KIDS backers stand by program
Hearing resumes to decide center fate
El Paso Times
"Civic and business leaders who oversee or contribute to KIDS of El Paso County Inc. say their support hasn't been shaken by state efforts to permanently close the controversial rehabilitation program. "It's the only drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that works," said Mayor ***, who has contributed financially to the program. "It's a tough program for tough cases," said *** Publisher ***, a member of KIDS' voluntary community advisory board. "I don't think there's any doubt that some in the program would otherwise be dead or in jail. It's not for everyone" About 90 young people are enrolled in the program that treats drug and alcohol addiction and behavioral disorders. The program relies on strong peer pressure to help adolescents overcome their addiction. El Paso KIDS supporters include a number of prominent residents who serve as community advisers or members of the board of trustees. The program is on trial for its life in an Austin courtroom, where a hearing before District Judge *** resumes today to determine whether KIDS should remain open. Before the hearing recessed after a day long session Thursday, Assistant Attorney General *** called witnesses who alleged KIDS abused and held them against their will. The Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse investigated the program and recommended closing it. *** said many people have called or written to ask his help in saving the program. ***, a KIDS trustee who is active in civic organizations, said KIDS is the only program in the country that keeps accurate records of patient progress. For some, it's the last resort, she said. "It's a strict but loving program," *** said. "Given our permissive society, it needs to be strict." KIDS teaches kids to take responsibility for themselves. Parents work just as hard as the kids in the program do. I've seen kids who complete the program turn out to be strong and high achievers." ***, an insurance investment consultant, said he believes KIDS is a good program because he knows of teen-agers whose lives were dramatically improved by it. KIDS is licensed by the state as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. After the outpatient center closes at night, host families provide supervision and a home atmosphere for clients. *** cited the case of a 17-year-old New Mexico teen who had run away, fallen in with drug users and was supporting herself by prostitution until she went into KIDS. "She said she had no drugs since entering the program and seemed optimistic about putting her life back together," *** said. ***, a real estate developer and KIDS trustee, said his teen-age daughter, a former drug user, probably would be dead if not for KIDS. "I believe the program saved her life," *** said. ***, chairman of the KIDS trustees, said he is single and has no children in the program. "I came on board as a trustee because I wanted to help people. KIDS is doing just that," *** said. Other community leaders who serve as KIDS trustees or advisers include County Court at-Law Judge ***, advertising executive ***, lawyer *** and businessman ***. ***, founder of a rehabilitation program that KIDS of El Paso County Inc. is modeled after, defended KIDS' treatment methods in an Austin court Monday. He also testified that problems with the El Paso program have been corrected. "I believe (KIDS of El Paso County Inc.) is operating within our guidelines," *** said. The hearing in District Judge *** court is to determine whether the state should close KIDS. About 70 El Pasoans, mostly parents of KIDS patients, attended Monday's session of hearings that began Thursday, then were recessed. *** said testimony for and against KIDS will conclude today. The Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse recommended revoking KIDS' operating license for allegedly holding patients against their will, physically abusing patients and violating their civil rights. *** is founder of KIDS of America Inc. of which KIDS of El Paso County Inc. is an affiliate. There are two other KIDS rehabilitation centers in the United States. He said he agreed that some of the complaints needed correcting, including incidents of verbal abuse, which some patients referred to as "mocking out." He also said he disagreed with the use of restraint used once that involved several patients holding down a fellow patient for 12 consecutive hours. Two people had testified that at least two males were enrolled in KIDS to treat their homosexual tendencies. *** defended that treatment. "I don't believe sexual identity is fully formed before age 23. Most (adolescents) who think they are gay originally were seduced by older adults and are confused. It's correctable." During cross-examination by a state attorney, *** said he could not confirm whether a report submitted by KIDS of El Paso Inc. to the Texas Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse accurately reflected the number of successful program graduates. According to the KIDS report, 22 out of 200 patients, or 11 percent, who enrolled in the El Paso center in the past two years had