Report Critical of Narconon on NBC


If you are unfamiliar with the name, Narconon “provides drug information, education about the effects of drugs and effective drug rehabilitation programs for those already in the grip of addiction.” It’s a network of treatment facilities that uses the teachings of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and applies them to the problem of addiction. The affiliation with the Church of Scientology and the use of techniques that strongly differ from the traditional medical community combine to make Narconon controversial.

The television reporting on the group uses several deaths at the Oklahoma location (3 over 7 months in separate incidents) as a springboard to imply the treatment center was at fault.

Other controversial matters include the method of detoxification used (hours of sauna-style steaming) and the high doses of vitamins (specifically niacin). While not thought to be dangerous themselves, NBC give the impression that the organization isn’t properly trained to treat addicts and is using unproven methods.

There was no direct response from officials at Narconon in the report although a statement was released (viewable at the link above). Even an ex-employee wouldn’t discuss details of the deaths, citing patient confidentiality. Narconon claims an overall 75% success rate of sobriety at the one-year mark. This is much higher than others, even AA have claimed.

Other matters that were mentioned in the televised piece were a lack of medical personnel on site, little training in medicine by staff, and trading physical contact for drugs – especially by staff and female patients. The grieving relatives of the dead were also interviewed.

It’s hard to come to any conclusions. Police have not charged either Narconon or Scientology itself with any crime. Apparently, there is an investigation in progress but even the cause of death on the death certificate shown was undetermined.


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