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Narconon is not associated with Narcotics Anonymous which is sometimes abbreviated "Narcanon".

Scientology's Narconon is a rehabilitation program for drug abusers in several dozen treatment centers worldwide, chiefly in the United States and western Europe.

History Edit

Narconon was originally established in 1966 as a set of Scientology courses delivered to drug abusers; the name referred not to an organization but to the course. Its creator was William Benitez, at the time an inmate at Arizona State Prison serving time for narcotics offenses. His work was supported by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and in 1972 Hubbard sponsored the incorporation of Narconon as an organization. It was co-founded by Benitez and two Scientologists, Henning Heldt and Arthur Maren, high-ranking members of the Church's Guardian's Office.

In these early days, Narconon and the Church of Scientology were very closely — and openly — linked. Narconon used unaltered Scientology materials in its courses, and Church of Scientology executives were directly involved in the management of the organization. However, this caused problems for Narconon during the 1970s. The organization promoted its services to a variety of jurisdictions in the United States, but repeatedly found itself in trouble when the Scientology link was raised by the media. Apart from the Church of Scientology having an image problem at the time, it raised serious legal questions about the constitutional appropriateness of government bodies sponsoring a religiously-based methodology (see Lemon v. Kurtzman).

Narconon developed its own course materials in response to these concerns. These have evolved through several iterations to produce Narconon's current "New Life Program," which is based closely on several Scientology courses.

Narconon methodology Edit

The "New Life Program" consists of two principal stages: "detoxification" and "rehabilitation." The "New Life Detoxification Program", adapted from Hubbard's Purification Rundown, involves a daily regimen of individually tailored vitamins, oil and multi-minerals with special attention to the minerals magnesium and calcium and closely supervised dosages of niacin[1], plus exercise and lengthy sessions in a sauna.

The remainder of the Narconon course uses "training routines"[2] originally devised by Hubbard to teach communications skills to Scientologists. In the Narconon variant, these courses are designed to "rehabilitate" drug abusers.

Patients spend an average of 3 to 4 months in the Narconon facilities in the United States, for a fee which is different at every Narconon Center. The price ranges from $10,000 to about $30,000.[3]


Since its establishment, Narconon has faced considerable controversy, mainly over the safety and effectiveness of its rehabilitation methods, and the organization's links to the Church of Scientology. The medical profession has been sharply critical of Narconon's methods, which rely on theories of drug metabolism that are not widely supported. Particular criticism has been directed at the therapy's use of vitamins and sauna sessions in quantities several times greater than medically recommended. Although Narconon claims a success rate of over 70%, no verifiable evidence for this appears to have been published by the organization, and independent researchers have found considerably lower rates — as low as 6.6% in the case of a Swedish research study.[4]

Narconon downplays its connection to Scientology, insisting that it is entirely "non-religious" in nature and never mentioning Scientology in its publications. There is little hard evidence that Narconon sets out to recruit for Scientology, and Narconon denies any such actions.[5] However, Narconon's courses are firmly rooted in Scientology religious doctrines, from which they are adapted, and Narconon is directly subordinate to a Church of Scientology organization, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE). In return for license of the trademarks from ABLE, Narconon centers pay 10% of their gross income to Narconon International.[6]

In January 2001, Narconon came under fire when they appeared to copy the entire layout and site design of the webzine for their websites and, among others.[1] The editor of Urban75 posted up comparisons [2] of the copying, showing that Narconon had not even removed Urban75s hidden javascript code, unique to Urban75. Fredric L. Rice, writing to TheRegister, noted the irony of this scandal, writing that "Scientology has sued countless individuals and organizations putatively for "copyright violation" and the organization claims loudly that they're at the "forefront of protecting proprietary information on the Internet."[3] After pressure from Urban75 readers, Narconon eventually removed the copied layout, but never responded to queries about the site or admitted any copying.

Recent history Edit

In the early 1990s, Narconon set out to open a large treatment center in Oklahoma, resulting in resistance and a series of critical articles in a local newspaper. The Oklahoma Department of Health demanded that Narconon be licenced with the state, but the Board on Mental Health refused approval. Narconon instigated a series of lawsuits against Oklahoma institutions and officials and obtained accreditation through the Arizona-based Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities in 1992; Oklahoma officials then agreed to exempt Narconon from the state licensing requirement and the facility was allowed to operate.

Narconon offers free drug programs to public schools in California. A series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper on June 9 and 10, 2004 resulted in California school officials investigating Narconon's claims, and questioning its access to the state's public school system. As a result of the investigation, on February 23, 2005, the state's superintendent of public instruction, Jack O'Connell, officially recommended all schools in the state reject the Narconon program after the evaluation found it taught inaccurate and unscientific information.[7]

In September 2005, the charity was featured on the BBC Watchdog programme in the UK. It was alleged that the organisation's methods are highly unlikely to work, over-priced and that it failed in a duty of care to its customers.

By the end of 2005, Narconon was operating 183 rehabilitation centres around the world. New centres opened in that year included Hastings, UK, and Stone Hawk, Michigan. [8]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Hubbard Communication Office Bulletin of 6 February 1978RD
  2. Narconon training routines
  3. "Case for the Cure", Tulsa World, 6 November 2005
  4. Swedish research study of Narconon program
  5. Narconon personnel composition
  6. Narconon license agreement
  7. "Schools urged to drop antidrug program", The San Francisco Chronicle, 23 February 2005
  8. "IAS 21st Anniversary Event, Impact 112, 2006

External linksEdit





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