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).
So…. here’s a story for you.
This homicidal AA member got 40 months in jail for making a death threat against the director of an addiction treatment facility:
In the message, Mr. Groom threatened to go to the facility and shoot the recovery center’s president and chief executive officer, Janina Kean, according to police.
Mr. Groom stated that he wanted a completion letter from the facility for rehabilitation time he spent there from July 26 to Aug. 16, 2010.
“If I don’t get the letter, I’m going to come up there with a .357 magnum, which is cocked and loaded, and shoot that (expletive) (Kean),” Mr. Groom said, according to court documents.
“I am in fear for my life, the 76 patients, and the 43 staff members that work here,” Ms. Kean told State Police. “I would like around-the-clock police protection at High Watch.”
That’s High Watch Farm Recovery Center, which has an interesting story:
High Watch has a rich historyconnected to both the New Thought movement and more profoundly, Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, established High Watch Farm in 1940 as the first 12 Step treatment center in the world. The debate over the role of Alcoholics Anonymous versus the role of professional treatment can be traced back to the first days of High Watch Farm. It was at that time, AA’s future was set to remain independent from the business of “treatment” for alcoholics. Today, AA’s widespread use of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is attributed to Sister Francis (Etheldred Folsom), the woman who gave the farm to Bill W. in 1940. The colorful history of High Watch begins with Sister Francis.
It’s a magical tale of how Bill W. was inspired to establish the very first AA front group. Along with Wilson’s “Let’s Be Friendly with Our Friends” pamphlet, the High Watch story might be of interest to those AAs who insist that Alcoholics Anonymous has nothing to do with the whole treatment industry that has grown up around it.
Ron Verlander, Jr. is the Executive Director of the National Organization for Addiction Healing (NOAH). As their website describes, it is not a treatment facility. So, what is their mission? This is taken from their website, which I have frozen:
“NOAH’s commission is to form a spiritual, financial and educational support bridge between the Christian Church Community and the Christian Recovery Ministry networks across the nation in order to save both lives in recovery treatment and lost souls through discipleship.
The “Bridge” is a spiritual two-way bridge. In one direction NOAH will facilitate and distribute desperately needed capital and financial support to Christian/Faith Based recovery facilities across the nation. (Summary of Treatment Facilities Article) NOAH will support its charitable funding projects from donations and pledges from churches, corporations, foundations, other charitable organizations and the general public.
In the other direction, NOAH will educate churches, their pastors and staff on how to minister to a suffering church member, give guidance as to where Christian recovery help is available for those who are in need of rehabilitation and help facilitate a connection to an appropriate Christian/Faith Based recovery facility that will meet the needs of the man or woman suffering from substance abuse addiction.
NOAH will also assist its participating churches in establishing a volunteer recovery mentor ministry within their church. The function of which would be to disciple the member returning from their rehabilitation at the Christian Recovery facility back into the Church first; and secondly into an appropriate 12 Step Support Group such as, Celebrate Recovery, Overcomers Outreach , Alcoholics Victorious, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Al-Anon. These two steps are of vital importance, in order to nourish the individual’s spiritual renewal and conditioning, and enhancing sustained sobriety.”
(Note the picture of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld creator, Larry David. I thought he was Jewish, but he is apparently endorsing the NOAH mission.)
Unfortunately, NOAH and Mr. Verlander has yet act on its mission, because he’s been too drunk. There are also some other interesting tidbits to the story:
Turns out it is a residence in Alpharetta.
When confronted about his arrest, Verlander said he had no comment.
A woman who did not give her name told Wilis she helped start the nonprofit with Verlander.
“He’s an alcoholic,” she said.
She claimed that’s why the company never got a chance to work with addicts.
However, their company’s website is still up and running, and soliciting business from faith-based organizations.
Willis asked if Verlander ever accepted donations.
“I appreciate you coming by to talk, but I’m not interested in talking,” Verlander responded.
According to the company’s website, NOAH is an IRS recognized 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
I hope Mr. Verlander isn’t accepting funds under the guise that he and his staff (which I assume consists of him and this woman who was unaware the website for NOAH was actually up and running) is helping others, and then pocketing said funds for beer money. That would be fraud, and though it may meet the AA standards of rigorous honesty™, it doesn’t meet the legal standard; and in that case, this guy will have more legal troubles than a DUI.
Last night HBO debuted the titled eponymous documentary about Diane Schuler, the wife and mother who killed 8 people in a head-on crash while going the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway in 2009. The autopsy of Mrs. Schuler showed that she was seriously impaired by alcohol and marijuana at the time of the crash and witnesses said that her driving looked so purposeful that it seemed like she wanted to kill herself.
Her husband emphatically disagreed, placing blame for the autopsy results on bad medical work. He engaged a separate reading of the toxicology reports and then refused to believe they were accurate.
Her family believes that the drinking was situational at best, and she indeed had no history of missing work, was a high producer and an overscheduled mom.
There was no evidence that she regularly drank, and the kids in the car thought her behavior (the title of the film comes from the words of the call made from her niece to her brother-in-law during the trip) was “strange.” In fact it was so strange and out of character for her that her husband and police went looking for her.
The forensic psychiatrist who reviewed her files and spoke to the family says that Mrs. Schuler was in physical (she had a severely abcessed tooth) and emotional (her father left her at nine) and that she took a drink to stop the pain. The drink didn’t stop the pain, and she took another and another and another. The marijuana, which she used “to help her sleep,” impaired her judgment and the results were tragic.
