Quote of the Week

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

Addiction & Loss
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thanks to "Wilma" for sending us the following article about a documentary film focused on heroin addiction. 
Using her own money and donations from friends, Rachele Morelli commissioned a film detailing how her son became a heroin addict, as well as the impact of his death on his family and friends.  She has distributed it free to school districts throughout Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.  http://triblive.com/mobile/4846199-96/film-morelli-heroin

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Resources for You!
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thanks to "Mary Canary" for sending us information on the following resources for parents and their communities:

"Out of Reach" is a special documentary created by a teen filmmaker who captures the issue of teen prescription drug abuse.   This site provides information about how to share the full film and an accompanying "Out of Reach" toolkit with friends, schools, communities, families and more.  http://medicineabuseproject.org/resources/out-of-reach-medicine-abuse-through-the-eyes-of-a-teen
The Partnership at Drugfree.org is one of the helpful links featured in the right column of this PSST blog.  This site offers numerous videos, toolkits, and guides for parents on such topics as connecting with your teen, how to spot drug & alcohol use, how to prevent drug & alcohol use, etc.  You can find these resources at http://theparenttoolkit.org/
The Parents360 Rx Action Toolkit is a new community education resource that can be used by professionals from law enforcement, prevention and treatment, as well as by any concerned adults who want to share information about medicine abuse with their friends, family, neighbors and organizations to which they belong.  Check out this toolkit at http://pact360.org/  if you would like to promote its use in your community.

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Parent of the Year announced at PSST this Saturday at Eastern District Office!
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Come celebrate with us!

This is our annual Award. The actual award will be given on Thursday, October 10th at the Allegheny County Awards get together at 550 Fifth Ave., downtown Pittsburgh starting at 6:00 PM. All parents are welcome; but this Saturday is just for us! Cake anyone?

Our Parents of the Year were nominated by both parents and staff. We do not have an official way of nominating but people do approach Kathie and I and tell us who they think should have it.

Each year this award usually goes to one of our PSST parents who has both used the parenting skills of PSST and who also has given back to the PSST group in a substantial way. It was another year of tough choices as so many parents in our group stood out. 

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The Serenity Prayer With A Twist By Ed
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Serenity Prayer With A Twist
By Ed

As a parent and longtime volunteer at Gateway Rehabilitation Center Greentree in the Family Night Program for families of adolescents having substance abuse problems, I have observed many family members, including myself, who have found Serenity while surviving in the midst of all of the chaos surrounding their loved one’s addiction, and many more who have not. It has often baffled me as to why some can find it, and many, many others just cannot.

While reflecting upon the Serenity Prayer recently, I was struck by one of those thoughts that immediately elicit the mental response, “Surely, someone has thought of this before now!”. But, I have never seen or heard it expressed in just this way, so here it is.

Perhaps the first two lines of the Serenity Prayer became reversed somewhere along the way.

That is to say that possibly…........

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change those things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.”

should read……….

“God grant me the Courage to change those things I can,
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
and Wisdom to know the difference.”

Now, why in the world would that kind of a twist in the Serenity Prayer occur to anyone? I think that this is why...

The Serenity Prayer in its original order, as we are used to seeing it, seems to be a bit passive. In other words, we are asking God to grant or give us Serenity, Courage and Wisdom with no particular stated effort on our part.

Well, does the old saying “God helps those that help themselves.” have any validity, or not? I believe that it does, and should be taken into consideration when praying the Serenity Prayer.

As you probably know, Habitat for Humanity facilitates the building of homes for folks who, otherwise, could not afford to acquire a home of their own. However, each recipient of Habitat’s charitable work must, themselves, complete a required number of hours of work on their home in order to receive the benefits provided by Habitat. Plain and simple, if they do not help, then they do not receive. This perpetrates a kind of “sweat equity”, if you will, creating more of a sense of ownership and responsibility.

My experience in working with family members of adolescents with substance abuse problems has been that those who have been pro-active in their approach to the issues involved are the ones who have had the most success in finding the frequently elusive Serenity. Summoning the Courage to change the things that they could has been, for them, a giant step in their search for Serenity. They have chose to act first in making needed changes, and have been rewarded with more Serenity sooner than those who have not.

So, what changes have they made, those who have, indeed, found some of this elusive Serenity? Well, they have changed themselves. They have changed by choosing to react differently to the addictive behaviors of others, more calmly and more reasonably, in a more thoughtful manner. And, they have changed by choosing to eliminate their own enabling behaviors, both active and passive.

Take Courage and change those things that you can, and just feel the Serenity come rolling in. That’s the Wisdom!

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Are You Having Trouble Leaving a Comment?
Posted by:Rocco--Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Are You Having Trouble Leaving a Comment?

[I just noticed that this post is the most widely read this week; therefore, I have updated the email link and reposted it as current. I think the comments are still helpful. It was originally Posted by:Rocco -- Sunday, October 10, 2010] L. Woodward

We have received some feedback lately that people are/are not able to leave comments on the various posts. It seems to be running about 50/50. Sometimes we have heard if you log off and then log back on a second time it works.

The easier solution is to look to the top right of the PSST Blog right underneath "Search This Blog." Go to the "E-mail your story to gopsst@gmail.com" and e-mail your comments to us.

We want to hear from you so please keep sending in your comments, questions, observations or a personal experieince that you would like to share. If you want to listed under a pen name or as anonymous just let us know in your e-mail.


