Week of June 15, 2005

The most important of these is the portrayed seduction of adolescents into the Crossroads Program for the sake of dollars. At face value, this contradicts other information offered in his article -- that the Crossroads staff is poorly paid. Regardless, how else can an angry, manipulative adolescent with much to hide be caused to consider sobriety? Nobody chooses any form of change, particularly such a set of pervasive changes as sobriety, without believing that there is something significant to be had. The Crossroads Program has always outclassed every other treatment program in this regard. Enthusiastic sobriety modeled by attractive people has a predictable and desperately necessary appeal.

It is unfortunate that Bob Meehan's mouth has caused such damaging controversy and raised integrity concerns for Crossroads. Their time is better spent serving their clientele than doing damage control regarding a self-absorbed bigot. Shame on Bob for his hateful diatribes and shame on those who will urge throwing the baby out with the bathwater as a consequence.

Adolescent substance-abuse treatment is messy stuff. Few people have the guts to get close to it and even fewer can claim any potency in their efforts. That Frank Szachta and his staff make a career of this, most of which has been as paupers, suggests they have both grit and dedication. They are not saints. They can be stubborn and autocratic. Yet, as frustrating as these qualities can be, it is these same qualities that have allowed Crossroads to sustain (for decades) program depth and integrity when other programs have caved in to and then been ravaged by managed care.

We desperately need a program for substance-abusing teens that is able and willing to meet them on their level and entice them into a real depth in opportunity for reclaiming their lives in sobriety. No such program will be comfortable for those who do not understand the nature of the beast nor the healthcare arena available to it. But in human experience, real growth never comes out of comfort.
Ken McManus,
licensed professional counselor

Creve Coeur

Back to the moms: I do not know if I would consider the Crossroads Program for my daughter after reading your article. That is unfortunate, since she has been in the group for three years.

Any parent who talks to the counselors, talks to kids and attends meetings knows about the "Parent Game." I use it to my advantage. When I feel that my daughter is out of line, I tell her to play the game. This usually gets a smile out of her and she walks away. The sleepover for Aimee Moreland was at my house the night before she left for Arizona. My boyfriend provided the host family for her. We care about Aimee and Beth and still miss them both.

Even I knew that Aimee "didn't get it." In my opinion, she thrives on attention, whether it's positive or negative. She does not say in your article if she remains sober. Crossroads is not for everyone. Teenagers will be teenagers, with or without an addiction. And everyone that was mentioned in your article had a choice in every matter.

Thanks for an interesting article. My daughter gave me permission to sign my name.
Barb Rabbitt
St. Louis

From the mouths of high school students: One thing about the article was that you had both opinions going back and forth, and there's nothing wrong with that. But this whole situation is ridiculous -- it's just overboard dramatic bullshit. It reminds me of being in high school (which I still am in). Don't get me wrong; I hate Crossroads with a passion, because it was miserable for me. I did the whole steering-committee thing too and told people shit I didn't agree with. It wasn't me, and that's what I hated about it.

Crossroads is like the Catholic church in the sense that it's a pale definition of sobriety, conning people into giving money because it will 1) help their kid, and 2) keep the group going.

In Crossroads they teach us about being a victim and having resentments and how that is unhealthy. Well, the kids who were hurt from this program are upset. They have resentments and believe themselves to be victims. Psychologically it's very unhealthy. But they're so concerned with going against Crossroads that they're blind to that advice.

Crossroads' motto is, "It doesn't matter if I have a gnarlier story than you. We're still fucked up." That is true to a degree, but when you're saying that to a kid who's gotten drunk or high twice, then you're taking away their adolescence. Now, I'm not going to tell anyone they're not an addict; it's not my place to say. For the person who has gotten drunk twice, it could save them for future events. My point is the angry anti-Crossroads people say, "Well, I'm not an addict." Then they go out and experiment some more. Now if the person isn't an addict, more power to them. But those who are could very easily be endangering themselves.

Another thing: The anti-Crossroadies want to end the program. Isn't that being self-centered? Sure, it doesn't work for them, like it didn't work for me. But what if it does work for someone else? Who are you to take that away?

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