Results of the Narconon Program: An Overview of Findings
The Narconon Program vs. Traditional Treatment
The Narconon program addresses all aspects of addiction, with the result being that 76% of those graduating the Narconon program are drug-free two years later. This is in contrast to the 16%-20% of more traditional programs.
Results of the Narconon Program: Key Findings
The Narconon program was originally set up for incarcerated populations. The program has been delivered in a variety of institutional settings. Several means of monitoring the programs effects have been used:
1) Parolees who had taken Narconon program courses at the California Dept. of Corrections, The California Institute for Women, the Arizona Correctional Authority and Riker’s Island Institute for Men in New York were tracked.
On average, 73% of Narconon program clients released from prison remained clean while on parole.
2) Youth at the Youth Training School of the California Youth Authority had the opportunity to participate in a Narconon program. The behavior of youth at the facility was monitored by the number of infractions, the number of restrictions, and the grade being achieved in trade school.
Those youth who participated in the Narconon program showed positive changes in each of these measures compared to other youth at the same facility who did not participate. In fact, the number of infractions and the number of restrictions of non-participants increased while the numbers for Narconon program clients decreased.
3) Narconon program clients at the State Reformatory for Men in Minnesota showed improvements in the number of rule infractions of which they were found guilty, of the days of lost privileges, and the days of segregation. These changes were evident during both program delivery and follow up time periods.
4) Parolees from the Delaware Correctional Center were tracked. 70% of the Narconon program clients had no arrest during the follow up period, compared to 36% of the control population.
Narconon programs have been delivering services to non-incarcerated populations since 1972.
1) In surveys of graduates from facilities located in Connecticut, Boston and West Berlin, employment was almost doubled, arrests were greatly reduced, and the vast majority (as much as 90%) reported that they were no longer using drugs.
2) In a study conducted in Spain, over 75% of graduates remained free of drugs. Whereas almost 90% had been actively involved with crime before the Narconon program, none were involved with crime afterwards.
The Narconon program is effective, both in reducing drug abuse and in improving the behavior of clients.
The Narconon organization is a public benefit, non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that is committed to the elimination of substance abuse. Founded in 1966, Narconon centers have supplied drug rehabilitation treatment and education/prevention services for 28 years. The Narconon approach is based on techniques developed by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard.
Each component of the Narconon program is designed to increase the abilities of the client. The initial program included courses and drills designed to increase the client’s communication skills, study skills and orientation to the environment. Over the years the program has expanded to address additional needs of the substance abuser. The Narconon program now includes drug-free withdrawal, detoxification, and specific courses designed to increase the client’s communication skills, study skills, orientation to the environment, understanding of moral principles, and preparation for work.
The Narconon program was founded in Arizona State Prison and initially expanded predominately to other prison facilities. In 1972, Narconon centers began delivering services to the public at its first residential facility in Los Angeles. There are currently 37 Narconon facilities worldwide. The majority of these facilities provide drug rehabilitation services to the public in a residential setting.
2. Results of the Narconon Program in the Prison Setting:
Several evaluations of the Narconon program have been conducted. Evaluations of Narconon programs being delivered to incarcerated populations have focused on objective measures of behavior, including the involvement of clients with the criminal justice system during and after parole.
Surveys of Narconon Program Graduates:
Simple tabulations of the behavior of parolees were done in several institutions in the 1970’s:
A) The California Dept. of Corrections reported on 19 inmates who had participated in the Narconon program while in prison. 17 had been paroled. 12 of these were reported as clean (70%). Of the five remaining, 2 were not found, 2 had been arrested and one was suspended due to cocaine use.
B) In a study conducted in Spain, over 75% of graduates remained free of drugs. Whereas almost 90% had been actively involved with crime before doing the Narconon program, none were involved with crime afterwards.
C) The California Institute for Women reported on 25 Narconon clients. 23 had been paroled. 18 of these were clean (78%). Of the remaining, 3 were parolees at large and 2 had been arrested.
D) The Arizona Correctional Authority reported on 76 Narconon clients who had been released from prison. 32 were found. 24 of these were clean (75%).
E) The Narconon organization’s Executive Director compiled a report on Narconon clients at the Riker’s Island Institute for Men in New York. Of the 81 clients who had started the voluntary course, 43 had completed the initial program. 21 of these had been paroled and 17 were contacted. 14 of these were clean (82% of those found, 67% of total parolees).