(Click "Read More" so that you can read the comments.- R)

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Gaming (or what does People, Places and Things mean?)
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, September 15, 2013

Click to see source
At our Wexford meeting the question came up, "Our Son is obsessed with Internet Gaming. Should we allow him to continue gaming once he is discharged from the rehab?"

No doubt if your son was obsessed with gaming he certainly played games high. Probably his preferred method of playing internet games was high. While we can all debate the value or problems associated with internet gaming by teenagers who sometimes prefer the dazzling screen action over going outside on a nice sunny day, one thing appears certain: gaming will be a trigger for the addict who is trying to stay clean post discharge from a drug rehab. He will not be able to play without feeling urges to abuse drugs.

Therefore, one approach is to ask for a 90-day commitment prior to discharge to refrain from all game playing. After the first 90 days we could have a discussion about "limited play."

A second approach was to limit game playing right from the start, using internet gaming on Saturday only (for example) and then only if all other recovery and behavior goals are met. This second approach trades some triggering on Saturdays in hopes of getting a more-highly motivated youth Sunday through Friday.

There is no single recommended method. Knowing your teenager is important. It is also important to know what you are willing to enforce. For example, if you know that you are going to cave in and allow gaming anyway once your youth gets home then it's better not to make it part of the contract. If you do make it part of the contract and your teenager realizes that you have caved on that item it sends a message that the contract isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

At the point of our role-play we did at PSST, release was not imminent. Because there was weeks before discharge it allowed the parents to just express that they were "NOT COMFORTABLE" with the gaming. They did not yet make a final decision on gaming, but it's starting to not look to good for gaming and of course the teenager is beginning to panic. This gave the parents to a chance to practice one of our basic parenting tools, "I'm not comfortable with that."

Not only is this tool good for addressing the topic of gaming, but it is good structuring in general. In other words, it shows that it matters whether or not the parent feels comfortable. Too often the comfortability level of the parents have meant nothing. If there is an argument about whether or not Johnny can go out, the debate focuses on what Johnny says he is going to do, who Johnny says he is going to hang out with, and whether or not the parents can trust Johnny to do that. It sort of goes unspoken that the parents are not really comfortable, but if they can't prove that something bad is going to happen they sort of have to give Johnny the benefit of the doubt.

Somehow as parents we have bought into the premise that if we can't really "prove" that a certain thing is bad, then it would be unfair if we did not allow our teenager to go ahead and try it. Therefore, we argue about it. And our teenagers are relentless debaters and more often than not, we lose the debate.

On the other hand if the premise weren't about proving anything, but was rather about whether or not parents felt comfortable then there would be no argument (except in certain circumstances where things could change to the point where a parent would feel more comfortable.)

Note: Feeling "uncomfortable" is not exactly the same as feeling "Not Comfortable." Saying, "I'm not comfortable with that" carries more weight than saying "I'm uncomfortable with that." Being uncomfortable is riding a water ride at Kennywood and now your socks and underwear are damp. Instead, looking your teen in the eye and stating "I'm Not Comfortable with that," and putting the emphasis on "Not" is stronger. Either will work, but one is stronger.

The following role-play was inspired by the one we did at PSST; however, this went in a somewhat different direction than that one did. As is so often the case, once I start writing a role-play the characters seem to have a mind of their own and I just go with it.

Mom: I'm Not Comfortable with the idea that you will be discharged from this drug rehab, and go back to your obsession with gaming.

Teen: You mean I can't play x-box? Why?

Mom: I'm just not comfortable with it.

Teen: Well if I'm being punished then, at least give me a reason. I mean I agreed to come here, now I'm being punished.

Mom: OK, OK, you are right.

CTeen: I am?

Mom: Yes, you are- you deserve a reason but all I'm saying is that you won't like the reason.

Teen: Well, what is it?

Mom: Parent leans in, [lowers her voice, looks her son right in the eye]"Son, I'm NOT comfortable with you returning to People, Places or Things of your addiction."

Teen: What? that's stupid!

Mom: Yes, I suppose it is stupid in some ways.

Teen: If you agree that it's stupid, then why?

Mom: I just think that this whole addiction thing has taken us through the looking glass and lot's of things just seem ridiculous now, nevertheless, I am Not Comfortable with you returning to People, places and things of your addiction!

Teen: That's stupid. Mom, I got high a lot right here in our house. Right up in my room, in the bathroom, and in the basement. Does that mean I can't go in the bathroom to take a crap anymore cause if that's what you're thinking I got to find a new place to take a dump, don't I?

Mom: Yes, that is an excellent point.

Teen: It is?

Mom: Yes, because it shows how ridiculous this whole thing has become. I can't expect that you don't use the bathroom can I?

Teen: I hope not.

Mom: So, you're saying that since I can't stop or control you from going back to some of your People, Places and Things that I shouldn't try to stop you from returning to any of them?

Teen: Yes, that's what I'm saying. Don't try to work my program for me.

Mom: OK, there's another good point. Regardless, I have to tell you I am Not Comfortable with you going back to gaming after you discharge from here.

Teen: So what? I'm going to game anyway.

Mom: I'm not comfortable with that.

Teen: So what?

Mom: Well, I was hoping that while you were in here you'd made significant changes.

Teen: I have! Ask my counselor if you don't believe me! I've made tons of changes, for crying out loud, I'm Community Leader here now, you know that right?

Mom: Yes, I know that Son and I'm very proud of you for all that you've done in here. Still, I'm disappointed too.

Teen: Oh geeze, there really is no pleasing you. You'll always find something to complain about.

Mom: Yes I am good at that somtimes, huh?

