Quote of the Week

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

May 21st PSST meeting CANCELLED
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, May 16, 2016

Due to scheduling conflicts, there will NOT be a PSST meeting on Saturday, May 21st in Greentree.

Please consider joining us for our next meeting on Saturday, June 4 in Wilkinsburg!

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Thanks for the Memories!
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, April 21, 2016

                    The cake says it all . . .  

Thanks for your support, wisdom and guidance over the years! 

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Good Luck, Abby!
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Come join us at the next PSST meeting, to wish Abby success in whatever her future brings her - she is moving to Colorado!!

Our meeting will be on Saturday, April 16, at the usual location for that date (Sts Simon and Jude Church on Greentree Road).

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Are You Making any of these Mistakes?
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Click here to read an article by Cathy Taughinbaugh about the common mistakes that parents make when they realize their child is using drugs.  This is not a list meant to “shame” parents!  They are called “common” mistakes because they are the kind of things that parents instinctively do, often with the best of intentions, but sometimes unknowingly.  So let’s start by identifying those actions/thoughts.  By perusing this list, parents (and other loved ones) may realize that they need to start (or stop) doing certain things, because those actions may be hurting themselves, as well as their relationship with their child.

Here are a few examples from the list:
  • Feeling that your child’s drug use is a teen rite of passage that they will grow out of.
  • Continuing to worry constantly about things you can’t control and making yourself miserable.
  • Feeling guilty for something you didn’t cause.
  • Never praising or rewarding for what your child does right, because after all, he is using drugs.
  • Not allowing your child to take responsibility for the consequences of their use.
  • Waiting too long to get outside help, because you think you can handle it.

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It's Only Pot
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Today’s parents may have mixed thoughts about their teenagers' use of marijuana.  They may have personal memories of smoking pot when they were growing up, or they may have had friends who smoked, yet all of them (well, most of them) grew up to be responsible adults.  So why don’t their children deserve this same rite of passage, while their parents “look the other way”?

To add to this dilemma that parents face, the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in various states raises even more questions about what behavior is acceptable.

Click here for an article by Dr. Jim Mastrich, who discusses the significantly increased potency of today’s marijuana, and the implications of that for the teenagers who are using it.  Below is a quote from the article:

High school kids who are “experimenting” with today’s marijuana are much less likely to know how to manage the effects of such a powerful substance and are likely to bite off more than they can chew.

Click here for an article that discusses the impact of the decriminalization of marijuana on current attitudes about the drug.  Many experts believe that use of marijuana will increase significantly if people believe that it’s safe for anyone to use.  A quote from the article:

People forget that marijuana can be addictive. It actually changes the physical chemistry within your brain.

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Kratom - the Trendy New High?
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, January 07, 2016

Remember when synthetic marijuana, also called K2 or Spice, was all the rage?  And it turned out to be a hallucinogen that was eventually banned under federal law? 

There’s a new kid on the block called kratom, an herbal supplement that may be brewed and served in drinks, or purchased as a powder in convenience stores or on the internet.  Click here to read an article from the New York Times that describes the emergence of this new drug.  Below is a quote from this article:

 “Some users embrace kratom as a natural painkiller and benign substitute for more dangerous substances that, in most states, is legal. But its growing popularity and easy availability are raising concerns among substance abuse experts and government officials who say it is being furtively marketed as a way out of addiction, even though it is itself addictive. Worse, some of those experts say, kratom can lead some addicts back to heroin, which is cheaper and stronger.”

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Stop the Stinkin’ Thinkin’
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, December 31, 2015

AA warns the alcoholic about the stinkin’ thinkin’ that can lead a person to relapse.  But this type of negative self-talk is not reserved exclusively for alcoholics or drug addicts.  Negative thought patterns can lead the average person to self-pitying, self- destructive behaviors.  How can we escape the downward spiral?  Click here to read an excellent article about how to tame your inner critic.