completed the program. ***, clinical director of KIDS of El Paso Inc., testified Thursday that KIDS had a 70 percent success rate. ***, an attorney for the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said during a break in the hearing that the report *** was asked to identify was the only indication the commission had of how well KIDS worked. ***, an El Paso mother who took her son out of KIDS, said she and other parents were made to be were made to be fearful about removing their children from the program. KIDS officials told parents their children would die if they left the program. "We were asked (once) to write an obituary on our child. I refused to write one. The purpose was so (parents) would understand that if our child was not here in the program, our child would be out in the streets and would die," *** said. *** said her son is diabetic and uses insulin, but that during his stay with KIDS, he was denied orange juice to prevent his blood sugar from reaching an unsafe level. *** had enrolled her son in KIDS, she said, because KIDS officials told her that her son "was a pathetic child who did not want to admit he was diabetic; that he accepted his drug compulsion and that we had to treat his diabetes the same way we treat his drug compulsion." *** said she removed her son from KIDS after finding he was not eating properly, had lost weight, and was not getting enough sleep. She also said she knew of other adolescents who did not receive prompt medical attention and who experienced violent confrontations with peers. ***, 18, testified that she and her sister, ***, physically restrained a patient who was being uncooperative. "I'd been punched and kicked a lot of times" and helped to physically restrain other patients. She said she was held in the program against her will when she was 18 until she ran away. *** said she retained El Paso lawyer *** to help her gain control of a $1 million trust her father had her sign over to him until she reached the age of 40. My father (***) set up an illegal trust for me," *** said. According to court documents filed with the El Paso district clerk, *** contested trust includes a will giving $200,000 to KIDS of El Paso County Inc. should she die. Her father and sister are expected to testify today in favor of KIDS. ***, a KIDS patient who criticized the program, said she and other patients were physically abused. "I had bruises all over my chest and neck," she said concerning one such incident. But her mother, ***, took the stand for the KIDS's defense and said her daughter was not being truthful about the KIDS program."
KIDS method earns some community aid
El Paso Times
"Hooray for KIDS of El Paso. They were able to overcome the bleeding heart liberal dingbat legal schmucks who take every opportunity to exhibit efforts to fight the problem. This instance is just one of many such efforts to keep solutions from working. Frankly, the spokesperson from the attorney general's office looked like she should be in the program, and what kind of a commission is it that tries so hard to kill a program that works? Those parents complaining their children were abused ought to take another look. Their lack of parental care is a form of abuse that caused their children to be in the KIDS program, so what right do they have to complain? At least KIDS does things they didn't have guts enough to do, or maybe they didn't care. Anyone who thinks you can reverse the drug problem by being a weak-kneed pantywaist is a jackass. It's a life and death issue and you have to be tougher than they are. It's like jumping in a pit with a mad dog. You gotta fish or cut bait. If you don't, you lose. I suggest the community support KIDS, and instead of giving money to beggars on the street, give it to KIDS and two problems are solved." "As a parent of a graduate of KIDS of El Paso County, and as a teacher, I support the KIDS drug treatment program. Our daughter entered KIDS in June 1986 at the age of 21. My husband and I feared for her life. She was suicidal, out of touch with reality and had several serious automobile accidents due to drunken driving. She had attended several colleges as a talented pianist, but could not stay in any for long. She dropped out of the last college to live with her druggie boy friend. Her father and I were desperate. We could see our daughter dying. When she first entered the KIDS program, she was a reluctant participant; however she remained voluntarily until October 1987 when she completed the program. KIDS is not an easy program. It is hard for parents and siblings. But it is worth all of the time and effort when one can see what a valuable, loving, productive person a once drug dependent kid can become. In addition to our daughter's becoming drug-free, our older son, once chemically dependent, is attending AA in another state. Our younger son, who started drugs, is now drug-free. I have had students from other drug treatment centers as well as students from KIDS. Students from KIDS have learned a life style that gives them a better chance to live a healthy and drug-free life. El Paso needs KIDS of El Paso County. Other families deserve the same kind of help."
