifty bucks so you need to add that to what you owe me.

Son: How am I supposed to pay that? I don't have a job!

Mom: Listen, good job listening. This was a huge confrontation and you heard a lot of stuff that upset you- but you didn't call me a bitch again and you didn't break anything else. That's a start. Don't worry about getting the TV and game system out of your room tonight- I can grab it tomorrow while you're at rehab-We'll talk later [gives hug but teen tries to not return it and walks away.]

Read More......

Mult-Systemic Therapy, or MST
Posted by:Max--Wednesday, March 09, 2011

PSST Parent Wilma has often mentioned she is using "MST" in her home with Bam-Bam. I keep asking her "what do you mean by that again?" Wilma kindly sent me information on Multi-Systemic Therapy, or MST. This is new to Allegheny County within the last 2 years. It is a home-based therapy where the goal is to keep the child in the home and not sent to a facility. It may not be right for everyone, but it may be a good alternative to know about for others. Please read on if you think these services can help your family.

Wilma's family is using a place called Harbor Creek Youth Services (MST at Harbor Creek www.hys-erie.org) The following information is from them, and is not endorsed by Juvenile Probation or PSST. It is simply information we would like you all to be aware of. Harbor Creek is now seeing patients with Managed Care insurance, so they may not have updated brochures yet. Wilma had a psych eval for son Bam-Bam conducted by a master level therapist who works for a psychological practice called Lancaster-Hugh Smith PhD Associates. New referrals will most likely start out with a psychological evaluation, so the child is properly assessed, as these services will not be appropriate for everyone. IMPORTANT HINT** If you have had previous evaluations for your kid, always offer them to a new tester, as it is valuable information for comparison. Also, any anecdotal information from forms filled out by teachers or previous therapists are also good to have on hand. The more well rounded picture of your teen, the more appropriate and targeted treatment can be.

MST Frequently Asked Questions:
Is MST for everyone?

No. In general, the MST program targets youth at risk for out-of-home placement for behaviors that are viewed as “willful misconduct”. Please contact the MST supervisor for a list of inclusionary and exclusionary criteria if there are questions regarding specific behaviors/criteria.

How is 24/7 availability defined?
This is always driven by the families needs; specifically, 24/7 means that the family has access to the primary therapist or a member of the MST team – at any time – who knows the details of the case and the appropriate response to the family’s needs or concerns.

How is MST different from a Crisis Team?
The crisis team is designed for short-term crisis intervention, and can be contacted by the family (or temporary caregiver) at any time. MST Therapists are also prepared to respond to crises when families call. Also, for families who appear to be at risk for crisis development, MST Therapists receive on-going supervision and consultation to develop “safety plans”. Such plans would include calling the therapist. If, in the event of a crisis, the family chooses to utilize services other than, or in addition to, MST, the MST Therapist should be contacted as soon as possible in an effort to develop a collaborative plan of action for future crises. Ideally, this contact should be made by the family, but could also be made by a member of the Crisis Team (with proper consents).

How is a MST referral made?
A referral can be made by faxing the referral packet to the MST office. This packet should include the 412 referral form (CYF), Harborcreek Youth Services referral form, and all other relevant information pertaining to the case. After the referral is received, the MST Supervisor will contact the caseworker or JPO to obtain any additional information required for the acceptance/denial of the referral and a decision will be made at that time.

How persistent is MST?
Since MST Therapists are held accountable for case outcomes, every effort will be made to engage families in treatment. At the outset, engagement of the family is seen as a treatment challenge that can be addressed. Various strategies that are professional, persistent, and utilize assets within the ecology, will be attempted to engage the family in treatment.

Can MST initiate services before the targeted youth is home?
Yes. MST can begin 30 days prior to the youth’s return into the home. During this time, MST will prepare the parents/caregivers for the youth’s return home as well as work with the placement to ensure there is a smooth transition back into the home, school, and community.

