Narconon Program History 1966: The Beginning

The year 1966 was the year the ground was broken for the Narconon program. This was the year that William Benitez, an inmate in the Arizona State Prison system, first delivered drug rehabilitation services under the banner of Narconon.

While still a young man, Mr. Benitez had already spent many years in prison as a result of a heroin addiction. Time after time, his inability to shake the drug habit landed him in jail. But despite every temptation to give up, he still held onto the hope that somehow he would find a way to live clean and sober.

In 1965, while he was still in prison with many more years to go on his sentence, Mr. Benitez found the basic material that would enable him to beat his addiction. Much more than that, it was the material that would enable him to found a drug rehabilitation system that would help other addicts kick their habits and would eventually extend around the world.

It started when he came across a slim volume titled Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought by American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard. The simple basics in this book changed his way of thinking. As he studied the book over and over again, he realized he was no longer thinking or acting like an addict. He determined that he would use this new understanding to help other addicts recover from their addictions.

While he made this decision in August of 1965, it took until February 1966 for him to convince prison officials to allow him to run a rehabilitation service inside the prison walls. In those days, this kind of activity was a complete novelty. His persistence paid off, and he finally got permission to offer classes in what he had learned to the other inmates in the prison who had also struggled with addiction.

He had put those months of waiting to good use. He had started up a correspondence with the author of the book, L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote back with his complete support of Mr. Benitez’s intentions. Mr. Benitez got his hands on more books by Mr. Hubbard and found that they also enhanced his ability to stay sober himself, and help others achieve sobriety.

With a small library of purchased and donated books, on February 19, 1966, Mr. Benitez began to teach other addicts that their addiction was nothing more than a disability that they could apply themselves to overcoming.

He later stated, “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.”

From these humble beginnings, Mr. Benitez expanded his new Narconon program to provide service to more addicted inmates and then inmates who were not addicted but wanted help living better lives. When he was released from prison in 1967, he traveled to Los Angeles to found a rehabilitation program that was available to anyone. One after another, the hopelessly addicted began to stream through the doors, finding lasting recovery for the first time. Gradually these grateful people enabled Narconon to grow into an international rehabilitation and educational institution.

Articles and photos from 1966:

1966 - William Benitez with 2nd Narconon group inside Arizona State Prison

Article: Narconon Established: Battling Addiction

Article: Narconon Fighting Addiction

Photo: First Narconon Group - Arizona State Prison

The Narconon history.