The Narconon Program

The Narconon Drug Rehab and New Life Detoxification Program consists of eight parts, called “books”, that the client (called a “student”) must follow in order to complete (called “graduation”) the full program. At each stage, a success story must be written in order for the student to progress on to the next.  If the student cannot list the “wins” he or she got from each step, he or she will not be able to progress. We will first list the books, and what Narconon claims they accomplish, and then we will go into more revealing detail about each in the paragraphs that follow.

Book 1 – The Communications Course
Extroverts the student and gets him into better communication with others and with the environment.
Book 2 – The New Life Detoxification Program
Removes drug residues and other toxic substances from the body.
Book 3 – The Learning Improvement Course
Gives the student the ability to study and retain knowledge along with the ability to recognize and overcome barriers to study and learning.
Book 4 – The Communication & Perception Course
Gives the student the ability to get into full communication with others and his environment.
Book 5 – The Ups and Downs in Life Course
Gives the student the ability to spot and handle those influences in his environment that would cause him to lose any gains he has made.
Book 6 – The Personal Values and Integrity Course
Gives the student the data he needs to improve his survival potential.
Book 7 – The Changing Conditions in Life Course
Gives the student the exact step-by-step technology he needs to improve his life.
Book 8 – The Way to Happiness
Teaches the student a non-sectarian moral code which is a guide to living a happy life based on the book The Way to Happiness® by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

Sounds pretty good, right? But wait, what’s this in Book 8? Scientology? Keep reading for the scoop on the Narconon program, as told by a former employee of Narconon and former “parishioner” of Scientology.

Narconon Program Methods

by Eric Tenorio, former Scientologist and former Executive Director of Narconon Freedom Center, 13 years on staff for Narconon

Narconon has tried for years to distance itself from the Church of Scientology. They say they are a secular organization, which means there is no use of religion, or Scientology, in their program. Even if asked directly, Narconon staff will insist that Narconon does not include any Scientology teachings. For someone who is desperate to get off drugs or alcohol, someone who has existing health problems, or someone who is uninformed about Scientology, choosing the Narconon program could have disastrous consequences.

The founder of Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard, LRH) was vehemently opposed to anything having to do with psychology or psychiatry. The Church even went so far as to create an organization called the CCHR (Citizens Commission on Human Rights) whose sole purpose is to expose the “horrors” of those professions. LRH saw all psychiatrists as his mortal enemies and the people responsible for most if not all of the atrocities in society today.

This is why you will not see any psychologists or psychiatrists on staff at any of the Narconons. In states that require these professionals to work in a drug rehab, you will not find a Narconon.

Instead of employing professionals, LRH thought up his own methodologies for people trying to get off drugs. Most of the methods in Narconon were devised to train staff at Churches of Scientology to become “auditors”. These methods are infused in all aspects of Narconon. All that has been done to the Church scriptures is to take out words like Scientology, thetan (spirit), and pre-clear, and replace them with the word “student”.

These methods are written into church scriptures called Hubbard Communications Office Bulletins (HCOBs). Narconons are also modeled administratively after the churches via Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letters (HCOPLs). Each piece of the Narconon program can be found in the HCOBs and all of the methods use to run a Narconon can be found in HCOPLs.

In most Narconons, course supervision and counseling are not performed by a licensed or certified addiction counselor, but instead by recent graduates of the program, often with little more than a year of sobriety themselves. In some states this may not be legal; you have to be informed and check locally what the laws are.

The Narconon Program and Scientology Equivalents
In the following section, there is a description of what the student would encounter on each step of the Narconon Program. The actual HCOB or Scientology reference that it is based off of is given after it. You can be the judge yourself and decide if Narconon is Scientology, and, more importantly, if Narconon is the right drug rehab for you or your loved one.

Click on the course titles to expand the descriptions.