How long do MST services last?
MST services typically last between 4-6 months. When there are indications that longer treatment will result in significant improvement in the youth’s behavior, treatment can be extended. The program supervisor and consultant must approve all extensions of treatment.

What does MST do about adolescents using/abusing substances?
The scientific literature indicates that adolescent substance use/abuse is maintained by the same factors that maintain other delinquent behavior. These include being with other peers who use/abuse substances, family factors, and school factors. As such, the MST Therapist works with the ecology surrounding the youth to change these factors…the same as the MST Therapist would do in reducing criminal behavior, aggressive behavior, or school truancy.

Who provides individual therapy?
The MST Therapist, but only in certain well-defined circumstances. In general, individual treatment of the adolescent is done when other ecological interventions have been implemented consistently and the youth’s behavior has not changed. In caregivers, individual treatment is done when a barrier to engagement or goal achievement is found. During individual treatment, empirically supported interventions are the focus of treatment (e.g., CBT).

Harbor Creek is not the only group doing MST. For other resources, please google MST Allegheny County.

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Families Anonymous Meeting - Tuesday Night - Squirrel Hill
Posted by:Rocco--Wednesday, March 09, 2011


"Families Anonymous" on Forbes Av. is now meeting,
Tuesdays nights from 6:00 - 7:30PM

We hope you will join us at:

Gateway Rehab Squirrel Hill
5818 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Click Here For Map

Near the intersection of Forbes Ave and Murray Ave

(412) 697-0928

What exactly is Families Anonymous? - click on Read More

Families Anonymous is a 12 Step Support Group for Anyone whose life has been adversely affected by another person's use of drugs, alcohol, or related behavioral issues.

NO Fees - NO last names used - NO forms to fill out

NO formal sign-up – NO obligation – NO commitment

NO saying “I’m Sorry”

Families Anonymous is a group of concerned parents, relatives and friends whose lives have been adversely affected by a loved one's addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Every one of us has made the same statement at one time or another...

"But I'm not the one who needs help!"

It was obvious that someone else near to us was the one with problems.

Many of us were amazed, annoyed, saddened or shocked that our children refused our help, maybe even resented our efforts to help and would not acknowledge that they have a problem.

Families Anonymous is dedicated to doing something constructive about our approach to our loved one's problems. We learn from our own experience, but we can also get a great deal of benefit from the shared misery and foolish mistakes we make while trying to do the best we possibly can do.

That realization, in itself, goes a long way in helping us to start feeling good about ourselves... and, amazingly, sets the stage for the recovery for both of us in many, many cases.

Please join us on Tuesday nights from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Allow Families Anonymous to Help You on Your Road to Recovery.

Click on Families Anonymous for more information on who and what we are.

Read More......

March 5th Meeting Recap - Wilkinsburg
Posted by:Max--Sunday, March 06, 2011

Wow - our meetings have become large over the last several months, with new parents coming in all the time! I for one am thrilled about this; it means our name is circulating more and more, making it easier for parents to find the help they need through PSST. In attendance today were PSST professionals Kathie T, Justin and Jocelyn from Wesley Spectrum Services, along with our two favorite Juvenile Probation Bulldogs..er...I mean Officers, Lloyd Woodward and Val Ketter!

The downside of so many in attendance is that we have to be a bit more stingy with time per parent so we can get around the room. We were very strict this time; each parent had about 5 minutes to introduce themselves, their kid, their primary issue (drug of choice, mental health, other) and a basic one-sentence summary of where they are (literally and emotionally) in their process. We even gave them a little script to follow to keep them on track. If the parent responded that they were "in a good place", we took that as a sign that they would yield their time to another parent more in need of talking. If the parent said "we have an issue" or "we don't know what to do next" we wrote that down as something for further discussion. Time wise this worked beautifully; we took a break earlier than usual, and had over an hour for role plays, Q & A, and "PSST Advice 911". We would love feedback from all that were present - was this structure helpful? Did it feel too rushed? Did anyone wish they had more time to share? Did we use our time in the second half of the meeting wisely, or does anyone have another suggestion? Please leave a comment or write to sallyservives@gmail.com.

