I’m not the first to post this caution, which is found on a number of addiction oriented sites, but if you are new to looking for help for addictions, your web searches may lead you to something called “Narconon,” which is both a program and now a facility in Florida (land of a thousand rehabs).
It sounds a lot like Nar-Anon, doesn’t it, and also like Narcotics Anonymous. (NA is like AA for drugs; Nar-Anon, with no “c,” is for significant others of drug addicts.) But it’s neither of those.
Narconon, in fact, is a branch of the Church of Scientology, and focused on the writings of Scientology guru L. Ron Hubbard. Like some other cultish churches, their position is that immersion in their cult will cure you of addiction and other ills.
You have probably already read about Scientology (e.g., this article or this article). If you like Scientology, Narconon may be a good match for you. For the rest of us, the name and marketing constitute a kind of bait-and-switch, and a dangerous one at that.
12-step programs also have a religious tone, even though many members have no affiliation with any organized religion – not surprising, since AA began as an offshoot of the Christianity-based Oxford Group. But 12-step programs [a] don’t deify a human being [there is admiration for AA’s founders, but no commandments to obey]; [b] don’t attack those with varying views; [c] don’t seek to create an insular group cut off from or antagonistic to non-members; [d] don’t seek to control their participants through mechanisms such as shaming, ostracism, or threats; [e] don’t seek large sums of money from their members. Just to mention a few differences.
Cults, on the other hand, often prey on those who are alienated and fragile. Like, say, people caught in the grip of addiction.
Jeffrey Fortgang, PhD, LADC 1