Open Letter to The California Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs

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NarCONon is Scientology! Forward: For a systematic, detailed, professional exposure of Scientology's "Narconon" front group, visit the Narconon Exposed web site.

princexenu@aol.com (Prince Xenu)
11 Feb 2002 08:44:40 GMT
The Narconon Scam

The California Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs
1700 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

January 30, 2002

To Whom it May Concern,

It is with the utmost urgency and importance that I write this letter to bring to your attention grave violations of individual liberty, health standards, medical practice and common decency taking place at what professes itself to be a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility in California and, unfortunately and alarmingly, is a facility licensed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in California.

The facility and program of which I speak is Narconon Southern California (SC), located at 1810 W. Ocean Front, Newport Beach, Orange County, California.

Operating with State sanction and approval by your Department, Narconon Southern California has long claimed and still claims to be a reputable, successful, valid residential drug and alcohol treatment facility. My personal experience and that of many others with Narconon Southern California, however, points towards the Narconon organization and facility as being anything but what it claims to be.

The Narconon program violates all traditional treatment methodologies and accepted medical and scientific practice in the field of drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation. Further, Narconon misleads and takes advantage of its clients and their families so as to pursue an aggressive and hidden agenda of exorbitant fundraising and religious recruitment. My intent behind this letter is to bring to the attention of those who have in their power and under their jurisdiction the ability to commence a thorough and long overdue investigation in to Narconon the legal and ethical violations taking place there and prevent Narconon from continuing to take advantage of the citizens of California who are duped and misled in to placing their hopes for recovery in to this corrupt organization.

I entered the Narconon Southern California facility in late June of 2000 in the hopes that through Narconon I would be able to address my own alcohol addiction. I graduated from the Narconon program exactly two months after enrolling. Armed with Narconon's teachings and approaches to my addiction, I attempted to carry on living a productive and sober life. However, within a month of leaving Narconon I had fallen right back in to a destructive and demoralizing cycle of alcohol abuse and the subsequent consequences. I returned to Narconon in December of 2000 intent on finding out why I had relapsed, recommitting myself to the program and hoping to learn whatever it was I had failed to grasp my first time through the program that would help me stay sober for good. Upon returning to Narconon in December of 2000, I was quickly put to work at the facility and eventually became a contracted, full time employee of the organization. It is with that experience and background that I seek to bring to your attention the alarming practices I witnessed, experienced and participated in while at Narconon.

Violations of Laws and Regulations at Narconon Southern California

Firstly I seek to reveal the broad base of legal violations taking place at Narconon. While I was a client and then employee of Narconon, the facility was licensed by your Department to operate a 38-bed adult residential treatment facility. However, in March of 2001 Narconon had enrolled in and living within the facility in excess of 40 clients. In addition to the number of clients that was already in excess of licensed limits, there were at any given time at least 4 and up to 10 staff members living in the same structure. Therefore, a building licensed to hold 38 would actually have up to and over 50 residents, staff and clients included.

The facility was overcrowded and Narconon continued to bring in more patients who were poorly supervised and lived in uncomfortable and disturbing conditions as a result of the overcrowding. In an attempt to relieve the crowding problems at the 1810 W. Ocean Front facility, Narconon SC rented out two small apartments located across the street from the main facility on Balboa Blvd. One of the apartments was a small one bedroom, the other a small two bedroom apartment. In to these apartments were placed up to 6 and 10 Narconon patients, respectively.

These two apartments had neither been inspected by the proper authorities nor approved for use as residential treatment quarters and facilities. Not only was the overcrowding at Narconon a violation of its own license, but also of county and state heath and fire codes and regulations. Violations of the maximum resident licensing stipulation at Narconon also led to the admittance in March, 2001 of a 17 year old patient. Narconon SC is not licensed to house or treat juveniles. However, this 17 year old was hidden from state authorities and kept as an "unofficial" client living and receiving treatment at the facility.

Narconon also admitted a female client for treatment of an eating disorder -- a field in which Narconon has no license, jurisdiction, authority or expertise for treatment.

