Health officials have ordered the Narconon rehabilitation centre for drug addicts in Trois Rivières to evacuate and relocate its 32 residents, citing concerns over procedures that “may represent a risk to health” and a lack of doctors on staff.
Following an investigation into the centre’s activities by the Centre Québécois d’agrément, an independent body mandated to monitor quality in health care, the agency for health and social services for the Mauricie Region said Tuesday it does not intend to certify Narconon.
The centre, among the largest of 50 Narconon centres in 22 countries, bases its treatment on the teachings of the Church of Scientology, headquartered in California, giving its “students” high doses of niacin and having them sit in saunas for about five hours a day. The rest of the treatment consists of “training routines” based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, in which patients perform the same tasks over and over.
Residents in Trois Rivières paid $25,000 to $30,000 for their treatment, which lasted on average three to five months.
Marc Lacour, the director of the Mauricie Health and Social Services Agency, said he had received several complaints about the centre in the last few months. But the agency’s decision not to certify was based on visits to the Narconon centre in February, and the recommendations of a national committee of experts convened in March to discuss the case. Though the centre has been in operation since 2005, it was only this year that certification by the agency became mandatory for all rehabilitation centres, Lacour explained.
“The criteria (for certification) relate to safety, sanitation, nutrition, insurance, administrative practices, an ethical code and the approaches and techniques used by the centre,” Lacour said. “The approach used by Narconon is not recognized in Quebec, and it was mainly on that basis that the agency decided to relocate its residents.”
The Narconon Trois-Rivières is one of dozens of similar centres in the U.S. and around the world where the detox treatment is inspired by the teachings of Scientology.
Mauricie regional health agency director Marc Latour said Narconon Trois-Rivières advertised an 80 per cent success rate and charged $25,000 for its program.
Latour said the centre was dangerous for patients and violated many of the criteria regulating Quebec’s rehab centres.
He said there was no medical supervision and no scientific basis to the treatment.
Latour said patients went cold turkey, then underwent lengthy sauna detox sessions designed to sweat out drugs and took an unhealthy amount of vitamins. [...]
The centre issued a statement Tuesday night, defending its rehab model and calling on the department of health to support more solutions, not fewer.
Lacour said Narconon has 10 days, as of April 13, to comment before the agency makes its final decision on certification. Narconon also has 60 days to appeal the decision at the Tribunal administratif du Québec. In the meantime, Narconon will no longer be able to operate in the Mauricie region.
“For sure, if we came to this conclusion (about Narconon), we worry about what may be happening elsewhere,” Lacour said, adding Narconon has been banned in France.
While Narconon claims a high success rate there are no independent, reliable studies to back these claims up. (It should also be taken into account that Scientologists are notoriously bad at numbers and statistics.)
Narconon treats drug addicts with the ‘purification treatments’ concocted by Scientology’s controversial founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Scientology’s medical claims are widely considered to be prime examples of quackery.
Narconon is one of several Scientology front groups. TIME magazine has referred to Narconon as a ‘classic vehicle for drawing addicts into the cult.’
Another Scientology front group, the ironically named Citizens Commission on Human Rights, is engaged in an ongoing hate campaign against psychiatry and psychiatrists.
“Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill… (Scientology is) the world’s largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.”