Narconon, turning recovering drug addicts into Scientology drones since 1966
Ah, Scientology! Not only has it filled the pages of countless tabloids with its celeb-followers bizarre activities and horrendous divorces, it also spreads its sectarian tentacles to countries all around the world, through not only the Church of Scientology but also more discreet non-profit organisations and programs.
One such program, Narconon, has been unwillingly placed in the spotlight lately. In Oklahoma, a Multicounty grand jury stated an ongoing Narconon Arrowhead investigation should continue, regarding insurance fraud and possible malpractice. This investigation was launched in the wake of three patients, or “students” as they are called in the program, dying at the facility since 2011. Narconon Arrowhead, located on Lake Eufala in southeastern Oklahoma, is the mothership of all Naconon branches around the world.
Also shaming the drug rehab facility/indoctrination center is a lawsuit filed by the National Association of Forensic Counselors (NAFC) against Narconon Arrowhead, the Church of Scientology and 81 other related defendants.
The NCAF says Narconon Arrowhead and its subsidiaries falsely advertised, mostly through websites, that their facility was recognized by the National Board of Addiction Examiners (NBAE) as well as their “world-class staff”, wrongfully used their logo or altered version of said logo, misleading people into thinking Narconon facility and staff members where accredited by NCAF. Other misrepresentations are also attributed to the Scientology-oriented rehab facility.
Other facilities have also been dealt heavy blows. A Quebec Narconon facility was forced to close its doors by the province Health officials in 2012 after the Person’s rights commission concluded the Trois-Rivières located facility abused its patients financially, physically and psychologically.
These accusations are mirrored in Narconon 100 + facilities in over 30 countries around the world, and controversies aroused around the Narconon program from the beginning.
Get with “The Program”
So, what’s hiding behind the flashy websites and even flashier facilities? What do you get for the 30,000$ you need to spit out in order to enroll? You probably guessed by now that it is not science. In fact, none of the rehab techniques used by Narconon have any scientific root. Let’s have a quick look.
As soon as the participant arrives, he is taken in charge by a counsellor. Most counselors are former drug addicts whose sole credentials are that they “graduated” from the Narconon program. The drug rehab program starts right away, and the addict begins with the Detoxification program, as well as the indoctrination.
Behind the whole program are the Teachings of Ron L. Hubbard, father of scientology. Hubbard, who first made a name for himself as a sci-fi author, created a self-help system called Dianetics. He incorporated this system to a complicated web of beliefs and practices which he then characterized as a religion, Scientology. There are two main aspects to the Narconon program: the auditing, and the detoxification.
According to Narconon, through “auditing” –publicly re-experiencing past painful or traumatic events-, followers can free themselves and evolve beyond their limiting effects.
The sharing can be traumatic in itself, as participants must open up to strangers, are required to share detailed accounts of their past, and are often recorded while doing so. These recordings can later be used to manipulate and blackmail the “student” into obedience.
Often irrational, conflicted about themselves and having very low self-esteem, addicts are easily manipulated into accepting the new doctrine. There are also questionable issues in proposing a non-medical, unsupervised and potentially hazardous treatment to someone who can’t fully make enlighten decisions for themselves.
The Detoxification program consists of numerous sauna sessions and massive vitamin supplement intake. The claims, unsupported by any significant medical study, are that the body can stock traces of drugs for years in fatty cells, causing the cravings and relapse some recuperating addicts’ experience. The detoxification is said to cleanse the body thoroughly, by sweating out the toxins.
Not only such approach has no scientific ground, it has been shown to be dangerous. Cold turkey withdrawal, massive vitamin intake and elevated body temperature are considered serious health hazard for drug addicts and alcoholics. They can cause liver failure, hyperthermia, seizure and other complications.
These audit session and detoxification session are conducted by uncertified counsellors, and although the program claims that heavy cases will be referred to medical care, several Narconon ex-employees testified that it was not the case. The program jeopardize the participants’ physical and psychological integrity, and the “careful and professional monitoring” of this scientifically unrecognized process is anything but.
Ex-patients have also testified to being held against their will, forced to work for the organization without remuneration, threatened, put in prolonged and unsupervised isolation and deprived of medical care.
Who needs drug when you can have Scientology?
According to investigations all over the world as well as Narconon ex-employees’ testimonies, the main goals of the Narconon program are to financially support the Church of Scientology and to take unscrupulous advantage of the vulnerable and confused psychological state of drug addicts to recruit them to Scientology.
The functional recovering addict is encouraged to continue his healing through the Church of Scientology teachings, and to share his experience with others. The others, not so well adjusted “students”, are returned to their family in a debilitated state or are manipulated in prolonging their sojourn, for a fee of course.
Despite all this most disturbing information, the shady ties and ongoing criminal investigations, Narconon is still recognized and suggested, by charitable and medical organizations, to addicts who look for a withdrawal program and their families. And against all odds, the Church of Scientology is still recognized as a religion in several countries, and thrives.
But then again, what sets aside sects and cults from religion, beside their financial assets and the social standing of their most prominent followers?