Teen: [rolls eyes] Let's hear it, what are you disappointed about?

Mom: Well, it never used to matter to you what I was not comfortable about. If I told you not to bring your friends over you'd do it anyway. If I told you to lower your music, you would refuse. Remember?

Teen: Yeah, but I was using then.

Mom: True. Regardless, I am not comfortable with you returning to gaming for the first 90 days after your discharge and that apparently means nothing to you, just like before. You know in some ways I'm not so sure that you've really changed that much. OH sure hold on, I am very proud of you for being Community Leader. I just wish I saw more of a commitment from you to follow rules and to accept my being in charge- especially when you don't agree with the rules or if you don't like th rules. But instead, I think we are going to bump heads a lot, do you think I'm wrong?

This can go on and on. The point is that mom is going to have this discussion about whether or not her teen has changed and Jeanne Ann from Gateway, who sat in our Wexford meeting, pointed out that it's important to have the discussion with the teen about whether or not the teen has changed. And remember too that if it appears that the teen has not really changed some strong consideration should be given to not coming right home after rehab but going to a halfway house first.

Teen: Well if you think you're calling all the shots after I get out I got a news flash for you Mom!

Mom: Oh?

Teen: You're not coming up with a bunch of new rules cause I'm not going to even pretend that I'm going along with that! Look, I came here, I became Community Leader and now I'm better, and I get to come home and resume my F***ing life!!! And you're not going to stop me. I won't do drugs but I'm doing it my way, you understand?

Mom: Oh I hear you. Loud and clear.

Teen: [glares]

Mom:: I'm glad we had that out.

Teen: Why?

Mom: Because you told me where you stand. I like that. You're right too, there's no sense in pretending that things have change.

Teen: Things have changed! I'm done with drugs.

Mom: Well that part I'm very happy about. But I mean things between you and me. You did what you wanted to do no matter what I said before, and now you are honest enough to clue me in that none of that part has changed.

Teen: No, that's no what I said! You're putting words in my mouth!

Mom: I'm sorry?

Teen: I will follow your rules completely as long as they make sense, but I'm not following the stupid ones.

Mom: OK, so that is a little different, you are willing to follow the rules that you agree with. OK, well Son I've got to be as honest with you as you've been with me, OK?

Teen: What?

Mom: I'm Not Comfortable with you coming straight home after rehab. I think we need to talk halfway houses.

Teen: Are you F***ing crazy?

Mom: Yes, probably I am but also you used to use all that profanity at home before rehab. Son, I'm Not Comfortable with that language either. That's another thing I had hoped you would change.

Teen: OK OK, see that's rule that makes sense, I'll watch the way I talk to you, but halfway house now that's not even recommended by my therapist! Do you realize that I'm Community Leader here?

Mom: You mentioned it, yes.

Teen: Well you can't do this to me! I'm definitely playing my X-box when I get home!

Mom: I'm not comfortable with you coming straight home.

Teen: What? Where did that come from?

Mom: I just think you're going to need more help and you and I are going to bump heads a LOT!

Teen: OK, OK, I'll limit the gaming like on Mondays I will not game at all; OK you happy with that? You are such a [pause] wait I won't say it right now, but gee whiz Mom I think if you don't ease up I am going to have to go back to getting high just to deal with YOU!

Mom: Good point!

Teen: What?

Mom: Well I am a trigger for you too. Look, honey I'm going to tour that halfway house, I'm thinking that this is too important not to trust my gut on this one and I'm just NOT Comfortable.

Teen: OK, look I won't hardly game at all, just on weekends if that makes you happy but please Mom, please do not say anything to my counselor about a halfway house. Please, I'm begging you please promise me that you'll keep this between us? OK?

Mom: Exactly! Because honey that's what just what I used to do! I used to not tell you father, your grandparents, your teachers or your friend's parents that I was worried sick about your growing drug problem. I was wrong. I was really wrong and that was such a big mistake. Today, I'm Not Comfortable keeping secrets. So yes, I will be speaking with your therapist.

Teen: I'm so done talking to you. You need help. You need to go see someone I'm going back to the unit.

Mom: OK, well we'll talk about this later! Bye honey...

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Son, lemme get your advice on something...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, September 12, 2013

Last Saturday at PSST we talked about how to build a closer relationship with our teenager. As our guest Jean Ann from a local inpatient programs pointed out, "As parents we are so locked in to the struggle to get control of our drug abusing teenager that we forget how to stay connected."

How much of your time with your teenager is spent on control issues? Ten, twenty-five, fifty, even 75 percent? Higher? Of course there are extenuating circumstances, the biggest one being that your teens behavior needs confronting all the time. Even so, how much of this is repetitive? We think that by repeating our lectures and messages etc. that they will have more impact; however, the more we repeat ourselves with teens the more we might be counter-productive. Perhaps our teenager has nothing to say. Maybe they spend all their time in their room? Still, in this post I want to challenge you as to whether or not you can have more "not teachable moments" with your teenager.

When our teenager is actively abusing drugs all focus naturally is on trying to help him decide to stop abusing drugs. It doesn't feel like we have the luxury of chit chat. Once our teenager stops abusing drugs we sometimes just don't know how to get back in that "let's get to know each other mode."

Another window of opportunity to get to know our teens is when we become Straw Bosses. If for some reason our teenager doesn't live with us and we no longer have the same power to exert over them, we become Straw Bosses. Now we do have the luxury to build a better relationship but we might not know where to start. Now we aren't the family policemen but maybe we don't know what to say.

