The DisinfoCast with Matt Staggs: STRAIGHT, Inc. Survivor Steve Brown

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Steve Brown wasn’t a bad teenager: He smoked a little pot and drank some beer now and again with his friends – your typical 15 year-old. So how did he end up hundreds of miles away from home in a “drug treatment center” based on a program that took its lead from Chinese brainwashing techniques? Steve’s new home was a place where children were beaten, starved and deprived of sleep to ensure compliance; where children were forced to sleep in a series of strangers’ houses so that the executives could avoid inspections. This was STRAIGHT, Inc., the brainchild of a wealthy businessman whose deep connections to the Republican party ensured no political favor was too far out of reach in the era of “Just Say No.” Join us for a tale of drug hysteria, government malfeasance and big money in this episode of the DisinfoCast.

Warning: This episode of the DisinfoCast features a frank discussion of child abuse and institutional torture. Some listeners may find it disturbing.

Find Steve on Twitter: @shaggysteve420

Learn more about STRAIGHT, Inc.

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  • straight survivor 1987

    straight succeeded in getting kids off of drugs because there was no bullshit inside.  it was run by other drug addicts, so you couldn’t fool your way out.  many kids did have drug problems, others had behaviors that were going to take them to drug abuse.  most teenager are in denial about their behavior and their drug use..  straight new better than then.  their motto “you can’t bullshit a bullshitter”.
    kids were abused if they didn’t comply.  so.. the smart ones complied, got help and got out.  the dumb ones got their asses kicked and put in place until either they complied or their parents took them out.. or they turned 18.

    • Nunya

      Wow, so it’s OK to abuse kids who didn’t actually have a drug problem. you know a good 80% of the kids in there were not addicts, not even close.  My brother and many others are DEAD because of straight.  Glad it helped you, too bad you don’t realize that just because a program helps some, if it hurts others it is NEVER WORTH IT. These kids were not criminals and were not there voluntarily.  Sickening to think people think the way you do. But hey, you got help so that’s all that matters, screw everyone else. 

      • Matt Staggs

        I wouldn’t be so quick to assume “straightsurvivor1987″ is who she says she is.

        • straightsurvivor1987

          oh and also..just about all the adult drug users start as teens.  i’m sure alot of teens party and let it go.. but there are likely more who don’t.  not many educated adults setout to smoke crack and shoot herion.  yes, there ARE behavior patterns that lead to this that develop in adolescence.
           

        • straightsurvivor1987

          oh and also..just about all the adult drug users start as teens.  i’m sure alot of teens party and let it go.. but there are likely more who don’t.  not many educated adults setout to smoke crack and shoot herion.  yes, there ARE behavior patterns that lead to this that develop in adolescence.
           

          • Jin The Ninja

            your knowledge of addiction and the relationships it has to social ails and personal trauma is truly laughable. 

          • Matt Staggs

             That’s the truth. Not to get too personal, but both of my parents were addicts. One is dead, and the other is dead to my family. This shill doesn’t know anything.

          • Matt Staggs

             That’s the truth. Not to get too personal, but both of my parents were addicts. One is dead, and the other is dead to my family. This shill doesn’t know anything.

      • JJL

        I bullshitted my way through the entire progam. Told them whtever they wanted to hear. Did what they told me. Unfortunatly I still endured their brainwashing games and fell prey to it as a form of my own survival. I am not proud of my treatment to the other kids. I knew it was wrong. No bullshit in Straight?! The entire place was bullshit. Behavior problems do not equal drug abuse. Smoking pot as a 16 yera old doesn not equal a drug addict. You are really very naive. Not one of my so called “druggie friends” died, committed suicide, or have had any legal problems. Today they all have well paying jobs, a family, a home. I wish I could same the same for my friends that were stuck in Str8 with me. Its’ unfortunate you still see it that way.  I asume you will be one of the parents that put your kid into one of the Straight knock offs…I always wondered with all the information out there why someone would ever send their child there…It’s really sad you think like this. I hope you do not have any children.

      • JJL

        I bullshitted my way through the entire progam. Told them whtever they wanted to hear. Did what they told me. Unfortunatly I still endured their brainwashing games and fell prey to it as a form of my own survival. I am not proud of my treatment to the other kids. I knew it was wrong. No bullshit in Straight?! The entire place was bullshit. Behavior problems do not equal drug abuse. Smoking pot as a 16 yera old doesn not equal a drug addict. You are really very naive. Not one of my so called “druggie friends” died, committed suicide, or have had any legal problems. Today they all have well paying jobs, a family, a home. I wish I could same the same for my friends that were stuck in Str8 with me. Its’ unfortunate you still see it that way.  I asume you will be one of the parents that put your kid into one of the Straight knock offs…I always wondered with all the information out there why someone would ever send their child there…It’s really sad you think like this. I hope you do not have any children.