Here is what is going on with our parents:
Max (me!) is in a good place with both kids. David, has been away at a therapeutic boarding school since July. He had 90 days clean right before he left, so at this time, he has been clean for a total of 11 months (minus a short relapse for a "going away party" he defiantly gave himself). Our visits have been great, and his first home pass will be in April. Older son Michael is also in a good place, although it may not sound this way! Michael is sick of being scrutinized by us, and desperately wants to try out life on his own. He decided to take a week and live somewhere else (with a friend). He was a bit taken aback when Mel and I didn't blink and said "we love you and want you to live with us. But if you feel like you need to go, we understand and won't stop you". He has been gone since Friday, but we saw him for dinner on Sunday evening. All is well for now. More will be revealed!

Jane's Son Elroy seems comfortable in his court-ordered RTF. He has been there for one month, and appears to be engaging in his treatment. Jane went through Hell and back to get Elroy the treatment he needed (read earlier post "PSST GRIT, Episode I). Jane said she is in a good place for now. We are happy there is some peace in your life, Jane. Use this time to recharge your batteries!!

Jessica's son Herman happens to be in the same facility as Elroy. The Rabbits followed a self-imposed no visit rule. Herman was just too verbally abusive, and everyone felt some distance would help all involved. Finally after several weeks, the reunion happened. The distance helped Jessica and Roger see "how sick Herman really is". Herman isn't in a good place now, pushing all limits, so Roger and Jessica have decided to make visiting decisions on a weekly basis. We at PSST applaud your strength, Jessica. It isn't easy to decide not to see your kid. But your decisions are based on what is best for Herman, and more importantly, you are showing Herman who is boss. You are taking care of yourselves for a change!

Wilma's son Bam-Bam currently attends OPI Gateway. He is not (yet, anyway) under any court based supervision. Wilma has done quite a bit on her own, before ever coming to PSST -talk about tenacious!! Bam also has has MST (Multi Systemic Treatment) in the home. I plan to write in more detail what this home-based therapy is all about. Stay tuned, it might be appropriate for YOU!

Rocco came to the meeting today with out his right arm, Sally. Sally, we missed you...but Rocco made up for your absence with amazing pastries (We can be bought).
Rocco and Sally's story about son Cisco is well documented in several past blogs. Take a look at the following to catch up (enter these or other titles in "search this blog", upper right of PSST home page): Searching For Cisco Parts I,II and III, Finding Cisco Parts III, IV, and V, and Cisco Has Relapsed Again. Rocco reports that Cisco is actually in a good place now. He is in an adult half-way house and doing well. Part of his recovery is to come clean with the truth, and as we all know, the truth hurts. Cisco reported heroin use to his parents as a part of this. No one is sure as to how much or how long, but Cisco never went through a withdrawal. This implies short or intermittent use, but this small comfort does not change the fear and pain Rocco and Sally feel upon this revelation. Nevertheless, the Rocco-Sally express keeps chugging along. They have learned that recovery is not linear; peaks, valleys and bumps are always on the horizon. This family has taken each hit as a time to learn more about Cisco, and more about each other. They didn't win Parent Of The Year award for nothing!

Violet's son Sal is doing well in his third month at college, a place she never dreamed he would be! In fact, last year at this time she didn't think he would be here at all, because Sal is a heroin addict. Violet always credits PSST for saving her son. Violet - it is time to credit yourself a bit. You are the person who brought charges against Sal, so he would have a PO at school. YOU are the one who stood up in court for a PFA a few years ago. YOU have great instincts on what to do to save your son....you just needed a few friends who understood your situation, to offer support, and give you some extra tools. We all may have helped, but basically, you did this yourself!

