Is Narconon a Religious Program

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    One of the most common questions that many people have about Narconon is on the topic of the program’s connection with American author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Did L. Ron Hubbard found Narconon? Is Narconon a part of Scientology? It is understandable that people would be interested to know the answers to questions such as these, given the long history of a close working relationship between religion and addiction treatment. Even a brief Google search will demonstrate that there are many centers which offer rehab services under the aegis of any given religion, and you can easily find Christian drug rehab, Jewish drug rehab, Mormon drug rehab, Buddhist drug rehab and Hindu drug rehab programs. Alcoholics Anonymous, perhaps the world’s most widely recognized addiction recovery program, has its origins with an organization known as The Oxford Group, or simply the “Group,” which modeled itself on Christianity as it existed in the 1st Century A.D. Early in the A.A. 12-step program, alcoholics are required to admit that they are powerless over alcohol and to ask for help from a higher power, though the program does not require that the participant be a member of any particular religion or to accept any specific explanation of God or a higher power.

    Relationship Between Narconon and Scientology

    The fact is that Narconon is not, unlike many of the other drug rehab programs available, a religious program. For the true story of Narconon, we must look back more than 40 years to 1966, when a young man named William Benitez was beginning a sentence in an Arizona prison. He had spent most of his adult life in prison, a fact that can be attributed to the other major defining feature of his life since being a teenager: Mr. Benitez was a drug addict. He was, however, an addict who was tired of being addicted. During his time in prison, he came across a book written by L. Ron Hubbard, titled The Fundamentals of Thought. In the pages of this book, Mr. Benitez found the answers he needed to finally restore his potential and overcome his addiction. More importantly, he realized that what he had found could be used to help others to achieve sobriety. It was not long before Mr. Benitez had taken what he had learned and developed it into the very early Narconon program, which was initially delivered to his fellow inmates within the prison. It worked, and Mr. Benitez soon wrote to Mr. Hubbard to share the report of his success. A dedicated humanitarian active in many fields, Mr. Hubbard was naturally pleased to learn that his writings were being put to good use in helping addicts to make a fresh start in life, and he willingly provided Mr. Benitez with additional information, encouragement and approval to proceed in expanding the Narconon program using his copyrighted materials.

    Does Narconon teach a religious doctrine?

    Today, Narconon International stands as an independent organization, and has grown to encompass more than a hundred drug rehab and prevention centers located on six continents. The organization is incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit public benefit corporation and, though it is licensed to use materials written by Mr. Hubbard, it is not a Scientology organization. Those of Mr. Hubbard’s works which are utilized in Narconon are not of a religious nature. For example, the life skills courses that clients study carry titles including:

    • Communication Skills
    • Learning Improvement
    • Changing Conditions in Life
    • Personal Integrity
    • Ups and Downs in Life

    Indeed, people from all walks of life and of all creeds and faiths are fully welcome in the Narconon program, and they are in fact supported in observing their own religious practices and methods of worship during their time in the program. Many Narconon centers even liaison with local churches so that vans can come by on Sunday mornings to transport clients to and from services. Men and women of faith often find that their religious beliefs can play a large role in the process of recovery and rehabilitation, giving them confidence and belief that they can endure the struggle of overcoming addiction as well as providing a higher ideal to work towards. There is, however, no faith-based element to the Narconon program. It is entirely secular, and a person with no religious affiliation can complete the program just as well as someone who is, for example, a devout Christian.

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