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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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    • profile image

      Be smart and do your research 5 years ago

      Scientology calls itself a church for tax and public relations purposes, however it is actually a dangerous criminal organization that was started by a deceitful quack and is currently ruled by a physically abusive, power-hunger kook. Its representatives will use any means possible -- lying, brainwashing, verbally attacking -- to get what they want, and what they want is members who either slave around the clock for a pittance or spend big bucks on "helpful" programs.

      Narconon is a scientology front organization, plain and simple, although they continually deny it. Drug addicts are put in saunas and given niacin injections as the main portion of their treatment. There are no MDs in these facilities, only chiropractors who visit occasionally. There is no psychological counselling.

      I urge anyone considering Narconon for themselves or a loved one to be smart and do your own research before entering one of these facilities. Google it and see what you find. If you have the unfortunate fate of ending up in one of these facilities, do not let staff confiscate your cell phone. They will attempt to cut off all communication with your family. If a family member calls and pleads to be rescued from one of these facilities, do it by any means, although staff will tell you not to. It could mean saving the life of the addict.

      If some of the previous comments here seem irrational, it is no doubt because of the strong emotions that being duped and abused by Narconon staff members brings up in its victims.

      You may want to start your research at these links:

    • profile image

      Hub User 5 years ago

      I like how the people who had positive experiences with Narconon are very rational in their writing and are also genuine. And the ones with "bad" experiences use off the wall dramatic content. I just happened to come across this website; I have a neutral stand point. But a great deal of people who are against this program seem very irrational. Also, just because a rehabilitation program does not give you medicine, that does not invalidate the power of the program. YOU'RE IN A DRUG PROGRAM, WHY WOULD THEY IMPLEMENT MORES DRUGS? Seriously, like I said, the irrationality of some of these comments are ridiculous. What I've gathered about Narconon are that they are a very holistic and a natural program. We're in a animal body, we are nature. So a natural recovery seems to make the most sense to me...

    • profile image

      Kelly Irwin 6 years ago

      There are over 40 complaints on The Ripoff Report about Narconon.

    • profile image

      Ryan 6 years ago

      I went through Narconon Vista Bay last year. I was there for 6 months and graduated. Not once is scientology mentioned let alone tried to be pushed onto vulnerable drug addicts. That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Narconon saved my life. I was a hopeless Heroin addict and the relationships that I built there and the valuable life lessons I learned were essential to my recovery. I had tried to get clean for many years at many different places and nothing was ever like Narconon. I have never met more caring and understanding people on my entire life. Every person that works there was once a client, so it's not a group of "scouting Scientologists". They are ALL ex-addicts trying to make a difference in other people's lives.

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      Really? 6 years ago

      Narconon is a secular(non-religious) program and licensed as such. Narconon is also non-profit and has been around since the 60's and still helping thousands of people get off of drugs every year. they also spend a whole lot of time and resources doing drug education and prevention and community based activities. Sounds terrible to me, maybe you people that have bad things to say about it should get your heads examined and then get a life? Attempting to tear down a group that helps others? My only question is what have you done that is so bad, that you would want to do that?, why don't you start there!

    • profile image

      ethercat 6 years ago

      Sorry the link above is broken, here is a shortened one:

    • profile image

      ethercat 6 years ago

      There is a major case against Narconon of Georgia and Narconon International working its way through the courts. Patrick Desmond died while attending the Narconon program in Georgia, and his family is suing Narconon.

      You may be interested in reading more about it at:


    • profile image

      ex 12 step & narconon survivor 6 years ago

      Its all about money for both of these progs... wake up people.. the world u live in is not going to give u anything of value without having any kind of gain... need i say more?