Rose's son Joe is an addict whose drug of choice is "robotripping" - using over the counter cough/cold meds in combinations that produce a high. He has been in the system and has not lived at home for one year. This is very tough on both of them, and Rose feels that Joe sabotages himself every time he is ready to be discharged, because he is frightened of failure and the weight of responsibility outside a treatment center; He is in a new placement for this exact reason. In prior PSST meetings and at Families Anonymous, we talk about how kids often shoot themselves in the foot this way. On the upside, Rose had a good visit with Joe at his new placement,and they talked about "regular stuff" for a change. Joe also had a good visit with Lloyd. PSST parents salute you, Rose - your refusal to have Joe home, and your insistence that he be immediately placed again, is a statement of power, and the best help you can give your son.

Kitty's younger son Carlyle (18) is in-patient for 28 days, marijuana being his drug of choice. The therapist there say he is doing well, and when Kitty visited, he seemed "on the ball". Carlye's older brother Cat is a heroin addict in a 1/2 way house on the same campus. Carlyle was at the same NA meeting as his brother, and commented to Kitty that Cat's attitude was bad, and that he wasn't doing well. Kitty said that she thought it was interesting that Carlyle had insight into his older brother. Unfortunately Kitty is an old hand at this addiction thing - but she has learned that she didn't cause it, and she knows she can't control it. She recognizes that the only thing she can do is wait and see what happens, while not losing hope. We can all learn from this, Kitty. We are glad you've become a part of PSST.

Joan's daughter Melissa has struggled with marijuana, alcohol and pills for a few years now. She finally entered a treatment center outside of Pittsburgh (her third attempt this year). Even though she is told that Melissa is starting to follow the rules, Joan is being "protectively pessimistic". Joan, keep coming to PSST and Families Anonymous. The road to sobriety is a bumpy one, but there is reason for hope - just ask your more experienced PSST friends.

Elizabeth and Charles' daughter Diana has been using since 8th grade, but didn't find out about it until recently. This is something many of us have been through, and although it practically killed us, we are still alive to tell the tale - we are here for you! Although Diana is in the Partial Program at Gateway, Elizabeth has many questions as this is all so new to her. They don't have a contract or PO for Diana yet. Do they need it? Please keep coming to meetings; you will learn the answer from our collective experience, and become confident in what ever decision you make for your daughter.

Francoise and Brigitte's son Pierre is acting up. He was in IOP, then bumped up to Partial, and soon on his way to in-patient. He is a tough kid according to mom and dad; Brigitte and Francoise removed Pierre's door as a consequence for his defiance, but it isn't enough. Recently, Pierre verbally threatened his mom, and Brigitte felt frightened enough to lock herself in the bathroom and call Francoise. They are probably going to bring charges against him so Pierre will have a PO. Francoise and Brigitte already have shown they are willing to do what is necessary to step up and regain control of their home. They just need a bit more support, like a BULLDOG ON A LEASH...(the PSST term for PROBATION OFFICER!)

Welcome back to PSST Veteran Milly, with a message of hope. Her son Will, addicted to heroin, has been clean since 4/26/2006. He is now a Drug and Alcohol counselor at Liberty Station. Milly wants us all to know that PSST "changed my life", and, "where there is a heartbeat, there is hope." Thanks Milly, we all needed to hear that!

Cheryl and Jim's son Andy has used alcohol, weed and "other" for a long while. Sadly, Andy has developed some serious health issues as a result, but everyone is staying strong. He is doing well in his half-way house...he won "cleanest room" and "most improved"! Isn't it amazing how little things like this mean so much? We all pray for Andy's continued recovery and good health.

Dylan, Jenn and Brad's son primarily has behavioral issues. He does smoke cigarettes, and would probably smoke weed, but has no cash (good for you, Brad and Jenn!).
Dylan had just finished an integrated services program that helped de-escalate his defiance, and his physical and verbal abuse is toned down. They are going to start family based mental health counseling. Brad and Jenn, sounds like you have a good team of professionals behind you, and we always are interested in new therapeutic strategies. Keep coming back for support, and to learn a few other tricks that may help you out in a confrontation with Dylan.

