by Dr. Megan Shields
I have been associated with the Narconon program for nearly 20 years. As a medical doctor practicing in a family medical clinic serving a broad cross-section of the public, I have seen the increase in persons arriving in my clinic who have damaged themselves and the lives of those around them as a result of alcohol and other drug abuse. No different than any other doctor, I have observed with sorrow the increasing numbers of people who descend at a frightening rate from what they certainly thought was “experimentation” or “recreation” into compulsion to use, and addiction to drugs.
I have never liked the concept of using drugs and medications to solve the problems created by drugs and medication. There is a place for medication, but it is defined and limited. Therefore, from the very beginning of my practice it was a serious concern for me to know where I could refer patients for help either for themselves or for a family member or friend.
As a doctor it was evident to me that the long-term physical, mental and emotional consequences of drug use had something to do with the residual effects of the drugs themselves. This was clearly the case as well with environmental and industrial toxins and such poisons as lead in wall paint eaten by children, firemen inhaling smoke fumes containing toxins, etc.
Customary medical procedures held no solution to this problem of drug and toxic residuals. Various “treatments” have been proffered, ranging from the psychiatric viewpoint of getting the person to believe the problem he was experiencing from toxins was all in his mind, to the administration of drugs to suppress the symptoms exhibited. These “treatments” only served to compound the problem. But with the release of the Sauna Detoxification Program , I discovered that we had a solution at hand.
The depression, hopelessness and fear which so often accompany such problems were evident in many of my patients. Upon completion of the program, to which I had referred them, these persons were changed both physically and mentally. The common theme expressed by those who had completed it is that they were no longer encumbered by the chemicals which were shutting off their lives. They expressed increased mental clarity and new hope for the future. Their lives upon completion of the program were happier, healthier, and more productive. Beyond the detoxification program, the benefits of the practical skills courses were an important part of their stable recovery. I was pleased to see even the most “hard-core”, seemingly hopeless cases recuperate and salvage their lives.
There is not often good news in our struggle with the consequences of alcohol and other drug abuse in our society. I am happy to say that Narconon drug and alcohol rehab treatment program is good news. I encourage you to review it carefully and consider utilizing it. Many years ago I did and I have been able to save many lives as a result.
Respectfully, Megan Shields, MD
|Dr. Shields graduated from the Medical College of Virginia and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice. She is a frequent presenter at conferences on Substance Abuse and Public Health as well as being the author of many scientific papers on the role of detoxification.
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