The first legislation aimed at regulating residential programs for troubled teens was introduced on Thursday in the House and the Senate. The bill would crack down on hundreds of programs housing thousands of teens, many of which use punishing “tough love” regimes found to include physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2011 was sponsored in the House by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and in the Senate by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). A previous version of the bill passed the House twice, but was never introduced in the Senate (at the time, the relevant Senate committee was focused on President Obama’s health care legislation).
Despite decades of research showing the harmfulness of coercive rehab for addiction, these abusive, tough-love programs refuse to go away.
On Wednesday, TIME.com reported on the phenomenon of “blood cashews,” nuts produced for export in Vietnamese drug-rehabilitation programs where addicts are forced to perform “labor therapy,” such as sewing clothes, making bricks or, most commonly, shelling cashews.
Last Sunday, the New York Timesdescribed Russia’s harsh new treatment camps, where addicts are locked up for as long as a month in “quarantine rooms” to endure withdrawal.
And last week a lawsuit was refiled against a Utah-based school for teens with drug or behavioral problems, with 350 former students alleging that the school engaged in abusive disciplinary tactics like locking students in outdoor dog cages overnight.
Yet, to date, there has been no evidence that the use of forced labor, public humiliation or generally brutal confrontation has ever been effective in rehabilitating people with drug problems — or any other kind of problem, for that matter. What’s more, when tough-love approaches are compared directly with kinder treatment alternatives for addiction, the studies find that compassionate strategies win by a large margin.
Thomas Downey had just been released from prison and needed a meeting. He also needed donuts.
The story is here.
A while ago, we linked to a story about him and his Sunny Acres sober living ranch, where he was charging homeless, addicted residents $300 a month for substandard housing, the opportunity to work for him, and a couple of AA meetings a week:
For eight years, De Vaul has battled neighbors and San Luis Obispo County code enforcement officers as he’s converted his land from cattle range to a thriving hub of mostly illegal money-making ventures. He sells scrap metal from heaps, salvages parts from dozens of rusty vehicles and hawks produce and nursery stock from a stand near the ranch’s entry on busy Los Osos Valley Road.
But Sunny Acres, his “Mad Max”-style encampment, which also houses clients in tents and the 1908 ranch house, is perhaps his biggest money-maker. It has also drawn the most attention from neighbors and authorities. They call it an eyesore and a threat to the health and safety of the 30 or so people it’s supposed to help. It’s also illegal, according to county officials, who say De Vaul has no authority to run a rehab center.
A frequent target
De Vaul has been the target of numerous orders to shut down the center and clean up his property. But as soon as the authorities go away, he lets the sober-living clients back in.
When the county shut down a barn that was illegally converted into a three-story dormitory, De Vaul continued to house clients in it until county workers nailed the doors shut.
“Government should find a way to take care of them, if they don’t want to put up with what I’m providing,” he said.
Please go read Steven Slate’s piece on the new documentary about the “troubled teen” industry, created by survivors of the Straight, Inc. nightmare. He makes the connection between what some might consider a sort of isolated issue and draws a very clear line to the addiction recovery movement whose psychotic mythologies influence our culture so profoundly.
Here’s Steven Slate’s article. It is essential reading. When you’re done, please friend it:
I wanted to also point out that one of the creators of Surviving Straight, Inc. started a website that we linked to in the blogroll. Troubled Teen Industry is a powerful resource and a compelling read.
[UPDATED]: I guess Steven and I were writing posts for ST at the same time, and I just happened to hit “post” before he did! Sorry, Steven… I scooped you on your own story.
Steven Slate says:
As of now, distribution plans for the movie are up in the air, and they’re submitting it to festivals. One thing that may help is making noise about it on the net, and showing that there’s demand for it. I don’t know the best way to do that, but here’s where to start:
The film’s website: http://www.survivingstraightincthemovie.com/
Troubled Teen Industry: http://www.troubledteenindustry.com/
Reddit Troubled Teens: http://www.reddit.com/r/troubledteens
I can’t stress how much these people have put themselves on the line by making this film and appearing in it. Along the way, one of the filmmakers even received a message ominously taped to his door which read “You won’t survive Straight Inc.” I’d hate to see their efforts go to waste. I don’t know the best way to support them, so I’m just starting by spreading these links around and talking about the movie with the means I have at my disposal. Many of the abusive methods of Straight Inc are still in use in Therapeutic Communities all over the place, and this stuff needs to be stopped.