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      Sidney V 6 years ago

      I was a street junky fot years steeling and praying on the genorosity of other souls.One day I reached out for help I was just tired of the insane life I was leading I had been to several twelve step programs and went to countless meetings only to be told relapse is all part of it just keep coming back which I did but it turned into a revolving door for me I would go to these meetings just to be able to say that I was doing somthing about my addiction but never really was twelve step programs did not work for me and I pray the ones that it is helping are actually telling the truth and remaining clean and sober and not doing as I did and just faking it for self gratification. What finally got me totally drug free for the last five years was my choice to go to Narconon I no longer had to fake my sobriety I was living sober and I still am due to this fantastick place that actually gave me hope instead of instead of setting me up for failure. Thank you Narconon for giving me my life back

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      Mitch X Junky due to success at Narconon 6 years ago

      I was a 12 year Herion addict and on methadone for eight of them I went to Narconon for help this was yhe only place that would even attempt to handle a methadone addiction of this extent the staff was great and the care factor these people have are second two none if it was not for Narconon I can honestly say I would be dead I have now been clean of all drugs thanks to this God send Narconon works Dont listen to all this other nonsence If you really want to get clean and stay clean Narconon is the place to go. X- Junky inc.

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      StacieB 6 years ago

      I am sober for 20 years!!! Please people, never send anyone to a treatment facility that is not 12 step recovery!!!! Alcoholism and drug addiction is not curable and people need life long help. AA and other 12 step programs are FREE! The only money spent is to pay for the rent of rooms to have the meetings at a long with cookies, cake and coffee!!! Wake up! You are being scammed.

    • profile image

      kelly 6 years ago


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      Draylon Hogg 6 years ago

      Who is going to help weak willed people with more money than sense handle withdrawal from the cult of documented charlatan L Ron and sociopath Miskiavage?

    • arthurchappell profile image

      arthurchappell 7 years ago from Manchester, England

      Excellent feature on this sinister, dangerous and fraudulant practice

    • profile image

      tulli beschi 7 years ago

      neen help

    • profile image

      Kjby 7 years ago

      I went to narconon of ga after it was completely misrepresented to

      my family and me. There was no control or monitoring of goings on including drug use among enrollees and counselors---I hesitate to call them patients as there was no science, medicine, counseling, or random drug tests ever done during my time there. As for residential facilities there were condos run by counselors who could be found at any given time watching porn in the condos, engaging in sexual relations with one another or masturbating in

      front of residents. Residents regularly went off with friends and did drugs and/or drinking for the evening or even days at a time with the only consequence being that they had to write an essay following their return to the program. It is not for anyone who wants a serious chance at health and sobriety. Whoever says scientology is not an issue has never been. If nothing else, reference the materials have L. Ron Hubbard's name all over all the materials...look it up on the web...not to mention one evening session consisted in mailing fund raising pamphlets for Church of Scientology. I could go on but hopefully this is enough to inspire some real

      research before paying money you might never see again otherwise it seemed like a great place to stare at the wall and memorize gibberish all day and party all night . Beware of Narconon!

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      Grateful mom 7 years ago

      I am grateful for the existance of Narconon, as it has saved not one but 2 family members. Both were nearly dead, from the drugs and life style (if you can call it that), Narconon programs were done 9 and 10 years ago, and they are clean and sober and each have become syccessful and happy individuals. Don't knock the thing that could save someone's life. Maybe 12 step will work for you, I hope so, it didn't for my 2. Live and let live.-a grateful mom.

    • profile image

      Aurora 8 years ago

      No offence or anything, but you shouldnt critisize religions that you know absolutely nothing about. scientology is not based on 'scientific' theories. only dumwits like you would assume because the word scientology has 'scien' in it that means its all about science. its an applied philosophy, and the word scientology essentially means 'the study of knowledge'. So dont go writing stuff about scientology when you dont know jack about it. Narconon is separate from scientology, but it is supported by it, get the difference.

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      Stephanie Jensen 8 years ago

      I was sent to Narconon NewPort,Ca. for drug treatment I spent 22#days there, they touched me in places that was not o.k. with me. They lied to my family and I and they stole $10,000.00 from me they listend to my phone calls to my family and when I told my family that Narconon was scientology they told my family that I was lying to them because it just wanted to get taken out of there but it was all true and my family look in to it and told Narconon that they were coming to get me so Narconon told them that i didn't want to see them any more and that i didn't want them tocome and get me so Narconon told me that they were moving me some place so my family couldn't find me that was so scary think god that my family bieve me and got me out now we are trying to sue them wish me luck! thank steph if you have questions cotact me at

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      J Johnson 9 years ago

      Does any one have any cureent information about narconon? How safe is the program and do they have any one-on-one counseling?

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      Patel 10 years ago

      Thanks, I am looking at some options for my sister, and I'm glad to know about the risks of naconon