Drug treatment center isn’t abusive, just tough, reformed youths say *** remembers walking into the hospital room where her grandfather lay dying. "I was 15. And I was, high on LSD. My grandfather was dying, but he lay there wondering what had happened to his little granddaughter." ***, now 19, began using drugs when she was 12 and doesn't believe she wouldn’t be alive now if she hadn't been put into an and drug-abuse rehabilitation program when she was almost 16. The program for young people, from 12 years old into the early 20s, was KIDS of Bergen County in New Jersey. While still in the program, *** joined several other young people in transferring to El Paso as part of a new KIDS program that opened in February 1986. The private, nonprofit program costs about $700 a month per client, which includes a specified $95 for food. Today, *** is a KIDS graduate and on the staff at KIDS of El Paso County, whose license has been revoked by the executive director of the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Commission investigators say young people in the El Paso program have been abused physically, and psychologically, and that people who tried to leave were threatened. Officials of KIDS deny that any of its clients have been abused and are continuing the program - with about 100 youths in it now - while appealing the revocation. *** praises KIDS, but she is a graduate who stayed on as a staff member. An investigator from the state commission, ***, was in El Paso Friday to take statements from young people who say they were abused. One of the people he interviewed, ***, said she had told *** she once was struck in the face so hard that her lip bled. ***, 18, said Saturday that she came to El Paso in December from California to visit her mother. She said her brother was in the program and she was coerced into it by her family. "They told me I could never have contact with my family again unless I came into the program. I walked out but came back later because I had no place to go without my family. She did leave KIDS in May and said she hasn't had any contact with her immediate family since. *** said that after she had been in the program about two weeks, she was in a group meeting "when I touched the chair in front of me or put my hand on my knee or something." "Just because I wasn't sitting like they wanted me to sit, other clients and staff grabbed me and held my arms. They took me into the 'quiet room,' and there were seven other girls and a staff member in there. They yelled at me, just screamed. Then one of the girls punched me. It cut my lip. I was bleeding all over my sweater." She said she was not given medical attention. Another time, she said, she was grabbed with such force that a joint in her thumb was snapped out of place. Hundley also said she once was held on the floor, with other clients holding her arms and legs, for almost 12 hours. *** insists she had no drug or alcohol problem. "I would drink," she said. "It was typical high school drinking. You know, you go to a party and you drink. I certainly did not live to get drunk." According to the commission's report on KIDS, the experiences reported by *** have happened to other clients. But ***, the executive director of KIDS, and other staff members and board members have denied the allegations. The program, they say, is tough, but no one is mistreated and the only time anyone restrained is when they are a danger to themselves or others. “We don’t use physical restraint,” said *** president of the KIDS board of directors. “People are restrained by holding their arms until they have calmed down.” There are KIDS graduates who are not on staff who join *** in praising the program. *** now 17, said he got into KIDS when he was 13. “I started using drugs when I was 10 or 11. I drank, I smoked marijuana, I would sniff spray paint with my friends. I was physically abusing my little brother.” He said he left KIDS once “for two days, and on the second day out I tried to kill myself. I came back.” *** said it took him two years to graduate from KIDS. The normal stay is 18 months. During that time. *** said, he never or saw anyone being hit or otherwise abused. "I once hit another client, and I was restrained, but all they did was hold my arms until I calmed down,” *** said. Another graduate, *** remembers being yelled at. "But it was because I was doing something wrong,” said *** now 24. "I was going to sign out of the program, and they had to yell at me to get me to realize that the only other option I had was going to jail. *** said he had used drugs and alcohol in high school, but that they never affected his schoolwork or behavior. By the time he went off to college, that changed. "He failed both semesters,” his mother, * said. "We told him he couldn't go back." At home, *** said, "A friend would come over and the first thing I would do after getting out of bed would be to get high. We would be drunk in the daytime. I had to have it. I enjoyed getting drunk. I even had to get drunk before I went to parties.” Then, in 1984, *** tried to outrun police. He was driving 100 mph through cotton fields in the Upper Valley,'' his mother said "He overturned his car, but because he was a runner he got away. The police knocked on my door at three in the morning. They were angry. They said they were going to get him, and that they would go after him with their guns drawn.” *** didn't enter the KIDS program until 1986 when he was 22. He had been arrested on a false-imprisonment charge. A police report alleges that he barricaded himself and his girlfriend in a bedroom of her apartment and held her there against her will. Police had to force their way in and rescue the woman. The charge stayed on the books until last month when, court records show, it was dismissed. *** said he entered the KIDS program with a big ego. "I didn't like the rules." He said he started taking things seriously when his family told him they didn't want anything more to do with him. KIDS officials cite such hard cases as reasons the program has to be tough. But being tough, they insist, is not the same thing as being abusive, as the state has alleged. When asked why people such as *** and ***, who accused the KIDS staff of holding him against his will a year ago, would make accusations against the program, KIDS officials shrug. "If I'm in the denial stage of addiction, and I want to leave the program, I have to justify my action," said ***, a member of the KIDS board. *** son, *** is a graduate of the program and now is on the staff of KIDS of Southern California, which opened in March with a core group of 23 clients from the El Paso program. *** said the KIDS program requires a commitment from a client's family to become involved, including time with group sessions. “That commitment can change lifestyles," *** said. "Some people want to get on with their lives. I started to pull out several times. Why? Because I'm a man who likes to be in control of his work, his family. But I've learned here that I have to back off sometimes.” Some police officers who have had to deal with doped-up teen-agers believe KIDS is the best rehabilitation program in the city. Sgt. ***, a detective in the Police Department's Youth Services Division, said he may not agree with some methods used, “but find me an alternative." "If they close KIDS, there are going to be 200 people out on the streets again. We couldn't handle them when they were out there before, and we can't handle them again." One of KIDS' most vocal detractors is lawyer ***, who is representing ***, *** and about half a dozen other people who say they were abused or neglected or denied rights in the program. "Making an analysis that takes into account that some people are pleased with the program is simplistic," *** said. "If people are being physically and emotionally abused as the state's report concludes, then the law is being broken."