KIDS saved her life
El Paso Herald Post
"My daughter was 35th in her class at Coronado High School, she was a flag girl in the band, had a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken to pay for her band trip to Hawaii, was first in city 400-meter track and field, and was sixth in a city swim meet. This is not the profile of a drug addict, or is it? My daughter despised her sister, considered her parents "jailers," trashed her bedroom, became very moody, and was in constant conflict with the rest of the family. This girl lost her job because she became too difficult to supervise (six months earlier she was rated a top employee), she skipped school to get drunk with her druggie friends, she was in trouble with the police over vandalism and threatened suicide twice. My daughter's behavior, because of her druggie friends, accelerated rapidly in the negative direction. Within three months, she lost her job, had the school upset, and finally ran away. We lost all parental control, so we called KIDS. My daughter was diagnosed alcoholic. We never smelled alcohol or found any stashes. We suspected alcohol only once, when my daughter wavered up the walkway. We were relieved when the KIDS evaluation discovered alcohol abuse. Where did our super-achiever disappear to? The girl who wanted Stanford U., who wanted to be a doctor, and the girl who would never take drugs. I don't know all the whys, but I do know that it happened right here in El Paso. I owe my daughter's life to the many people involved with KIDS. I truly believe that no other program could have reached her. This program saved her life."
Offers an alternative
El Paso Times
"KIDS is a tough drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that, most assuredly, is not for every victim. The program is harsh. But then, the problem(s) being dealt with also are harsh. Recent testimony indicates it works for some and fails others. Expert testimony at court hearings late last week and Monday in Austin appears to be divided on its effectiveness as well as appropriateness. And it is not available to every victim because it is expensive and long-term in most cases. But "expensive" is relative to those who have spent thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars on doctors and various treatments before a child is finally "straightened out" in the KIDS program. The KIDS of El Paso County Inc. was investigated by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and the Texas Attorney General's office and both recommended it be closed for patient abuse and other problems. It reopened, and whether it continues depends on the outcome of hearing. While there remain serious questions on its procedures, but it has helped some young people. Enrollment is voluntary, although there undoubtedly is much coercion by parents pushing their sick youngsters into the program. It should continue as an alternative to drugs and alcohol for young people willing and able to try this route in conquering their affliction."
KIDS turned anguish into a smile
El Paso Herald-Post
"True anguish is waking up at 3 a.m. to check on your teenager and finding out that he or she has slipped out during the night. It is searching the streets in the dark, knowing that your child is out doing God knows what, and that you are powerless to stop it. It is having that same child look you straight in the eye, smile beguilingly, and swear convincingly that she only went for a 4 1/2 hour walk because she couldn't sleep. It is having to carry your purse around with you in your own home and having to ask your guests to let you lock their purses in the closet, all the while trying not to let them know that you must take this precaution against your own child. Anguish is also being unable to leave home for an evening because you can't face what your teen may do to your home or to himself while you are away. It is sleeping with a deadbolt on your bedroom door to keep out your own child. But above all, it is the abject terror, the pain, and the utter helplessness that engulfs you as you sit by your daughter's bed in the intensive-care ward after another suicide attempt, knowing that your precious baby, the child of your body, is a blight on society and a danger to himself. Only those of us who have lived this kind of life, the life of a parent with a chemically dependent child, can ever hope to understand what we parents of children in KIDS of El Paso have gone through. All of us have tried various kinds of counseling, hospitals and other treatment programs, wasting piles of money most of us could ill-afford to lose, only to find that our children returned to us more cunning and adept at fooling the adult world, more verbally skilled at chanting the litany of their civil rights when we tried to curtail their destructive activities - activities that, ironically enough, trampled the rights of everyone else. Having lived through this nightmare myself, I rejoice to report that the very child whom I was both afraid for and afraid of, is now a happy, productive, responsible 18-year-old who makes good grades, cares about her family and works hard to make restitution to society. She now has goals for herself and a bright future, something I had stopped even hoping for. I give full credit to KIDS of El Paso for turning my daughter's life around. During her two years of treatment there she had changed from a self-centered child who wanted to die to a young woman who comes home each evening with glowing eyes talking excitedly about how proud she is over her day's accomplishments. I want to go on record as decrying those who talk about being warriors in the battle against drugs, yet who are foremost in the hue and cry against a treatment program in this town that successfully treats teen-age drug addicts. The KIDS program is very difficult, but it most certainly is not abusive. A child who graduates from KIDS can be proud, not only of overcoming a base past and learning to live with a compulsion, but of having achieved a strong character gained by surmounting tough obstacles. El Paso needs KIDS of El Paso. We have a drug problem here, like it or not, and we owe it to ourselves and our straight children to keep this facility open at all costs."