Important: We are not telling you to get someone out of Narconon. It is completely your decision. However, if you have made that decision, we offer some advice below, based on past experiences.
From time to time we are contacted by people who have sent a loved one to a Narconon facility, and then after the person has been there a short time, they have started doing research on Narconon. Inevitably, they find out that some of the things they were promised were either exaggerated or not true, or that there were things they weren’t told which they should have been, such as the fact that Narconon’s treatment actually consists of teachings of the Church of Scientology, rather than any legitimate substance abuse counseling. Horrified, they begin to panic, and want to get their loved one out of Narconon.
Sometimes, the person who discovers this information is not the one who has placed the loved one in Narconon (or other similar facility), and is not the one who paid for their stay. If that is the case, it is important for that person to work with the one who has paid, because while most adults are legally free to leave Narconon at any time, there can be unforeseen repercussions related to getting the money refunded, strained relationships which may impact the loved one’s recovery, and potential legal liability issues if something bad happens while in transit or before another rehab is found. We cannot stress this point enough.
Reasons to Get Someone Out of Narconon and other Scientology-based Rehabs
Because each individual is different, we cannot tell you definitively whether you should remove your loved one from Narconon; we can only recommend that you familiarize yourself with the information available, here and elsewhere, and make your own decision based on the particulars of your loved one’s situation. However, if you have made the decision that you want to remove your loved one from Narconon, in the following two situations we recommend that they be removed from Narconon as quickly as possible:
- If the person has a medical condition which may be made worse by withholding their prescribed medication, by large doses of vitamins and minerals, or by high heat and long stays in the sauna. (Why?)
Narconon bills itself as a “drug free” drug treatment, and they do mean “drug free” – there are many instances of Narconon withholding people’s legitimately prescribed medication for medical conditions. This includes medication for such things as heart conditions, diabetes, and other physical conditions which are easily managed as long as the person is on medication. It also includes medication for all mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.
Scientology, and by extension, Narconon does not believe in psychiatric treatment by mental health professionals, and in fact, actively works against people being treated by these professionals.
Narconon also does not take a person’s individual medical needs into account for their treatment, nor are they even qualified to determine what those needs are. Each person receives the same program, regardless of their individual needs.
Narconon uses large doses of Niacin and other vitamins and minerals far in excess of the FDA recommended allowances, in conjunction with long stays in a sauna over a period of days or weeks. They maintain that this helps to remove toxins from the body and end the persons cravings for drugs or alcohol, but there is no independent medical research that corroborates this. These treatments can in fact exacerbate existing medical conditions, or cause new ones to appear.
- If the person has just arrived and the time elapsed has not exceeded a “grace period” spelled out in the contract with Narconon. (Why?)
Some of the Narconons include a clause in their contracts which states that after a certain period of time, no refunds will be given. People who have struggled to raise the money with which to send their loved one to Narconon may not be able to afford legitimate treatment for them until this money is refunded. Generally speaking, Narconon will pro-rate treatment that occurs within this time period, but the pro-rating is heavily loaded toward the first few days. Check your individual contract for the time period that applies to your situation. In any case, getting a refund is difficult, but removing your loved on within the early time of their stay will comply with that part of your contract and make a partial refund possible sooner.
There are some other reasons for which concerned people may want to remove their loved one from Narconon’s care:
- Exposure to Scientology teachings and indoctrination.
- Lack of proven and accepted treatment and counseling.
- Poor conditions and lack of oversight at the facility.
Any concern you might have may also be legitimate, even if it’s only a vague feeling — oftentimes people’s intuitions turn out to be right on target.
Advice and Steps to Follow
Here is the advice we offer all the people who contact us. Some of it may sound drastic, and we don’t mean to overly alarm you, but this is the method we have found that works best to get people out with a minimum of trouble.
Relax and don’t blame yourself.
First, take a few minutes and relax. If you’re the one who chose Narconon or one of the other Scientology-based facilities, don’t blame yourself. You made the best decision you could at the time with the information you had. Most of Narconon’s people are very good at pretending it is whatever you want or need it to be. Finding and getting someone with a substance abuse problem into rehab is a difficult and trying time, and you don’t expect that treatment centers are actively engaged in deception, so don’t beat yourself up over your decision. Just work on getting your loved one out of Narconon and into the treatment they need.
Special Case for Drug Court Orders
One circumstance in which you must act cautiously is if your loved one is at Narconon as the result of a court order from a drug court. Sometimes a court will allow someone with legal charges against them to attend a drug rehab in lieu of jail time. It is unlikely, but it does happen that sometimes people are allowed to attend Narconon to avoid a jail or prison sentence. If this is the case with your loved one, it is extremely important that you communicate with the court and/or probation officers about this. Violating the court’s orders or probation regulations could land your loved one back in the position he or she was trying to avoid by going to Narconon in the first place.
Find another facility.
Depending on the extent of your loved one’s addiction, it is important to find a legitimate treatment facility for them to go to directly from Narconon, or soon afterwards. They will not have received any counseling that addresses addiction at Narconon, and it is important to get them into another facility while they are still receptive to treatment.
Make travel arrangements.
Make arrangements to pick up your loved one from Narconon without letting Narconon know. Some of the Narconons monitor phone conversations, so it would be best if you do not tell your loved one you are coming. There have been instances where Narconons have simply dropped people at homeless shelters or at cheap motels in drug infested areas when they decided a person was too much trouble. We do realize that it is often difficult to arrange to travel on such short notice, but your loved one will need to be accompanied on their journey home or to a legitimate treatment facility. You cannot depend on Narconon to look out for your loved one’s best interests once they know the person will be leaving Narconon.
Ask for a police escort.
We recommend that you contact the local police and ask for an escort to the facility when you go to get your loved one. This will help to avoid any unpleasant situations or conflicts when you arrive at the location to remove your loved one. In some locations, police are accustomed to this type of request when it comes to Narconon. You are unlikely to be the first.
Beware of mental manipulation.
Narconon has no right to hold adults without their consent, but they are very good at either convincing your loved one to stay through mental manipulation by telling them you are the cause of their addiction and you don’t want them to get better; or getting you to leave them there by telling you that the things you have been told by your loved one is “the addict talking” or that the things you have read online are lies told by competitors or disgruntled ex-employees.
Don’t engage in conversation at Narconon.
Once you have made your decision and are at Narconon to pick up your loved one, there is no point in having a lot of conversation. Simply state who you are, who you are there to pick up, and ask them to bring him or her out immediately. This is where having a police escort can be helpful.
Do not sign anything.
You are simply there to retrieve your loved one, and there is no need to sign anything. Later, after your loved one is away from Narconon and settled into a more appropriate treatment center, you can work on getting a refund, but the important thing right now is your loved one and their well-being.
Once you have your loved one home or in another facility
If you feel you may have a problem getting back the money you feel you are owed, it would be helpful to have your loved one write up or make notes on their experience at Narconon while the memory is fresh, particularly if you feel you may have to file a lawsuit for a refund or damages. In the past, it has been difficult for people to get a complete refund; however, there are now several lawyers who are knowledgeable about Narconon who may be willing to work on your behalf. We have a list of lawyers who have experience with matters involving Narconon and other related facilities on our Attorneys page.
Good luck to you and your loved one!
We wish you all the best in your recovery!