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Media Articles - 2000s

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8 January 2003
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Drug treatment center opens in former resort

Associated Press
August 17, 2001

An international drug rehabilitation program will more than double its bed space in Oklahoma with the opening Saturday of its new location on Lake Eufaula.

Federal and international drug rehabilitation experts are expected to attend the grand opening of Narconon Arrowhead. The center operated since 1990 as the Chilocco New Life Center in Newkirk, where it had 105 beds.

The 230-bed campus near Arrowhead State Park "gives us space to grow with the years," said Gary W. Smith, Narconon Arrowhead executive director.

He attributed the program's growth in recent years to increasing drug abuse and a desire by those seeking treatment for a non-traditional rehabilitation program. Roughly 80 percent of Narconon's patients have tried other programs first, he said.

Narconon uses saunas, vitamins and a special diet as part of its three-month treatment. The plan was developed by the late L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.

The Narconon program is based on the concept that drug residues could instill themselves in body fat, causing cravings and emotions associated with the original drug experience.

The new center has met with some opposition.

Last year, some area property owners asked the Oklahoma Department of Health to reverse a decision that helped turn the former state lodge into a treatment center. They were concerned about security and feared the center would hurt area property values.

Smith said the program serves mostly middle- and upper-middle class clientele. But he said Narconon will allocate 5 percent of its beds to treat indigent clients living in a 100-mile radius of the site. The region is plagued by high methamphetamine use, he said.

Narconon, which operates more than 100 centers in 29 countries, has billed the center as the star of its network. It plans to use the new 300-seat conference hall at Arrowhead to hold national and international training programs.

Among those scheduled to attend Saturday's grand opening and a Sunday drug rehabilitation summit are Clifton Mitchell, coordinator of President Bush's faith-based community partnership initiative, and Henry Lozano, White House Commissioner on Drug Free Communities.