Editorial: Common sense prevails
San Francisco Chronicle (California)
June 20, 2004
THE CONSEQUENCES of illicit drugs are so dangerous and well- documented it's unnecessary -- perhaps even foolish -- to embellish on the inevitable outcomes for those reckless enough to abuse them.
Drugs can cause immense physical, mental and emotional damage for users, and immeasurable suffering for families and friends, too. Clearly, the best defense against substance abuse is education and examples to illustrate the personal devastation.
That's why the uproar over Narconon Drug Prevention and Education, the popular anti-drug program that is administered for free to public schoolchildren in San Francisco and elsewhere, is so disturbing.
After 13 years, Narconon, funded and staffed by the Church of Scientology, is being accused of using misleading and inaccurate information -- "irresponsible . . . pseudoscience'' is what a host of medical experts are calling it.
Among the debunked teachings are Narconon claims that drugs are stored in body fat, creating cravings and flashbacks that can be remedied with perspiration and vitamins.
But worse than flawed science are indications that lessons are imbued with religion -- "all the Scientology . . . basics," according to church data obtained by The Chronicle.
Narconon denies the charges. Still, schools chief Arlene Ackerman has given Narconon until June 24 to revise parts of its curriculum or be barred from the district, and state Superintendent Jack O'Connell wants the program probed.
Ackerman and O'Connell have rightly moved swiftly to makes sure students get sound scientific information about drugs without any hype or hint of theology.