Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive

[Narconon discussed on local radio]

Radio Guildford, 20 December 1997

From noscieno@my-dejanews.com Sun Jan 17 14:27:08 GMT 1999
[Note: the above mail address is a spamblock.  Try "Thynkr"(america on line)]

[Adapted from a transcript by Chris Owen, chriso@lutefisk.demon.co.uk
Chris thanks Sol for the recording and help with the transcription.]

The interview can be heard in streaming RealAudio from:

And it can be downloaded for offline playing from:

For more information about Narconon, see the critical web pages at:

It was decided not to open a drugs helpline in the town this afternoon.
Councillor Linda Strudwick says that when she agreed to officiate at the
opening of the Narconon drugs helpline, she was unaware of the
organisation's links with the Church of Scientology and controversy over
its methods.  Her office now says it will be doing more research on
Narconon before agreeing to having any more official involvement.

In a moment we'll be speaking to John Wood, who is the UK President of
Narconon.  First, though, our reporter Nicola Downs has been looking at
the organisation.

Narconon describes itself as a totally drug-free, highly effective
programme to rehabilitate drug or alcohol users and put them back in
control of their lives.  It uses methods developed by L. Ron Hubbard, the
founder of the Church of Scientology.  The programme was first made
available to the public in 1972 but since then its unusual and
unconventional methods have caused concern and controversy.  "Claire",
who has asked to remain anonymous, took part in a Narconon project to
give moral support to her boyfriend, who is addicted to heroin.  She
describes some of the methods used by Narconon to wean him off drugs:

I know what Phil went through because I went through the same thing.
Some of we were doing the things called "training your TRs", as they're
called, where you sit and stare into somebody's eyes and you pass and
fail things, and sometimes you're not allowed to speak, and there's
another one called "TR Bullbait" where you sit and stare and people sort
of hurl abuse at you or try to get you to grin or move.  You're not
support to react to noises, and sort of smacks close to your face and all
sorts of things like that - you're not to react.

And she says she was surprised by some of the other methods used.

They said that the - that Phil's drug abuse, and even things like me
having injections in my mouth for my fillings, all of these things get
taken into into our body and actually get trapped in the fat cells, and
you have to go into this sauna, you go for half an hour's jog, you take
lots of vitamins and minerals.  You take these, you go out for a jog for
half an hour, then you come back and sit in the sauna for four and a half
hours.  They say that the heat and the vitamins stimulate the things in
your body and they come out of you.  You just hope that you're going to
survive it, but when you're with somebody who is so keen to feel like
they want their life back and you'll just go through anything.  And I was
absolutely convinced that what they were telling me was true, that they
were going to cure him.

John Garrows is a Professor of Human Nutrition who's head of the
department at St Bart's Medical School in London.  We asked him if in
his opinion giving drug addicts doses of minerals and vitamins, as is
described in Narconon's literature, and experienced by "Claire" and her
boyfriend, would be effective in detoxifying them.

On theoretical grounds I don't know any reason why the programme of drugs
and exercise and saunas and so forth *should* be particularly effective,
nor do I know of any trials in which they have compared their programme
with anybody else's programme in a properly controlled manner i.e.
starting with the same sort of people at the beginning....

And forensic psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Tylden says she treated half a
dozen people at her London practice suffering from what she sees as the
ill-effects of the Narconon programme.

Some of the advice that they were given would be OK, but the programme
hasn't been effective in the people who I've known who've tried to use
it.  I've come across people who've looked extremely ill.

One of the criticisms about Narconon that's been aired is that it's
not sufficiently upfront about its links with Scientology.  "Claire"
says that she was positively encouraged by Narconon to go to the
Scientology headquarters in East Grinstead for help in getting over her
depression about her boyfriend's problem.

It wasn't explained to me like that, that they - what happened was then
Phil got quite ill and very stressed-out and I was getting very upset
because I didn't know what was happening to him.  I was told that there
was a way that would help me and I kept saying to Sheila, "What is that
way - ?", I said "Is it Narconon?"  "No no no, it's not Narconon, but
Narconon is quite similar," and I was sent to a man's house in East
Grinstead. He was a member of the Church of Scientology and they have a
special way of dealing with things.  I was given a freebie of this
certain way that they do things.

After several weeks on the Narconon programme, Claire's boyfriend went
back to taking heroin and is currently in prison.  The Narconon rehab
clinic he attended is no longer open.  In fact Narconon currently has no
drug rehab clinics in the UK at all.  Those who enrol must travel to

Well, that was our reporter, Nicola Downs, reporting there.  And John
Wood from Narconon joins me now.  Good morning, John.

Good morning.

The first criticism contained in the report there that I've like to ask
you about - in your leaflet, which I've got in front of me - "Give them
the truth and they'll see the light" - the word Scientology doesn't
appear at all.  Why not?