Another area in which laws were violated at Narconon again concerns health codes. With a facility not designed to provide for and house over 40 patients and staff members, kitchen staff would attempt to accommodate the overwhelming numbers by disregarding safe food preparation technique, defrosting meat in whatever space was available. This included in the bathtubs of bathrooms that were simultaneously being used by the residents as restroom facilities.

The area in which I experienced and witnessed the greatest degree of illegality was in Narconon’s hiring and employment practices. The information posters printed by the State of California outlining and displaying an employee's legal rights were nowhere to be found. Employees were kept in the dark as to their rights as workers in California. Staff members were required to work a minimum of 72 hours per week for a starting salary of $50 per week.

This translates in to an hourly wage of less than $1.45/hour. Clearly, Narconon's payment methods violate minimum wage laws. Every US worker is entitled to a living wage according to California and US law. By law, barter is not allowed as payment, but Narconon would require staff members to accept food and lodging in place of actual moneys.

Furthermore, there are no medical personnel on staff at the Narconon facility, despite what is advertised on their literature, website, and in how they portray themselves. Staff members are not trained in first aid or addiction recovery medical treatment. Moreover, Narconon clients are transported in the uninsured personal automobiles of staff members. Automobiles owned and operated by Narconon Southern California are driven by non-commercial, uninsured drivers. The cars themselves are not insured for business purposes, if at all, placing staff and clients at risk whenever they travel with Narconon and violating the laws of California.

Deception, Lies and Unethical Conduct

Even more disturbing to the addict and alcoholic seeking recovery than Narconon Southern California's legal violations are their patterns of lies, deception and ethical misconduct. Narconon claims to have -- as evidenced on their website and literature -- an 80% success rate in rehabilitating addicts and getting them sober. This success rate is unfounded and untrue. It is based on 2 studies that were apparently conducted in Sweden and Spain around two decades ago.

According to Narconon:

A. An independent 1981 Swedish study of 13 Narconon graduates showed that 76% of those that completed the Narconon Program were still drug free two years later.

B. An independent Spanish study of 50 Narconon graduates was conducted in Mar/Apr 1987 by "Tecnicos Asociados de Investigacion y Marketing" (TAIM) for the Ministry of Health and Social Services and showed that 70% of the graduates were drug-free two years later. It was headed by Dr. Esquerdo (105); TAIM, PDAL, 28007, Madrid, Spain. TAIM's telephone number is, according to John Duff of Narconon International, +34 1 273-7400.

However,

According to John Duff, Narconon commissioned the first two studies, so it seems to be slightly dishonest to claim that they are the product of "independent" research. It should also be noted that TAIM, the research organization mentioned in the second study, is not at the address given, and not listed in any current Spanish phone directories or commercial directories. The phone number given by John Duff seems also to be out of use, so TAIM has either ceased trading or moved from the Madrid area.

The name of the organization responsible for the Swedish study is not known. Another curious thing about the Swedish statistics is that with 13 subjects there is no way you can get "76%" (76.9% would be the correct figure).

Nothing is said about the source, duration or methodology used for any of the studies.

A "Swedish" and "Spanish" study is also quoted in the section on Narconon in the book "What is Scientology", giving amazingly accurate statistics for the programs effectiveness (84.6% and 78.37% and respectively). It is not clear whether this reference is to the same or to different studies. Scientology spokesman Andrew Milne (formerly at milne@crl.com) claims that these are the one-year statistics. Strangely, Narconon does not appear to have supplied Prof. Folke Sjoqvist with a copy of the supposed Swedish study when in November 1997 he wrote a report on Narconon for the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare.

Given the claims of studies showing high success rates, it is strange that when Narconon sought tax rebates in Stuttgart, Germany, they were unable to provide any evidence to support their claims of efficacy. The Stuttgart Verwaltungsgerichtshof (administrative appeals court) found that:

"The papers filed by the petitioner offer no evidence of a successful drug withdrawal at the petitioner."

