Dr. Drew Endorses Diamond Ranch Academy
On Feb 20th 2012, Dr. Drew Pinsky, a popular drug rehab specialist, producer, radio show personality and “doctor to the stars” (as seen on Celebrity Rehab) ran a show on his program Life Changers about a mother who gave her son an unusual punishment for his behavior; She made him stand out on the street corner and wear a sign that said “I lie, I steal, I sell drugs, I don’t follow the law”.
As the story comes to a close, Dr. Drew offers this mother an “opportunity” to save her son’s future by receiving 12 months free tuition to Diamond Ranch Academy, to which she did not immediately accept.
Dr. Drew then began to pressure her to make a hasty decision, playing on her emotions and fear for her son by insisting that Diamond Ranch Academy was “Specifically what kids like him need” and telling her that it was “shocking” that she would not immediately enroll her son into this program solely based on his recommendation. I personally must applaud this mother for her hesitation, her son is only 14 and this was the first time she had found him in trouble, She was not ready give up being this child’s parent and for that, she deserves a mother of the year award! To think that Dr. Drew not only encourages this mother to abandon her child for the next year of his life, but also shames her for the act of believing in his ability to change his behavior is what is truly shocking.
The truth is, Diamond Ranch Academy is not a therapeutic boarding school, it is a behavior modification program that employs techniques of seclusion, forced labor, physical violence, fear based control and brainwashing methods that violate all basic human rights and could certainly be considered child abuse, if not actual torture. Aversive behavior control has been proven to be ineffective in most cases and severely harmful in others, and has a long history of causing determential long term effects including symptoms of PTSD, and in most cases, relapse.
Survivors of this school have spoken out:
“They had a punishment in which you were outside from 6:15 am to 8:15 pm, doing manual labor, pulling a heavy cart around for miles, in total silence, and permission had to be asked to do anything. Literally, anything. You were in line of sight of a staff twenty-four seven. One kid said something mildly disrespectful, and ended up out there for a week.” –DRA Survivor 2010-2011
As well, descriptions of the misuse of restraints and seclusion that were dolled out for punitive reasons, lead me to recognize the pattern of abuse that I had suffered as a child enrolled in one of these programs. I can tell you from my own experience that it is nothing short of terrifying. You literally feel like you are going to die, soffocate to death under the weight of the staff member who digs their knee into your spine, holds your arms painfully extended behind your back and grinds your chin into the concrete. You cannot tell me that this isn’t abuse, espeically when these “restraints” are given out for reasons such as:
· Breaking a program rule, saying something disrespectful, cursing, or making a face. –DRA Survivors 2005-2007, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2011
· 1.“Not consenting to a strip search 2. Not being able to push the cart 3. Talking back 4. Not walking around the track” “for 20-30 minutes at a time” which resulted in “a cyst formed on my wrist.” -DRA Survivor 2005 – 2007
· “Secluded because of “not doing what im told” -DRA Survivor 2005 – 2007
In my experience, the rules and regulations of these programs are punitive at best, and ultimately set these kids up to fail, and be punished. “Not following directions” could mean something as simple as looking out the window, or forgetting your pen and can surmount to loss of privileges to do school work forced into isolation for weeks at a time or physically restrained. These punishments are misused in a way that strikes absolute fear in the minds of these children, they feel as if they are living in hell 24-7 with no escape and no access to ask for help. Correspondence with family is monitored and strictly censored, students are punished for “manipulating” if they say anything negative about the program or ask to go home.
“You couldn’t write your parents but once a week and you couldn’t say anything about being restrained or going home. You only got one 15 min. phone call every two weeks only to your legal guardians.” –DRA Survivor 2007
These programs allow no access to the outside world, or family members who may be able to act on their behalf, and certainly not advocates. That means that if a child is being abused, they will only be abused further if they reach out to anyone for help.
Until these practices are abolished, there is absolutely no trusting Diamond Ranch Academy and the Troubled Teen Industry. Their history is shroud in abuse, deceit and manipulation on par with full fledged cults, in that every aspect of these families lives and relationships are being controlled by the program. Blind loyalty is not only encouraged, it is vehemently enforced by the parent “workshops” or seminars, where parents are made to believe that their child could actually die without the program. To the contrary, there are no legitimate statistics to support this belief rather the statistics show that more teens are liable to commit suicide than to fall victim to drug overdose or gang activity. Furthermore, placing a child with crippling depression and suicidal tendencies into such a hostile environment could only increase the desire and chances of succeeding such an attempt.
“I had three suicide attempts there. After each attempt, I was treated like dirt, and punished. No psychiatric help was offered. No sort of therapy ensued until well after.” –DRA Survivor
In any event, therapy is not what these kids are getting, and parents would be wise to see through the shameless marketing techniques of Diamond Ranch Academy and the many programs out there that run a similar, abusive system. No teen, no matter their faults deserves to be abused in the name of treatment, certainly not those who already struggle with mental disorders. Programs like Diamond Ranch Academy who claim to treat a whole range of disorders and behaviors are simply lieing to you, they are neither qualified nor is their program designed to properly care for those with special needs or acute behavior disorders nor is it a suitable option for adolescents with drug addictions. These programs are so desperate for your money that they will enroll your teen even in absence of any abnormal teenage behaviors, as long as you can write checks, they will incarcerate your teen.
It is up to the parents to educate themselves, to do diligent research and to avoid sending their child away to any program that employs abusive methods, at any cost. There are many resources for teen help that can be found in your local communities, you do not have to send your child away to find care and adequate treatment. The fact that a clinical professional like Dr. Drew would endorse such a program truly shocks and disappoints me, I once thought highly of him, now I have lost any and all respect for him. He is shamelessly advertising for this program without doing any prior research into it’s practices and efficiency in treatment. He of all people should know better that there is no “miracle cure” for adolescent behavior, and the idea that a 14 year old could be so addicted to drugs that he should be forced into treatment without consent or due process is simply a violation of our Constitution and basic human rights.
Dr. Drew should be ashamed of himself, facilitating such promotions, advocating child abuse as drug treatment and quite possibly taking kick backs for every child he has sent to these teen prisons. A violation of his trust as a medical professional and a shameful misuse of his influence as a public figure, the same act of which that earned a certain judge a 28 year prison sentence. I implore Dr. Drew and his producers, the CW Network to pull their endorsements from Diamond Ranch Academy and any other programs utilizing aversive behavior modification methods, because it is simply dangerous and certainly unprofessional to encourage the abuse of children, in any severity for any reason. Until the endorsements are pulled I and the hordes of survivors of the troubled teen industry intend to ruthlessly pursue this campaign against Dr. Drew and Diamond Ranch Academy.
For more information please visit CAFETY’s Campaign to educate Dr Drew: Diamond Ranch Academy, Survivors Voices