After Narconon, what next?

So, you’ve been to Narconon. Some people have said they had a good experience and that the program worked for them. If you’re one of these people, we’re happy for you, but despite what Narconon may have told you, if you were addicted, staying off drugs or alcohol is a continuing process. From what we hear, Narconon does not provide much in the way of aftercare. We have some links below to address that.

If you’re not one of the people who are happy with Narconon, you may be wondering what to do now. You have paid, or may be in debt for, anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000 for the program. There may still be a substance abuse problem, and/or emotional repercussions from the experience at Narconon. You may be angry about this. You are not alone.

Emotional Reactions, Acute Stress Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress
You or your loved one may be having emotional reactions to your experience at Narconon. You may not understand how the program was useful or helpful for addressing substance abuse. You may have experienced or witnessed traumatic events while at Narconon. Responses to these type of events may vary, but strong emotional reactions are common.

Information about the Narconon Program and Narconon Drug Education may help you to understand what has taken place, but if you are in emotional distress, behaving, or feeling different than normal, it is important that you do not ignore this. It may be Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), which normally goes away after a few weeks, but if it lasts longer, it may be Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being for years, if not dealt with.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lists three categories of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Re-experiencing Symptoms: flashbacks; bad dreams; frightening thoughts
  • Advoidance Symptoms: avoidance of reminders; emotional numbness; guilt, depression or worry; losing interest in activities; trouble remembering the event
  • Hyperarousal Symptoms: being easily startled; tension or nervousness; difficulty sleeping; angry outbursts

If you are having some of these symptoms, please visit the NIMH’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder page, where they offer a booklet about PTSD which can be read online, downloaded in PDF, or ordered as a free hard copy.

The American Psychological Association also offers some tips on their website for recovering from traumatic events, and an online lookup for psychologists. The American Society of Addiction Medicine has online look-ups for addictionologists, addiction medicine professionals. SAMHSA has a Mental Health Services Locator as well.

Making Complaints and Getting Your Money Back
We urge you to make complaints about your bad experience with Narconon, since that is the only way for government officials to become aware that there are problems with Narconon. For help with this, see Making Complaints About Your Drug Rehab Experience.

You may want or need the money you spent for Narconon returned to you. If this is the case, the Getting a Refund from Narconon section may help you. However, delaying treatment while you wait for a refund is not an option you have to accept.

Finding treatment
For no-cost to low-cost alternatives, reach out to your local county or state substance abuse services for assistance. Many offer evaluation and referral to outpatient and/or inpatient treatment services at fees based on income. Many states classify substance abuse under their mental health services. To locate these services for your area, refer to SAMHSA’s list of State Substance Abuse Agencies.

SAMHSA also has a Substance Abuse Treatment Locater and Referral Helpline which can either be accessed online or on the telephone 24/7, 365 days a year. We would like to offer you one caution about SAMHSA, which stands for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is an agency of the U.S. federal government. SAMHSA lists every treatment facility which is licensed by the state in which it is located, so at least you can be sure of being referred to a licensed facility. However, the state licensing agencies may not be aware of the problems in a particular facility unless someone has made a complaint, so there may be facilities (including Narconon) listed in their database that you will want to avoid. It is still wise to do research, even if you are referred to the facility by a government agency like SAMHSA or others. Please refer to our guide on Choosing a Rehab.

Staying Clean
If you’re clean, whether it’s been for a month, a week, a day, or even if you’ve only been clean for this moment, stay clean! We realize that is easier said than done, but there are ways to get help. Narconon does not provide much, if anything, in the way of aftercare. In fact, Narconon even tells people that Narconon is a cure, which is interesting, since Narconon claims not to believe in the “disease of addiction.” All current scientific and medical research indicates that there is no “cure” for addiction, even if the researchers don’t agree whether addiction is a disease or not.

If you want to maintain your sobriety, we have some links below that may help you help yourself. What is most important is not one method or another, but that you have a network of caring people, and a desire to stay clean.