Candy and younger daughter Tiffany came to give us an update on older daughter Tori. Tori is 6 months clean (from weed and pills), living in a female 1/2 way house. The family has seen tremendous personality changes (for the better) over the last few months. Tori is now in an honesty stage which is great, but she is still pushing the limits, so she will stay at her current placement for 3 more months. Always great to have you with us, Candy! For all the Newbies, The Spellings are another family who did what we all would have considered unthinkable before PSST; they stood up in court and brought charges against Tori for possession, had her court ordered into treatment, and had a PO assigned to her. Candy and Aaron believe Tori is alive now because of this; if you have any doubts about going to court to bring charges against your kid to save his life, just talk to Candy (and Violet, and Rocco and Sally, and Jane, and Daisy....)

We had a new parent with us today named Marilyn. Her daughter Audrey is 15, adopted from Moscow. Audrey is very angry, and is verbally abusive towards her mom. Marilyn wisely took Audrey for a urine screen to rule out drugs. Thankfully it was clean. Marilyn is at her wits' end and is unsure what to do. If you keep coming back, Marilyn, hopefully you will learn some skills that will help you communicate better with Audrey. You may also get ideas from other parents about possibilities for mental health treatment. Look for the upcoming post about MST....

Daisy's 15 year old son Ozzie is getting ready to be discharged from his placement. Daisy's petals are wilting with worry, as Ozzie has a 31 hour home pass...this will be a true test for both of them. Can Ozzie be home for this amount of time and remain respectful and calm? Can Daisy remember to use all her PSST tools and remain calm as well? Can't wait until 31 hours from now to hear the result...DING! Hour 32...and great news. A successful visit! WHEW...more to come very soon...Ozzie gets discharged tomorrow!

If you come to a PSST meeting, we feed your stomach AND your soul!!
We came back from our break with time to do 3 Role Plays

Role Play #1 – Dealing With Old “Friends”
The hardest thing that most of our teens have to face up to is avoiding people they have ever used drugs / alcohol with, or even people that may be a trigger for them to use drugs / alcohol. Our teens always tell us that they cannot leave their friends, and developmentally, adolescents value friends and peers above all else. Therefore, it is a loaded subject on a good day!
This role play was a mom visiting her son in an inpatient recovery facility and going over the “friends” issue BEFORE the kid gets a home pass or discharge.

After the usual pleasant greeting mom and son get down to the main issue – the rules of recovery and his probation dictate the need to avoid his old friends for a minimum of ninety days when he comes back home.

SON: Man, mom there you go again. You are like always trying to control me and change me. There is no way that I can leave my friends. You don’t get it, like they are my real family, they are the only ones that know me, you know?

MOM: I know it is tough to… (trying to agree)

SON: No you don’t know, mom, you never know, you don’t even have any friends. You lock me away for all this time and then tell me I can’t see my friends.

MOM: I agree that it is really… (trying to agree, even though interrupted)

SON: You just like to control everyone, you caused all of this because you are some kind of control freak…

MOM: (realizes it is hopeless to make a point at the moment) Take your time and tell me what you have to say. Let me know when you are done and then I will take my turn to talk.

SON: My friends only used because I supplied the with everything. If I stop using they will stop using. They understand me and you don’t. You never understand me. You are always doing everything for the rest of the family. You treat me different. My brother the nerd can have all of his nerd friends around anytime he likes and the girls they can do whatever they like whenever they want but you always need to control me. You are like my biggest trigger. You are the reason I use, you make me want to use with all of your rules and you don’t even know what it’s like to have any friends. I can stop using anytime I am ready. I already stopped until that time the cops caught me. Just give me one good reason why I can’t use…

MOM (staying calm): I like how honest and open you can be with me. I really appreciate it when we can talk like this. I have friends honey. I have friends at my parents group…

SON: Friends? At that Saturday Morning cult thing? Run by that $%&*# P.O.? You control all of them, you control that P.O., you tell them all what to think…

MOM (calmly): Hold on now, this is my turn to talk right now. Wow, I wish I had that kind of power to control things like you say! (this is an agreement) Never the less, the reason you cannot see your friends is because you used with them. Therefore, they are a trigger for you to use again.