I watched it last night and would agree, from a cinematic standpoint, with the author of this review http://tv.nytimes.com/2011/07/25/arts/television/theres-something-wrong-with-aunt-diane-on-hbo-review.html?ref=dianeschuler#
Naturally, the story itself has spouted a fountain of opinion from the 12 step community, using the death as an object lesson for the need to understand the “codependence” of Mr. Schuler and how alcoholic Mrs. Schuler was.
Since the surviving members of the families killed in the crash are suing Mr. Schuler, I would expect this sad story to be in the papers for a long time. I would also expect the thumping of more drums from the 12 step communities, making the crash about them and adapting the circumstances as an object lesson to teach us all that AA solves everything.
For Lindsey Poteet, Sept. 1, 2010, was supposed to be the day she finished a monthlong drug rehabilitation
program, giving her a fresh start to care for her 17-month-old daughter, Arwen.
Instead she lay brain-dead and on life support in a Nashville hospital bed.
The 29-year-old had checked into New Life Lodge, a residential drug rehab facility in the secluded town of Burns in Dickson County, in early August, but within weeks became very ill.
The circumstances of her death have brought an array of unanswered questions from her family and shined a spotlight on the oversight of the largest drug rehabilitation facility in the state that is also one of the largest providers of state-subsidized care and rehabilitation for drug and alcohol addicts. It treats adults and youths.
Why was Poteet, who had come down with pneumonia, placed in a van and driven 30 miles to Nashville when Horizon Medical Center was just 8 miles from the rehab center? Why was the van driven by a woman who didn’t know how to discern during a 911 call if Poteet was breathing or not?
Why did it take so long to get Poteet the proper medical help when she was at a health facility that specializes in helping people like her recover? Poteet’s autopsy said she died of combined drug toxicity, a mix of anti-depressant and therapeutic drugs. It was ruled accidental.
Addict hired as doctor
Earlier this year, New Life Lodge hired Dr. Kevin Collen as its primary physician, even though Collen had recently completed a drug rehab program in Alabama.
After failing a drug test conducted on Jan. 21, 2010, by his previous employer, Nashville-based Mental Health Cooperative, Collen admitted that he had an addiction to street-level methamphetamine and benzodiazepines for more than one year, according to records maintained by the Tennessee Department of Health.
Collen was fined $5,000, and his medical license was placed on a five-year probation.
Gaskin said she viewed Collen’s addiction struggles as an attribute and said his medical license has no restrictions.
“Dr. Collen is in recovery with monitoring, an attribute that proves invaluable when helping patients overcome their own addictions,” Gaskin said. “After all, ours is a business of rehabilitation, redemption and second chances.”
(h/t Stanton Peele via new Stinkin Thinkin reader. Thank you!)
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.
The Irish Times wrote a good piece on America’s addiction to the treatment industry. It includes a brilliant and insightful quote from a familiar voice:
The prevailing method of treating addiction is known as the “Minnesota model”, after the Hazelden organisation’s first residential centre in Minnesota in 1949. “The 28-day patient model was driven by what insurance would pay for,” says Jaffe. The idea was to end the snake-pit-style institutions in which mental illness and addiction were treated until then.
The vast majority of rehab centres have adapted the 12-step therapy invented by Alcoholics Anonymous back in 1935. The first step is to admit that one is powerless to control one’s addiction. Half of the 12 steps mention God.
“It’s very much a carry-over from the temperance movement of the 1800s,” says Steven Slate, a recovered addict and founder of TheCleanSlate.org website.
“Alcohol was from the devil and you were a sinner. The devil got hold of you. Now it’s the disease that gets hold of you. It’s this outside thing; not me. It’s faith-healing and we are calling it treatment.”
Slate is part of the backlash against America’s rehab culture. He believes the obsession with addiction and rehab has become a self-fulfilling – and self-perpetuating – prophecy.
Like Jeffrey Schaler, the author of Addiction is a Choice and Gene Heyman, a lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical school and author of Addiction: A Disorder of Choice, Slate says people do drugs, sex and alcohol because they are pleasurable, and that the best way to overcome addiction is to find other things that make you happy.
Slate blames rehab culture for making people believe they’re engaged in a lifelong struggle against addiction. “It’s horrific,” he says. “They don’t allow people to move on with their lives. They keep them in their clutches.”
In March of 2002, as I sat in my room having a thrilling conversation with my friend Bobby (a fellow guest at the St Jude Retreat House) about the horrors he was subjected to at a Narconon treatment center he had previously attended, it never occurred to me that I would find myself embroiled in a debate nearly a decade later about whether the two organizations were somehow connected. The reason for this is simple, nothing we were doing at St Jude’s even remotely resembled Bobby’s description of his experiences at Narconon.
Furthermore, I know for a fact that there is absolutely no connection between St Jude’s and Narconon, nor do they use any process which even resembles the purification rundown or biophysical rehab processes that Narconon and affiliated programs are famous for. There is no connection. I know this as a former client, employee, and personal friend of the founders and management of St Jude’s & BRI for nearly a decade. (I hope you read the rest of my story, but if you wanna jump right to St Jude’s side of the story use this link: http://www.saint-jude-retreats-is-not-narconon.com/)
Yet, here I am, in the middle of a ridiculous debate. It’s ridiculous because I’m fighting against baseless assertions and innuendo, and I’ve somehow gotten into the position of trying to prove a negative – when in reality, the ones spreading the rumors should bear the burden of proof. However, the rumors have caused a dire situation, which is why I jumped in. Continue reading St Jude Retreats Is Not Narconon.
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.