Narconon, which is supposed to mean "no narcosis" or "no drugs", is a thinly-veiled version of Scientology aimed at people with substance abuse problems. Its longtime celebrity spokesperson, actress Kirstie Alley, is an avowed Scientologist, and most, if not all, Narconon employees are also Scientologists. Even though the cult vehemently claims that Narconon is not Scientology, it doesn't take much research to verify Scientology's ownership of Narconon and its related trademarks. Official Narconon literature claims the program originated in the 1960s by a prisoner in Arizona who applied some of L. Ron Hubbard's principles and cured himself of his drug addiction. The core "treatment" of Narconon is a strenuous regimen known in Scientology as the "Purification Rundown", which includes exercise, extended use of a sauna, and dangerously high doses of niacin to "flush out" any traces of drugs stored in the body's fatty tissue.
In addition to the sweat and niacin, Narconon applies an intensive series of mental drills lifted right out of the beginning Scientology manuals. The "training routines" reward unresponsiveness and the ability of the subject to retreat into a trancelike state. Critics have long argued that the TRs are an exceedingly effective way to brainwash new recruits by systematically breaking down their critical thought abilities.
It's one thing for someone to knowingly join Scientology (or any other cult for that matter), but Narconon is much more insidious, since it preys on addicts who may not be able to act in their own best interests. Worse yet are the naive government agencies that endorse the program because they haven't discovered that Scientology lurks beneath Narconon. Companies and individuals who merely throw money at charities, instead of rolling up their sleeves and doing actual volunteer work, have often been suckered into to funding Scientology by supporting Narconon. After all, what could be wrong with a drug treatment program?
Narconon keeps a tenuous grip on credibility by creating sham accreditation bodies, which give it rave reviews, and by locating much of their operations on Indian land, as with their Chilocco facility in Oklahoma. Every now and then, a well-meaning judge is hoodwinked into sending drug offenders to a Narconon center as part of their sentence, and schools nationwide have paid Narconon representatives millions to make speeches on campus about drug abuse. By latching onto society's problem with drug abuse, Narconon diverts millions of dollars away from real treatment programs, as well as channeling "fresh meat" into the cult of Scientology.