Over the years several of our clients has asked about the beginnings of Narconon. As a simple story back in 1965, William Benitez was serving a 15-year sentence in an Arizona state prison. It was not the first time that Mr. Benitez had found himself behind bars. On the contrary, the current sentence was the sixth time that the man had been imprisoned by the state. Why had Mr. Benitez spent so much of his adult life behind bars? The reason can be summed by two words: drug addiction. After getting his start on drugs with marijuana at the young age of 13 years, Mr. Benitez tried to force himself to quit by joining the Marine Corps. This solution did not work out, however, and instead he was court martialed and given an undesirable discharge. For 18 years of his life, he suffered from an addiction to heroin, and it was this that led him to the point where he found himself in 1965. During this sixth prison sentence, a fellow inmate gave Mr. Benitez a copy of Fundamentals of Thought, a book by author, humanitarian and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. In the pages of this book, he discovered the solution to his own problems with addiction, and he swiftly realized that he had also found a way to help others to overcome their own addictions.
What Sets Narconon Apart
The decision to name the new drug rehab program “Narconon” was founded upon the fact that Mr. Benitez was taking an approach that was different from the one that so many other rehab treatment programs do. Instead of using drug-replacement therapy and similar medication-based strategies for treating addiction, the new program would enable participants to take on the challenge of fighting their addictions with no drugs; thus “narco-” (drugs) + “non.” Most rehab programs focus on the ways in which the individual is a victim of his or her addiction. This may be manifested by explanations of addiction as a disease. Others assume that the person will not be able to do anything about the addiction and use other drugs to replace the drug of addiction. Even programs that do not use medicated treatment will often require the participant to admit that he or she is powerless to overcome the addiction and to pray for help from outside sources. This is one of the primary differences between Narconon and most other rehab programs, and is also one of the keys to its success. Instead of focusing on remedying disability, Narconon focuses on improving ability. In Mr. Benitez’ own words, “I found that if a person rehabilitated and applied certain abilities, that person could persevere toward goals set, confront life, isolate problems and resolve them, communicate with life, be responsible and set ethical standards, and function within the band of certainty.”
Narconon Earns Recognition
It took a full six months before William Benitez was able to persuade the prison administration to allow him to implement his plans for a new drug rehab treatment program. When they finally did grant permission, the results demonstrated that it was a wise decision. With nothing more than two-hour meetings on Thursday nights, the program was able to help the 18 inmates who participated in the inaugural run to change their lives. Instead of simply continuing with the dreary monotony of prison life, the participants were finding a way to feel better, to become more competent, to help others and receive help and to achieve a greater ability to confront life. Within months, news of the effectiveness of Narconon spread outside the walls of the prison and into the community at large. For example, the local newspaper carried a story on the program shortly following its inception, and only four years later a California newspaper was heralding Narconon for the fact that its graduates had a recidivism rate of only 14 percent, less than a third of the national average of the period. Over the past 40 years since its inception, the program has spread across 6 continents and has helped countless numbers of people to turn their lives around. From its humble beginnings in an Arizona prison cell, Narconon has come to be recognized as among the most effective programs in existence.
For more information on Narconon beginnings and that first Arizona State Prison study go to our Narconon video page today.