One Determined Man
The Narconon drug and alcohol program got its start inside the Arizona State Prison system. In 1965, an inmate named William (Willie) Benitez was once again in jail because of his heroin habit. He'd become addicted when he was fifteen and had sought every method of recovery he could find, even enlisting in the Marines to try to get away from drugs.
None of them helped him stay sober for very long, and by the time he was 31 years old, he'd spent more than a decade in jail. Despite the long odds, Willie was determined to get clean.
When he went back to prison in 1965, he came across a slim book from L. Ron Hubbard called The Fundamentals of Thought. He read the book over and over, and then got more books by Mr. Hubbard and began corresponding with the author. He realized that he had found a technology on life itself that would enable him to overcome his addiction. He decided to offer this technology to the other inmates and negotiated for months with the prison officials to open an inside-the-prison program, which began operating in 1966.
The program was a success, such a success that inmates who were not addicted to drugs also asked to join. In 1967, after Willie was released from prison, he made his way to Los Angeles where he opened the first Narconon delivery center and began to help those whose lives had been overwhelmed by drugs.
The Narconon Program Begins to Expand
In the next few years, as people began to hear about the results of this program, centers began to open in large cities across the country. In 1972, a center opened in Delaware. In California and in Canada, Narconon was gaining recognition as a program that could create a positive effect, based on letters from the Children's Services Branch of the Mental Health Division of Canada's Department of Health and the Chief Judge of the City of Phoenix. Another center soon opened in Massachusetts, followed by centers in Louisiana and in several cities in California.
Narconon Program Gains Recognition for its Effectiveness and Reaches Ten Years of Service
In 1975, the Narconon program had expanded to Vancouver, a city with an extensive history of heroin problems. When the Narconon program opened in Vancouver and began to get heroin addicts off the streets at last, the Chief Constable wrote a complimentary letter in which he said, "It is the only program that I am aware of that is having any amount of success in dealing with heroin addiction."
Narconon had also reached West Germany by this time, and was acknowledged by the government as an effective program.
In its Second Decade, Narconon Sees Even More Expansion
Newspaper articles marked the progress of Narconon in its second decade. The Hyde Park Tribune reported on an appreciation award received by the Boston center. The Narconon center in New London, Connecticut received a letter of gratitude and promise of funding from the Mayor.
In Los Angeles, Narconon fielded a softball team called The Narconon All-Stars. This team played celebrity teams across the Southland and brought drug education and motivational examples to all attending the games.
By 1978, Narconon organizations had developed a curriculum to deliver drug prevention lectures at schools and clubs. Volunteers and staff began to take these lectures out into their communities. In the next six years, more than a quarter million youth, parents and professionals would receive these lectures. The drug education lessons even made their way to Sweden, France and other countries.
The next year, a new development by Mr. Hubbard was added to the program: a thorough sauna detoxification program that enabled recovering addicts to flush the old drug residues out of their bodies, resulting in clearer thinking and most positive attitude. And in the 1980s, Narconon began collecting accolades from celebrities who got clean at one of the Narconon centers.
Narconon Reaches Out to Australia
While there were already centers in Europe and in many cities in the US, there were none yet "down under." In 1987, an article describing the severe drug situation in Sydney also announced the imminent opening of a new Narconon center in Queensland.
Celebrities including John Travolta continue to offer their support of the drug rehab program that has been saving lives now for more than 20 years.
The Largest Narconon Center Opens in Oklahoma Just in Time for 25th Anniversary In 1990 in Northern Oklahoma, a new Narconon center was opened in the largest facility yet. Located outside Newkirk, Oklahoma, this center offered hundreds of beds.
By the next year, there had been no less than 24 Narconon centers opened around the world, including centers in Canada, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Each year, thousands of people were regaining their sobriety in these centers.
In recognition of this anniversary, Narconon received commendations from Los Angeles, the States of Wyoming, California and Massachusetts and the City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Narconon Expands to Russia and Other Countries by 30th Anniversary
In 1996, the Narconon program turned 30 years old. New centers had been opened in two countries who may have needed it more than any others: Russia, struggling with a terrible heroin problem, and Colombia, heart of cocaine production in South American.
Similar to its beginning in the Arizona State Prison, a second in-prison Narconon center was opened in Ensenada, Mexico and New Zealand also got its first center. By this time, more than one million young people had been reached with Narconon drug education lectures around the world.
The New Millennium Brings New Breakthroughs
In 2000, the Narconon drug recovery protocol was included in an international conference on substance abuse in India. In 2001, the flagship Narconon was opened in Canadian, Oklahoma. This top of the line facility featured more than 200 beds and a training center where people from all over the world could come to learn how to run Narconon centers in their countries.
A new rehab center was also opened in Atlanta, Georgia and a single drug education group in Los Angeles began to set records for the number of young people education, reaching more than 1,000 students each week.
The Narconon First Step Program was being taught to supervisors and then administered to recovering addicts in Australia, across the US, Brazil, Indonesia, Argentina, Belgium, Sweden, Mexico and Pakistan. It was discovered that there were certain steps of the Narconon program that could be easily taught in a seminar format to people around the world who were trying to help addicts recover, and that the Narconon First Step Program could help, no matter where or in what context it was being used.
Continued Expansion in Russia, Italy and Around the World
By 2003, the Russian drug education team had reached more than 173,000 young people and in nearby Ukraine, a single, dedicated educator reached more than 200,000, utilizing local television to spread the word. The police in Krasnoyarsk helped Narconon distribute a quarter-million anti-drug brochures and a new Narconon rehab facility opened in Moscow. New centers had been opened in Johannesburg, Ghana and Cape Town for either education or rehabilitation.
The Narconon program was also brought to drug recovery professionals in Shanghai and Manila in the Philippines. These professionals learned how the Narconon First Step program helped recovering addicts get off of drugs and off to a good start. And then there was the visit from the Jordan Department of Anti-Narcotics who visited the international offices of Narconon in Los Angeles and then visited the flagship facility in Oklahoma. Their intention was to bring this technology back to Jordan to save lives there.
Narconon Drug Education Hits High Gear
In 2004, a campaign created to align with the United Nations' efforts to reduce drug abuse resulted in more than 400,000 young people hearing the Narconon drug education lecture.
Indonesia, Taiwan, Pakistan, Thailand Ð all these countries who had had little exposure to the Narconon program heard about them in 2004. In Asia and in Africa, tens of thousands of young people heard the Narconon message for the first time this year.
New Countries Get Narconon Centers
In 2004, a new Narconon center was opened in Nepal, a country with more than 150,000 addicts but little ability to provide treatment. And the UK got its first Narconon rehabilitation facility in Hastings, south of London, to help with that country's severe problem with stimulants.
Elsewhere, drug education continued to expand in the Czech Republic, Sweden and even Bulgaria.
Narconon Program Reaches 40 Years of Delivery!
For its 40th birthday, Narconon was acknowledged by proclamations from Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii and many individual communities. In Oklahoma, in conjunction with Narconon Arrowhead, the Eastern Oklahoma State College began offering Narconon materials as continuing education classes for health professionals.
By this time, there were more than 120 Narconon drug prevention and drug rehabilitation centers around the world. Narconon materials began to be translated into popular languages to ease delivery in every corner of the world. Every populated continent now offers the Narconon drug rehabilitation technology.