Well, I really don't see why it should.  I mean, Narconon is an effective
drug rehabilitation centre.  It is also an effective method of warning
children about the dangers of drugs.  Now, L. Ron Hubbard developed many
techniques to overcome many of society's ills.  There's a whole range of
different solutions he's developed in society - and, uh - I don't see why
every time his name is mentioned all of them should be mentioned next to

Well, just to pick you up on that at the moment, what were Mr. Hubbard's
qualifications for this?

Well, he is an expert in I think 29 different fields.

Well, according to the Board of Mental Health in the State of Oklahoma,
and this, admittedly, was in 1991, they said that they threw out the
certification of Narconon purely because he had no professional
qualifications and was not really fitted to quote on it.

Yeah, um you've got old information there.  Your researchers didn't do
their job properly.  Can I just - Can I just start again?  Listen: we are
saving people's lives.  Narconon is an effective drug rehabilitation
centre.  Now, what has happened here, right, is that controversy has
been created by your researcher on purpose because that's his job.
That's how he feels he gets his reward, by creating controversy.  He has
gone to - on that tape he has gone to people that are known - going
to say something negative about this.  How come he hasn't gone to - There
are a hundred and forty thousand people in the world who say their lives
have been saved thanks to Narconon.

Where has this research been published?

No, they're all over the world.  The testimonials - Sorry, there's no
doubt that Narconon is the most effective drug rehabilitation method in
the world -

Where is the published research?

There are plenty of reports that have been conducted -

Like where, for example?

Well, how - Well, there have been tests done in Sweden, in Spain and
various other - it was written up in the Journal of Toxicology.  But the
point is your researcher went out of his way to create controversy.

Well, this is your opportunity to tell -

Absolutely - Well, I would like to say I'm disgusted -

(both talk at once)

You're not telling me where I can go to, an accredited body in *this*
country which has scientific approval, to tell me that your Narconon is
an effective treatment against drugs.

Well, the effective - the place to go is to meet the people - Why don't
your researchers ever contact people that have done the programme?  My
own - my own friend, my best friend - I was at university with him at
this  university in the eighties, he was an alcoholic.  He says his life
was saved.  He tells me himself his life was saved by drugs [sic].  He's
a Guildford man who was injecting methadone for fourteen years.  And he
did the methodone - the uh Narconon -

I'm not suggesting that nobody's ever benefited from your programme, I'm
saying that the fact that we do not seem to have any written evidence
>from  what people would recognise as a properly qualified clinical body
in the United Kingdom to give you the full accreditation -

(JOHN WOOD tries to interrupt)

- of an anti-narcotics agency.  Why not?

It is not a clinical agency.  It is not medical.  That's the main

So it's psychological?

No - I mean, when the centre operated in the UK, in Dover, and in
Crowborough [near East Grinstead], we are authorised as a registered
care home and we received funding from the Social Services for people to
do the programme.  And - If it was medical, we would have to be a nursing
home, so I'm sorry but it's not a medical treatment.  If you like to call
it psychological, it basically deals with the reasons someone got
involved in drugs in the first place -

All right -

- and helps them overcome it.

So you're saying people who deal with drugs , we know, are enormously
vulnerable, and especially when you're getting them off it they go
through all kinds of psychological dark shadows which are being
brought out.  Now, you say you're not medical and you're not
psychiatric, so what qualifies you to do this?

Well - God! - we've got nothing to do with *psychiatry* - their
practices are *dangerous*!  They put people on - I mean listen to this -
psychiatrists put people *on* an addictive substance that's more
addictive than the drug they were taking in the first place.  They
replace heroin with methodone -

Now I have no medical qualifications so I can't argue with you on that.
What I am saying is two things, and you still haven't answered my first
question.  Why is there no published research by an accredited body to
the UK which says that Narconon is a proper agency doing a good job?

Well, there's no such report in the UK, however there are plenty of
international ones - The thing is, Narconon is standard throughout the
world.  It's the same programme - the withdrawal programme, the sauna
detoxification, as spoken about in that tape, and methods looking at
the person's ethics, honesty - restoring - You see, the real issue here
is drugs cause enormous destruction in society.  I mean, you know, what
are we talking about here?  It's the parent's greatest fear, that their
children get involved in drugs.  Addicts are involved in crime,
we're talking about robbery, we're talking about AIDS from needles -
we're talking about -

Nobody's arguing about the drugs menace.  What we're talking - It's not
the subject we're discussing here.  The subject we're discussing here is
whether Narconon is an effective treatment for drugs or a front for the
Scientology movement.

Oh, please.  I mean - There are experts throughout the world - I could
supply you - your researchers never even tried, they went out of their
way to find only negative reports -

Can you give the names of any two agencies in this country that we could
telephone and get official accreditation for Narconon?

Well, I don't really know what you mean by "official accreditation".

Well, I mean, for example the one I quoted - admittedly - from seven or
eight years ago which says that certification was refused, this was the
one in America - here we are, the Board of Mental Health for the State
of Oklahoma - now, you must have, presumably, acceptances from people
who are not the Board of Mental Health for the State of Oklahoma.

