Help at Any Cost: How the
Troubled-Teen Industry
Cons Parents and Hurts Kids

A Book By Maia Szalavitz
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Recomended Websites
Please note, these are resources that have been helpful to me and that you may find useful but that does not mean I endorse or agree with everything (or in some cases, anything!) on them. Almost certainly, I've accidentally left some great stuff out, so please email if you see something you think should be included. And, as we say online, your mileage may vary! Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware!)
Since 1994, STATS has sought to hold U.S. journalists to the highest standards of reporting accuracy, while providing them with concrete assistance to help them better understand the complexities and limitations of scientific and statistical material. Maia is a Sr. fellow w/ Stats.
Desperate Measures
One of the first and best exposes on WWASP, by Pulitzer-prize winner Lou Kilzer and his colleagues at the Rocky Mountain News.
Righteous Reading
Author Andrew Vachss, who writes wonderful thrillers which often deal with issues around child abuse, has decided to feature my book in his short list of "Righteous Reading."
The Seed
A fascinating first-person account by a survivor of The Seed.
The Birth of a Monster
A harrowing journey of best intentions.
Take-Down at Aspen
Aspen is billed as a kinder, gentler program....
Blown Away the Idaho Way
Book in progress about CEDU
The Trebach Institute
A site, which deals with any subject that catches his fancy; current comments on important events and ideas, as they occur or are expressed anywhere in the world. His major interests are drug policy, terror, anti-Semitism, Israel and the Arabs, and the Boston Red Sox.
The mother of all websites about Straight Inc., this is Wes Fager's site. The organization and navigation are sometimes a bit tricky, but there's a wealth of information here.
Fight Institutional Child Abuse
Another excellent activist site!
International Survivors Action Committee
The International Survivors Action Committee. An important activist site founded by survivors of Straight Inc. and chock full of information about the problems with troubled-teen residential programs. Includes regularly updated news coverage of the issue.
Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora
A wide-ranging and completely un-moderated discussion forum on the troubled-teen industry and often an excellent source of information. However, because anonymous posters are allowed and because it is uncensored, read with a very critical eye and expect to find some offensive material.
Project No Spank
A site founded to oppose corporal punishment of children which opposes the "tough love" approach. Has updated news coverage and many resources and links.
Teen Advocates, USA
A pioneering advocacy site, with in-depth information and memorial to teens who have died in the name of "treatment."
A new activist group aimed at organizing former participants to take political action to ensure ethical treatment of youth in residential care.
End Institutionalized Child Abuse
A MySpace group devoted to this issue.
The Alliance for Safe, Therapeutic and Appropriate use of Residential Treatment
The Alliance for Safe, Therapeutic and Appropriate use of Residential Treatment. The first major effort by mental health professionals to stop the tough-love treatment juggernaut.
Account of a WWASP seminar
This is the full-text of Karen Lile's account of her experience with the WWASP seminar, in her own words.
Account of a WWASP seminar
This is the full-text of Kendall Bean's account of his experience with the WWASP seminar, in his own words.
National Youth Rights Association
National Youth Rights Association. An organization of young people dedicated to civil rights for those under 18.
National Center for Youth Law
National Center for Youth Law. A legal advocacy group which brings cases aimed at improving the conditions for young people, especially those who are "in the system."
Lone Souls
A project seeking art, stories, poetry, all manner of creative contributions from survivors of abusive treatment.
Resources: Sites for Finding Help:
Again, please note that inclusion here does not in any way imply endorsement by me!
This is the government's mental health and addiction treatment facility locator. Does not provide information about quality, but only includes licensed programs.
Multisystemic Family Therapy:
A nationwide list of providers of Multisystemic Family Therapy, the approach to troubled-teen treatment with the greatest research support for efficacy with antisocial, drug-misusing, violent and other difficult adolescents.
Functional Family Therapy:
Another evidence-based family therapy shown to be effective with seriously troubled teens.
JCAHO Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
Website includes searchable "quality check" database. You can put in the name of the center you are considering-- and its status and how to read it will be located for you. Addiction and alcoholism facilities are under the category "behavioral health." Note: if a center isn't listed, it doesn't mean that it is necessarily of low quality, but simply that it hasn't attempted accreditation. Also note: some very abusive centers have been accredited, so do not take accreditation as the last word on whether a program is OK.
The Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission A smaller accreditor, with a less consumer-friendly website.
Dual Diagnosis Website
This site, run by a psychologist with her own private practice, includes directories of treatment programs for those with both addiction and another mental disorder.