SON: They only used because I wanted them too, they have been clean since I have been in here…

MOM: (calmly) Wait, it is still my turn to talk. They may or may not be clean.. never the less, you used with them, no matter who’s idea it was, you used with them and you will want to use with them again. Let’s just say that for the first 90 days that you will have to avoid them.

SON: But they are clean, how about if they come to meetings with me?

MOM: I am not comfortable with that. Let’s just try this for a 90 day trial period and then we can talk about it.

SON: So, like, I can see my friends in 90 days?

MOM: Let’s agree to talk about you seeing your friends in 90 days, okay.

Son reluctantly agrees, for now. Get on with the rest of your visit. The entire visit doesn’t have to be a learning moment.

- The key is for the parent to stay calm throughout this conversation. If you feel like you are going to lose it or just need a break, do not hesitate to excuse yourself to step away for a moment to get a drink, or just to calm down and to regain your composure. If things are going really downhill you may want to ask one of the counselors to join in to help moderate..or maybe, it is time for the visit to be over. Do not feel pressured into staying the entire time with a teen who is being difficult and/or disrespectful. Walking away sends a message that you will not tolerate their treatment of you; they no longer have this power. It also "leaves them hanging", unsure of what you will do or say next. It will give them a chance to cool off and try the conversation again under better control.

- Oscar nominee: Jessica portrayed son Herman in this role play, and by everyone's standards, she imitated her son perfectly, including not making any eye contact, not wanting to be touched, and continually talking with intensity. Veteran PSST parent Milly, playing the mom, did not hesitate to lean towards him for emphasis, but did not overdo it. (leaning in towards them can be a powerful non-verbal statement, but you must know your child and their limits). Milly also wisely remained calm and let Jessica/Herman "get it all out". Trying to reprimand a teen in this state for interrupting and not allowing you to speak is a waste of time, and a battle you will lose.
We often recommend parents starting difficult conversations with “I have something to tell you that you are not going to want to hear. If you get angry and want to walk away it is okay…” Usually this will make our oppositional kids want to stay (just to prove you wrong) but it will almost always peak their attention. If they walk away, that is okay; the conversation wasn’t going to go anywhere anyway. You will always have another chance to bring up the subject later.

Role Play #2 – Dealing With Anger...Yours!

Many parents have a lot of anger and resentment surrounding the teen in recovery. It may stem from past offenses (such as stealing from the home, continuous lies) or, we are so tired from trying to do our best to reach out and help our kid, only to be rebuffed. We are conflicted as to what to do with this anger and where to direct it, because to hold on to it is unhealthy physically and emotionally. The purpose of this role play was to demonstrate that this resentment and anger is not unusual. It is part of a cycle of co-dependency we have with our kid, and we need to break it. This includes getting professional counseling for ourselves, and learning how to detach (with love) from our addicted child. In addition, we recommend trying to put your anger towards the disease of addiction. You can love your child, and hate the disease. You can hate what your kid has done under the influence, and hate what the disease has done to the family. But understand that venting our anger towards our children is unproductive. The kids are not in a good state of mind at this point, and will easily fall into the trap of blaming the parent's attempts to help them, as well as the parent's anger, to justify drug use and behavior. This does not mean the kid should get a pass. On the contrary; PSST believes strongly parents MUST continually hold their child accountable for all offenses. Only when the teen has had significant clean time, is honestly working a recovery program, their brain matured and caught up, will there be a chance of the teen taking a "moral inventory" and make honest apologies to the offended.
But in the meantime, PSST mom Joan needs help NOW! She is so angry with daughter Melissa, Joan needs a role play on how to deal with this when she visits her in placement: Joan agreed to play her daughter, and Lloyd agreed to act as the mom:

MOM: (Keep very calm) So listen honey, I have thought about this for a while. I am afraid that I have handled things badly when it comes to talking with you.

