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Straight, Incorporated was a non-profit drug rehabilitation program in the United States that produced hundreds of reports of abuse of adolescents and their families during its 15 years of existence.

This program was highly controversial due to the style of therapy it used, called "marathoning" that has been likened to brainwashing similar to the methods used on American POWs captured by the Vietcong.[1] Various allegations of abuse and lawsuits led to the end of Straight, Inc.[2]

Straight was cited and shut down for violations of client's rights, including, but not limited to educational neglect, sleep, food and water deprivation, unlawful physical restraints, inadequate medical care, lack of trained or qualified staff, and allegations of non-reported sexual and physical abuse that resulted in paid lawsuits to several former clients. Many former patients of Straight have formed 'survivor groups' assembling themselves in small numbers seeking a means to understand the trauma suffered and supporting one another in grasping the reality of what happened in their lives.[3]

While gaining a reputation for controversial styles of therapy, including "spit" therapy and peer degradation, the Straight program lacked accreditation and could claim only a small degree of success among its clients that exceeded standard behavior-modification programs, measured by "sobriety at one year post-program".[citation needed] Many families who entered the program were desperate, commonly having been unsuccessful clients at other programs. It has been recorded that there has been a high incidence of suicide among clients and graduates of this program, theorized to have been directly related to the mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered at these facilities.[citation needed]

Template:Section OR Many survivors have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and have suffered profound long term consequences in career, self-esteem and interpersonal relationships. Many former clients who did not have a drug or alcohol dependency prior to entrance to the Straight program have been reported to have turned to drug usage after leaving the program to help cope with the long-term effects of the trauma they suffered while in the centers.

Template:Original research For many years the claims of Straight, Inc.'s involuntary participants have been met with skepticism.Template:By whom While there may be many reasons for this, it seems to be primarily due to the graphic and angry nature of the claims.[citation needed]

In recent years, distinct patterns and sequelae of PTSD have begun to surface. Most probably as a result of some form of dissociative amnesia, the people from Straight, Inc. begin to have floods of frightening memories or "flashbacks" 18–20 years following their attendance. During that initial period of remembering, the most prevalent emotions are anger and rage. Most can not verbalize or communicate 'exactly what happened', even though they may recall one or several occurrences. Without proper treatment, these individuals re-experience their perceived traumas from triggers in the environment. A common remark is; "I can't tell you what they did to me there, but it was bad", or "...I haven't been the same since then".[citation needed]

After successful treatment for PTSD, therapy professionals[who?] are getting a clearer understanding of what really happened and have developed a more uniform observation and conclusion:

Straight Incorporated psychologically tortured its victims by systematically withholding, or severely restricting the individual's access to the most basic of human needs for food, water, sleep, urination, and defecation, while saturating those individuals with affection that was genuine and heartfelt.

Because participants were policed, punished, or rewarded by each other, a unique camaraderie exists towards the very individuals who inflicted the torment. This strange combination is a major hurdle in treating the anger and rage as most participants genuinely care about the people who hurt them the most. Given the 20 years required for the memories to resurface, and the additional sequelae of PTSD, only a fraction are beginning to seek and receive successful treatment for their trauma.[citation needed]

Programs influenced by Straight

Senior staff members started a number of programs when Straight closed based on the same program philosophy.

Some of them were:

  • Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC) in Canada (Still in operation) [4]
  • Kids of Bergen County (In operation 1984 - 1990) [5]
  • Kids of North Jersey (In operation 1990 - 2000) [5]
  • Kids of El Paso (In operation 1986 - 1988) [6]
  • Kids of Greater Salt Lake
  • Kids Helping Kids - (In operation 1981 - 2006) Granted to Pathway Family Center in 2006.
  • LIFE Inc.
  • Kids of Southern California
  • Phoenix Institute
  • STEP Inc.
  • Growing Together, Inc.
  • Possibilities Unlimited
  • Life Line
  • SAFE (Substance Abuse Family Education Inc.)
  • ACE
  • Proctor Advocate
  • Yes Families
  • Second Chance
  • Pathway Family Center, (In operation 1993 - 2009) [7]

Most were closed by the authorities due to stricter regulation and documented child abuse. While they were based on the same level system, the program owners claim that some of the restraint methods used at Straight is no longer in use [8].

External links

Strait has changed it's name to the Drug Free America Foundation.


  1. Brady, Pete. "Straight, Incorporated." Cannabis Culture. Accessed September 24, 2006. [1]
  2. Fager, Wesley M. "Flow Chart of the Straights and opening and closing dates for Straight, Inc." The Straights dot com Accessed September 24, 2006. [2]
  3. International Survivors Action Committee on Straight
  4. Has Straight really closed?, Coalition against Institutionalized Child Abuse
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kids of Bergen County memorial page
  6. Kids of El Paso memorial page
  7. Controversial Treatment Center Shuts Down, by Hagit Limor, I-team report -], July 31, 2009
  8. Straight to Pathway, by Robyn Monagan, The Times, Munster, Indiana, January 14, 2007
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