This is where we can consult the ordinary teen/ parent relationships for information.

For example, I found this five questions You Must Ask Your Teen Right Now. The author calls these character defining questions.

What is the most important quality a person can have? I love that one. Hazard a guess as to what your teen will answer and then go ask your teen. If you're surprised,that's a good thing to admit to your teenager. We all like to be a surprise, and none of us like to think of ourselves as being too predictable.

"What is the hardest thing about your life, what do you worry about most?" Too many of our teens would say "Probation!" Or would they?

"What are three words to describe you?" Hmmm,I'm not sure I can give you three words to describe me but it really does make you think. I guess that's the point.

Sometimes these are points from which discussions happen. They can't really give you a wrong answer. It's their opinion and you are showing them by asking that you value their opinion.

In the role-play we did in group, the parent asked the teenager for his opinion about an important decision that the parent was going to make. It wasn't something threatening like, "I think I'm going to leave your father" or "I think your Dad cheated on me, what do you think?" Obviously, you would have boundaries regarding what you ask your child for advice. Some things should be off limits. But it was something about the parent considering whether or not to take on a new job. The parent showed that he cared for for the teen's opinion. If we want to raise children who have the ability to form good opinions, then it follows that we treat them as though they have opinions that we value. Also, like these conversation starters they help us as parents to develop a different interaction with our children that isn't all about controlling their behavior. If over 75 percent of our interaction with our children is about teachable moments the maybe we can boost the not teachable moments interactions.

Another thing that I've considered. If I wanted my teens to talk to me, I should be willing to talk to them. Not that there is anything wrong with periods of silence, but sharing things with my teenagers like what I'm going through perhaps at work or in my personal relationships is sometimes OK, depending on what exactly it is that I'm sharing. I'm letting them get to know me and my values. I'm teaching values and at the same time I'm modeling for them how to share things with each other. Then I try to be very patient. There will come a time when they talk. Hopefully, it will happen from time to time.

Let's keep this in mind too. Talking and sharing is a voluntary act. Yes, you are the parent and sometimes you are entitled to information especially in 911 situations like failed drug tests, stolen money, and other accountability issues; however, squeezing kids for information about what happened in sports or what happened in school, what's going on with their friends is a good way to set up resentments. We have to respect that they don't want to share everything. Sometimes they are afraid that they will look bad or that they will open themselves up for criticism. Don't forget that when you sense that your teen is feeling bad about something that they are trying to share use a supportive phrase like, "Don't beat yourself up." This seems to help the teen share more and now he feels that you are on his side. Or you might also say, "Hey, I'm on your side." That does not mean that you agree with everything they say. For example, if your child feels that they are the reason their team lost the game and you believe that might be true because you know they should have passed the ball more and not tried to make every goal all by themselves you might say it like this:

Parent: "Hey, don't beat yourself up. It's one game.

Teen: Yeah, but it's my fault we lost. I played bad. I don't want to talk about it."

Parent: Well, yeah it's hard when you feel that way, but like I said, don't beat yourself up. Sure next time you'd probably try to pass more.

Teen: Oh yeah, I thought I could win the game all by myself but I'm a screw up. When the pressure was on, when it really counted and when the coach and all my teammates were counting on me, I couldn't come through.

Parent: Well yeah, that's hard. You're harder on yourself than anyone else.

Teen: Na, they all know I screwed up. They hate me.

[Pause] [Parent does not want this to turn into an argument about whether he is a screw up so he just thinks quietly for a second. He wants to make an "agreeing statement" but he is keen to avoid coming right out and saying "Oh yeah, you are the screw-up of the year aren't you?"

Parent: Look, I'm not sure it matters to you what I think but I'm just going to say it. The way you feel about the game going badly and how willing you are to take responsibility for the loss, it just shows how passionate you are about the game. You're really a competitor, a real fighter.


Parent: That's one of the things I admire about you.

Teen: What?

Parent: That you are a fighter. You know there are going to be times when you lose, and boy when that happens it really hurts. But you take that chance. And you keep coming back. Right now it really hurts, but just so you know, I love it that you're willing to get out there and risk all that hurt just to compete, to play, and you know, to leave it all out there on the field.

We will be imitated. It's inevitable. For example, if go through spats where we are punishing our children by giving them the silent treatment, then don't be surprised when they are teenagers and they are upset with us, that they return the favor. Now we are on the receiving end of the silent treatment. Once again it's also important to consider that in everything we do we are modeling behavior for our children.

Dr. Phil has this to say:

"For Parents: How Well Do You Know Your Teen?

"The questions below address how much you know about your child. They can be answered with either "yes" or "no." Make sure you can truly answer each question if you are going to write "yes." Often people assume they know the answer, but when pressed, they really do not."

Click here to go to Dr. Phil's Connect The Parent, 20 things that you should know about your child.

Keep in mind that if you are firing off questions one after the other your teenager may be defensive. Also, don't ask things that are traps or in other words, don't ask things for which there are no good answers. For example, "I want to know why you cheated on the test." I mean, c'mon the teen knows that there is no good answer and somehow we believe that by asking them a question for which there is no good answer we create a teachable moment. If it were that easy we could just go tell them to stand in the corner.

In fact, a good idea is to throw the word "why" right out the window. Teens might not know why and if they do they are not likely to tell you if they feel that they are being judged. Instead, ask open ended questions such as tell me about ____. Open ended questions can't be answered in one word, so it leads to more open exchanges.

