School Based Narconon Program Under Fire

The Narconon Drug Prevention & Education program, offered free to schools, is being challenged for incorporating questionable concepts from the teachings of the Church of Scientology, the San Francisco Chronicle reported June 9.

Some addiction experts called the program “irresponsible” and “pseudoscience,” charging that students are being introduced to Scientology beliefs and methods without their knowledge.

The Narconon Drug Prevention & Education program, created by L. Ron Hubbard, who founded Scientology, features some key church concepts. Among them is that the body stores toxins, like drugs, indefinitely in fat, where they wreak havoc on the mind through cravings and flashbacks until “sweated” out. The anti-drug message also includes church language and materials, critics say.

“Narconon, to me, is Scientology,” said Lee Saltz, a drug counselor with the Los Angeles school district in California, where the program has been used by some schools for years. “We don’t use their curriculum because it’s not grounded in science. But they bypass our office and go directly to the schools. They’re very persistent.”

Narconon officials contend that the program is secular and that there is a division between it and the Church of Scientology.

“It’s our job to keep them separate,” said Clark Carr, president of Narconon International and a Scientologist. “We work full time to do this. If we went into the school district as Scientology, with the separation of church and state, it wasn’t going to work. It would be as if someone said, ‘I have some things in the Bible I think would be very helpful.’ No, thank you. It’s corporately and financially separate, and that’s appropriate. For us, the larger issue is that kids need help. We’re not in this for any other agenda.”