DAUGHTER: You got that right…

MOM: (Stay calm) I know. It seems that I always end up yelling or crying and our conversations go nowhere. I have…

DAUGHTER: Yeah you really do have some issues mom…

MOM: (Remain calm) I have some real anger issues, don’t I? I can be a real b*tch sometimes!

DAUGHTER: Yeah, that’s what I’ve been saying. You are the one with issues, not me. I don’t know why I am in here - you are the one that needs help…

MOM (No matter what your child says stay focused): So listen honey, I need your help. (or.."you're right, I do need help..from you!) I am going to try to make this a pleasant visit for us both. If things get too tough for me I just want you to know that I may need to get up and get my composure back. I am not leaving, I might just need a drink of water, some air or just a few minutes to clear my head.

DAUGHTER: You need some professional help mom, that’s what you need. I’m really worried about you. I am in good shape. I have been clean for two weeks now so can I get out of here. I can come home and help you.

MOM Remaining calm): We are really good at pushing each others' buttons aren’t we? We know just what to say to get to each other, and I want to try to avoid that from now on…

DAUGHTER: You’re not even listening to me, are you? You never listen, it’s always all about you! I am the one that’s locked up here, not you! How would you like it….

MOM: (Very calmly): I know it is really tough for you honey but listen; this is one of my moments. I just need to get up and stretch for a couple of minutes. Can I get you a drink or candy or something? I will be right back.

During your visits with your child do not be afraid to take a time out. Toughing it out and allowing your anger to build will only lead to you both saying something you will regret. It is better to take a time out and decompress. Remember: The issue is not that you become angry; it is how you handle your anger.

Don’t be afraid to take some of the blame – agree with your teen! Remember, taking the blame gives you the power. Let your child know that this is going to be the new you – do not enable them by losing control – be a good role model for your child.
When you get back into your car feel free to vent – do some primal screams, cry, bang your head into a cushion, punch-out a Tickle-me-Elmo, let it all out – but don’t let them have the satisfaction of seeing that they can control you and your emotions.

As said previously: Whenever visits do get out of control do not hesitate to cut them short. Make sure that you share results of your visits, good and bad, with their counselors. That is part of the purpose of your visits and reestablishing a relationship with your teenager.

Discussion/ short Role Play #3 We Are Also Addicts; We Are Addicted To Our Kid!
Sometimes we don't realize it. Sometimes we can't help it. But once we take a step back, we realize...we did it again. We are so addicted to our teen that we caved and said "yes", gave them a few bucks, felt sorry or frightened so we gave them a ride (just this one more time...).
Your teen knows what triggers you. They know how many times they must ask before you finally break. They know what manipulates you. Acquiessing to their requests does the same thing for you as taking a drug does for them. Doing things for them makes you feel good, needed, and in control...but only for a moment. How do we stop this? By being honest and letting your kid know. Yes, you are addicted to them, that you are their biggest enabler and that starting today you need them to help you (in a big way) in your recovery - by not giving you the opportunity to enable them. Calmly let your child know that this is going to be the new you – (do not further enable and empower them by losing control and yelling or crying!)

