Narconon Established and Battling Addiction

Narconon Established Battling Addiction


The Arizona Daily Star

Monday, August 1, 1966

‘Narconon’ Established

Arizona Prison Inmates Battling Dope Addiction

FLORENCE - In 1947, 13-year-old Willie Benitez was walking along a Tucson street with friends, going to play baseball.

From the porch of a house, a man offered them a “chance to fly” by smoking a cigarette. Willie’s friends refused, but when the man said, “Willie’ll do it; he ain’t chicken,” the challenge was there. Willie smoked his first marijuana cigarette.

The result was lifelong dope addiction and Benitez, now a 32-year-old inmate at Arizona State Prison, has tried heroin, which “you can no longer get in Tucson,” morphine, and many other drugs.

Warden Frank Eyman says there is nothing Benitez doesn’t know about dope.

When he wasn’t on dope, Benitez could hold responsible jobs and, although never graduated from high school, writes shorthand, is widely read in psychology, and is an accomplished musician, playing clarinet and saxophone in the prison band.

Studying a publication by author and humanitarian, L. Ron Hubbard, available in the prison library, Benitez saw he could use a new approach to kicking narcotics and he set up the first Narconon program in the Arizona prison.

Some 20 addicts enrolled on the program in the hope of kicking their habit.