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Narconon: Effective Treatment or Scientology in Disguise?

  • Asks ...

    Are you familiar with Narconon programs? They claim to have very high success rates and what I see on their websites seems to make sense. Is it too good to be true? Do you know of any outside verification of the 80% cure rate I saw they were claiming? I am ready to go to treatment and to give up all drugs and alcohol but I want to get into the best possible program that I can afford to make sure that I succeed and never again have to do this.

  • Delisted Expert Says ...

    "You may have noticed that society is rapidly going downhill. Inflation, lack of fuel and even war cast deep shadows over the world. And the most serious part of this is that drugs, both medical and street drugs, have disabled a majority of those who could have handled it, including the political leaders, and have even paralyzed the coming generations."

    -- L. Ron Hubbard


    Dear Anonymous:

    I have little familiarity with Narconon so I cannot recommend or criticize Narconon. According to this Narconon website, http://www.narconon.org/drug-rehab/drug-rehabilitation-services.html the success rate for addicts and alcoholics is 75%. This success rate is considered high in comparison to many other programs, but there is no attached study verifying these impressive statistics. A Narconon program evaluation can be found at http://www.narconon.org/about-narconon/drug-rehabilitation-program-evaluation.html. The obvious strength of this program appears to be drug prevention

    For your benefit, I would like to bring forth some facts which may be critical in your decision to enroll in a Narconon Drug Rehabilitation or Drug Education Program. First, this program was developed by William Benitez, an Arizona State prison inmate, who developed this program with L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. Mr. Hubbard is a controversial figure so caution should be implemented when considering a program based on the principles of Scientology. See this website for more info about scientology:



    I encourage you to consider both arguments about Scientology by going to critical websites about Scientology. They are:



    The most dangerous problem faced by this treatment model is withdrawal and withdrawing safely and with minimal discomfort from alcohol and drugs. The Narconon program adopted treatment procedures to include drug-free withdrawal using vitamins and mineral supplements along with special techniques to ease the mental and physical symptoms. In 1978, this rehab model was named the Narconon® New Life Detoxification Program. This tissue-cleansing regimen of specific vitamin/mineral therapy with cardiovascular exercise, intensive sweating in low heat saunas, adequate replacement of fluids and oils, are interventions which claim to be immensely valuable for reducing the long-term physical and mental effects of drug residuals on people who have taken drugs. For more information about this, see this websites:



    For an actual description of drug rehab utilizing this model, see http://www.narconon.org/drug-rehab/drug-rehabilitation-program.html. This model does not consider addiction a disease, does not use the word “patient” but rather “students”, and takes between 4 to 6 months to complete. The central concept is that students, faced with drug and alcohol addiction, need additional education and new tools which will help them to engage in life without the dependency or destructiveness of alcohol and/or drugs.

    If you decide to go with this treatment model, which is social education rather than psychiatric or medical, here is where you would go to find a Narconon Drug Rehab or Drug Education Centers: http://www.narconon.org/narconon-centers/

    Questions which should be addressed in your decision-making process are:

    1. do they treat all substance abusers with the same treatment protocol;
    2. what if withdrawal symptoms persist after their nutritional and holistic detox is completed;
    3. what kind of education or support does this program offer family or other interested parties;
    4. what kind of local support is there for continued recovery;
    5. what kind of credentials do staff and centers have to offer drug rehabilitation;
    6. does a student have to subscribe to the principles of Scientology;
    7. how does the program addresses differences in race, culture, religion, disability, and sexual orientation; and
    8. does insurance cover this type of drug rehabilitation?

    Although I could not give you a recommendation, I do honor your choice to choose whatever program is a good fit for you. Should you continue to doubt whether or not Narconon is a good program, you might want to consider other alternatives. I would like to direct you to a web-site which offers such alternatives to Narconon. It is:


    I would encourage you to follow through on your solid plans to address your alcohol and drug addiction. Most programs have people who swear by their type of program or treatment. Caveat emptor. i.e., let the buyer beware.

    I hope this information has been helpful in your decision-making process. Please do not exclude local resources, e.g., substance abuse treatment professionals or programs, when making a final decision. If you need any other assistance from me, please contact me at your convenience.

    Best of luck to you and your recovery,

    John W. O’Neal, Ed.S., MSW, MA, LPC, NCC


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