Kid: Mom, can I go up the street to meet my friends?
Mom: I thought we went over this...you may not just wander up the street and hang out on the corner with a group of kids.
Kid: At least I asked you this time! I could have just LEFT and not told you where I was going. I am trying SO HARD and you don't care!
Mom: You know what honey, you are RIGHT. You are trying hard. Never the less, you are asking me to do something you know you aren't allowed to do.
Kid: OMG, mom!! I have nothing! If I don't go out, I will never have any friends any more! Is that what you want, for me to have nothing?
Mom: Of course I want you to have friends. I really wish that I could say yes to you right now. You know why? Because I am addicted to you! I am your biggest enabler, and enabling is MY DRUG!
Kid: WTF, mom...you have gone off the deep end - I don't even get what you are saying!
Mom: What I am saying is this. I have an addiction problem too; my drug of choice is YOU. I need your help - serious help - because if I follow my addiction and do what it tells me to, I end up enabling you! So from now on, help me out by not asking me for money, tobacco, friends or to take you places that will trigger your addiction, because that will trigger mine.
Kid: I still don't get it
Mom: I am in recovery too! I would NEVER give you a bag of pills while you are in recovery. So don't hand ME a bag of excuses so that I end up enabling you!

Once again; Take the blame / Take the Power!

This is the new me:

Hi, my name is ______________ – I am an addict – My drug of choice is enabling you - I am in Recovery – I will no longer enable you. Just one day at a time.

Read More......

Posted by:Sally--Saturday, March 05, 2011


Dear Reader,

If you are a parent, or care giver, of a troubled teenager or a teenager exhibiting addictive behavior and you would like to share your story, express your concerns, discuss what has worked or not worked for you and your child, recommend a book or a website, or just need to vent:

Please write to me at sallyservives@gmail.com

If you lose my e-mail address it is posted near the top right of the PSST Blog.

All names and e-mail addresses are strictly confidential and are not shared with anyone or forwarded.

Feel free to suggest a pen name or we can assign one.

I have found, in the last year and a half, that writing about my family's travels down the road to recovery has helped me to express my concerns and feelings. I found it a wonderful way to clear my head and get back to sleep late at night.

And the thoughtful responses that I have received from other parents has reassured me and comforted me through our sometimes perplexing journey.

I know that your story will likewise touch and will help many other parents like us.

Sincerely yours,


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One Women's Halfway House experience. Reported by Rebecca Fast, Intern
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, March 04, 2011

Rebecca Fast- Master of
Social Work Intern

Thank you.
As I finish my internship with juvenile probation, I want to say how much I appreciate everything I have learned from Lloyd, Kathie, Val and all the parents of PSST. Initially a little unsure of how a social work internship with juvenile probation would work, I am now convinced it is the best choice I could have made.
Working with Lloyd and Kathie, I have seen innovative approaches to working with a tough population in need of both intensive and compassionate services – teenage addicts and their families involved with the juvenile justice system in Allegheny County. I discovered a hopeful place where parents meet to hone the skills that help them take back the power balance in their families, and ultimately work to help their children learn to save their own lives. I saw the potential for our teenage clients to turn their lives around, and also the tragic consequences that the destructive disease of addiction can have on people’s lives.
This year I felt privileged to be part of a team that is dedicated to preserving and restoring the lives of troubled adolescents and their families. I worked closely with two exceptional people who have changed the way I see my work and my career. I knew from previous experience that Lloyd was an unusual and talented probation officer. Seeing his deep passion for his work, and his commitment to his clients, and his endless creativity, I can see why his colleagues, clients, and families respect him so much. Lloyd has mastered the art of communicating with and respect for the idiosyncrasies of the teenage addict’s mind. He is the “teenage whisperer.” Kathie’s work with her clients, and her hope for change is never ending and my respect for her drive and determination to never to give up on a young life is immense.
I also want to thank all the parents who I have met at PSST. The way you face daily challenges head on, with humor, grit and tenacity, is inspiring. I will take with me a much deeper understanding of the issues families face as they struggle to cope with children with addictions, but also of the hope that can be found in the shared support of parents gathered at PSST meetings.
To everyone, Lloyd, Kathie, Val, Jocelyn and Justin, the parents from PSST and the young men and women on probation who struggle daily to fight their addictions, for your generosity in sharing knowledge and your experiences with me, thank you.

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