        • straightsurvivor1987

           I doubt anyone would have went to straight voluntarily and surely no one
          would have stayed with buddies, cigs, drugs and drinks available on the
          other side, opposed to what they were enduring in straight!  I don’t
          condone their methods, but think for those who were deeply involved in
          drugs.. it gave them the opportunity to ‘get out of it’ and a different
          way to view that behavior in the future.. whether they used again or
          not.  I didn’t like straight then and I don’t like straight now.  I was
          just saying from my time there.. the folks I saw getting restrained were
          acting out and not going along with the progam rules…and that’s why
          they were restrained.  It was easier for me to let the program do its
          thing and transform, rather than fight against a fleet of strong ass
          oldcomers to get out of a place that I would legally get tossed back
          into by my parents who were equally
          brainwashed.  

          I sucked it up, got the brainwash like everyone
          else did.  Did my time and went on to be quite successful, as are my
          children.  However, just about every person I partied with back in the
          day are currently still screwed up, most have been in jail,  most are
          still pot heads, crackheads and alcoholics and none of them EVER got any
          help or education or strength to think they could do better.  I think
          the place was rediculous, but Im also convinced it did me, and alot of
          other survivors the good it intended.  

          So, I’m saddened for all
          who suffered at the hands of the program, including myself.  And I think
          those of you who are being shitty to me need to work on your ‘feelings’
          some.  Last time I checked drug abusers were also victims to overdoses,
          rapes, murders, suicides, sickness, disease, prostitution, pain and
          suffering.  They rob from their families, screw over their
          friends,abandon their children, beat their loved ones and hurt just
          about anyone who isn’t getting high with them or helping them get
          high!   Straight’s tactics were extreme.. there is no denying that.  But
          the filth of what drugs CAN and DO do to those who can’t find a way out
          is what your parents and the program were  fighting against!   Not some
          kid hanging out and smoking pot once in awhile.  If you got there by
          accident.. that sucks.  But most of the stories I heard were from pretty
          fucked up and the lives I’ve seen MANY ruined lives and deaths on the
          outside from adults who were once innocent teens getting high,, that
          have been fucked up too. 

        • straightsurvivor1987

           I doubt anyone would have went to straight voluntarily and surely no one
          would have stayed with buddies, cigs, drugs and drinks available on the
          other side, opposed to what they were enduring in straight!  I don’t
          condone their methods, but think for those who were deeply involved in
          drugs.. it gave them the opportunity to ‘get out of it’ and a different
          way to view that behavior in the future.. whether they used again or
          not.  I didn’t like straight then and I don’t like straight now.  I was
          just saying from my time there.. the folks I saw getting restrained were
          acting out and not going along with the progam rules…and that’s why
          they were restrained.  It was easier for me to let the program do its
          thing and transform, rather than fight against a fleet of strong ass
          oldcomers to get out of a place that I would legally get tossed back
          into by my parents who were equally
          brainwashed.  

          I sucked it up, got the brainwash like everyone
          else did.  Did my time and went on to be quite successful, as are my
          children.  However, just about every person I partied with back in the
          day are currently still screwed up, most have been in jail,  most are
          still pot heads, crackheads and alcoholics and none of them EVER got any
          help or education or strength to think they could do better.  I think
          the place was rediculous, but Im also convinced it did me, and alot of
          other survivors the good it intended.  

          So, I’m saddened for all
          who suffered at the hands of the program, including myself.  And I think
          those of you who are being shitty to me need to work on your ‘feelings’
          some.  Last time I checked drug abusers were also victims to overdoses,
          rapes, murders, suicides, sickness, disease, prostitution, pain and
          suffering.  They rob from their families, screw over their
          friends,abandon their children, beat their loved ones and hurt just
          about anyone who isn’t getting high with them or helping them get
          high!   Straight’s tactics were extreme.. there is no denying that.  But
          the filth of what drugs CAN and DO do to those who can’t find a way out
          is what your parents and the program were  fighting against!   Not some
          kid hanging out and smoking pot once in awhile.  If you got there by
          accident.. that sucks.  But most of the stories I heard were from pretty
          fucked up and the lives I’ve seen MANY ruined lives and deaths on the
          outside from adults who were once innocent teens getting high,, that
          have been fucked up too. 

          • Matt Staggs
          • Matt Staggs
          • Matt Staggs

            You’re backpedaling from the flippant statements in your first post: your explicit endorsement of physical abuse is precisely the reason people are “being shitty” to you. As far as I know, you’re not a regular commenter or visitor to Disinfo.com, and you popped out of nowhere within hours of this story’s publication to  attempt to discredit my guest’s story and to cast aspersions on his experience. It seems suspicious to me, and if it seems suspicious to me, then I can only imagine what our regular readers will think.

          • l8tr

             i didn’t say anything about your guest’s experience except that i am sorry for all who suffered there and i don’t judge or attack people i don’t know anything about.  i made a comment about the program, looking back on a 26 year old incident from a mature perspective of what the program was about.  it did try to help youth, but where they failed was in having children run the place, unregulated.  they would have been better served with professional counselors and phychologists on board. 

            i was there dude, so whatever to what you think of me.  i suffered there too, probably alot more than most.   so, no i’m not a regular reader of this site, and i won’t be back.  this has been a one sided offensive experience – and a waste of my time.

