Straight, Inc. (1976-1993) publicly claimed to rehabilitate teenage drug users by using tough love and Alcoholics Anonymous principles. Straight, Inc. provided NO professional counseling: Straight, Inc.'s "treatment model" relied exclusively on "positive peer pressure" from unprofessional staff (program graduates) and from the teenage clients. Straight, Inc. claimed to have an astronomically high success rate and was supported by both the Reagan and Bush administrations. However, Straight, Inc. did not publicly reveal what many survivors will tell you. The REAL Straight, Inc. was a facility that used coercive thought reform (aka mind control, brainwashing), public humiliation, sleep & food deprivation, extremely harsh confrontational tactics, kidnapping, isolation and emotional, mental, psychological, verbal and physical abuse to forcibly break us down then remold us in the Straight, Inc. image. Straight, Inc. also operated in secrecy, just like a cult (Straight, Inc. has been listed on at least 2 cult expert websites). No outsiders were ever permitted to know what really went on. Straight's rules and our fear of harsh punishment prevented us from talking to outsiders or from reporting abuses.
Trying to survive Straight, Inc. devastated many of us. Some former clients have committed suicide. Others have serious disorders as a result of their time in Straight, Inc. For example, some of us suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, panic disorders and severe depression. In addition, many of us have experienced other long-term detrimental effects such as inability to function normally in relationships, fear of therapists or any form of counseling, severe distrust of people, paranoia, nightmares, etc. This is certainly not a complete list but does give one an inkling of the serious long-term adverse effects on survivors caused by Straight Inc.
This website has multiple sources of information - survivor stories, newspaper articles convering Straight Inc., documents from The Ronald Reagan and George Bush Presidential Libraries about Straight, documents on investigations and original Straight program documents. There are also videos of news programs such as 20/20 and 60 Minutes that covered Straight. To the right there is a directory for each type of documentation.
Straight, Inc. - Renamed
Straight utilized "spin off" programs, possibly to avoid the controversy that plagued Straight, Inc. Usually a Straight parent or former executive staff member would leave Straight and reopen an identical program in another location and put a completely different name on it. Straight Inc became Kids Helping Kids, Pathway Family Center, Life, Growing Together, KIDS (of North Jersey, El Paso, etc.), SAFE, Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC), and others. Most of these spin offs have been shut down. KHK, SAFE and Pathway met their demise in part because survivors protested and spoke out against them. AARC is still open. Although Straight is dead....the legacy of Straight still lives. An enormous troubled teen industry now exists using many of the same abusive tactics that were used by Straight Inc. And some survivors from more recent/different programs are also walking away with PTSD just like Straight survivors.
Flowchart of the Straights (since the chart was compiled in 2000, some more Straight Spin off programs have finally closed)
More information about these "spin off" programs can be found on other pages on this website.
Both books below are written by Straight Survivors about Straight Inc.
"The Dead Inside" Notes From The Underground (Book Page), Book review, April 2017
If this website triggers thoughts of suicide please get help right away. There are suicide prevention hotlines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255 or get help via text suicide prevention hotline Crisis Textline - Text Connect To 741741
The purpose of this website is three-fold: To give those who survived Straight, Inc. a place to publicly document their experience in their own words; To help Straight survivors heal by validating their expericence with newspaper articles, documents and Straight online groups; And, to educate the public about the REAL Straight, Inc.
Information about Straight, Inc. is provided throughout this site.
No child should be abused in the name of treatment.
Unfortunately this is not just a website about the past. It is also about the present. Other Straight, Inc. "spin off" programs existed under other names until as recently as early 2009 (Pathway Family Center). At least 1 spin off still remains open in Canada.
In addition, other treatment facilities copied the Straight, Inc. treatment model or devised similarly destructive programs which operate throughout the United States today. The amount of abuse and deaths occurring in these facilities must be stopped.
Please see the "Message to Parents" page to find out about current abusive teenage privately operated programs. The entire site is also a must read for any parent considering placing their child in a privately run facility for troubled teens.
The original version of the petition was posted at petitiononline.com. That site has since closed down. Here are the 581 signatures that were collected on that site before it closed down.
Since written in late 2006, one apology from a former Straight, Inc. Executive staff member has been received. Thanks Richard for having the courage to publicly apologize.
Excerpt from Mr. Mullinax's apology:
"For 19 years, I gave very little thought to my actions as a staff member of Straight. Then, in the Spring and Summer of 2008, I began to interact with Straight Survivors and listened to their experiences. As the weeks and months progressed, I became increasingly aware of the damage I caused to Straight Survivors as a staff member. After much reflection on the events of the 1980’s I have become very much aware that many Straight Survivors lost their integrity, innocence, sense of self worth, youth, ability to trust others, family relationships and more as a result of my actions as a staff member, and I deeply regret that I am responsible for this as a Staff Member.
I realize now that many Survivors still suffer from diagnosed psychological disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, social phobias, panic disorders, etc. caused by imprisonment in Straight, Inc, and that many Survivors still endure vivid Straight, Inc. nightmares, can still hear the screams of children as they were abused, and cannot forget the abuse they personally endured or witnessed as vulnerable children. I am deeply ashamed of my role in this, including not putting a stop to it."
Copyright 2009 Surviving Straight Inc. All rights reserved.