[Decision of the VGH Stuttgart, 10 May 1993, Az: 1 S 3021/92]

In fact, California's own State Department of Health had the following to say about Narconon's self-professed success rate a report done on Narconon in 1974:

"a. Public Descriptions by Pamphlets, Notices, etc.: The 86% "cure rate" is totally unfounded. Narconon publishes a voluminous amount of paper for the purpose of public relations. The main Narconon rehabilitation program bulletin states that a high percentage of clients, approximately 75%, are rehabilitated within 3 months. The pamphlet further states that one supervisor can supervise 42 people a day in three 3-hour periods. Furthermore, one supervisor can train 14 new supervisors in three months.

b. Misleading Claims: Narconon claims to have an 86% cure rate for narcotics addicts, which is simply not true. Mr. Greg Zerovnik, National Director - Narconon U.S., explained that the 86% figure came from a study of parolees from the Arizona State Prison who may or may not have been narcotics addicts. This sort of claim is, of course, misleading to both the prospective client and to public officials who are sincerely attempting to find ways to cope with the problem of drug abuse.

Narconon also advertises detoxification with mega-vitamins and other non-medical procedures that may be hazardous and in some cases lethal.

Attachment 19 is a Narconon letter to the East Valley Free Clinic advertising an extraordinarily expensive detoxification procedure. It furthermore claims a 68% two-year "success rate" for drug abstinence and for arrests "for anything related to drugs." It implies that these success ratios are applicable to heroin addicts and alcoholics. This claim is either misleading or miraculous. Without supporting data the evaluation team cannot but presume this document, however enticing, is a misleading claim.

Narconon implies that it can raise I.Q.'s and generally increase communication skills for their clients. There is no scientific evidence that these alleged changes cause a cure in approximately 50% of cases seen as stated by Mark Jones [then Executive Director of Narconon - see "Is Narconon controlled by Scientology?"] in a Los Angeles Times article. "

In the 8 months I spent at Narconon Southern California, I witnessed over 60 clients enter the program. The vast majority of these clients relapsed either while enrolled at Narconon or soon after graduation.

In fact, several of the staff members relapsed while working at Narconon, and Narconon Southern California admitted for treatment numerous staff members from the Narconon facilities in Northern California and Oklahoma who had relapsed while working at those facilities. It is not only misleading but also extremely disturbing that Narconon would make such claims as to their success rate with no proof what so ever to back it up.

In fact, overwhelming evidence exists to counter Narconon's claims -- evidence showing that their treatment program does not work. Narconon Southern California now advertises on their website a study they conducted over the last 3 years that further supports their unfounded claim of a 80% success rate. I can say with no uncertainty that this "study" of theirs is loaded with mistruths and lies. They claim numbers that are impossible to verify. This totally unscientific, biased, subjective study of theirs reflects no truth with regards to their claims of success.

The numbers I witnessed in retention and relapse rates among Narconon clients at the Southern California facility while I was enrolled and employed there make their numerical claims completely impossible.

Narconon makes further dubious pronouncements concerning their program's coverage with insurance companies. Clients are required to pay the $22,000 enrollment fee up front and promises are made that most insurance companies will reimburse the patient. Most insurance companies, however, do not cover Narconon because the insurance companies consider Narconon untraditional, unproven, and unsuccessful treatment. My insurance provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of California, never reimbursed me despite promises from Narconon that they would. Even though my bosses at Narconon were aware of this, I heard them promise other Blue Cross/Blue Shield members on several occasions that BC/BS did in fact cover their program costs. These are lies that cost vulnerable and desperate families tens of thousands of dollars each.

Why is I that Narconon so aggressively pursues a policy and practice of deception, lies, and manipulation? Simply put, Narconon is no more than a fundraising and recruitment tool for the Church of Scientology. Narconon patients are heavily pressured in to become staff members upon graduation. The pressure comes in emotional, mental, and financial forms. When I returned to Narconon as a patient in December of 2000, I was immediately put to work at the Narconon facility as a "detoxification specialist." I had no medical training, was not at all familiar with how to care for and treat people detoxifying from drugs and alcohol, yet worked several hours a day performing such duties.