Oh, yes - well, you see now let me - this is going to be embarrassing for
you, I'm afraid - but the thing you are talking about there - the
Oklahoma Board of Mental Health - What actually happened was that
psychiatrists that are controlling that, that run that mental health
board, refused to give a licence to Narconon because their methods are
ineffective, they were going to be embarrassed, their vested interests in
their methadone treatments and all their -

PRESENTER interrupts, both talk across each other

This is the truth.  I'm telling you the truth here -

That's what they say -

(Both speak together)

- No - Please - Can I - Give me a chance to answer the question.  Thank
you.  Now, this was back in '91 or whatever it is and that was some very
out of date information you've got there.  Now, what happened after the
licence was refused was that an organisation called CARF [Commission for
Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities] - it is basically in America
a five - If you get accreditation from the organisation CARF, which is a
five-star organisation, and we have - it has - The accreditation from
that is the best.  It is the stamp of approval.  After, given all of
that, the Mental Health Board looked stupid and they gave a licence
because they just -

PRESENTER (interrupting):
Are you saying it does now have a licence?

Absolutely. *Absolutely*.  It is recognised by CARF and many others in
the UK.

Do you have any documentary evidence of this?

I can give it to you with pleasure.  It's in my car, I haven't actually
got it with the things right here - I can give to you in a second.

I do apologise, you've given me a lot of anecdotal evidence, and that's
something which is fine, except that - you must know this as a
Scientologist yourself obviously - the Church of Scientology comes in for
a fair amount of criticism, and I'm not saying that it's deserved or
otherwise, I don't know anything about it.  (WOOD in background:
"Right.")  What I am saying is - you must know that whatever you do is
going to come into this - shouldn't you be belt-and-braces, copper-
bottomed, absolutely solid gold with your research printed material
before you go into any of this?

Well, I have a report that Jonathon never asked for, which is called "A
briefing -

(PRESENTER interrupts): Well hang on a minute -

- it has all the details there -

You're accusing our researcher of having it in for you -


- and yet you're saying you had a report which explains -

Which he never asked for -

- which you never - well - But why didn't you volunteer to give it to

Well, hell, he's the researcher.  He's doing all the dirty work behind
our back.  I'm sorry, he never asked me. He could have gone to plenty of
addicts - He could -

That's rather like somebody accused of burglary saying I never gave them
an alibi because they never asked me for one.

Well, I didn't - I gave you the press release, you've got Scientology and
all the details - All here (rustles paper).

I'd like to see that.

OK, it's completely there.  It's talking about the Jive Aces, promoting
the book "Scientology: Fundamentals of Thought".  OK.  He never called
me and said, "Can I be introduced to someone who has done the programme
- who's said it's saved my life", but -

We did - he did ask this agency in London everything they had on you -

Yeah but -

- and what we've got is basically all your own publications here, plus -
there's also another one here, from the Ministry of Public Health of the
Russian Federation, refusing certification to Narconon.

Let's update and - You know, he's purposefully gone out of his way to
create controversy, which is inexcusable.   We're working on this
serious drug problem.  There are, there -

(PRESENTER and WOOD talk across each other briefly)

But if they haven't got all the information that's your fault for not
telling them.

OK.  Sure, OK.  I admit - Sorry, I should have made sure that the
agencies that he went to had all the latest information - they haven't.
Thank you very much for pointing that out to me.  The fact is - Look,
locally here we have five percent of eleven-year-olds using cannabis.

This is not the issue, John.  The issue is not drugs.  The issue is (a)
does Narconon work and (b) is it a front for Scientology?  And you
haven't answered either of those questions.

Yes, it does work, it's the most effective rehab in the world.

And is it a front for Scientology?

Look, uh - that is - that is irrelevant.  Firstly -

I must take issue with you there.  You are dealing with people, in sauna
baths for hours at a time, who are at their most vulnerable, their most
self-doubting, at their most desperate.  You've got the opportunity to -
I'm not suggesting that you do this, I'm saying that the opportunity
would be there if you were to take it to put any thoughts you wanted
into their minds.

Please - listen to this! - What Narconon really does, is take a person
who is an addict. I'm talking about a life of crime, I'm talking about
overdosing and AIDS and so on.  It was - he has no choice.  He is a
slave to the drugs.  He has to rob you, your house, my house, to
survive, right?  Narconon takes a person like that, restores his life,
gives him honesty, gives him a life back, ability to work, no longer a
burden on the taxpayer.  That's fantastic.  That is fantastic.  You're
actually giving a person his life back.

But once again, you still haven't - When will you be able to present us
with hard, black-and-white evidence signed by someone in the Department
of Health saying yes, Narconon is a good and effective treatment for
drug rehabilitation and it has no strings of any other kind attached to
it?  When?

In about five minutes.  It's in my boot.  Do you want to hang on?

Well, we'll have to leave it there for the moment but, John, if you want
to bring it in I'll certainly have a look at it.

Ah, uh I will.  With pleasure.

Thank you very much indeed.  That's John Wood, from Narconon - pulling
the case - thank you very much for joining us.

Thank you.


Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive