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Media Articles - 2000s

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16 December 2003
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Centre's special recipe

Central Coast Express (Australia)
April 9, 2003


IT sounds strange but a Lower Mangrove Mountain drug treatment centre is advertising for a cook with addiction problems.

Narconon executive director Belinda Starr said the cook would work for the centre and in return receive treatment for his or her problem.

"We had a woman come through the program who has children and she was wrapped in it," she said. "She had been a heroin addict.

"She suggested to the father of her children that he do it but he didn't have any money. We needed a cook so we did a work exchange."

That cook has since moved on to another level in the Narconon program, which uses sauna and counselling therapy rather than other drugs to treat patients.

The work exchange concept worked well for another Toronto man who kept the grounds at their 58ha property.

Mrs Starr pushed Narconon's 60 per cent success rate.

"Some people fall over six months after the program," she said. "They come back and we take a look at what we could have missed in the program."

A reformed drug addict herself, Mrs Starr said when she first came to the centre all she wanted was to be "hit by a bus" .

She cleaned up from alcohol and pot addiction but after leaving, found herself slipping.

"I felt I was losing what I had so I went back and got more help," she said. "Now I am here running this place."

The not-for-profit organisation's treasurer Damien Lee came to the centre, not as a patient, but someone answering a job ad.

"I had a healthy dose of scepticism when I arrived but having been there when people arrive and then go through withdrawal periods which can last anything from 24 hours to six days, then see them come out of the program the change is unbelievable in some of them. They come in curled up in a ball, as skinny as a rake.

"Then they leave and they are glowing. Narconon is an international organisation although each centre is self-sufficient.