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"Tough love" vs. "the fear of drugs"

Sfj “Tough Love” vs “The Fear of Drugs”

During a research assignment, one of my colleagues shared some of this info with me. Quite often, Parents will ask what I think about the principles of the “Tough Love” method or approach to dealing with youngsters who have substance abuse problems.
I’ve stated my opinions before, so I won’t go into all that on this post but I’m going to objectively share the findings and information published on another website.



“tough love programs that have been sold to the public as drug-fighters have a long and undistinguished history. I’d like to take a few moments to speak about that history, because I think it’s important to know where this stuff comes from and why it cannot simply be regulated away or made kinder and gentler. It’s rotten at the very core.”

“How could this happen? “

“The answer is fear of drugs, spread by dedicated propagandists with government funding.”

“Where did this idea come from, the idea that kids need to be broken through public humiliation, emotional and physical attacks, in order to be cured of drug problems? Where did we get the idea that hurting kids will help them? Although “tough cures” have had a long history in criminal justice and psychiatry, in the addictions field, they start with Synanon, a California commune founded by an ex-alcoholic and failed stand-up comic who thought the Alcoholics Anonymous’ philosophy would work better if it was coerced. When a junkie showed up to his no-holds-barred encounter groups and got clean, Synanon began to sell itself as a miracle cure for heroin addiction. At the time, heroin addicts were believed to be incurable.”

“All of this despite the fact that since Synanon, no one has ever been able to prove that any of their tough-love tactics help anyone in any way. With regard to drug use, the programs which initially supported confront ‘em, break-em-down, scrub the floor you junkie scum style treatment, like Phoenix House, eventually recognized that such methods drive people away from recovery, not into it. Phoenix House now bans humiliation and confrontation for its own sake—although, like fraternity initiations, it is hard to get rid of when people who have been through the “hard way” still staff the place.”

“With regard to alcohol, one famous study found that the more a counselor confronts, the more the client drinks; the same has now been found true for drugs. With regard to teenagers, research on teen boot camps done by the Justice Department found that they were no more effective than juvenile prison.”

“The most recent death, that of fourteen-year-old Martin Lee Anderson in a boot camp run by the Florida sheriff’s department, exemplifies this exactly. Anderson had been made to run laps and do push-ups and other strenuous exercises, just minutes after he entered the program. On his last lap, he collapsed, complaining of shortness of breath.
This was interpreted as defiance, although, as a fellow participant put it, why would someone complete all but the last few feet of the last lap if he was non-compliant? But because of the ideology of these programs, any refusal to do anything is deliberate and must be punished."

Re: “Tough Love” vs “The Fear of Drugs”
"Where did this idea come from?"
Good question!
Unless I'm waaaay off [good chance]...aren't some of the key root causes of addiction "public humiliation, emotional and physical attacks"...
along with the resulting guilt, shame, remorse and fear?? 
Guene Re: “Tough Love” vs “The Fear of Drugs”
I went to a class on tough love, some of it was ok but in the long run it didn't work on Jamie, she was one smart cookie. I have known a lot of parents who use tough love like my sister and you what, it didn't work, it made things worse, she is now raising all three of her grandchildren, she doesn't even know where her daughter is. And she never calls her own kids, how sad is that. I really don't know what to say, tough love is a very hard set of rules to follow, I know some parents who used it and say it worked for them, and some say no way.
Re: “Tough Love” vs “The Fear of Drugs”
So, what does one say to a Tough Lover that is positive they have it all figured out?
Re: “Tough Love” vs “The Fear of Drugs”


With regard to alcohol, one famous study found that the more a counselor confronts, the more the client drinks; the same has now been found true for drugs.

Wow, isn't that interesting?

So for an hour, Anderson was kicked and punched and a videotape of the incident shows absolutely no resistance from the boy. A nurse stands by, watching, once checking him with her stethoscope then allowing the beating to continue. When the nine guards and “drill instructors” believe the boy to be faking unconsciousness, they shove ammonia in face until they finally recognize that he isn’t faking and take him to the hospital.

You have to wonder where people get the idea that you can beat something out of a person and "help" them. Do these people really think that they are helping these kids? It seems to me that it would be like it would be with a dog. Most dogs get that beat dog thing going on. You try to reach put to them to be kind to them and they cover. Rarely do they ever get over that. If such treatment destroys an animal, how could one be so stupid as to think that it would help a child?


The reason the nurse just stood there, the reason the adults didn’t believe the kids, the reason so many kids have died and been left with post-traumatic stress disorder is the basic ideology of tough love itself. The idea that hurting people helps them is pernicious. If hurting people helps them, then a nurse won’t intervene in a beating—by intervening, she’d be harming! If hurting people helps them, complaints should be ignored, because if they are believed, stopping the pain interferes with “treatment!” If hurting people helps them, sadism is charitable and empathy is cruelty.

And we wonder why the amount of violent crimes continues to increase. If a parent treated their children that way, they would be taken by the state. But for some reason it is acceptable to have your children treated that way if you are paying money for it? Amazing.

We need to inform parents that not only is tough love dangerous and unethical, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. It doesn’t help kids. And it hurts all of us by devaluing empathy and promoting cruelty. For kids who are genuinely troubled, we need evidence-based treatment. For those whose only problem is that they smoked a few joints, we need a sane drug policy that doesn’t increase harm in order to sell its bankrupt ideology and keep government bureaucrats employed.

See also:

A plan for helping a loved one who uses meth

How can we, as loved ones, help meth addicts?

When does it become rock bottom?

Why love isn't enough

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