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Scientology and the problems with Narconon drug rehab.

Updated on June 30, 2008


Be afraid, the scientologists are coming…and they're on the first page of Google!

What is Narconon?

Narconon, which is the scientology based program of drug rehab and drug treatment, has an incredible web presence…although they do not identify themselves as associated with scientology. Any search done for information on addiction, or on drug rehab will bring you many pages by Narconon, and often in the top 10 or 20 page results on Google. Whatever you may think of them, you have to admire their SEO abilities.

But there are a number of serious issues with the program of education and the "science" on which their philosophies of treatment are based.

All Narconon treatments are based exclusively on the work and writing of scientology founder, L Ron Hubbard. The program is based on education and saunas that remove drug metabolites form the body…and they claim a better than 80% success rate in lifetime abstinence, which is truly a remarkable (unbelievable?) achievement.

Programs based on…science???

Narconon begins with a long period of detoxifying saunas, in which people will spend hours in temperate saunas, sweating profusely, and emptying their bodies of the lingering drug metabolites stored in fat cells, metabolites that Narconon believes trigger cravings back to abuse.

In addition to saunas, Narconon participants are given very high doses of vitamins, supposedly to help in the detoxification program.

After the "detox" is completed (about a month) the rest of the rehab experience involves an education (indoctrination) on better moral living and ways of interacting within the environment. At the end of the rehab treatment, participants are said to be cured, and require no further treatment for life. Again, Narconon claims that more than 8 in 10 will never again use drugs or alcohol, and those that do obviously missed some important part of the training, and are encouraged to return for more "education"

3 big problems with Narconon

There are a number of very serious matters of concern regarding the programming and motivations of Narconon.

  1. Firstly, the treatment is all based upon the scientific writings of a man (L Ron Hubbard) who faked his scientific credentials, and had no real scientific training or seemingly accurate scientific understanding. The program of detoxification is paired with high doses of niacin, which Narconon states removes metabolites from fat cells, which has been proven completely untrue.
  2. Secondly, although Narconon often boasts of an incredible success rate there has been no outside confirmation of any of the treatments or abstinence rates of Narconon. Narconon guards their information very closely and no outsider is ever allowed to make an independent confirmation of reported statistics. Any studies done are universally performed by Scientology faithful, and are always very glowing in praise for the methods. A Swedish study that tracked graduates of a program found that instead of 80% as advertised, real abstinence rates were closer to 10%.
  3. Although Narconon is Scientology based, they make no mention of scientology in any of their promotional literature. There is a real concern that the rehab programming is being partially used as an indoctrination grounds for vulnerable rehab participants, and future scientology advocates.

Narconon defends themselves vigorously against all perceived attacks on its credibility, and has even admitted to hiring private investigators to harass reporters critical of its programming.

Be careful of Narconon

Be very wary of any rehab program seemingly offering detoxification saunas as a primary method of drug addiction treatment.

Although there is a long tradition both in Scandinavian cultures, and as well in Native American cultures of using the sauna as a purification ritual, and it may have some benefit in a comprehensive rehab experience; it is certainly not even close to enough on its own.

If you are looking for a drug rehab program, you need to make sure that your money, and you time goes into a program that offers you a legitimate best chance at success and sobriety. There are tens of thousands of qualified addictions professionals dedicated to bettering the lives of addicts using proven therapies, and using the latest scientific and treatment information to do so. You owe yourself a real rehab experience, and not a quasi scientific and cultish one.

Whatever Kirsti Alley says…Narconon is not a good idea.


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