AnnaZed sent me a link to these videos from Democracy Now about the Pennsylvania Judge who was taking millions in kickbacks for sentencing children to private prisons. We posted the story here, but these have some more detail and interviews with a couple of the kids who were sent away.
We really have no jeezly idea what we’re doing in this country. I don’t know how people don’t blow up the world every single day of the year.
CHEYENNE — The sentence of a Campbell County man convicted of aggravated assault and battery was unusual but not illegal, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a split decision.
Willis Center Sr. pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced by District Judge John Perry in November 2008 to 36 to 80 months in prison. But the judge stayed the sentence and granted Center a furlough so he could enter an alcohol rehabilitation treatment program.
Center failed the program primarily because he refused to complete the written first step of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program in use at the WYSTAR center.
He was then sent to the state penitentiary.
On appeal, Center claimed the sentence was illegal and his right to due process was violated in the way his placement was revoked.
The supreme court majority, in an opinion written by Justice William Hill and including Chief Justice Marilyn Kite and Justice Michael Golden, said that while the sentence was “unusual and perhaps ill-advised,” it was not illegal.
First, the judge diagnosis Center’s real problem as alcoholism, not violence, and sends him to an alcohol rehab program, which turns out to be nothing more than AA. Center cannot bring himself to admit he’s powerless over alcohol, so they “fail” him and send him to the pen. I think the state has put itself in the position of having to prove that the 12 steps are effective and necessary for the treatment of alcoholism.
Maybe he should have gone to the pen in the first place for whatever violence he comitted, but now he’s being sent there for not taking the First Step, which is nothing more than a statement of belief. Insane.
I don’t normally go after people but Dr. Drew Pinsky is saying things that are so offensive and destructive that I am making an exception.
In the name of love and all the people who have been misled, mislabeled and mistreated by the disabling beliefs of the addiction-recovery-treatment industry–I’m calling names. And right now I’m calling out some of my least favorite company, Dr. Drew Pinsky and kind.
In a recent video with hollywoodlife.com, Dr. Drew Pinsky discusses Charlie Sheen (sprinkled with condescending head nods and ending in smug amusement because the fate of someone’s life is such a funny subject): “Whether it’s drug induced or drug withdrawal or whether he has bipolar disorder, I don’t know but right now he’s manic. That’s an acute psychiatric emergency. Bipolar patients that are manic are more likely to kill themselves or hurt themselves than when they’re depressed. So this is somebody who should be in the hospital.”
Note that Dr. Drew Pinsky is calling for the involuntary medical incarceration of someone who has not violated the law. If he wasn’t using medical terms to threaten someone’s liberty and to dehumanize them by refusing to respond to what they are saying, we would call this “libel.” But what is going on here is worse than slander because this kind of insensitive, uncaring, profit-oriented, social-control oriented behavior is destroying people’s lives.
by Maia Szalavitz
Could Dr. Drew Pinsky be following Charlie Sheen off the rails? Recently the “Celebrity Rehab” host claimed that Sheen was “in an acute manic state” — a public statement which teeters on the bounds of psychiatric ethics (more on that after the jump). Moreover, Pinsky — contradicting his own previous statements about 12-step programs being critical to recovery — told TMZ that Sheen, who denounces 12-step, “has got a point” and that “their success rates aren’t that great … but it DOES work when people do it.”
Dr. Drew’s assessment of Sheen may well violate a principle of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) ethical standards known as the Barry Goldwater rule, which was adopted after psychiatrists diagnosed the presidential candidate in a magazine article as “paranoid” and “narcissistic” and questioned his mental fitness for office — without ever examining him in person.
So the question of the day over on parentdish is “Should there be random drug testing in middle school?” They offer a point and counterpoint, both of which are idiotic, but clearly influenced by the sheer lunacy of our policies and conventional wisdom about drugs.
Dori Hartley takes the “con” side. She reasonably insists that subjecting children to the indignity and paranoia of random drug tests is outrageous. Then she goes on to insist that her mighty wrath, tough love, and fear mongering will prevent her daughter from ever doing drugs: Continue reading SmackDown?