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Scientology links with rehabilitation group

Title: Scientology links with rehabilitation group
Date: Friday, 1 April 1994
Publisher: Big Issue (UK)
Author: Anthony Middleton
Main source: link (141 KiB)

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A GROUP which runs a national drug rehabilitation programme and gives regular lectures to schools is closely linked to the controversial Church of Scientology.

Narconon, which bases its methods on the teachings of the Church's founder L Ron Hubbard, currently treats a small number of private-paying addicts each year. But it is has recently launched a major expansion programme, and Narconon claims that Tower Hamlet's social services department has paid the £500 per week fee for the three month treatment of a drug addict.

Scientology, founded during the Fifties, has thousands of followers and has come under repeated criticism for its recruit went methods and practices. In 1984 Mr Justice Latey, in a custody battle at the High Court, said Scientology was, "Corrupt, sinister mid dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has, as its real objective, money and power."

The Church's growth has alarmed established drug rehabilitation organisations who have cast doubt on Narconon's methods as well as their regular visits to schools.

Hugh Dufficy, deputy director of The Standing Conference on Drug Abuse, an association of drug agencies nation-wide, said that Narconon's rehabilitation methods, including exercise and taking saunas, were dubious. "It's difficult to say how effective they are as I haven't seen any kind of independent evaluation. We have always been sceptical of Narconon because of the link with Scientology and particularly because they do not make this clear."

He added that he would advise schools against allowing Narconon to talk to children. "I have been getting calls front schools all over the south east which have been approached by Narconon. I don't think a one off visit can help children. Proper teachers should be trained so drug education can be ongoing," he said.

Narconon's link with Scientology, warned Mr Dufficy, was particularly worrying because addicts are at their most vulnerable during rehabilitation. "They are very susceptible to ideas. We have to discover whether the process they go through is leading people into a religious situation."

John Wood, president of the Tunbridge Well's-based Narconon said that the group had no formal links with the Church of Scientology but admitted that many of the staff were members of the Church. "Everything we use was developed by Ron Hubbard," he said. "The whole philosophy of Scientology is very anti-drugs. We are not religious at all."

But he added that any addicts in the process of recovery are welcome to find out more about Scientology after the three month programme. "If someone says 'this programme has really helped get me off drugs when nothing has helped me before, who is this Ron Hubbard? I want to know more about him,' then we would tell them. But we are not here to encourage people to become Scientologists."

Mr Wood rejected suggestions that Narconon should make its links with the Church of Scientology more explicit. "I don't think it's necessary. All that matters is that we are effective." He also defended Narconon's school visits, saying that they gave children the opportunity to meet addicts first hand.

Ian Hawarth of the Cult Information Centre, which monitors religious groups recruiting members through deception and mind control, said, "We are extremely concerned about the activity of Narconon."