Help me clear my brother of his Thetan problem.
December 24, 2011 8:49 AM   Subscribe

My brother recently entered Narconon for drug rehab. How worried should I be?

My brother, after almost 12 years of relatively heavy drug use with periods of "recovery", just shipped off to Narconon. My parents were essentially at wit's end and willing to do anything necessary to help my brother get clean. They did some preliminary internet searching, found an interventionist, and got sucked into the impressive marketing scheme that Narconon put on.

After he'd been there a couple weeks, they started hearing negative things about the program, and we recently realized that it's a front for the Church of Scientology. This is worrying in so many ways I don't even know where to begin. I'm essentially thinking we need to pull him out of the program and find somewhere else for him to be.

The problem is that my parents have paid a LARGE sum of money to them already, and finding more money for another rehab program isn't going to be easy. Plus, he's already out there and he was resistant to going to any rehab at all, so getting him to agree to go elsewhere may not be easy. He's already been through AA/NA-type programs and won't do another 12-step most likely.

I guess my questions are: How worried should we be? Should we find another program? How do we find another program that isn't just another problem?
posted by This Guy to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have a hunch that an opportunity for sobriety outweighs any problems associated with Scientology. You are probably going to get the following advice again and again--and I do think it is sound advice. Your brother's recovery is his recovery--you and your parent's can help create opportunities but that is all. The best thing that all of you can do is to take good care of your selves, be supportive of his recovery and don't take on the burden of his recovery. Do not create hardships for yourself (personal, financial or emotional) and do not--do not-- expect anything in return( financial, practical, emotional or sobriety) from him.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:12 AM on December 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

I have heard really good things from a couple people I know who persisted through the program and made it out sober and clean -- and haven't reverted. The big difference between them and conventional rehab centers is they don't use substitute drugs to make the person feel better while their coming off their addiction, only vitamins. Thus going through a decent amount of withdrawal symptoms which I can imagine would lead to a heavy dose of complaints. Actually, on rereading, are they hearing negative things from him or from others? Because the important thing is that he gets clean. The one thing that might make you feel better is that, according to the people I know who went there (who know a lot of people who went through the program so I tend towards believing this isn't just PR they heard) is that the majority (like 80-90%) of the people who make it through stay clean for life. Success rates for traditional rehab centers is something like 25%.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:26 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also could you call up the center and ask how the program works? I think they basically put people in a sauna to sweat out the drugs and alcohol in their system, give them loads of vitamins, and do some instruction on life skills or something... sounded pretty normal to me.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:38 AM on December 24, 2011

Well, it is not a front for Scientology, it is Scientology and that is plainly stated on their website. I am no fan of ole L Ron (I don't even like his sci-fi), but it isn't like Narconon is trying to fool anybody.

But that is not the issue here, your brother getting sober is. What he does at Narconon may not be how he lives his life afterward. If for at least a while they can keep him clean, then maybe he can make a informed choice as to what the next step will be after rehab. If Narconon can can give him that opportunity, then they have done more than anyone else in the previous 12 years.

DoubleLune's stats are correct for traditional rehab centers too, if not actually a bit generous. If the Narconon 80%-90% number is accurate - or even partially so - that would be a huge advantage to your brother and worth sticking with the program.

There is no perfect solution in the drug rehab world, no magic pill. I cannot think of a single program that does not come with a significant caveat. It is always a bit of the good and the bad with every attempt at sobriety. The best one can do is take their best shot with the resources at hand.

If you can get an honest appraisal of Narconon's success rate, that would be the first thing to focus on. Deal with the Scientology part when he is sober and can think clearly for himself.
posted by lampshade at 10:26 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

DoubleLune's stats are correct for traditional rehab centers too, if not actually a bit generous. If the Narconon 80%-90% number is accurate - or even partially so

It is not.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:39 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is not.

Hence, the significant caveat I referred to.
posted by lampshade at 11:00 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

The problem with that link, DarlingBri, is the website is not credible - it claims itself as a ".edu" but is in dedicated to proving Narconon is a hoax. Unfortunately on a quick search its basically what the program says versus what people trying to disprove it say, so there's no independent and unbiased study here.
However, the stats in that link still fell into the average to good range for a typical rehab center, assuming typical rehab centers also have completely unbiased stats.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:10 AM on December 24, 2011

Narcanon is Scientology. People who go through the program are actively encouraged and pressured to join Scientology. I'm not sure that exchanging a life-destroying addition for a life-destroying cult is a bargain. The fact that Narcanon routinely lies about their success should give you ample cause for concern.

As for the money, I am not a lawyer, but you may wish to consult with one if the marketing materials they printed substantially misrepresented the program and its success rates.

For more information about Scientology and Narcanon, please visit this site, which is one of the most respected of the "truth about Scientology" sites.

Good luck. This is a tough situation. But, please, whatever you decide to do, don't let your brother walk blindly into the Scientology minefield.
posted by driley at 11:11 AM on December 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I do not think "a life destroying addiction" and "a life destroying cult" are properly analogous. While not a fan, in any sense of the word, of Scientology I would suggest that sobriety and membership in this cult is preferable to continued drug abuse and ongoing marginalization or death. Regardless--I think this is best left to your parents and brother to work out unless your input has been specifically requested. Not that it is not important but the only real relationship which you can change is the one between yourself and your brother. Addiction is often a continuing family drama and the curtain does not set until the audience goes home. I wish you the best.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:37 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chiming in here about both sites. Short answer: you have to take all these sites with a big grain of salt.

From my experience over many years of dealing with this, these sites always read like sour grapes rants from a former patients and/or people looking to blather on about their misgivings toward any religion. There is also no shortage of AA bashing sites too, so this is not unique to Narconon. If find it interesting that very few of these sites offer any decent alternatives to addiction therapy and endless proof about how corrupt these methods are.

They all will print impressive stats to support their claim and of course, not show anything that is not in agreement. Like the Narconon Exposed site conveniently states, "For copyright reasons, we are unable to reproduce favourable evaluations of Narconon on this website.". Color me surprised they have no trouble with copyright reasons for evaluations that agree with them . The way I have always seen it is that there are people out there with an axe to grind about religion of any kind and in this situation, are doing it on the back of addicts who need some real direction, not a philosophical argument.

Whether he stays there or not, stick with him afterward. Maybe he will come out of there and say "Meh, all that Scientology stuff sucks but sobriety is good, so I am going to stick with sobriety and ditch the Scientology"...maybe not. He could also come out of a 12-step based rehab and be all "Christ is the Savior and you are going to hell" and blah blah blah. As long as he is not drinking, that is just about all you can hope for. At least he will have a cleaner place to start from no matter what method got him there.

Rehab is just the beginning and some of the hardest work starts when it ends. Your brother needs at least a period of sobriety through some means. Arguing about what is the better method only clouds any possible success from taking that that huge first step of just being physically sober.

Get ready for step two which should include some Al-Anon for you and your family and some sort of after therapy for your brother.
posted by lampshade at 12:07 PM on December 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

Mefi's own maias on "Does Narconon's Addiction Rehab Really Work?", which references this much longer story.

"Bottom line is that solid research evidence does not support the program’s claims."
posted by gingerbeer at 12:25 PM on December 24, 2011 [3 favorites]

It's probably not going to work, but almost nothing DOES work. I think it would be more trouble than it's worth to pull him out at this point.
posted by empath at 3:06 PM on December 24, 2011

« Older fitted sheet for thinner mattress??   |   Can I make this Mousse more than 24 hours ahead of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.