One thing I’m very concerned about, is that when people finally realize that conventional treatment and 12-step methods of recovery don’t work, they go looking for alternatives and get drawn in by another ineffective program, or something that has the same characteristics they were trying to escape by looking for alternatives. The danger I want to highlight today is Narconon. For those who don’t know, the treatment centers called Narconon, use a program developed with Scientology, based on the writings of L Ron Hubbard, and are primarily run by scientologists.
I will not use this post as a means to debate the merits and/or problems of scientology, because I’m not well versed in it. I do however know many people who have been to Narconon. What’s often said is that it’s a cult-like atmosphere. Beyond that, there are countless complaints by attendees, and there are methods used at these clinics that many consider questionable. Narconon uses all the language common to health scam artists – most notably, they focus on removing “toxins” from the body. Whenever you hear the word “toxins” it should send up a red flag and you should be very careful of what you’re being sold. While in a Narconon facility you will be given massive doses of vitamins and niacin, as well as drinks made up of oils, and you’ll spend hours on end in saunas (you actually consume meals and water while in the saunas), a process all aimed at removing the “toxins” which force you to “self-medicate”. Another common experience I’ve heard is that you sit in a room with someone who shouts insults at you for hours on end as a means of psychologically breaking you down until you no longer react negatively. This may be some peoples’ cup of tea, but many would find it bizarre, unhelpful, and potentially dangerous or deadly. And many people are already suspicious of scientology and want nothing to do with it – which is why I must write this post.
Here is a link to Narconon Exposed, a website dedicated to debunking and tracking Narconon: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon/ (I’m not affiliated with this site in any way)
There are countless websites which speak of an alternative method of recovery, they mention success rates of 80%, and they speak quite eloquently about the dangers of the disease theory of addiction. This makes these sites quite attractive to those looking for an alternative to conventional treatment – but they are a trojan horse, and eventually funnel you into going to a Narconon rehab center – which ultimately funnels you into the church of scientology. I stumbled across one the other day.
The site I just found is called New Face Of Recovery, and it offers a book for sale of the same name. I was excited when I found the site, but as I searched through, it seemed intentionally vague about many things, which lead me to immediately suspect that it was a front for Narconon or some other scientology influenced product. I wasted ten bucks buying the book and reading it so that I could report back to you that it indeed is that. In the section on detoxification, the author outlines the vitamins, niacin, oils, and sauna methods common to Narconon. Eventually, he discloses that these methods he recommends are outlined in a book called Clear Body, Clear Mind, by none other than L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology. Furthermore, I googled Lucas A Catton, the author of the book, and found that many have identified him as a former employee of Narconon Oklahoma, and the owner of other recovery sites which serve as fronts for Narconon. So, if you want to avoid Narconon, and/or scientology, then please avoid using the website http://www.newfaceofrecovery.org/ and do not buy the book titled New Face Of Recovery. It may however, be educational to view the site, so that you’ll be better able to recognize a narconon front site when you encounter it – there are many of them out there.
Now, in the sense of being an alternative to conventional treatment, Narconon is radically different and thus an alternative. But what are you looking for an alternative to? Many people want to get away from the self-defeating disease model of addiction, because it removes addiction from the realm of choice, and puts it in the realm of biology – something that isn’t under our direct volitional control. Unfortunately, while deliberatly rejecting the disease model, Narconon achieves the same harmful end – by convincing you that vitamin deficiencies and “toxins” are to blame, they keep addiction squarely in the realm of biology. This keeps people from focusing on the choice aspects of addiction, and thus makes it harder for them to change their habits.
Another thing that many people want to escape when they go looking for alternative addiction treatments is the cult-like and quasi-religious atmosphere of 12-step groups and methods. Unfortunately, if you get scammed into going to Narconon, you will face these same problems, you’ll just have them with a new group, and the cult-like atmosphere and religiosity could be much worse in Narconon by many accounts.
So, to sum up: Narconon doesn’t provide much of an alternative to the disease model of addiction or the cult-like and quasi-religious aspects of 12-step programs – and thus is not the alternative that many are seeking when they go online looking for an alternative treatment or method of recovery for addiction. And by being based on Narconon, the website and book titled “New Face Of Recovery” doesn’t offer much of an alternative either.
Stay away from the fakes, and look for the true alternatives to conventional treatment, which you can find all over this site, and particularly on my Find Help Now page, listed in the menu up top.
NOTE: Although Narconon sounds like a combination of Narcotics and Anonymous, it has nothing to do with the 12-step group Narcotics Anonymous or NA, nor is it affiliated with or a sister group to Alanon. It is it’s own organization and program, having nothing to do with 12-step programs.