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Narconon in Arrowhead, Oklahoma
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Cults of personality

Narconon is a recruitment program run by the Church of Scientology under the guise of a drug-rehabilitation program. Pulled out of the Church's ass in 1966, it has since become well known for claiming a success rate of approximately 70%[1] (and accordingly for representing itself as the world's most successful rehabilitation programme). Narconon could very well be said to be the "friendly face" of Scientology, as its stale statistics always sound a lot more positive than anything to do with E-Meters or Xenu. And if you happen to have become a minor celebrity Scientologist, the fastest way to dodge serious issues about the "religion" is to say something along the lines of "we have the world's number-one drug-rehabilitation program".[2] See — they're about so much more than the clams and the aliens!

Seventy percent?[edit]

The claim of a 70% success rate seems strangely familiar. That's because it's one of many false statistics constantly put out by the Church.

The 70% figure itself refers to participants in the program who remain free of drugs for a year after completing it, and it comes from a Swedish study that was made in May 1981. The figure ranges from around 70% to a generous 90%. Very little of the actual data in this report is made available for study on Narconon websites, and the organization simply ignores all requests in this area. Put simply, Narconon don't seem very enthusiastic about letting other people read the study allegedly proving how successful their program is.

In fact, when the report of the study was traced — by one Catarina Pamnell — several problems were exposed. Firstly, the study found that only 23% of the participants actually completed the program; a far cry from what Narconon would like you to believe. Additionally, the study found that after a year had passed:

  1. 50% of those who completed the course had since relapsed.
  2. 14% of those who completed said that they did not know if they had relapsed or not.
  3. 34% of those who enrolled said they "completed the program and relapsed but claimed to be drug free at the moment".
  4. 6.6% of those who enrolled said they had remained free of drugs for one year after.[3]

That's a success rate of 6.6%. Is anyone surprised?

And, as if that were not enough, the interviews in the study were made by the Narconon staff themselves — hardly impartial to the issue at hand. Much of the "one year on" material also depends upon the participants reporting their status with complete honesty, which may mean that the results (6.6%, remember!) are positively slanted.

Scientology's 6.6% success rate is less than half of the minimum placebo rate (that is, doing nothing to treat drug addiction) of 15%,[4] which means that Scientology's Purification RundownWikipedia quack medical procedures are worse than doing nothing to treat drug addiction.

Basic methodology[edit]

At its core, the Narconon program is pretty simple. The idea is to break off an addiction to harmful drugs without the use of maintenance therapy or graduated tapering (methadone/buprenorphine might be a good example here). Of course, since this is the world of Xenu L. Ron Hubbard, Narconon contains a certain amount of residual prejudice towards psychiatry and most forms of conventional (read, chemical) medicine. The idea that chemicals are profoundly negative in and of themselves seems to be a running theme in Scientology,[5] misguided and nonsensical though it is.

The programme itself involves an immediate withdrawal from all drugs, followed by a grueling regimen of vitamin overdoses and exercise.[6][7] There's also a stage of the ubiquitous and inescapable "improving communication".[8] In fact, many of the later stages of the Narconon program seem to be variations on lower Scientology courses (retaining knowledge, overcoming barriers, and of course, improving communication).

There's also a vaguely unsettling course in the last third in which "[the supplicant] learns the characteristics of the social personality as well as those of the anti-social personality so that he can spot the difference and better choose his friends and associates." This description comes very close to the Scientology definition of a "suppressive person" — anyone hostile or critical of Scientology's teachings. People who must, naturally, be cut out of your life. Another continuing theme.

The overall cost is $15,000 — not including any further Scientology courses that may be sold to you. Make no mistake, this is the thin end of the wedge for Scientology.[9]

Current civil lawsuits[edit]

There are currently a large number of civil lawsuits filed against Scientology's Narconon organization. Among the most notable is the civil suit filed by the National Association of Forensic Counselors (NAFC) against 82 Scientology agents/operators for abuse of NAFC's logos, trademarks, and good name.[10]

There have been nearly 100 Federal and State lawsuits against Narconon, including:[11][12]

  • Angelo Amato (San Diego)
  • Christy Estrada and Branden Chavez (San Diego)
  • Cathy and Michael Tarr (Nevada)
  • Harry and Lauren Geanacopulos (Nevada)
  • David, Stacy, and Jack Welch (Nevada)
  • Bryan and Nikki Mott (Colorado)
  • Charles and Tyler Matthys, and Linda Phillips (Colorado)
  • Kenneth and Jered Mowery (Watsonville, CA)
  • Robin Jones, James Ramirez Sr. and Jr. (Watsonville, CA)
  • Charis Yates, Beret and Dean Pugh (Nevada)
  • Lori, Ryan, and Jilliene Winchell (Nevada)
  • Ben Levy (Colorado)
  • Monica and Sean O’Connell (Watsonville, CA)
  • Ronald and Jason McClure (Nevada)
  • Michael and David Tino (Nevada)
  • Jerry and Christy Courson (Colorado)
  • Terney, Barbara, and Thomas Knoflick (Watsonville, CA)

In 2013 in Canada, Scientology's Narconon was being sued with allegations of gross human rights crimes and abuses.[13]

In addition to a seemingly endless list of civil lawsuits, Scientology is facing Felony Grand Jury indictments in Oklahoma as of 2014, where allegations of massive credit card fraud and medical insurance fraud are joined by civil complaints from alleged victims who have had as much as $35,000 stolen from them by Scientology.[14]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Drug Treatment 70% Success Rate, Natural Approach No Substitutions The Narconon Program (Canada), archived from April 23, 2006.
  2. A sort of homecoming (June 12, 2005) Sunday Tribune (archived from April 26, 2009). Beck, you are such a tool.
  3. Does Narconon work? Studies by Chris Owen (2 January 2003) Narconon Exposed.
  4. The Placebo Effect: How It Works by Faith Brynie (Jan 10, 2012) Psychology Today.
  5. Hubbard quotes on psychiatry and psychology by Mike Gormez (November 05, 2006) (archived from July 12, 2012).
  6. What is Narconon? Key Facts by Chris Owen (1 January 2003) Narconon Exposed. This is just Scientology's "purification rundown" under another name. Vitamins must be friendly chemicals.
  7. Narconon Drug Rehab Program Narconon
  8. What do Scientologists do with all these extra communication skills?
  9. The Cost of Scientology Operation Clambake
  10. A lawsuit over counseling credentials now aims at the essence of Scientology by Tony Ortega (July 24, 2014 at 08:00) Tony Ortega on Scientology.
  11. Lawsuits Narconon Reviews
  12. Narconon Lawsuits | Saeed and Little, LLP
  13. Narconon Drug Rehab Lawsuit - Victim Tortured and Abused by David Love (January 5, 2013 3:21 PM MST)
  14. Oklahoma Multi-County Grand Jury To Investigate Narconon by Dana Hertneky (Jun 17, 2014 3:53 PM PDT Updated: Jun 17, 2014 3:53 PM PDT) News9 (Oklahoma).