St. Louis-Based Crossroads Is Under Fire From Past Participants

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SC* was at work at a fast-food joint snorting crushed-up pills in the walk-in refrigerator when his sister, the manager, caught him. At 19, he’d dropped out of college and was smoking weed all day in addition to abusing opiates.

“I was pretty miserable,” he recalls. After an ultimatum from his parents, he reached out to a friend from high school who told him about a drug rehab program geared for teens, Crossroads. At the time, SC was in Columbia, Missouri, where the program had an outpost, so he went to check out a meeting in 2011.

“I never called or anything,” SC recalls. “I just showed up, and the counselors were kind of shocked.”

It was unlike any meeting that SC had been to before. “I met all the people in the program, and they’re like giving you hugs, telling you how much they love you, and these are people I’ve never met before.”

Former members describe their first meetings at Crossroads as euphoric. “It’s 30 to 60 kids in a gymnasium chanting your name,” says one former member who joined in 2005.

The counselors, too, are young and not sober bores. “The counselors had long hair and all smoked cigarettes,” SC recalls. They cursed, talked about doing hard drugs, and wore leather knotted necklaces.

After the meeting came the phone calls and texts. Suddenly, a new batch of sober friends was at the ready, taking you for late-night hang-outs, parties, games and so much chain-smoking.

“They use a lot of love bombing,” says Christina Warden, a licensed therapist and former member of Crossroads. “… You’re just inundated with so much attention from these other people in the group, so much positive attention. And your life becomes very quickly only involved with the group.”

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