Also, everyone is really passionate about something. If and when we get a chance to talk about something we feel really passionate about, we almost can't help talking. That's where we want to go with our teenagers. Of course if the only thing that your teen is passionate about is drugs, sex, and what we consider to be bad music, then that might not be the way to go. Most teens are also passionate about one or two other things: a favorite movie, book, TV series, sport, hobbies, etc. Even if it is a video game! If the video game is the one thing that our teen is passionate about and we immediately say, "Oh I don't like video games, and you spend way too much time playing them," then we have shut ourselves off from one vital avenue. We don't have to become avid video player to just listen and show interest. "What's your most favorite thing about the game? What's one way you would improve the game if you were the game designer? If you designed your own game what would it look like? Do you think the violence in the game is problem for some of the players? Is there anything in the game that you think is too over done? etc.

Whatever it is good luck in building the relationship. Keep the door open. Keep talking. And when you are stuck, it's OK to say, "You know I'm not sure what to say about that. Let me think about that one." That means that there will round #2. :-)

Click here to go to the post on minimizing resentments in teens.

There is a place where you can go to get advice from teens. You have to pay for it. Click here to go to Advice From Teens page. Or if you want to save a buck just ask the one(s) you have at home.

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Roxie's Relapse
Posted by:Jenn--Sunday, September 08, 2013

Roxie’s Relapse – Living Life through Lenny
                     by Roxie


I never thought I would reminisce on Lenny’s various three-year placements with affectionately fond memories of celebrating his birthdays at juvenile facilities. That was a cakewalk compared to the spiraling relapse that Lenny is currently experiencing. I was told that relapse is part of recovery, but was not prepared for its harsh reality. I’d rather not remember that sobriety is the leading cause of relapse.

Lenny’s twin sister, Lena, has handled his deterioration by picking up the habit of smoking cigarettes. That is something I am grateful for. The smoke is Marlboro and not a new friend named Mary Jane. Last year, that would have been an infraction that would have dire consequences. Not anymore. She’s 18, has a job, and living with an addict brother who has the utmost respect for her. Consequently, neither twin smokes or drinks in front of me. In that and many other ways, I am blessed.

I deal with Lenny’s relapse by repeatedly running away. My mother is 77, so I use that as an excuse to remove myself from the home from early morn until 8pm to ‘take care of her.’ Even mommy asked, while anxiously jabbing in the air with her cane, “Don’t you want to go home?” Premonition is one of her innate Indian qualities, for I certainly did not tell her about Lenny!

I acknowledge that I have become part of Lenny’s relapse lunacy. When his addict friends are hungry, Lenny cooks them dinner quickly while they wait in slobber on my back porch. “They’re hungry,” he stated compassionately, while flipping a burger that looked reddish raw on the inside. I peered through the window and recognized one of the boys from Lenny’s placement days. I almost asked if he wanted cake…. he would eat it, too.

During his current relapse, Lenny used to come home every three days for food, water, and showers. He has become much better since telling him that I talked to the Sheriff and I do not need an eviction notice to remove him. Additionally, I called the local Magistrate to see when a warrant for his arrest for unpaid fines would be issued. “You act like you want one today,” stated the Magistrate’s secretary. “I cannot drop everything and draw up a warrant, but it will be soon.” Since I am unemployed, I wanted to become a magisterial temp, just for that day, while she drafted up the warrant. Even with the law breathing down his sun-drenched neck with numerous ‘hickeys’, Lenny is not fearful enough to change. I need to modify how I respond to this relapse, for it is sheer stupidity to think this is his final setback.


Roxie knows to:

  1. Stop feeling that she is the woman who lost her soul; and her soul’s name is Lenny.
  2. Turn up the heat on group meeting attendance, such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon or PSST, to solidify my own sanity. Church is good, but being with parents in groups who understand is exceptionally better.
  3. Realize that Lenny joining the military probably won’t happen due to him being unable to provide a clean blood or urine sample.
  4. Accept that I may answer the door one day for officials who want to arrest him.
  5. Continue to let Lenny go, but include his famished friends in the release!
  6. Realize that Roxie is not alone in this circumstance.
  7. Talk, talk, talk, to anyone who will listen.
  8. Draw strength from God or your higher power.
  9. A shoulder to cry on is always available, from friends, for the asking.
  10. Understand that between the ages of 18 and 78, there are still 60 years of hope available.


Similar to never being prepared for death, one can never be prepared for relapse. Roxie is learning to roll with it, realizing when enabling is happening, and getting rid of that behavior at least on a temporary basis. I even had an unorthodox idea of trying the “if you can’t beat them, join them” method, with me having a few beers with Lenny. I imagined that he would be mortified that I was getting ‘high’ with him and he would become sober out of absolute embarrassment. It would work! Unfortunately, my bloodline indicates that I would befall addiction similar to my Lenny.


“The men [Native Americans] have a good and an evil side. Sober they are angels.  Drunk, their evil side comes out, and they are drunk a good part of the time.”

(Mary Brave Bird, Native American Quotations.)

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Just for fun...
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, August 29, 2013

I got a good laugh out of this article. I hope you enjoy it. This is not one of those "If the shoe fits, wear it" articles. I would never suggest that our teenagers have learned all their problem behaviors from us; however, it is also true that our children imitate us and learn from what we do. We just can't really control what exactly they learn from us. This article has a lot of fun with that idea.

Here's the link. Oh and be warned there is some colorful language used in this article that some might find offensive.