I had added to my list of duties computer work because of my background in the Internet. Working 12-hour shifts as both a detoxification specialist and online marketer for Narconon, I spent no time working on any of the methods Narconon claimed would help my rehabilitation. Concerned over this and the financial situation I was falling in to being unable to get a job or support myself, I was pressured by Narconon staff members to sign a contract to work for them.

Already having worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week with no reimbursement from Narconon for 2 months, and being told my work on their behalf was part of my "rehabilitation program," I had no money and my family was having trouble supporting me. Finally, Narconon staff members told me working long-term for them was the only solution and the only way I would get paid for the work I was doing.

Hesitantly but succumbing to intense pressure from the staff at Narconon, I signed the 5-year employment and obligation contract so as to finally get reimbursed for the work I had already done for them. Furthermore, I was told that it was my duty to work for them. Narconon staff members told me I would relapse if I went to work anywhere else and tried to live life on my own. They told me I was indebted to them for my sobriety and therefore owed them at least several years of work. Such intense pressure tactics were commonplace in getting graduates of the program to sign on for long periods of employment with them.

Why would Narconon place such value in getting its graduates to work for them? For one, becoming a staff member for Narconon subjects one to the heavy scrutiny, oversight and control of the senior Narconon staff members. Staff members are distanced from their family members and friends, made to live either at the facility or in homes with other Narconon staff members, and constantly under the watchful eye of senior staff members.

Narconon Southern California would rent out small apartments and place upwards of six to eight staff members in them to live. Graduates of the program who went on to work for Narconon and stayed sober did so only through fear of the severe repercussions of relapse. When a staff member of client of Narconon uses drugs or alcohol while at Narconon -- or uses after graduating and then returns to the program -- they are placed on a punishment program consisting of arduous physical labor, indentured servitude, moral degradation, and heavy work loads.

The main reason Narconon goes to such lengths to get graduates to work for their program, however, is because that is the tool Narconon uses to funnel money and people in to the Church of Scientology. Staff members who wish to earn more than $50/week must take "training courses" at the local Church of Scientology facilities. Rather than receiving training in drug and alcohol rehabilitation, substance abuse treatment or other such fields, Narconon staff members take regular Church of Scientology courses for which Narconon pays thousands of dollars to the Church of Scientology per staff member.

Narconon buys textbooks and pays for Church of Scientology auditing courses for its "staff members in training," as well as the "e-meters" that are used in these auditing sessions. I refused to take these Church of Scientology courses and requested permission to take courses at a local community college instead.

I received open and outright contempt and pressure for choosing to take non-Scientology courses because I did not play in to their financial schemes of raising money for Scientology. The financial records I had access to as a staff member made obvious and evident the fact that of the $22,000 each client pays for so-called "treatment" at Narconon, more than half of that money goes to the Church of Scientology either directly, or through the Scientology-run Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), which owns the trademark to Narconon.

Notice that ABLE's official address is 6331 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The Church of Scientology headquarters' address is also 6331 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Narconon clients pay money for their "treatment," and these moneys are used to send staff members to the Church of Scientology for "training."

The Church of Scientology wins on two fronts: hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in course fees as well as dozens of new recruits in the form of Narconon graduates turned staff members turned new Scientology church members.

Note the following, parts of which are courtesy of Chris Owen and his Critical Essays on Scientology:

The high degree of similarity between the practices of Scientology and Narconon has frequently attracted the attention of observers. The 1974 "Tennant Report" on Narconon commented on how Narconon was thoroughly permeated by Scientologists and Scientology doctrine, though it did not demonstrate a direct link between the two organizations:

"The organizational structure of the program, including program rules and procedures, criteria and training for staff, work assignments, educational course content, staff structure, organizational structure, and program philosophy are derived directly from a seven volume series entitled "The Organization Executive Course" by L. Ron Hubbard and published by the Church of Scientology ...

