Monday, August 22, 2011


The first time I heard a kid in treatment say that they were “Probing”, I had no idea what they meant.

My son, who is a comedian, said “Well, first they put on a glove..”

Nice to hear him make a joke.  Hadn’t heard that much lately.

To “Probe” means going in front of a panel with his therapist, and a few of his fellow rehab-ites who ask questions and decide if moving to Phase 2 status is going to be granted.  They try to make sure the candidate is serious and not still lying about anything.

They consider the following list as they “probe”.
1.  Open and willing to appropriately disclose.
2.  Listens to and uses feedback.
3.  Demonstrates commitment to treatment program, goals, accepting limits, etc.
4.  Accepts responsibility for behavior and treatment. 
5.  Level of honesty.
6.  Knowledge and understanding of diagnosis, treatment, medication, addiction.
7.  Insight/understanding of dynamics of relapse.
8.  Aware of and understands lifetime stressors/triggers.
9.  Aware of thinking errors and remedies to thinking errors.
10.  Identifies use of DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) skills.
11.   Able to identify personal and family issues and progress/change.

Probe successful!

He was so proud of himself.

And now he gets to have more privileges like: 
1.  If approved by parents, teen may be left alone at home or may go somewhere without parents for 1 – 2 hours maximum.
2.  Teen may have contact with family, sponsor, and approved friends on Friend’s List only.
        *All names on Friends list must be at least 3 months sober.
        *Parents must meet all people on the Friends List (and their parents) prior to approving them.
        *Social media sites are not allowed while in treatment.  Email accounts are allowed only if parents have full access to them.
        *Parents must meet their teen’s sponsor and have their phone number.  The sponsor needs to be aware of program rules and parents must routinely verify teen’s contact with sponsor.

The first big thing he did as a Phase 2 was to go out to lunch with his sponsor to celebrate.  It was so strange to just let him go, even though his sponsor is a great guy and we trust him completely.

My son was so excited and couldn’t wait.  They went to Chili’s and now it is his favorite restaurant and steak is his new favorite food.  He had a great time and I was happy that it was a successful first outing for him.  I was grateful that his sponsor wanted to celebrate with him and make him feel like he had really accomplished something.

We were glad that he had accomplished something too.  He had been home from residential treatment for 3 months by the time he probed.  It took him so long to get to the point of probing that finally having these privileges was going to take some getting used to.  I felt like we had had been attached at the hip anytime he was not in Day Treatment. Now, I had to be willing to let him go out into the real world again, or leave him alone at home. 

It turned out that it wasn’t as nerve-wracking at first in my son’s situation.  He didn’t even try very often to do anything with friends.  He talked to them a few times, but neither he nor they really made any efforts to hang out.  I think that most of the friend’s he would have liked to have hung out with were scared off by the fact that we told them point blank that if they weren’t clean and sober, they couldn’t hang out with our son.  But, that’s the reality.  Trusting the friends is going to be just as hard as trusting our son.  Peer pressure is not good for a recovering addict. 

So, mostly, I had to get comfortable with leaving him at home alone for a few minutes while I ran errands, instead of making him go with me like I had been doing for so long.  I started running errands faster than I ever have before just because I was afraid to give him too much time alone.

Not because I thought he would do something.

But, I don’t think I will ever be sure.

And trust is going to take a long time to come back.

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