1. What is Narconon?
Narconon is a worldwide organisation that offers in-patient therapeutic treatment to individuals affected by drugs, toxins and radiation.
(See "What is Narconon?" for more information.)
2. Where is Narconon located?
There are Narconon branches in eleven states of the United States, as well as one or more in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Venezuela.
(See "Narconon Watch" for information on Narconon in your country, state or province.)
3. What does Narconon do?
The Narconon programme aims to physically detoxify an individual, teach him life skills and restore his self-control. It does this through the use of methods originally developed for Scientologists by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard during the 1950s to 1970s.
(See "What is the Narconon Programme?" for details of the methods used by Narconon.)
4. How long does it take to complete?
There is no set time limit; completion is deemed to occur only when Narconon's fairly arbitrary criteria have been met. This usually takes 3-4 months, but can occasionally take a year or more.
5. What is the Narconon programme's success rate?
Although Narconon routinely claims a success rate of at least 70%, there is little independent evidence for this claim. A small number of studies have been done by individuals and groups not affiliated with Narconon and/or Scientology, showing success rates of between 7%-40% (the latter being fairly dubious, due to problematic methodology). The overall finding of such studies suggests that the Narconon programme does less well than other therapeutic methods.
(See "Is Narconon Valid? - Studies" for details of the various studies conducted into Narconon's effectiveness.)
6. Is Narconon safe?
A large amount of medical opinion and evidence suggests very strongly that some of Narconon's practices have significant medical risks, and that the programme as a whole cannot be regarded as safe. It has received strong criticism from a variety of medical individuals and groups as a result.
(See "Is Narconon Safe?" for information on the safety hazards of Hubbard's methods.)
7. Is Narconon medically valid?
The Narconon programme relies on many unproven, and some comprehensively disproved, theories originated by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. It has very little credibility with the medical profession as a whole and references to Hubbard's detoxification methods are almost entirely absent from medical journals.
(See "Is Narconon Valid?" for a detailed examination of Narconon's medical flaws.)
8. Are Narconon's staff medically qualified?
For the most part, no. Each Narconon branch has a fully-qualified medical doctor (invariably a Scientologist) assigned to it. In addition, some staff members may hold qualifications as addiction counselors (which is not a medical qualification). The great majority of Narconon staff are themselves former addicts but do not have any medical qualifications.
(See "Is Narconon Safe? - Poorly Trained Staff" for more information on staff qualifications.)
9. Is Narconon an accredited treatment provider?
This varies between countries. In the United States, Narconon has obtained accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Other countries have not accredited Narconon; in the United Kingdom and Ireland, for instance, Narconon clients have had to go to the Netherlands to undergo its therapies.
10. How much does Narconon charge?
A flat fee of [$15,000] is charged for the Narconon programme in the United States. Costs vary for other countries but are probably tailored to fit local economic conditions (hence Narconon in Bolivia most likely charges considerably less than Narconon in Britain). Narconon does not appear to offer free-of-charge services.
11. Do insurance plans cover the cost of the Narconon programme?
Many insurance plans differ, but some do contribute to a percentage of the cost (but in arrears and not paid directly to Narconon). HMO plans do not cover Narconon.
12. Do governments and other state bodies sponsor Narconon?
In some localities, notably in Europe, they do - usually through local rather than national governments. However, Narconon has a long history of having its funding terminated by local governments for poor performance and after its links with Scientology have been publicised.
13. Is Narconon associated with Scientology?
Yes. According to the 1993 Closing Statement on tax exemption in the United States for the Church of Scientology International and its subordinate bodies, a document agreed between the Church and the Internal Revenue Service, Narconon is a "Scientology-related entity". Documentary evidence demonstrates that the Church of Scientology controlled and managed Narconon throughout the 1970s; it is now a subordinate of the Association for Better Living and Education, a body staffed exclusively by Scientologists and which is part of the international management structure of Scientology.
(See "Narconon and Scientology" for an in-depth examination of Narconon's links with Scientology.)
14. Are Narconon staff Scientologists?
Many of them are, with the great majority of executives apparently being Scientologists. Many more are graduates of Narconon who have passed through the programme and decided to stay on. There appears to be a clear division between the Scientologists (who overwhelmingly dominate the corporate management) and the non-Scientologists (who appear to be predominately in the "service delivery" parts of Narconon.
(See "Narconon and Scientology - Personnel".)
15. Does Narconon recruit people into Scientology?
A number of Narconon graduates do join Scientology, although the precise figures are unknown. There have been anecdotal reports of Narconon staff recruiting for Scientology, and there is documentary evidence that Narconon in the Netherlands has done so, but it is impossible to extrapolate from this whether such recruitment activities are normal or otherwise.
(See "Narconon and Scientology - Organisations".)
16. Is Narconon religious?
Yes. Narconon claims to be secular, but all of its therapeutic methods are part of the "scriptures" of the religion of Scientology. Many of its practices are based solely on belief rather than medical science - a particularly obvious example is the use of "assists", a Scientology form of faith healing through the laying on of hands. Past versions of Narconon training manuals have been taken directly from Scientology originals, with very minor changes of wording or vocabulary to remove the most obvious signs of Scientology. Narconon's claim of secularism relies on outsiders not having enough knowledge of Scientology doctrine to recognise that much of its own doctrine is, in fact, pure Scientology.
(See "Narconon and Scientology - Doctrines".)
17. Who are Narconon's supporters?
Narconon has a surprisingly small circle of active supporters, if one excludes Scientologists and past graduates of the Narconon programme. The vast majority of those who support Narconon are Scientologists and consequently have a deep ideological commitment to the supposed correctness and "workability" of L. Ron Hubbard's doctrines. As such, their views on Narconon are probably rather more influenced by the dogmatic faith of true believers rather than any objective analyses. Narconon has also amassed a collection of endorsements from politicians and community figures; these are of dubious value, as it is very unclear how much those individuals knew about Narconon and, being political endorsements, are potentially subject to political value judgments.
18. Do any medical doctors support Narconon?
Only about fifteen doctors are on record as having supported Narconon, of whom at least five are known to be Scientologists. It is not clear how they manage to reconcile Hubbard's claims with known medical science, or in some instances with fundamental physical laws.
(See "Narconon's Supporters - Scientific & Medical")
19. Narconon says it has lots of studies proving its worth - are these of any use?
It is extraordinarily difficult to obtain copies of the studies cited by Narconon, which cites a 76% success rate but does not provide any sources for this figure. Two studies which it cites, carried out in Sweden and Spain, show success rates radically different from those claimed (in the Swedish case, 6.6% as opposed to 78.6%). Narconon also cites research papers written by a number of individuals in the United States. As these are invariably Scientologists or employees of Narconon or other Scientology-related organisations, there are serious doubts about their objectivity and likely bias. The papers are also usually published without having undergone peer review, an essential safeguard against bad or fraudulent science. Finally, Narconon also presents numerous "success stories" from allegedly satisfied clients. These are useless for the purpose of assessing Narconon's worth, as they are wholly subjective, written under compulsion and are self-selecting. (A dissatisfied client is hardly likely to write a "success story".)
(See "Does Narconon Work? - Success Stories")