[W]e must point out that any connection between Narconon and Scientology other than coincidental was usually vehemently denied. The interview data and our observations support a rehabilitation conception perhaps best termed a "corrective educational experience." Occuring in a stepwise fashion from rigidly simple rote exercises through the more complex "auditing" process and (for those who can afford it) a multiplicity of "clear" and "Post-Clear" states promising total personal and environmental control. Theoretically it is a patchwork of Freudian, Gestalt, Pavlovian, science fiction and Eastern (reincarnation) ideas unequivocably sutured together with L. Ron Hubbard's terminology. Indeed, the initial exercises require in addition to a standard English dictionary, a special Narconon dictionary enabling the "student" to understand the Narconon/Scientology terminology ...

The [Narconon] terminology is strikingly similar and presumably parallels, if not merging, the Scientology hierarchy. The latter presumption was underscored by a lengthy conversation with "members" - "employees" at the Scientology / Westwood office where it was stated that Narconon was simply the application of Scientology "technology" to the problem of drug addiction.

Additionally two patients interviewed on a local methadone program reported that their unsuccessful treatment for heroin use at Narconon was by the application of Scientology techniques and was essentially directed at eventually attaining a "clear" state. Again, any connection with Scientology other than coincidental was vigorously denied by Dr. Gibson and his principal assistants ...

[T]here is little doubt that the religion of Scientology is advocated, openly discussed, and encouraged within Narconon. Since the Church of Scientology is a religion it appears that State money is being directly used to support a church. There appears to be little difference between Narconon and the Church of Scientology. For example, there was one book entitled "The Problem of Work" by L. Ron Hubbard and on the inside cover of the book was a statement "For religious use only." The evaluation team was also given a demonstration of the use of the E-meter.

All of the literature and books are directly derived from Scientology and most staff are already or are becoming Scientologists. It would appear that Narconon is receiving state funds for treating "addicts" and is using primarily methods or "technology" of the Church of Scientology."

[Outline for recovery, House Evaluation ("Tennant Report") - by Forrest S. Tennant, Jr., M.D., Dr.P.H., Jane Thomas, R.N., Mike Reilly, and Joseph Shannon, M.D., M.P.H. Submitted to Don Z. Miller, Deputy Director, Health Treatment System, State Department of Health, Sacramento, CA, on 31 Oct 1974.]


Behind the scenes at Narconon

Lt Col Mark Jones was Narconon's first Director, serving in that position through the 1970s until the organisation was restructured around 1983. In 1995 he submitted an extraordinary sworn declaration, supported by documentation, that (at least until the early 1980s) Narconon was wholly controlled by the Church of Scientology. He states:

In or about 1971 I was approached by Arthur Maren who was the Assistant Guardian for Public Relations in the United States branch of the Guardian's Office of the Church of Scientology. Maren asked if I was willing to set up a Narconon office and establish programs under the direction of the Guardian Office ...

Throughout my period as director of Narconon, I reported to the Guardian's Office. Meetings were held at regular intervals at which the executives of the Guardian's Office determined the affairs of Narconon. All Narconon activities including the disposition of Narconon finances were approved by the Church of Scientology Assistant Guardian for Public Relations and the Assistant Guardian for Finance, Henning Heldt. From the time I became involved until I ultimately resigned, the Guardian Office controlled all directorships of Narconon, although Narconon was held out to be independent of the Church of Scientology.

Although it was publicly admitted that Narconon used the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, and was sponsored by the Church of Scientology, it's true relationship - i.e. that it was wholly controlled by the Church of Scientology, was never publicly admitted.

(Declaration of Lt Col Mark Jones, USMC (Rtd), 10 February 1995)

Arthur Maren's involvement with Narconon is corroborated by a Scientology disciplinary report on him, WISE INT Ethics Order 1501 of 6 December 1989. In mitigation for a long list of "crimes", "high crimes" and "misdemenors", it states: "The Committee found that Arte [Arthur] has made major contributions to the expansion of the Church and Narconon during his 26 years as a Scientologist."