Type rest of the post here

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Paradoxical Techniques
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, August 29, 2013

Click here to see orignal
Why something like "Ask Me Again" techniques work with our teenagers:

I've just read an interesting take on paradoxical techniques, which we sometimes employ at our meetings. For example, if we know a child might angrily storm out of a meeting once he hears what you have to say you might start the meeting by saying, "I know this is going to be hard for you. If at any point you need to just take a break we want you to know it's OK with us if get up and leave." Parents have discovered that this is an effective way to more or less nip that behavior in the bud, although we know that when we do that the storming out behavior might continue but if it does we have stripped the child of the oppositional nature of this behavior. It's no fun if Mom and Dad say you can do it.

Well this website seems to highlight this technique and explains it pretty well. I provide the link, but as with all the links we provide on this blog I don't necessarily recommend everything or fully buy into it 100 percent. For example, they point out that these techniques need to be said without sarcasm. I agree; however, if I worded some of what I was saying the way they do I really don't think I could keep the sarcasm out of my delivery. That brings up the point that you have to make this stuff your own. You have to be comfortable with what you say and so adjust any of these ideas to fit what you can best use and understand that some of it will just sound too stupid if you have to say it the way they do. Of course, the PARADOX here is that you must try somethings that are outside of your comfort zone if you want to grow. Have fun either way with this new information.

Here is the link.

Click here for original

By the way one of the many things I enjoyed about this article is this statement:

"Milton Erickson, when asked what he thought was crucial to bringing about behavioral change replied that it was not sufficient to explain a problem. It was important to get the client to “do” something different in regards to the problem. Neither Haley nor Erickson believed that “insight” or attempts to bring about self awareness and understanding were critical to behavior change. No matter how much alcoholics, smokers and other addicts “understand” the whys and how of their behavior the behavior does not change until they do something different. Following the principle that many people cannot think their way into a new way of behaving, however, they can behave their way into a new way of thinking. It is up to the therapist, then, to give directives that will cause a change of behavior, with or without, the client having insight."

Think how many times we hear the phrase "We had a talk, and now I think that Johnny understands." But read that paragraph again. Understanding doesn't change anything. Doing something different changes understanding.

I don't want to belabor the point, but in general we put too much store in "understanding." Yes, of course it's important but without behavior changes it usually doesn't by itself lead to anything. This is why we try to use role playing so much in group. We are trying to change behavior by showing or by doing something different, which can lead to understanding but hopefully it can lead to understanding that works.

You may also like to read about Ask Me Again on our blog.

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The Slippery Slope of Life
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, August 22, 2013

Living with Beaver: The Slippery Slope of Life

written by June

I have reviewed my previous writing attempts in trying to let you know what life is like with 20 year-old Beaver, and how I’ve handled it. After the initial initiation into the world of juvenile incarceration, the road hasn’t become smoother. The dog-gone slippery slope of life sometimes turns out to be a real pain in the butt. It’s actually grating at times.

Beaver was finally released from the revolving doors of various juvenile facilities in 2011. After 8 years in and out of placements, I thought that I could once again breathe freely, hear birds sing, and enjoy seeing the sun make my pearls gleam. Ah, the ugly face of deception rose up once again. The beginning was a lot of tiptoeing around each other, then it became tolerable; even okay. Until little Beaver told me that if my fiancĂ© ever told him to do something, he would tell him to "go ride a fire truck" or at least something that sounded like that. This really made me take a hard look at what life was becoming, and it didn’t look rosy.

June once again pulled her big girl pants up, took a deep breath, and told Beaver he had finally broken the camel’s back and would have to move to Dick’s house—NOW. Conceivably not the best retort, but June hadn’t finished the "Lloyd Woodward School of Appropriate Responses" yet. But June has now! It’s hard to remember all that she’s been taught, but nevertheless . . .

The outcome has proven to be far less than perfect. Beaver left Dick’s house because one night while Beaver was asleep, Dick had drunk a little too much cider and punched little Beaver in the face. And Beaver responded in kind. Again, not the best response.

What June [and new hubby] felt was the best scenario for all was to set Beaver up in a room for rent that could be paid by week or month. Beaver got a good job [benefits, 401K, union]; car; new apartment September 1 -- life was good in Cleaverville!! Couldn’t tell Dick where Beaver was living though, because the fear of retaliation was smothering. Deception again crept into the picture.

The picture began to spiral downward. Since February, in just 6 short months, Beaver has managed to lose the job; his car is broken; he got the job back only to quit it because he found a better job. Doing what, you ask? Why--- delivering pizza. Not in the town he’s living in. A town that is a 20-minute drive away. "It’s full time, and I get tips and I figure with the tips I’ll be making more money" Beaver said to June, her head spinning around faster than Regan’s in the movie The Exorcist. The same day he got the pizza job, he quit the good job and his car broke down. Thus, he had to quit the pizza job.

June has now hit bottom, or close to it, once again. Never ever thought I would be thinking about jails, fines, getting a phone line installed for the phone calls; at least hoping that I wouldn’t. June found out today that she was deceived. Beaver felt he was trying to "handle it himself" by not telling me that he received a citation for public intoxication. I believe there were more charges considering he’s only 20, and the fine was around $650. Beaver called me this morning as he was being told that he was a day late [had to be there within 10 days to pay] and would be going to jail unless the fine was paid in full. And if I didn’t get into my jet van and be there 2 hours ago that he would be going to jail. Not thinking, just reacting, I went to the bank and withdrew the money. June’s jet van was blasting along when her cell phone rang. Boy, a lot of PSST violations just in the last 2 sentences, Mrs. Cleaver! It was Beaver on the line, who then put the constable on the phone. Turns out I didn’t need to be going there at all. Beaver was already cuffed, shackled, and about to be loaded into the car and taken to jail—for 30 days. And thus, a transportation fee was added onto the fine, which now brought it up to around $750.

