Narconon - 2006

Celebrating 40 Years of Saving Lives

Narconon program celebrates 40 years

Los Angeles News: The successful program has helped millions of people through effective drug education and rehabilitation and expanded to become a worldwide network.

Founder Benitez in first program, 1966. William Benitez (far left) founded the first Narconon program in Arizona State Prison.

First Narconon Program
Arizona State Prison - 1966

Four decades ago, an incarcerated heroin addict named William Benitez decided that he had to try something new to save himself from his addiction as well as to help other similarly afflicted friends. He requested permission from Arizona state prison officials to start a drug rehabilitation program with 20 addict inmates, but was at first denied. Thankfully, he persisted because on February 19, 1966 he was finally granted permission and founded what he called Narconon, meaning NARCotics-NONe.

Inspiration for the program came from a prison library book Benitez had read by American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard. Benitez later wrote, "What impressed me the most about Hubbard's materials was that they concentrated not only on identifying abilities, but also on methods, practical exercises, by which to develop them. I realized that drug addiction was nothing more than a 'disability' resulting when a person ceases to use abilities essential to constructive survival." Benitez felt this viewpoint offered a radically new and hopefully more effective approach toward recovery from drugs. He wrote Mr. Hubbard from jail requesting assistance.

Commenting on Narconon's beginnings, Clark Carr, President of Narconon International in Los Angeles, said, "In the early '60s Mr. Hubbard was certainly one of the very first to closely observe the evolving drug culture and to predict the catastrophe accelerating drug addiction would prove to be to the world." Hubbard therefore responded warmly to William Benitez's request for help and continued to write up his observations on the effects of drugs on the individual, his body, and society as a whole.

Narconon Los Angeles 1971. First Narconon residential drug rehabilitation outside of prison. Located in Los Angeles, California, and opened in December 1971.

Narconon Drug Rehab Center
Los Angeles - 1971

The Narconon® program evolved, Carr said, in the crucible where it was most needed, in use by addicts helping one another. After his release from prison, Benitez set up the first residential Narconon center in Los Angeles in 1971. In 1973 Mr. Hubbard conducted further nutritional research to aid Narconon staff to help addicts safely through the severe discomforts of withdrawal. The Narconon program adopted these procedures and instituted a still unique drug-free withdrawal method, using vitamins and mineral supplements along with special techniques to ease mental and physical symptoms.

Another pioneering Hubbard innovation was adopted in 1978--the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program. This tissue-cleansing regimen of specific vitamin and mineral therapy with cardiovascular exercise, intensive sweating in low heat saunas, and adequate replacement of fluids and oils has proved immensely valuable to recovering addicts, reducing the long-term physical and mental effects of drug and other toxic residuals. The way those in recovery put it - "The drugs have stopped talking to me!" Their cravings are gone.

International Training Center. Narconon Arrowhead International Training Center grand opening celebration in September 2001 in Oklahoma

Narconon Arrowead Grand Opening
September 2001

The Narconon combination of drug-free withdrawal, sauna detoxification and a series of life skills educational courses addressing learning skills, ethics, self control, and how to change conditions for the better, Carr added, is what makes the program so unique and successful. Numerous case studies and other long-term evaluations have shown that approximately three out of four of Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Program graduates remain drug-free after two years or longer, a significant result in a field that otherwise admits of too much relapse and failure.

"The dedication of Narconon staffs is not to be discounted either," Carr commented. "Many are recovered addicts and alcoholics who have found new purpose to dedicate themselves to helping others to overcome addiction." Other Narconon staff, he said, have for decades sought to educate youth and adults on the true dangers of drugs, from elementary school children to radio listeners across countries. Over the years, Narconon staff members have reached with live and audio-visual presentations to millions of people worldwide, offering guidance and help for drug prevention and education.

Directors of centers worldwide. Directors of Narconon centers at the international conference in Mexico City, 2005

Directors of Narconon Centers
International Conference in Mexico City - 2005

From one man in one tiny cell in Arizona 40 years ago, the Narconon Drug Education and Rehabilitation Program has grown into a worldwide network helping thousands of people each day, comprising now 135 centers and groups working to save lives in 40 countries literally spanning the globe. "And more centers will be opening next month and the month after that," Carr predicted. Narconon has received support and recognition from officials across the United States and the world.

In praise of the hard-working staff, Carr remarked, "Ask any Narconon staff member why Narconon has not only survived, but continued to expand for so many years, and he or she will say, 'For one reason - because it works!' And they should know because they have been there, doing the work hands-on. Well done, I say, and congratulations to them all."

Photos (top down):

  1. Founder Benitez in first program, 1966. - William Benitez (far left) founded the first Narconon program in Arizona State Prison.
  2. Narconon Los Angeles 1971 - First Narconon residential drug rehabilitation outside of prison. Located in Los Angeles, California, and opened in December 1971.
  3. International Training Center - Narconon Arrowhead International Training Center's grand opening celebration in September 2001 in Oklahoma
  4. Directors of centers worldwide -- Directors of Narconon centers at the international conference in Mexico City, 2005
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