Book 1 - The Communications Course
This course is also informally known as The Therapeutic Training Routines (TRs) Course. When a student first starts the Narconon Program, they are put on this course and upon entering the area where the program is delivered (called Course Rooms) will be paired (“twinned”) with another student. They will be directed by the Course Supervisor to start the course.

What they will see in the course room can be very shocking at first, and unlike any reputable rehab program. People sitting across from each other with their eyes closed or open for hours at a time. People reading to each other from the book “Alice in Wonderland”, people yelling at each other or making sexual remarks to each other in an effort to break each other. People telling other people to “Look at that Wall!” and forcing them do so if they don’t comply. People yelling at ash trays to “Stand Up!” or “Sit down in that chair”. Imagine the shock most, if not all, clients go through when starting. To understand more about their true purpose, continue reading.

The training routines in this book were designed for practitioners of Scientology to be able to repeatedly give commands while smoothly and comfortably handling issues that come up during a process called “auditing”, which are supposed to deal with the problems a person’s spiritual “self” has had over trillions of years. LRH deemed the TRs so effective that he claimed that over 50% of drug addicts would be cured just by doing TRs and nothing else.

The church scriptures that these training routines come out of are:

  • HCOB 7 May 68 “UPPER INDOC TR’S”

The word “Indoc” is short for Indoctrination. When doing these TRs, the student is being indoctrinated into the practices of Scientology auditing, which are learned later in the Narconon Program on Book 4 (The TRs and Objectives Course).

The difference in Book 1 TRs and Book 4 TRs is that the passing standard is lessened on Book 1. The student does TRs on Book 4 for 2 hours at a time on some of the drills. For people with ADD or ADHD, or back problems, this can cause more problems than its perceived benefits.

On the auditing part of Book 4 (called Objectives) one can spend 300-400 hours walking around a room telling their partner to “Look at that ____” over and over again. This will be talked about more in the Book 4 section but it is worth mentioning here as we wanted to show you the difference between the two books.

Book 2 – The New Life Detoxification Program
After completing Book 1, the student is given a physical by a doctor and must sign waivers to essentially sign away the right to sue for any damages that may be caused. After this, the student starts a 5 hours per day regimen in 140-180 degree dry saunas. Typically there are between 5-15 people in a sauna, comprised of all manner of personalities from all different walks of life, which can be very distracting for older people, people with differing political views, or people with emotional issues. Often times arguments and drama ensue.

The day starts with taking massive quantities of Niacin (which usually causes your skin to itch, burn and severely flush) and other vitamins, then the student is made to run for 20-30 minutes to get their blood flowing. The theory is that the niacin will break up the fat deposits in the body that hold the drug toxins, and they will be sweated or urinated out over the course of the day. After running it’s into the sauna for 4.5 hours. During this time the students are allowed to come out and cool off for brief periods, and some usually spend this time to smoke cigarettes. (We aren’t sure why the students are allowed to re-toxify while trying to detoxify. No one has really been able to answer this, but since LRH himself was a 2-3 pack a day smoker, we guess that since he did it, it’s thought of as okay for his followers to do it.)

A few key points to mention about the New Life Detoxification program are that students can take as much as 5000mg of Niacin per day until no reactions occur from taking it, which can take months of ingesting high levels of Niacin. Vitamins A-E are given as well, some as much as 50,000 IU’s (international units). All of these dosages are far above FDA recommendations, and can result in potentially dangerous side effects. Another noteworthy point is that, during this phase, the student takes upwards of 5 tablespoons of oils and sometimes a gallon of water daily. Needless to say you spend a great deal of time in the bathroom, but the idea is that it helps to sweat all the toxins out of your body. To our knowledge there have been no independent verifications of the claims made by Narconon or Scientology as to the effectiveness of this process, but various studies and statements by medical authorities have said quite the opposite. Visit Narconon Detox Methods for more information.

This part of the program is called “The Purification Rundown” in the Church of Scientology. All methods are exactly the same, except that in the church it is done for spiritual gains so that auditing can be done without the presence of drugs and other chemicals in the body. The whole process is covered in several references in church scriptures called “The Purification Series” and in a book written by LRH called Clear Body, Clear Mind.