          • l8tr

             i didn’t say anything about your guest’s experience except that i am sorry for all who suffered there and i don’t judge or attack people i don’t know anything about.  i made a comment about the program, looking back on a 26 year old incident from a mature perspective of what the program was about.  it did try to help youth, but where they failed was in having children run the place, unregulated.  they would have been better served with professional counselors and phychologists on board. 

            i was there dude, so whatever to what you think of me.  i suffered there too, probably alot more than most.   so, no i’m not a regular reader of this site, and i won’t be back.  this has been a one sided offensive experience – and a waste of my time.

          • Matt Staggs

            You’ll be missed.

          • Matt Staggs

            You’ll be missed.

    • Someone

      “ others had behaviors that were going to take them to drug abuse” LOL really?  You mean they were typical teens? OMG! I see you are still drinking the Koolaid!

    • Guest

       ”you can’t bullshit a bullshitter”

      I call bullshit.

    • Matt Staggs
    • Matt Staggs
    • Matt Staggs

      “Kids were abused if they didn’t comply…The dumb ones got their asses kicked and put in place…”. That sounds like a nice place. No wonder you’re so well adjusted.

  • Walstib12

    How many of your seven step buddies of yours killed them selves after your time at str8 ?

  • Matt Staggs

    Mitt Romney’s Big Drug ProblemWhat drug policy would Romney issue from the Oval Office? He’s not saying. But his financial ties to the owners of teen rehabs infamous for abuse speak volumes of trouble.
    http://www.thefix.com/content/romney-sembler-drug-advisor-teen-rehab-abuse8515?page=all

  • FUCK THEM… FUCK THEM ALL!!!

     Either way! Steve did a KICK ASS JOB OF TELLING OUR TRUTH! I listened to this several times.I personally witnessed and participated in ALL statements of the systematic Institutional abuse and coercive thought reform that Steve bravely shared in his story.

  • mulecheeks

    Most kids who went through Straight Inc walked away with a pretty bad case of P.T.S.D. The suicide rate among the Survivors is unfortunately high.

  • mulecheeks

    Most kids who went through Straight Inc walked away with a pretty bad case of P.T.S.D. The suicide rate among the Survivors is unfortunately high.

  • Jamie Green

    We always thought you were kidnapped for a long time before we found out you were sent to straight.   Damn glad you rose above it brother.

  • Jamie Green

    We always thought you were kidnapped for a long time before we found out you were sent to straight.   Damn glad you rose above it brother.

  • Leslie Locher

    Thank you Steve for speaking out about Straight! VERY proud of you for being a voice for those that can no longer speak!

  • Leslie Locher

    Thank you Steve for speaking out about Straight! VERY proud of you for being a voice for those that can no longer speak!

  • Liberation Psychology

    This attitude, “you can’t bullshit a bullshitter,” pretty much sums up the mentality of the standard drug rehabilitation centers: suspicion, arrogance, dismissal, etc.  I was railroaded into drug treatment at age 17 after undergoing an “assessment” at a religious counseling center that “Tough Love”/Families Anonymous told my parents about.  The treatments were based on AA and “spiritual” principles, not any sound medical and scientific practices.  While the program I was in was not openly abusive to the same extreme as Straight, Inc., the damage done to my life and to my personal sense of self-respect and autonomy was similar.  They tell you that you’re “wrong,” that you are unable to think for yourself, that you need God to guide your life or you’ll end up in a jail, institution or dead.  It took me years and years to shake off the negative effects of the psychological abuse (I’m going to call it exactly what it is).  Punitive, controlling, intellectual dishonest approaches to social problems like this WILL NOT WORK, and only re-inscribe institutional classism, “othering,” and disempowerment for people struggling with personal problems.  I will never stop sharing my experiences about this in the hope that it might help other people heal from their own experiences.  Today I am a 40-something professional, have been in a great job for 12 years, and have had a quite fulfilling life since getting rid of all that mental baggage that they put on me all those years ago.  The things that have helped me heal my situations in life, deal with the kinds of problems that we all have, and grow as a mature, loving person, are in direct opposition to the things I was told by people who were granted clinical authority over me.  I don’t have any problem with people finding healing for themselves in AA or any other program.  It is when people with authority over vulnerable people, especially adolescents trying to find their footing, impose their ideologies and emotionally manipulative tactics on them, that I really cry foul.  If someone tells you that they know better than you how you should live your own life, it generally means that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

    • David Howe

      punitive, controlling, intellectually dishonest approaches to social problems…..

      …that’s exactly what Republicans do.  They are not interested in problem-solving.  They are interested in the obliteration of the “other”.  Whatever lies or crimes that are necessary to acheive this dominance get a free pass.

  • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

    Man…. Seems to bring to mind another government cover up of systemic abuse with “The Franklin Cover Up”.  Good work Matt.

  • http://www.sacredgeometryinternational.com/ Camron Wiltshire

    Man…. Seems to bring to mind another government cover up of systemic abuse with “The Franklin Cover Up”.  Good work Matt.