A Drug Abuse Expert's Perspective
Alfonzo Paredes, M.D.
"I wish to present to you my opinion on Narconon as a resource in the rehabilitation of individuals with alcohol and/or drug dependence.
As a consultant to the Narconon program I had the opportunity to review the program, discuss it with the staff and talk with some of the patients. I have done this congruent with my professional interest in medical and social model approaches to addictive behavior. My professional background covers research and treatment aspects of alcohol and drug dependence. More than one hundred publications in scientific journals as author or co-author document my contributions. I also have had administrative research responsibilities and responsibility for treatment programs at the institutional and statewide levels. Incidentally, I have done research and have interest in the cultural aspects of the use of alcohol and psychoactive substances by the Indians in the American Southwest and the Tarahumara, a North American aboriginal group. I am therefore in a position to provide an informed assessment of Narconon.
The Narconon program has several features which in my opinion justify the implementation of the program. An important aspect is the systematic application of techniques to improve communication and interpersonal skills in persons dependent on alcohol and/or drugs. The techniques include training in personal values, integrity and in general cover ethical principles. This aspect of the program is implemented using methodology developed by L. Ron Hubbard. This area is, in my opinion, critical in the treatment of persons afflicted with addictive disorders. Although experts often note that addictive disorders should not be viewed from a moralistic perspective, a view which is often misunderstood, there is no question that one of the central problems in addictive behavior is the restructuring of the normative system of patients affected by the disorder.
Addicts characteristically subordinate values such as work, family relationships, and community responsibilities to the ingestion and unwise use of alcohol and/or drugs. Social neglect and criminal behavior are frequent companions of drug abuse and alcoholism. Efforts to develop a functional normative system, as is done by Narconon, should result in favorable outcomes. Narconon has demonstrated that this redefinition of the normative system of addicts is possible to implement with empathy, compassion, and respect for the addict. The drug-free procedure used by Narconon during alcohol and drug withdrawal is in my opinion sound. All patients who participate in the Narconon program are screened by a physician prior to acceptance in the program. Those individuals with physical signs of withdrawal symptoms of such severity that they require medical detoxification or medical conditions in need of care are not accepted until medical treatment is completed elsewhere. The Narconon program therefore manages the aspects of withdrawal that respond effectively to supportive and dietary care. It is well established that only a small proportion of patients on withdrawal from alcohol and/or drugs require intervention with therapeutic drugs or in a medical setting. If this were not the case, alcoholics would quickly exhaust medical resources available and social detox programs wouldn't exist. Narconon's utilization of nutritional aids such as vitamins and appropriate diet is sound.
Although some may feel that alcohol and drug addiction is primarily a medical problem, close examination does not support this view. Persons are introduced to alcohol and drugs by peers in social situations, and maintenance of the addiction is supported by deviant social networks. Furthermore, most medical settings do not have the resources of experience to address the many psychosocial aspects of alcohol and drug abuse. Alternate, health-oriented social intervention approaches such as Narconon's, therefore, deserve to be implemented to widen the availability or resources to address drug problems.
No specific therapeutic drug has been demonstrated to make behavioral approaches unnecessary. Furthermore, the medical systems are so taxed with strictly medical problems that it would be unwise to leave the management of alcohol and drug abuse to the sole responsibility of the medical system. Other alternatives such as Twelve Step programs, therapeutic communities, cognitive therapy and behavioral conditioning have a place in the management of substance abuse disorders. Narconon in turn constitutes a valuable resource that adds one more useful option available to the addicts and their families. Last but not least, I do not see anything in the Narconon program that may place the participants to this treatment at risk of health problems.
I have presented some general comments on the merits of the program. If requested, I will be happy to give more detailed opinions concerning any specific aspect of the Narconon approach."
Alfonzo Paredes, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry UCLA School of Medicine
Dr. Paredes, board certified in Psychiatry and Neurology, graduated the University of Mexico School of Medicine in 1951, interned at St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and did residencies in Psychiatry at the University of Kansas, University of Maryland, and University of Oklahoma. He is a member of dozens of different professional organizations and regularly reviews peer publications in addition to having contributed more than 100 articles or studies of his own.