Book 3 – The Learning Improvement Course
After completion of the New Life Detoxification Program/Purification Rundown the student is considered to be in good enough shape mentally to actually remember the rest of the program. To be able to learn the various courses you do Book 3. This is supposed to teach you to be able to learn and apply anything you study, as long as you follow the procedures exactly.

In recent years, the Church of Scientology, under the leadership of David Miscavige, has revised and updated the training of Scientologists, supposedly to make them more effective at delivering the “technology” to others. This was partially done by creating drills that require rote memorization of the technology, and is accomplished by having one sit in a chair, face a wall, and repeat over and over again the “tech” until the person can repeat it flawlessly to a Supervisor. There are other drills devised that give scenarios on applying the technology, some of which are over 100 questions, and which must be completed and then repeated until correct, if any wrong answer is given. These types of drills are also done now in Narconon as well.

Some of the Scientology scriptures that cover the technology of The Learning Improvement Course are:

Book 4 - The Communication & Perception Course
This course is informally known as The TR’s and Objectives Course, and is a re-hash of Book 1 except that the TR’s are more intensive. The purpose is to train the student to be able to deliver what are called “Objectives”. These are processes that are supposed to bring attention in to “Present Time” and away from past bad experiences. In the Scientology Scriptures they are called Objectives as well, and are also called CCHs, which stands for Control, Communication and Havingness.

Recently at Narconon Arrowhead, these processes have been done for 300-400 hours on students. Imagine the implications of walking around a table for hours at a time and having someone tell you to “Touch that table,” “Thank you,” “Now touch your ear,” “Thank you” again and again, until someone in a different part of the building who isn’t even watching the exercise tells you that you are done.

These courses are deemed VITAL to all people on drugs by LRH, and the importance placed on them by the Church and Narconon is paramount; so much so that the leader of the Church of Scientology had most of its parishioners re-do these processes because he claimed that they were done incorrectly by most, if not all, Scientologists even under the direction of LRH himself!!! (We aren’t quite sure how that is logical, but the amount of money that is being spent for these people to re-do these things is quite possibly in the millions of dollars.)

All of the exact same references that are in Book 4 can be found in a course at any Church of Scientology called:

  • The TR’s and Objectives Co-Audit Course

All you have to do is call and ask about it, if you want to verify this. (But we recommend you don’t, because they will ask you to come in and do some Scientology so you can see for yourself.)

Books 5-8 The Ethics Phase of the Program
All of the remaining books have the exact same title and content as in the Church of Scientology.

Book 5 - The Ups and Downs in Life Course
In Book 5, there some bold claims about illness. LRH claimed that all illness, to a greater or lesser degree, is caused by someone else “suppressing” you, and in order to change that, you need to discover who it is, “handle” them, or disconnect from them. Again, there is no licensed or certified professional counselor or therapist overseeing this. In too many instances, sons or daughters will choose to cut all ties with their family members because they perceive they are now being suppressed by them in some way. Sometimes it may be someone who has provided drugs or alcohol to the person. They may ask the student to tell that person that they no longer want contact with them, or even ask them to turn the person into the police. This is heartless, highly illogical, and can be outright dangerous.
Book 6 - The Personal Values and Integrity Course
Book 6 includes teachings about right and wrong, good and bad, and the inherent survival instincts everyone possesses. The student will be asked to write down all of the transgressions ever committed in all areas of their life. They are supposed to be honest with someone they may not trust, and rightfully so, because not only does the student not know the person to whom they are confessing, but often times the person is of a different gender, age, or background. This can be very embarrassing and uncomfortable at a vulnerable time. These confessions are sent for review to a “Case Supervisor”, who the student is not allowed to talk to at all during the program, so that notations can be made about areas they think need to be addressed on Book 7.
Book 7 - The Changing Conditions in Life Course
Book 7 teaches about formulas that LRH made up, allegedly to improve the conditions in people’s lives, and is overseen by the same Course Supervisor who oversees progression through the other books. Two examples are:

  • Find out Where You Are
  • Make up the damage for the things you have done
Book 8 - The Way to Happiness
If the student has made it this far, they will read the Way to Happiness, which is supposed to be a common sense guide to living, and if followed, according to LRH, one is supposed to be happier.

