The drug rehab business is flourishing like never before, with an endless supply of desperate victims seeking treatment to end the misery of their addiction. Treatment centers know they have a readymade and alluring product to meet market demand, and new centers are popping up all over the internet, as a simple Google search for “drug rehab” will demonstrate.
Most drug rehab centers are reputable and are staffed with physicians, nurses, psychotherapists, and professional qualified addiction counsellors. But many drug rehabs are “fly-by-night” operations that are actually operated by destructive cults and that unscrupulously practice pseudoscientific quackery which is dangerous and, in some cases, deadly.
By definition, the term “cult” can be applied to any group of religious believers, including Baptists, Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the faithful of Eastern religions. The term is sometimes confusing because it can have a variety of meanings depending on who uses it and for which purpose, in what way, or in which context.
However, there is a definable difference between a “religious cult” and “destructive or dangerous cult.” One must examine how a group impacts a person’s health (psychological or physical), wealth, and personal relationships with family and friends.
There are numerous cult-based drug rehabs around the globe. Some remain in business, while others have disappeared. A few operate under strict doctrines and discipline, while others, like Scientology’s drug rehab, Narconon, have proven to be dangerous and deadly, with numerous patient deaths.
The treatments given at some drug rehabs can be quite bizarre and raise many questions, such as the center directed by Jenishbek Nazaraliev, a doctor in Kyrgyzstan. One patient was seen in the following state:
“His eyes are rolled back to the whites, his spine is arched; his arms flail in front of him as if he is being electrocuted. Behind him stands another man, Asiatic, completely bald, with dark piercing eyes. He shouts, almost raps, into the convulsing Georgian’s ears, ‘Drive out the filth! You are a strong man, charged with energy! Help yourself out of this!’ He repeats this over and over until the Georgian has a spasm and collapses in a trance. He is put on to a stretcher, carried out of the room and laid in a bed with high metal sides.”
Another apparently cult-based drug rehab called “Comunità Cenacolo” indoctrinates desperate parents and convinces their children to enter its program. According to one client:
“Once there, these young men are stripped of their clothing, identification, and belongings and are allowed no contact with the outside world … performing ritual chanting and prayer based mind control techniques. Daily journals are reviewed and corrected by senior members and extreme use of guilt over past actions and self-degradation employed — a mentor ensures that no one leaves.”
The notorious cult-based drug rehab Synanon, founded in 1958 in Santa Monica, California, ultimately became the Church of Synanon in the 1970s and disbanded permanently in 1989 due to many alleged criminal activities, including attempted murder, and due to civil legal problems, including federal tax-evasion uncovered by the Internal Revenue Service.
Synanon was as a two-year residential rehab program, and it generated roughly $10 million per year. Members humiliated one another and encouraged the exposure of one another’s innermost weaknesses. Beginning in the mid-1970s, women in Synanon were required to shave their heads, and married couples were made to break up and take new partners. Men were given forced vasectomies, and a few pregnant women were compelled to have abortions.
In 1974, the legal authorities launched an investigation into Synanon’s practices. The concept of “lifetime rehabilitation” did not agree with therapeutic norms, and it was alleged that the Synanon group was running an unauthorized medical clinic.
Children who had been assigned to Synanon began running away, and an “underground railroad” was created to help them return to their parents. Beatings of Synanon’s opponents and of its ex-members, called “splittees,” occurred across California.
The global network of Scientology drug rehabs, Narconon also has, to a greater or lesser degree, parallels with some of the above-mentioned horrific cult-based rehab centers. Strict doctrines and discipline, “training routine” trances, clients stripped of identification, mind control techniques, guilt regarding past actions, humiliation, and memorizing Scientology religious doctrines, to name just a few practices that evoke the definition of a dangerous and destructive cult.
In 2011, a 100-bed Narconon drug rehab center in Quebec, Canada, was examined by an expert physician on drug dependence. The Quebec College of Physicians concluded that the Narconon physician, Dr. Pierre Labonté, “had been in breach of several of his ethical obligations by associating himself with a drug detoxification center administering treatment not recognized in the current medical literature. It was agreed, by way of written accord with the College, that Dr. Labonté put an end to all his relations with Narconon.”
After a lengthy investigation, the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services determined that Narconon Trois-Rivières was unsafe and posed a real health risk to patients, forcing the center to close immediately on April 13, 2012 and relocate patients.
In this “Cult Examiner” series of the “Cult of Narconon,” we will examine many aspects of dangerous drug rehab practices in Canada and around the world, especially those operated by Scientology and by others who indoctrinate vulnerable patients into their cult doctrines and create health risks and safety issues.
There have been 14 patient deaths inside Narconon centers and countless deaths among patients after following the Narconon program. The horrific and traumatic experiences told by many victims will be explored in this series — disturbing accounts of deception, abuse and exploitation.
There are stories of prescribed psychiatric medications forbidden and taken away, resulting in attempted suicides; stories of sexual exploitation, forced manual labour, coerced disconnection from family and friends, and lack of attending physicians or nurses. Disturbing patient interrogations, humiliation and degradation were the norm.
Above all, the story of how patients are unknowingly being indoctrinated into the cult of Narconon and Scientology, including being recruited onto staff with little or no pay for long, hard hours of work, needs to be told, and the public must be informed.
An excellent Narconon information website is “Reaching for the Tipping Point” – Why Should I Be Concerned:
David Edgar Love