The author of the article suggests an approach to achieving Learned Optimism, "where you dispute and refuse to allow negative self-appraisals to influence your decisions and actions. You, instead, will come to expect positive outcomes." 

What a wonderful message to start us out on the right path for the new year!

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Finding Inner Peace and Joy During the Holidays
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Feeling stressed out as the holidays approach?  You haven’t finished buying gifts for your family, the store didn’t have that perfect sweater in your spouse’s size, you dropped your phone and the screen broke, the garbage disposal ground to a halt, you already got a credit card bill that was twice what you were expecting, you just had a big fight with your mother-in-law, and the big project you are working on at work is giving you major headaches . . . what else could go wrong?

First of all, just breathe.

Now, consider the following tips, from the Positivity Blog:
1. Slow down.
2. Appreciate the little things instead of focusing on perfection.
3. Give a bit of joy to someone else.
4. Focus on what is most valuable.
5. Just accept how you feel right now.

For more detail about these tips, please click here.

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NO Parkway East closure during the PSST 12th Anniversary / Holiday Celebration !!
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, November 23, 2015

Good News!! 

Pittsburgh's Parkway East will now be OPEN during the weekend of Dec 4-6.   The closure is now slated for the following weekend (to prepare for the Greenfield Bridge implosion).

It is likely that Penn DOT delayed the closure so that it would not interfere with our PSST annual holiday celebration at the Wilkinsburg location.  Thank you, Penn DOT!

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PSST 12th Anniversary / Holiday Celebration
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, November 14, 2015

The PSST 12th Anniversary / Holiday Celebration will be held on Saturday, Dec 5, 2015 at our Wilkinsburg meeting.  Invitees include all PSST parents (both current attendees and alumni), in addition to all Wesley Spectrum therapists and Juvenile Probation staff who have been part of the PSST family.  

Please put the date on your calendar, and plan to join us!  Feel free to bring a food item to share - in the past, attendees have brought holiday goodies, pastries, a hot breakfast/brunch item, fruit, crackers & cheese, chips & dips, etc.

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Opioid Overdose Myths
Posted by:Jenn--Thursday, November 12, 2015

What should you do when someone overdoses after using opioids (e.g. heroin)?  Sometimes figuring out what NOT to do can be as important as what TO do.  Below are a few of the common myths regarding opioid overdoses.  For more myths, along with explanations of why they are bad ideas, click here.  
  • Let them sleep it off?   Never!
  • Put them in the shower or bath?  No!
  • Once they are breathing again, don't worry, they’ll be OK?   No!

The same website gives the following recommendations for what you SHOULD do if you think that someone is overdosing on opioids.
  • Call 911
  • Give rescue breathing
  • Give Narcan/naloxone, if available
  • Never leave the person – wait for help

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2015 Parent of the Year Speech
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, October 31, 2015

Earlier this month, our own Allegheny County parents of the year were honored at the Juvenile Justice Week awards ceremony in Pittsburgh. It was heart-warming to see them accompanied by their son, as well as by several of their supportive family members.

Click on "Read more . . ." (below) to read their well-received speech and to see more photos from the event. 

My name is Tracey and this is Scott and we are here tonight to humbly accept the award for Allegheny County parents of the year.

When Lloyd Woodward, my son’s probation officer and head of the parenting group that we go to - PSST (parent survival skills training) - told us on a conference call that we had been nominated, we had polar opposite reactions. His was, Oh, no no no no no and I said  “Yes”!.

He said no, because we are surrounded by a team of incredible people; Lloyd, Kathie, Abby, Justin and every parent from our PSST group that laughed, cried, supported, advised and empowered us from our first meeting until tonight.

I said, “yes”! because I am grateful for the gifts that this group has given to us and what we have become thru this program.

With their help, we gained the knowledge, confidence and skills to enable us to learn enough to help our son to become a man that he - and we - can be proud of.