In the second part of the book, there is a section called “Be Temperate”. It warns the reader not to drink alcohol to excess. Not to not drink at all, but not to drink to excess. For an alcoholic, and everyone else on the program, it serves as a green light to go out and drink. It’s okay as long as you don’t do it to excess. This is contrary to most other rehab programs, traditional or not, and how this is part of the of the Narconon program we can only speculate, but common sense does NOT dictate that someone with an alcohol addiction should be allowed to drink even just a little, let alone being told it is ok. We’ve heard of more people going back to drugs or getting hooked on new ones from applying this point than we care to talk about. It’s a shame really, and not something a normal rehab would teach.

Graduation, Aftercare, and Beyond
Once the student has successfully completed all eight steps, including writing a success story which is required in order to graduate, they may be encouraged to give their success story on video, which Narconon will put on YouTube and other video sites in order to show what a good and successful drug rehab program Narconon offers. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to get the video taken down once it is online, so the graduating student should think long and hard about whether they want to be shown on the internet, exposing the fact that they had a substance abuse problem to potential future employers, friends, and others.

Graduating students are sometimes asked to stay and be a counselor or take another staff position at Narconon, and may be asked to make referrals to Narconon, in order to “give back” (after paying for the program in the first place), help others, and obtain an income, something which, admittedly, may be difficult for someone just out of rehab.

We recommend that anyone who has completed the Narconon program and is asked to work for Narconon afterwards NOT do so, for the following reasons:

  • They are still vulnerable to using drugs or alcohol again, and at Narconon, they will be exposed to others who are early in their own recovery stage and who may entice them to use.
  • Narconon teaches no skills that are transferable to a normal job or career outside of Narconon or Scientology, therefore staying at Narconon as a staff member will only prolong the time before their re-entry into society.
  • The pay they will receive from Narconon as a staff member will be very low. Based on reports we’ve had of the hours worked and pay received, it will be below minimum wage.
  • They may be asked to start taking courses from the nearest Church of Scientology, in other words, become a Scientologist. If they decline, they will not advance to higher positions, or higher pay, at Narconon.
  • They will be, essentially, trapped in the insular world of Narconon, instead of going out and living the life they presumably wanted to live when they got off of drugs or alcohol. They will not be moving on with their own life, which is perhaps the best reason not to stay on at Narconon.

This seems to be the only type of aftercare which Narconon offers, other than occasionally placing a call and asking how the graduated student is doing and if they are using drugs or alcohol after graduating. These calls are done more out of an interest in collecting “stats” or statistics, which Scientology places a great deal of importance on, than out of any genuine interest in the student’s condition after Narconon. There is rarely, if ever, any recommendation made for the student to go to counseling or meetings of any sort after they leave Narconon; they are considered “cured” of addiction after completing the program. There is currently intense debate among professionals and academics as to whether there is any cure for addiction, or whether addiction is a lifelong condition, but whichever of those is true, most professionals in the field recommend some type of continuing followup care after treatment.

We hope that we have given you sufficient information on what the Narconon program consists of and explained its hidden connection to the Church of Scientology, so that you will be able to make an informed decision about whether to choose Narconon or not. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to answer.

If you would like another former insider’s view, read How Narconon Drug Education is a Form of Scientology Indoctrination by Lucas Catton, former President of Narconon Arrowhead.

If you’ve decided that Narconon is not for you or your loved one, we have some tips on How to Choose a Drug or Alcohol Rehab.