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
This advocacy group for the mentally ill has information on its webpage about those who have both substance abuse problems and other mental illnesses as well as information on the latest medication developments and treatments. They are also a good source of information about how to deal with abusive treatment.
National Mental Health Association
An advocacy group for people affected by mental illness, both adults and teens.
Drug and Alcohol Recovery Network (DARN)
This site seems to have a searchable national database including a variety of treatment types with no discernable bias except perhaps in favor of those who advertise on it. I couldn't get the darn thing to work-- maybe you will have better luck!
Another treatment directory, with paid advertisers featured.
The Drug and Alcohol Prevention Network
Don't let the hideous design of the homepage for this site deter you-- its links page is the mother of all addiction links pages and is a good one to bookmark for clicking onto other pages. Links to treatment, self-help groups, national and local organizations, research journals and news organizations. Note: these links are clearly not screened, as they include one to the Scientology drug "treatment" group, Narconon.
Harm Reduction Coalition
Harm reduction programs meet users where they're at, and are critical for helping users who are either unwilling or unable to stop taking drugs entirely. This approach is highly controversial for teens, of coursebut there are certainly some people who are alive today only because they received information and support from such groups when they were teens, particularly in terms of HIV and Hepatitis C prevention. Includes a list of U.S. needle exchanges and information on safer injection and other harm reduction practices for active users.
American Self Help Clearinghouse
Online database of self-help groups for everything from "Aarskog Syndrome," to Xeroderma Pigmentosum. Includes listings of 12 Step groups for professionals like doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, even Realtors as well as alternative groups.
National Self Help Clearinghouse
Maintains a comprehensive list of self-help organizations and contacts for them, though it is not accessible on the web.
Alcoholics Anonymous
To find AA in your community without the web, look for "Alcoholics Anonymous" in your local phone book. The website includes full-text of several AA pamphlets and local contact numbers around the world.
Al-Anon Family Groups / Alateen
12 Step support for families of alcoholics.
Cocaine Anonymous
The twelve step program for those whose drug of choice is cocaine.
Chemically Dependent Anonymous
For the person who can't make up his mind what his primary addiction is-- or just wants one twelve step group to deal with them all.
Dual Recovery Anonymous Central Service
12 Step program for people with alcohol and/or other drug problems and mental illness.
Marijuana Anonymous
For potsmokers who can't quit-- a 12 step program. Local phone numbers and meeting times are available on the website.
Moderation Management
Self help group for those who want to moderate their drinking. Often serves as a gateway to abstinence because those who discover they cannot successfully moderate are usually more willing to try quitting entirely than those who still think I can handle it. A good option for college students who refuse to give up alcohol, but find they are getting in trouble with it.
Narcotics Anonymous
The website includes basic information on NA, and contact information for meetings around the world.
Rational Recovery
An alternative for those who do not find the twelve-step approach helpful.
An evidence-based self-help group to help people end alcohol and other drug problems. Includes an on-line "real time" meeting, material on the SMART program itself, and a list of treatment programs/counselors which refer people to SMART and use cognitive/behavioral and motivational enhancement therapy in their treatments, rather than the 12-step model.
A comprehensive secular alternative to 12 step programs. This site includes a great deal of material about the LifeRing program (formerly affiliated with Secular Organizations for Sobriety) including meeting information, online meetings, and a "toolkit" for recovery.
Secular Organizations for Sobriety
Alternative to 12 step programs without emphasis on spirituality. Affiliated with the Council for Secular Humanism.
Women For Sobriety
A feminist alternative (for women only) to 12 Step programs. Website contains basic information on the program-- use the phone number for local meeting information.
Methamphetamine addiction treatment, research-based
UCLA - Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (ISAP)
11050 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 100
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 267-5444

Matrix Institute On Addictions
12304 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 108
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 207-4322
(Note: Matrix also treats non-methamphetamine addicts).
Practical Recovery:
A site offering non-12-step treatment, mainly outpatient.
Habit Doc
Another non-12 step treatment site.
Referrals to therapists who use evidence-based approaches:
Behavior Therapy Associates
This site is run by Reid Hester, who co-authored the seminal review of alcoholism treatment efficacy, Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment Approaches. It includes a list of therapists who use an empathetic, supportive approach to addictions and who do not require the person to be drug-free before starting care. See also the SMART recovery website listed above.