When your child chooses the wrong path, you feel many things: hopelessness, failure, fear, anger and guilt. You look for help and if you are fortunate enough in an unfortunate situation, you are paired with people that rally around you in a way that takes some of those feelings away.

You are no longer alone. If I had been lucky enough to meet these people earlier on, I don’t feel that our situation would’ve spiraled so far out of control for my family, because the knowledge that we have gained has changed us so much.

My son first got into trouble at 15. If I knew then what I know now, he would still be chained in my basement with just enough slack to do laundry. At that point, it was just the two of us living together with his dad living close by. We were newly divorced and couldn’t put our own feelings aside to help our son. We both blamed each other for our “polar opposite” parenting styles. We were so wrong.  Do you know how I now know that? Our son continued to get into more trouble. It became more than “call an attorney” trouble. It became “find a direct line to Jesus trouble”.

Wesley Spectrum, Lloyd Woodward, Michael Santicola, and Judge Tranquili stepped, or should I say, “jumped in”. That is when we started with meetings with Wesley Spectrum and what led us to PSST.

Our son was placed in Shuman (where he learned to value clothes that fit and shoes that cover all of your feet). From there he went to Abraxas (where he learned that whichever way you choose to run in any direction, you will get nowhere). And then to Liberty Station (where he learned that maybe my mom’s cooking isn’t so bad) to Glen Mills schools (where he learned that it can be beneficial to tuck your shirt in and keep your pants pulled up). Please know that this is an attempt at humor of what Jake has learned throughout his multiple placements. You don’t take a tour from Shuman to Glen Mills without making more mistakes though and without learning where you do not want to be.

Time will tell for all of us. Is our son perfect yet? The answer is no. Are we? His parents? Well, we are getting this award. J I do know that he continues to learn and so do we, with every meeting, every text, and every email that we share with “Team Jake”, as Kathie penned us at the very beginning. Team Jake consists of others of whom I have to mention; my sister Pam, who has loved my son as her own since he was born and throughout his time in facilities has provided him with letters, love, support and enough books to fill a library. And my Mother Jean, who has loved him so fiercely and who would never let me give up on my son.

I guess I should also thank my son’s father for what he has become throughout these last few years. He has shown a level of commitment and love to our son that I have not seen duplicated.  It took a lot of work to get us to this point and I am lucky to have him as the one to have walked this tightrope with me and as the father of my children.

I could not have done this without the support of those 3 either.

If I may go back, 5 minutes after that congratulatory call from Lloyd, I called my sister Jennifer to tell her and of course I downplayed “parent of the year” because to me that said that I had done an exemplary job at parenting and that could not be further from the truth, but Jen, who is a social worker in Cleveland, said to me, “Hey, it’s easy to parent a good kid.” And that said to me that sometimes, you just need to do the best that you can with what has been given to you and created by you, and to recognize when what you have previously done that hasn’t worked and that has led to your situation needs to be fixed. Hopefully, this is now the path that we are all on.

In closing, an old African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child”. All of you are my village and I am forever grateful. 

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If you Want to Send a Note . . .
Posted by:Jenn--Wednesday, October 14, 2015

We’ve been hearing from a number of people who cannot make it to Lloyd’s retirement celebration this coming Saturday, but would like a way to send their personal well-wishes to Lloyd.  If anyone wants to write a note for me to print out & include with a group card for Lloyd, please email to Jenn at psst.jenn.brad@gmail.com by noon on Friday, Oct 16th.

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Lloyd is Retiring!
Posted by:Jenn--Monday, October 12, 2015

Even when you know a change has been coming for some time, somehow it’s still a mini-shock when the change actually happens.

Lloyd has decided to retire, and this Saturday will be his last PSST meeting (Greentree).  We invite all PSST parents, current & past, to come to our meeting on Saturday at 9am to wish Lloyd our congratulations & best wishes in this new & exciting stage of his life’s journey.

P.S.  There will be cake, of course!

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