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Narconon – Scientology on drugs

Posted by Don McLenaghen on May 30, 2012

Recently in the news there was a story about a mother’s anguish after having left her drug addicted son at what she thought was a reputable private drug treatment center but later discovered otherwise. The center, the Narconon Drug Prevention and Rehabilitation Centre in Trois-Rivières, received $10, 000 for initial treatment, however after only 6 days; the center put her son on a bus back to Toronto. He was addicted and penniless. They claim he was too psychotic for them to deal with.

Since this incident came to light, the attempt by the center to gain accreditation has failed. So it, according to news reports closed its doors. It had been operating under provisional credentials and previously lax laws. The Trois-Rivières center claims to have successfully treated about 1200 patients.

However when pressed about conversions to Scientology, the head of the center stated that they “don’t track what happens to most people after they leave the Trois-Rivières program”. Now with addiction, getting an addict to stop is relatively easy; its keeping them off in the long term is the trick.

Narconon is NOT narc-anon. Narc-anon is an offshoot of Al-anon…or Alcoholics Anonymous with use the 12 step program. It started in the early 1950s. It does not charge its members. It is not designed to ‘get people off drugs’ but to ‘keep them off drugs’.

That is a major point of difference here between the two Narcs.

NarcOnon, is part of the Scientology web of entities and was established in the late 1960s. Its treatment is based upon L. Ron Hubbard’s “The Fundamentals of Thought”. It was developed by a former felon William C. Benitez and was formally incorporated into Scientology in 1972.

The principle behind the treatment is based on the idea that addition is caused by fat. That is drugs are absorbed by body fat while getting stoned. When not high, the drug is released by the fat causing the craving for the drug and thus the addition.

The theory

Treatment is to ‘detox’ the body by essentially sweating it out. It also includes high doses of vitamins, lots of liquids, exercise, balanced diet and plenty of sleep. Now, there are some drugs that can be absorbed by fat but they are not the biggies…like Cocaine, Meth or PCP. There is also a fundamental issue with the idea that ‘slowly released drugs’ would ‘cause’ cravings. It’s more likely to lessen them.

So, this technique, although not biologically effective, might work for your pot smoker or those not ‘physically addicted’, however those who are physically addicted, such as the boy we started this story with, withdrawal is not only painful but potentially fatal.


What the center claimed to be psychotic behaviour is what you get during withdrawal and why more responsible entities like Narc-Anon, leave detox to doctors and only step in afterwards. For some forms of addiction stopping “cold turkey” can be fatal. Even those addicts who are not at risk of death, withdrawal symptoms can last months which is why Methadone, among other ‘replacement’ drugs, is used.

Okay, so medically it’s dubious at best and dangerous at worst. There is also the issue of conversion. Now Scientology claims that it does not use the centers as a venue to recruit members but because of the secretive nature of the ‘church’, it’s hard to substantiate that claim. What is true is that part of the treatment is “training routines”, which are essentially Scientology’s regular “audit” sessions with a narco twist.

The following quote comes from a California State Health Department review of a Narconon center receiving state funding in the 70s.

“The exercise of direct eye contact tolerance (staring into the coach’s eyes) in “eyes open,” and the seeking of an emotional weak spot or “button” and a corresponding emotional response to it in the bullbaiting routine. The bullbaiting exercise seems to involve principally physical characteristics that may be used to embarrass or humiliate an individual and condition him to accept and control his responses to these verbal threats to his body image.”

One of the mechanisms that Scientology used both to convert and retain converts is to destroy their self-esteem…essentially brain wash them as well as recording what is said in their Auditing Sessions and using that for a threat of black-mail in the future.

The last way we will discuss, but I am sure not the actual last way, Narconon is slimy, is its method of ‘finding’ patients. It is simple capitalism I guess, what they do is offer a commission for every patient that goes through treatment. Reports from insiders say that of the $30,000 treatment fee, $3,000 of that is paid to the ‘recruiter’.

So even if we ignore the other parts, this seems…well, slimy. To be fair, high-end treatment centers…of Hollywood stars ilk can cost that much a month but the Narconon centers are not this kind. They are more akin to 14,000 and that is for those who do not qualify for healthcare funding. I noticed in my research that EVERY center stated one of the requirements of acceptance was that the client must already be detoxed.

Perhaps the real tragedy here is not that Narconon exists but that the reason this mother sent her child there was because there were no publicly funded treatment spots open…that she turned to Narconon out of desperation. As the gospel of austerity reigns the globe, it is important to remember that we formed societies for a reason…and it’s not to make the CEO rich. Societies are the pooling of resource to create an environment that will benefit all.

We create government NOT to manipulate the country to improve the health of the economy; the role of good government is to manipulate the economy (et al) to improve the health of the countryof society. This cannot be done by restricting access to health services like drug-rehabilitation. It not only costs lives and the suffering of others but in the long run it has a far greater cost on society itself. This cost is charged at first quickly by an underclass on the street stealing and damaging public property…cost in policing and incarceration.

Cost mounts as these people show up at hospital emergency rooms requiring expensive emergency care (well this is service we still feel morally obligated to provide…for now). Most costs accrued from loss of production, participation and inclusion of the addicts directly as their talents and energies are lost to society.

Cost paid by the families suffering indirectly as they feel less attached to the society that has sat back and allowed this tragedy to occur. Cost paid in the long run as society itself has no value by valuing only the dollar.


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