Research Universities with Addiction Programs
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has set up national network for clinical trials, which aims to be similar to the cancer treatment network run by the National Cancer Institute at some of the best hospitals in the country. The main website for the Clinical Trials Network is It lists local treatment providers who are participating in research so these programs should be actively working to move research evidence into practice and if all goes well, should offer superior care.

To search for clinical trials researching new addiction treatments, which may also provide some of the best treatment, see or You may also want to start at the National Addiction Technology Transfer Center: and contact the appropriate regional office for local information on research-based treatment.
The following universities are also active in addiction research and may be worth contacting to see if they offer treatment that is appropriate for your needs. Note: Many of these websites are models of user-unfriendliness if you are searching for info about entering treatment. A phone call may be far less frustrating:

Addiction Research and Treatment Services
University of Colorado School of Medicine
4200 E. 9th Ave.
Denver, CO 80262
(800)621-7621 [main university numbers]
Research-based adolescent treatment is one of the specialities here.
Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies
Providence, RI 02912
Integrated Substance Abuse Programs
University of California-Los Angeles
UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center
1640 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Phone: (310) 445-0874
The Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center
Department of Neurology
University of California, San Francisco
University of California-San Diego
Center for Criminality and Addiction Research Training and Application
School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry
565 Pearl Street, Suite 306
La Jolla, California 92037-5051
Tel: 858.551.2944
University of California-San Francisco
415-476-7500 (General information for psychiatry treatment, which includes addictions)
For smokers wanting to quit
Columbia/ New York Psychiatric Institute
Substance Treatment and Abuse Research Service
513 West 166th Street
Third Floor
New York, NY 10032
Division on Addictions
Harvard Medical School
The Landmark Center
401 Park Drive, 2nd Floor East
Boston, MA 02215
Phone: (617) 384-9030
University of Maryland College Park
Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR)
4321 Hartwick Road, Suite 501
College Park, MD 20740
The University of New Mexico Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions
2650 Yale SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
(505) 925-2300 For information on entering treatment at UNM, try
State of the art alcoholism and substance abuse treatment
CASAA is directed by William Miller, a pioneer in alcoholism treatment research and co-author of the alcoholism treatment effectiveness review, "Handbook of Alcoholism Treatment." Information on CRAFT Family Therapy
University of Pittsburgh Adolescent Alcohol Research Center
Presently conducting research on teen drinking problems and their treatment. Also at the University of Pittsburgh:
Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research (CEDAR)
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
3811 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Phone : (412) 624-1060
CEDAR Research Center
St. Francis Medical Center
45th & Penn Avenue
10th Floor East Building
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
Fax: (412) 622-6178
Phone: (412) 622-6174
New York University
(212) 263-7961
Kay Ryan, Director of Clinical Trials
Rutgers University
P.O. Box 969
Piscataway, NJ 08855-0969
(908) 445-0941
Pioneer in alcoholism research. Moderate drinking/ CBT/ MET approaches available. Treatment available outside studies as well.
Alcohol And Drug Abuse Institute
University of Washington
1107 NE 45th Street, Suite 120, Box 354805
Seattle, WA 98105-4631 USA
(206) 543-0937
Addictive Behaviors Research Center
University of Washington
State University of New York-Buffalo
Addiction Research Unit
Department of Psychology
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York 14260-4110 U.S.A.
Research Institute on Addictions
1021 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14203
Institute of Behavioral Research
Texas Christian University
TCU Box 298740
Fort Worth, TX 76129
817-257-7000 (University main number)
Brookhaven National Laboratory
PO Box 5000
Upton NY
1-888-BNL-RING (888-265-7464).
Medications development for cocaine and other addictions.
Yale University
Department of Psychiatry
25 Park Street, Rm. 416
New Haven, CT 06519
203-785-7201 (Number specifically for people to find treatment)
Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit
Yale University School of Medicine
Connecticut Mental Health Center
34 Park Street
New Haven, CT 06519
(203) 974-7560
General Addiction Information:
Web of Addictions
Many links, and lots of information about substance problems.
Join Together
An organization for activism related to substance abuse problems-- but more of the ban liquor ads and do prevention in schools than the "AIDS won't wait: Needle Exchange Now" type of activism.
Self Assessment Tools:
Drinker's Checkup
Free online evaluation to determine whether you have a drinking problem. Offers steps to take to change, based on your own goals and needs. There is also a $25 version, with a money-back guarantee if it is not useful.
Copyright 2005 Maia Szalavitz. All rights reserved..
email: with tech questions.