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Narconon Myths Revealed

Copyright (c) 2007-2021

Narconon, a highly successful drug rehabilitation program, is often the target of bad press. I am sure that this is true of other drug rehabilitation programs; however, I must come to Narconon's defense. When I have been asked about the drug program that saved my life, and I say, "Narconon saved my life," I am always amazed at the responses that I get from people who have limited knowledge or misinformation about the Narconon program. Unfortunately, these myths have discouraged some who could have benefited from the Narconon program. These addicts stay trapped in the destructive cycle of addiction and do more harm to themselves, their families, and their communities at large. Although many more myths may exist, I would like to reveal the three I have run into the most.

Myth #1 - Narconon is really a shortened name for Narcotics Anonymous.

This is not true. Narcotics Anonymous (NA). NA is based on the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and, according to the text Narcotics Anonymous, is a "non-profit Fellowship of people or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem." The program instills the belief that addiction is an incurable disease, but that an ongoing recovery process can be achieved if the addict follows a set of spiritual principles. NA members meet regularly and work the 12-Steps as adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous. NA is not an inpatient drug rehabilitation program; however, many drug rehabs suggest and recommend NA meetings as a follow-up/aftercare program. The long-term success rate of NA is difficult to determine; however, studies suggest that 12-Step programs in general have about a 3%-5% long term success rate.

Narconon, however, is a drug rehab that can boast a 76% success rate. It is a long-term residential drug rehabilitation program where students (not patients) learn the skills necessary to overcome their addiction. Students work at their own pace, and it is common to hear "it takes as long as it takes" throughout each phase of the program. The difference here is that no student is sent back into mainstream society before they have fully handled their addiction. Narconon instills the belief that personal addiction to drugs can be ended and that an addict can achieve freedom from drug addiction and go on to live a happy life. The Narconon program is designed to address all aspects of addiction by cleansing the body of drug residues, handling the underlying reasons that resulted in the addiction in the first place, as well as providing the student with practical life skills that will lead the addict to become a productive, ethical member of society.

Myth #2 - Narconon is Scientology and was started by Scientologists.

This is not true. Although the program is based on the works by L. Ron Hubbard, Narconon was not started by a group of Scientologists. In fact, the Narconon program was started in the Arizona State Prison by an inmate, William Benitez in 1966. Mr. Benitez had been afflicted by years of drug addiction and criminal behavior that had landed him in prison multiple times. After reading several of L. Ron Hubbard's books while incarcerated, Mr. Benitez realized that the technology set forth in these books could be applied to those afflicted by drug addiction. "I realized that drug addiction was nothing more than a "disability," resulting when a person ceases to use abilities essential to constructive survival. I found that if a person rehabilitated and applied certain abilities, that person could persevere toward goals set, confront life, isolate problems and resolve them, communicate with life, be responsible and set ethical standards, and function within the band of certainty," Mr. Benitez stated. Ultimately, this is the foundation of the Narconon program and its wide success in prison led to the formation of many Narconon programs across the world.

Although embraced by the Church of Scientology, because of the connection with the materials written by L. Ron Hubbard, the Narconon program does not in any way recruit its students into the Church. Narconon staff members are not Scientologists, unless they have chosen to be. Most are of a Christian background, but the Narconon program I went to had many a wide variety of religion amongst its staff, from Buddhists to Jewish to Catholic. However, it is not even a topic of discussion. Narconon does not discriminate against any religious background, nor does the Narconon program make any attempt to discourage any other religions beliefs. In fact, one important aspect of Narconon is that it gives its students the freedom to come to their own realizations about their beliefs and their faith. The sole purpose of the Narconon program is to help addicts overcome the destructive effects of drug addiction so that they can return to mainstream society and lead drug-free and productive lives.

Myth #3 - The New Life Detoxification (Sauna) Program doesn't work.

This is not true. The New Life Detoxification program is an integral part of the Narconon program. Through a combination of exercise, intensive sweating in a dry sauna, intake of fluids and exact doses of nutritional supplements, the student cleanses the body of drug residues. The purpose of this is to clear the body and the mind so that the student is not afflicted by the physical desires to continue to use drugs. Many say that sweating in a sauna for an extended period of time is harmful; however, what these critics fail to realize is that the body is never exposed to overheating as breaks are taken throughout the process to ensure that this does not happen. In addition, critics claim that Niacin, when taken in large doses, is also harmful to the body. If one were to take a large dose of Niacin on the first day of the sauna program, this could be true. However, the Niacin intake is strictly regulated. The entire program is delivered on a gradient, meaning that low doses of Niacin are delivered at the beginning and only increased based on the individual's reaction to it. Also, no student EVER begins the New Life Detoxification Program without clearance from the Medical Director, an MD with over 30 years experience treating addicts. If a student is not medically cleared for the sauna right away, he can work on other parts of the program while he is working to improve his physical condition.

Each student on the program is different and handles the detoxification process differently. The Narconon program recognizes this and treats each student individually. A common myth is that drug addiction is only a mental illness and should be addressed as only this. Many programs neglect that the body must also be handled in order for an addict to remain sober. There have been several scientific studies that prove the New Life Detoxification program does indeed rid the body of toxic residues left by drugs. For summaries of these studies, please visit and click on Scientific Research.

I believe in the Narconon program. It did save my life. I am free from the traps of drug addiction. I am saddened when people will discount the validity of Narconon because they believe that it is similar to NA and must attend a meeting a day to be sober. I have led a productive life for 14 years now and have not attended a single meeting. I am disheartened when people allow their feelings about Scientology to dissuade them from either getting the help they need or the help their loved one is desperate for. I am not a Scientologist, nor am I affiliated with any religious organization, but I believe in Narconon and the program that it delivers. I have watched friends relapse over and over again, and listened to them as they don't understand why they still crave drugs when they are working a program. I can attribute the fact that I know longer crave drugs to the Narconon program. I am an avid believer in the benefits the New Life Detoxification portion of the program, as well as the rest of the program which can give you the answers you have been seeking as to why your life is not as it should be.

Everyone has a choice to which drug rehabilitation program they attend or they feel is the right course for their loved one; however, I only encourage those who seek help to find the true facts about any program and not to just buy into the myths that exist.

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Lora French lives in Santa Cruz and currently writes on a variety of topics surrounding drug addiction and drug rehabilitation. For more information on the drug rehab program that saved her life, visit If you plan to reproduce this article, please include the link above.

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