I slowly turned my jet van around, and crawled slowly back home. No sunshine, no birds, no pearls. The tough love message of "I can not financially afford to help you. I’m sorry" tastes bitter as it rolls off my tongue. I also found out that he has a court hearing next week too. The fine for that one . . . $440. The police stopped him because they felt he was acting "evasive" and searched his car when they asked him to get out. They found an empty baggie that had contained some weed. I’m not exactly sure what the citation was for that they issued him, but he is beginning to collect them like squirrels do nuts. Beaver said that they took all the baggies out of his car, which were his lunch baggies. June did find a tad bit of humor in this, thinking about the bags going to be analyzed and them coming up with ham and cheese.

I’ve now removed my heels and pearls, combed my hair and sit here numbly typing my story. Tomorrow I will look outside and see if I can see the sun. For now, I will try to accept my tough love choice. Lloyd Woodward School has taught me well. If only the FDA could make a L.W. pill for easy acceptance of one’s choices . . .

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Tips on Visiting your Child in an Institution
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Monday, August 12, 2013

Tips on Visiting your Child in an Institution, especially when he/she suffers from depression

We had a great meeting on August 10th and enjoyed a couple of new faces. The new faces sounded like veteran PSST parents, and as Jenn said, "Sounds like we can all learn a lot from what you two have already learned."

The theme of the meeting was highlighted by a father whose son is about to transition from psychiatric inpatient back to a halfway house that he had formerly completed. The experience of going in to see your teenager in some sort of placement, and walking out again feeling like you accomplished nothing, that your visit didn't do any good, and that maybe you have left your teenager more depressed, more upset, or generally speaking just worse off than when you started the visit was something that many parents can relate to.

As the meeting went on, it was clear that each parent had a contribution to this subject, and if we could put it all together it would make a great post.  

I did a role-play with the father who got us all started on this, but as has happened before, I realized after I got started that there were others in the room who could do perhaps a more effective role-play. One parent especially jumped in to do the same role-play and she just stole the show with her empathy, non-judgmental attitude and strong acceptance of wherever her son was with whatever. At one point the father playing the teenager said:

Teen: You don't have to visit me in here, there's nothing we can say or talk about that helps so just don't feel like you have to come here.

Mom: Oh, I intend to be here with you, it's OK if we don't talk. I'm good just being here with you.

Teen: You're just here because you feel like you have to be here.

Mom: I'm here because I want to be here. I need you in my life as much as I hope that you need me in yours.

Teen: So you just come here to make yourself feel better.

Mom: I need you to be in my life. It's really that simple. I love you. I'll always be here for you.

As always, this is not verbatim only because I didn't write it down or record anything.

As people started throwing tips out, even to the final comments, I realized that this is what PSST is all about. People were saying "this works for me" or "I find it helpful to keep this in mind."  Here are some of the ideas:

1. Give yourself permission to allow for periods of silence, even if they don't feel comfortable. Don't feel like you have to fill up every minute with noise.

2. Don't go in with the idea that you are going to fix things. Just be there and let trained professionals play the fix-it role.

3. It's OK to say "I don't know what to say. I know this is awkward."

4. Be prepared with a game.  Elizabeth suggested a zany game called "Would you Rather . . . ?" that you can buy at a place like Walmart or a bookstore.  Other options are chess, checkers, board games, or card games.

5. Use affirmation.  In this case especially, the young man reached out for help, he didn't try to hurt himself, he didn't relapse, he was still alive etc.

6. Don't ask Why? Just throw that word out of your vocabulary when you go to visit.

7. Remember, you can't joke a depressed person into not being depressed. Yes, you can sometimes get a depressed person to laugh, but when the joke is over, the depressed person is still depressed. Yes, if laughter comes up spontaneously that could be just what the doctor ordered, but don't go in with a list of jokes. The problem is that it could be interpreted as you not taking this whole dangerous situation seriously.

8.  When talking with your teen, try to brighten the environment by allowing your teen to face the windows, so that he/she can see outside.  If permitted, take your teen for a walk around campus while you visit.

9. Sometimes a letter can be a good way to communicate your feelings with your teen, when in-person communication may be too difficult, or when you really want to emphasize a point.  Your teen will have the letter to read & re-read on his/her own time.

10. If your teen is receptive, reminiscing can be a good way to re-live some of the good times you've shared as a family.  

11. Sharing old photos can be a great way to start a conversation.

12. Don’t try to force teachable moments into each visit.  Your teen is already experiencing the negative consequences of his/her actions.



Our teens are sensitive and sometimes they reach a heightened sense of awareness towards criticism.  For example, we may think we are helping or even re-framing by saying: 

Parent:   Boy, I guess you really need to start making better decisions, huh? 

However, being in a fragile place and perhaps already feeling quite badly about how things turned out, i.e., being back in some sort of placement or inpatient, the teen might feel like hey, if you just came here to rub my nose in it, don't even bother. 

So, the hostile response to this little statement might be: 

Teen:  Oh do ya think?  Duh! 

Or the response might be silence, and nothing said after that is going to get the teen to share anything about how he is feeling. Or maybe the teen perceiving that he is being attacked might strike back with: 

Teen:  Oh you really make good decisions huh?  Well 16 years ago when you decided to have another baby you screwed up!" 

