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Media Articles - 2000s

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8 January 2003
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Public meeting to be held to consider proposed new drug rehab center

Carroll Star News
by J. Pilkonis
?? June 2002

Citizens of Carroll County will have the opportunity to provide input on the proposed building of a controversial new drug rehabilitation center, to be located on sixty acres at 80 Cumbie Road, off Sandy Flat Road, Bowdon. A public hearing has been scheduled for the necessary rezoning of the property which is currently zoned for agricultural. The meeting will be held Tuesday, April 23, 2002 at 6:300 p.m. in the commissioner's meeting room at the county administration building, 423 College Street, Carrollton.

The drug treatment program would be run by Narconon of Georgia, an organization which has raised many questions, primarily centering around its ties to the Church of Scientology, along with a decidedly checkered history of service.

The Narconon program (the name is derived from NARCOtics NONe) dates back to 1966, and was developed by William Benitez, an inmate in Arizona state prison at the time. Its concepts are derived from the writings of the late L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. Rooted in a non-medicinal approach involving diet and behavior modification, the program boats an 86% success rate, according to officials within the organization. (These figures have been questioned by critics of the program. The success rate for Alcoholics Anonymous over the past ten years has remained within the twentieth percentile.)

The organization's connections with the Church of Scientology has been in question practically since its inception.

Officially, Narconon has denied a direct connection. However as early as 1980, an expose by the Detroit News revealed a solid connection and that the ulterior motives of the program were to recruit converts to the Church of Scientology. The Detroit News also discovered during the Michigan investigation that monies paid to Narconon were being laundered back into the Church of Scientology's coffers.

Throughout the 1980s, the program branched out internationally; controversy followed it every step of the way on a variety of fronts including:

Susan Webb, the director for public affairs for the Church of Scientology in Atlanta when asked by the Carroll Star News in a telephone interview whether the church had a direct connection with Narconon, at first adamantly denied that any connection existed between the church and Narconon. Webb confirmed that the precepts of Narconon were indeed connected heavily to the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. She also confirmed that the Church of Scientology approved strongly of Narconon's methodology and results.

Webb seemed at a loss, however, to respond to documented incidents where direct connections to the two organizations have been proven.

"Well, I don't know what they're doing in Sweden," she said, "but there's no connection here in Georgia. We're a church. They're a rehab center."

Narconon's program has come under serious fire over the course of the program's history. The harshest criticism from the medical profession centers primarily around the fact that many of its methods were developed by people with no medical background, and that some aspects of the treatment -- its intensive vitamin regime, specifically -- could conceivably cause more harm than good.

The proposed Narconon facility in Bowdon will be on a property currently containing a house and two barns, with plans to build a dormitory facility as well.

Currently, a petition is being circulated, opposing the rezoning of the property, and a strong turnout is expected at the rezoning hearing Thursday evening.