WHAT IS NARCONON?
"In a drug-ridden culture, it is a fact that all Scientologists are drug free.
100% say they take no street drugs at all."
- Church of Scientology Public Relations, 1998
The Church of Scientology (CoS) is opposed to "mind-altering" drugs of any kind. This includes all drugs used in psychiatric treatment, to which it is also opposed - but that's another story.
However the CoS approach to drugs is not just a negative 'Say No!' It claims to have a solution to drug addiction.
Since 1969, an organization called Narconon (for "non-narcosis") has offered a drug rehabilitation program in the United States, Canada and Europe. It operates within prisons and in a number of purpose-built institutions. It claims phenomenally high success rates in rehabilitating drug abusers, with anything up to 80% said to have been cured of their addiction. The Narconon treatment is based on the teachings of L Ron Hubbard, founder and guru of the CoS, and Narconon staff are Scientologists.
The Narconon program consists of nine separate elements conducted over 12 weeks, for a fee which stood at $15,000 in 1992 (i.e. $178.57 per day):
Elements 4-9 are essentially CoS courses with specific references to Scientology taken out.
You may regard teaching Scientology to people in the guise of a drug rehabilitation program to be at best ethically dubious. A Scientologist would perhaps reply that becoming a Scientologist is the best way of staying drug-free. But let's concentrate on the actual treatment itself. What do the experts say?
"My overall comment on Mr. Hubbard's literature is that there is an absolute lack of data to support his assertion that the Purification Rundown succeeds in doing what the presently adopted programs fail to do. The documents reviewed also contain many untruths and half-truths... Overall the program proposed by Mr. Hubbard is pure unadulterated ‘cow pies.’ It is filled with some scientific truth but mainly is illogical and the conclusions drawn by Mr. Hubbard are without any basis in scientific fact." - Bruce A. Roe, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma, 1989.
"In general because of a lack of empirical data, the ‘Purification Rundown’ concept cannot be considered medically sound." - Everett R. Rhoades, M.D., Assistant Surgeon General, US Government, 1989.
"The Narconon program includes the administration of high doses of vitamins and minerals to the Narconon patient as part of their treatment. The use of high amounts of vitamins and minerals in the amounts described administered by Narconon can be potentially dangerous to the patients of Narconon according to the more credible medical evidence...The Board concludes that the program offered by Narconon-Chilocco is not medically safe." - Findings of Fact regarding the Narconon-Chilocco Application For Certification by the Board of Mental Health, State of Oklahoma, 1991.
"...there is no documentation to show that the Hubbard method of detoxification from drug abuse conforms to scientific standards and medical experience. On the contrary, one may from a pharmacological point of view strongly question the idea of using enforced sweating to expel drugs from the body. The risks and side effects of the treatment method have also not been evaluated in a serious way." - Prof. Folke Sjoqvist, Scientific Advisor in Clinical Pharmacology to the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare, 1996.
But surely there must be some scientific basis for the treatment?
"I have, with the help of the pharmaceutical database at Huddinge hospital, made an international literature search in order to find documentation on the treatment program. The search covered the last 30 years, and it includes the experts referred to by Narconon. No documentation apart from that sent to me by Narconon has been found. I have also consulted the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Maryland, USA (Dr Peter J. Delany) by phone, and got the answer: ‘In response to your request for information about the Narconon program: We know of no peer reviewed scientific literature to support this program.’" - Prof Sjoqvist, ibid.
Narconon Web Site:
Alternate Views on Narconon:
The official Church of Scientology website:
Websites for the Freezone, practicing Scientology outside the CoS:
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