When a teen is in placement it's probably better to go in with a line more like: 

Parent:  Don't beat yourself up.  


Parent:  You are really hard on yourself.  You know being in here I'm just going to guess that it's hard to remember all the good decisions you've made.

Teen:  Like what?

Parent:  Well, you know, like the way you brought up your school grade in Chem, or when you decided to get some counseling, or when you picked that funny card for Mom for her birthday.  Or when you told your sister that you liked the Onion Surprise dish she made for you and we could all see it was pretty bad!  You know I could go on and on but what's the point, it's only natural that you feel bad right now and that's OK too.
Teen:  You don't know how it feels to be in a place like this. 

Parent:  No I definitely do not.  I mean, sure I've made my share of lousy decisions so I get that part, but I do not know what it's like to be in here.  Want to tell me about it?    


Anyone with additional thoughts, please add them as Comments to this post!  

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Celebrating an Anniversary!!
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, August 10, 2013

Two years ago we thought we had lost Andy forever.  His lifestyle had hit a concrete wall and there seemed to be no end in sight beyond prison and eventual death.  After six years of addiction, 13-18 placements (we lost count) & permanently removing him from our home, TODAY we celebrate the most wonderful anniversary of our lives as a whole family unit.

A post from Andy on 8/8/2013
"Today is something I always dreamed of and knew was possible, but never thought would come. It's been the biggest up and down emotional roller coaster but given the chance I wouldn't change a thing that has happened thus far. Everyone I've come in contact with whether I love, hate, or have no feelings for, have helped me more than you know. Today we celebrate 2 years without a drink or drug."

Who would have thought that "Just For Today" would string so many days together?

Have faith fellow PSST members - there are some amazing miracles that can happen.
                                Cheryl, Jim, Andy and The Three Stooges

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The Power of Affirmation
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Most people appreciate positive feedback.  They want to know that they are special in some way, that someone recognizes their strengths, and that they are appreciated for who they are and what they do.  But as parents of difficult teens, we may struggle with how to compliment our kids.  Why is that?  Several reasons come to mind:

  • We can’t find anything positive in what they say or do.
  • We are afraid of falsely encouraging them.
  • We are concerned that we will give them too much power.
  • We think they won’t believe us anyway.

With some creative thinking, you CAN give your teen positive, honest affirmation without losing any personal power.  Try some of Lloyd's Best Affirmations on for size, and see if they work for you.  Your teen may not be willing to show his/her appreciation for what you’ve said, but you might be surprised to find out that he/she is secretly pleased.  (By the way, these ideas can work when interacting with adults too.)

  • “What you did took a lot of guts.  You are really brave!”
  • “You are really loyal to your friends.”
  • “You have always been so good at reading me.”  Which might be followed by a comment such as “You’re right, I would never let you drive the family car if you are still smoking weed.”
  • “You are SO creative.  I can always count on you to have a lot of ideas on just about any topic.”  If your teen is adopted, you can add, “You probably get that from your birth mom/dad, because I/we (the adoptive parents) just aren’t that creative.”
  • “I am impressed!  You really handled your disappointment in an adult way.”
  • “You never mince words.  I always know where I stand with you.”
  •  “Good question!  You always have such great questions.  I wish I had such great answers.”
  • “You know, you really surprised me!”
  • "You’re not a wishy washy person.  You mostly know exactly what you think you should do, and boy, once your mind is made up, you stick to it no matter what ANYbody says!”
  • “You stick to your principles!  Even though there might sometimes be serious consequences, if you think you’re right, you follow through.”
  • “And then I notice that when you get consequences for your decisions, you accept it like a man.  You don't complain and blame other people.”
  • “You have a good heart.  If someone needs help, or even if someone needs protecting, you're there for them!”
  • “Basically, people who don't know you might not notice, but underneath your hard exterior, you’re a really good dude!”
  • “You know me so well.  I think you know what I'm going to say before I even say it (kid will agree 99% immediately).  That's why I don't need to keep repeating myself as much as I do (another big agreement), so if you catch me being redundant, let me know, OK?”
o   When your teen stops you and calls you on your redundancy, ask him to finish what you were going to say. 
o   If he/she is at all close, affirm again with "That's excellent!  You are so right.  That's the main point, and I think my other point about (blah blah) wasn't as important as what you got out of that!” 
 o   Alternatively, “You cut right to the heart if what I was saying, but I like the way you said it better!”
  • “You have a great sense of fair play!  If you feel something’s not fair, it really bothers you.  I've noticed not only when you think you’re not being treated fairly, but when you think someone else is getting a raw deal, you try to fix it if you can!"
o   Used when your teen is stuck on the "it ain't fair" game.
o   When he/she persists, it opens up talking points about "You're right, life isn't fair" or "You're right, I'm not trying to be fair.  I'm trying to keep you safe, and I'll do just about anything to keep you safe!" 
  • “You hide it sometimes, but you have a very sensitive side and things people say can bother you.  I think it’s the creative artist in you, because I've read that artistic people are sometimes very sensitive.” 
o   This might lead your teen into saying, "Yeah, that's why when dad said I was lazy, it really bothered me.  I mean yeah, I didn't clean up my room for three weeks, but I was doing other stuff.  It wasn't 'cause I was lazy!"
o   In this case, you can agree that name-calling hurts.

If you want to explore the use of affirmations further, and read some sample conversations that you might have with your teen, see Lloyd's November 2012 post at  http://nevertheless-psst.blogspot.com/2012/11/so-your-bike-is-bit-rusty-you-think-it.html

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