Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform > Synanon

A couple of them mentioned here...



I offer one personal anecdote. About a year ago, my then 18 year old son brought home a friend of his to talk with me. Jeffrey smoked marijuana a few times a week, most often perhaps before going home to his often feuding parents. He was a bit goofy but sweet, and my son had worked on an after school project with him for two years and knew him quite well. Jeffrey had never been a great student, but he was doing better academically than ever before. He had a girl friend at another elite school, he'd been accepted at a decent university. He was happy,18, and in his last semester of high school. He and another dopey friend got arrested by undercover police for smoking a joint in Central Park, near their homes. Mayor Giuliani has increased marijuana arrests from about a thousand or so a year to forty thousand a year. Mainly teenagers and young adults get caught, including lots of middle class kids like Jeffrey. What happens? No one knows for sure, but this story may not be that unusual.

When Jeffrey's parents were told to come to the police station and get him out, they became very upset and worried. They sought out a competent professional to examine Jeffery, and were given the name of a top doctor. His name happened to be Dr. "E" (as in Addiction Expert). As you no doubt know, he is a professor at a prominent medical school and a long-time member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Dr. E did not want to see Jeffrey, but only his parents. He listened to them and may have said that Jeffrey was in serious danger. In any event, he firmly told the parents that they and Jeffrey should all go to Phoenix House. When the three of them arrived at Phoenix House, the parents and Jeffrey were separated. The Phoenix House staff told the parents that they had seen many cases like this. They said that Jeffrey was in very serious trouble, he was on the way to becoming a drug addict, his life was in danger. They said that Jeffrey must immediately enter a Phoenix House program, and the parents could attend a group too, so as to better help their son. Jeffrey's parents told him that, given all these professionals' advice and experience, he had no choice: he was to begin treatment at Phoenix House in few days. During that time my son brought Jeffrey to me.

When Jeffrey came to my house a Dutch psychiatrist who specialized in drug cases happened to be there. This good doctor listened to the whole story along with me and was flabbergasted to hear that an eminent physician and medical professor had recommended Phoenix House for someone he=d never met. Jeffrey himself was most upset that almost overnight his parents had become deeply fearful and distrustful of him: they fully accepted the idea that he was in immediate danger of becoming a drug addict and destroying his whole life. He found this prognosis amazing, especially considering that he had never done any other drugs, and he didn't even like alcohol.

I then brought Jeffrey to another drug expert physician who interviewed him at length. He told Jeffrey that, in his opinion, Phoenix House would not be the best place for him, and that if Jeffrey wanted counseling or psychotherapy there were a number of alternatives to consider. The physician also said that, unlike private counseling or psychotherapy, Jeffrey's treatment by Phoenix House for drug abuse might well become part of his permanent medical and health insurance records -- with serious implications for career, reputation, and future health insurance. The physician also said he would say all this to Jeffrey's parents if he wished.

Jeffrey thought it all over that evening, and then bravely told his parents that he did not want to go to Phoenix House, and he wanted to consider other treatments. His parents went ballistic, and fought with each other and him. They then called Dr. E to ask him what to do. Dr. E said that now he did want to see Jeffrey. However, before, going to meet Dr. E, Jeffrey was directed to meet a girl, about his age, who had been in Phoenix House for a couple of years. She told him what a great place it was and how he could meet interesting people there. Jeffrey said she was also pretty good looking.

Jeffrey and his parents then went to Dr. E's office where it was announced that Jeffrey would be interviewed by another doctor -- who just happened to be Dr. E's wife. Jeffrey talked with her for quite a while. Then she came out and reported to the parents and Dr. E that Jeffrey certainly did not need to go to Phoenix house, but instead would be in treatment with ... her.

Any policy that has Ted Byfield on the same side as many Rastafarians can fairly be said to have generated a consensus.
-- Ottawa Citizen August 28, 1997

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