But what advantage would Scientology gain from covertly running a drug rehabilitation agency? A possible answer appears to lie in a briefing document issued by the Guardian's Office on 15 February 1982. It states:

"Part of the original [Overwhelming Public Popularity Campaign] idea was to really move out into society with the Purification Rundown and use it to bridge masses of people into Scientology ...

Now the Guardian's Office has its target of $50 million Purif sales to be made by 1 July ... we are looking at expanding our purpose and areas of operation so that we really are taking over the handling of the field of mental health.

It is the job of PRs to make the Purif the thing to do - to create a craze greater than jogging."

(Internal GO briefing document, "Briefing - Purification Campaign - The Vital Role of PR", 15 February 1982)

This relates directly to L. Ron Hubbard's campaign against psychiatry and psychology, which continues to be waged by the Church of Scientology. In a confidential minute which he wrote in 1969 and which related experience suggests may still be in force, he laid down the following goal for Scientology:

"Our war has been forced to become 'To take over absolutely the field of mental healing on this planet in all forms' ...

Our total victory will come when we run [the enemy's] organizations, perform his functions and obtain his financing and appropriations."

(L. Ron Hubbard, "Intelligence Actions - Covert Intelligence - Data Collection", 2 December 1969. See also the "Scientology's Secret Service" pages for more on Scientology's covert war against the mental health profession and governments worldwide.)

In the light of this statement, it is possible to interpret Narconon as representing an attempt to wrest control of health care funding from the "psychs" whom Hubbard so reviled.

The Church of Scientology went to extraordinary lengths to hide its control over Narconon. In 1977, the FBI raided the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles headquarters of Scientology, seizing over 33,000 documents. The documents showed that Narconon and other supposedly independent bodies such as Applied Scholastics and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights were run through the Guardian's Office's Bureau 6, also known as "B6" or "Social Coordination". One document in particular, itemised by the FBI as item 104 in Box C16, orders the use of codes to obscure Scientology's control of "B6 groups":

"SC [Social Coordination] headings for data needing coding ...

4. Anything that gives specific and actual evidence that Scientology is in legal control of B6 type groups. These are groups that are separate legal entities to the C of S."

(Undated document seized by the FBI in July 1977)

On the next page, the document lists a number of "B6 type groups" to whom corporate links are to be concealed; Narconon is second on the list.

Despite its outward denial of corporate links to Narconon, Scientology made no secret of those links to those on the inside. On 18 August 1982, the Church of Scientology of California's United States Guardian Office (USGO) issued a commendation to Jones for his Narconon work. The citation states:

"FOR OUTSTANDING SUPPORT OF THE GUARDIAN OFFICE AND VALUABLE BACK UP OF ORG DELIVERY ON AN INTERNATIONAL BASIS.

THE MATERIAL THIS CELEBRITY PROVIDED IS GREATLY ASSISTING IN BRINGING ABOUT WIDESPREAD ACCEPTANCES OF SCIENTOLOGY AND OVERWHELMING PUBLIC POPULARITY OF THE TECHNOLOGY OF L. RON HUBBARD.

THE SUPPORT IS APPRECIATED VERY MUCH. THANK YOU,

TOM WHITTLE,
USGO MISSIONAIRE"

(Commendation issued by Church of Scientology of California, 18 August 1982)

Similarly, Jones' Narconon work was rewarded by the Church of Scientology by awards of Scientology training levels. An Executive Directive from L. Ron Hubbard, dated 2 June 1972 and annotated by David Gaiman, then a leading member of the UK Guardian's Office, states:

"Mark Jones is awarded his next training level, Class IX, for the excellent work he has done on the Narconon Programme."

(LRH ED 8 Int, 2 June 1972)

Class IX, "Hubbard Advanced Technical Specialist", is defined in the Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary (Bridge Publications, 1974) as being "taught at Saint.

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