Overall, around 73% of the Narconon clients released from prison remained clean while on parole in these follow up surveys.
Evaluations of the Narconon
California Youth Authority: The effectiveness of the Narconon program in changing behavior was studied at the Youth Training School (YTS) of the California Youth Authority. This study was aimed at monitoring objective measures of behavior. Therefore, the evaluators tabulated the number of infractions, the number of restrictions, and the grade being achieved in trade school.
Narconon program clients were defined as those students who regularly attended meetings for one to four months. Controls had not participated in the Narconon program. 14 clients were compared to 27 randomly selected controls.
On average, the youth participating in the program had been at the Youth Training School for 5 months prior to program start. They continued at the school for 4 to 8 months.
Therefore, the three measures were compared for the first 5 months versus the balance of the school program for both Narconon clients and controls. This comparison was designed to assess any change in behavior following the Narconon program.
The average grade in trade school for both Narconon clients and the control group increased over the course of the program. The increase in grade level was more pronounced for those in the Narconon program.
Minnesota Reformatory: Narconon program clients at the State Reformatory for Men in Minnesota were evaluated by Posthumos and Snowden in 1978. The authors chose to evaluate the change in behavior of Narconon clients with time, considering the pre-treatment behavior pattern as the control for this population. These authors were also interested in monitoring objective measures of behavior. The measures available, which the institute monitored as part of its standard operation, included:
(1) Institutional rule infractions that the inmates were found guilty of,
(2) Days of lost privileges, and
(3) Days of segregation.
The number of infractions were tabulated for the 6 months prior to treatment, the time during treatment and the 6 months after treatment with the Narconon program. These results are reported as the number of infractions per 100 inmates per 30 day period.
During follow-up there was also an improvement in these measures, though less than that observed while on the program. Guilty findings were reduced by 40%, days of lost privileges by 15% and days of segregation by 28%. The decrease in guilty findings was statistically significant during both treatment and follow up.
For comparison, a tabulation of 10% of the prison population, randomly selected, was also done. Measures were tabulated for an initial 3 months and compared to a later 3 month period. In contrast to the findings for Narconon program clients. each of these measures increased with time in the average prison population. The number of guilty findings increased by 77%, the days of lost privileges by 169% and the days of segregation by 26%. The Narconon program was effective in reversing this negative trend.
There was a difference between the Narconon program participants and the general prison population. The Narconon program attracted more property offenders than personal offenders. Whereas the prison population included 58% personal and 42% property offenders, the Narconon program clientele included 33% personal and 58% property offenders. The Narconon program was especially effective at reducing the above negative measures in property offenders while they were on the program. Long term, however, both property and personal offenders benefited approximately equally.
This study also compared the results of the program in its first and second 6 months of operation. The results improved in the second 6 months as the treatment staff became more familiar with the prison population.
The Narconon program delivered in the Delaware Correctional Center was evaluated in 1975. The Narconon program clients were, on average, more violent and were serving a longer term than the average for the population. The mean sentence was 5 years for Narconon clients versus less than one year for the total population. 58% of Narconon clients were incarcerated for a major crime whereas 23% of the total population were incarcerated for a major crime.
Narconon Program Graduates Arrest Rate:
The arrest rates for Narconon program graduates following release were compared to the rates for a randomly selected group of parolees. The Narconon program group was composed of all graduates of the communication course who had been paroled. Of the 86 Narconon program parolees, 4 were not found and 2 were dead. Therefore the treated population consisted of 80 clients.
The control group was composed of the first 100 parolees released following the mean date for release of the Narconon program clients. Two were excluded as they had done part of the Narconon program and 11 were not found. The control group comprised 87 individuals.
Deleware Correctional Center:
Parolees Not Arrested
Figure 1: Deleware Parolees not arrested after release.
70% of the Narconon program clients had no arrest during the follow up period, compared to 36% of the control population. (Figure 1)
Further, the amount of training the Narconon program clients had completed was positively correlated with successful rehabilitation. 84% of those clients who had done one or more courses beyond the communications course had no further arrest compared to 62% for those who had completed only the communications course. (Figure 1)
These findings support the concept that the Narconon program is effective in bringing about positive behavioral changes in the incarcerated population.
3. Evaluations of Narconon Residential Programs:
Survey of Program Results
The Narconon program has been delivering services to non-incarcerated populations since 1972. Currently, the majority of the Narconon programs deliver drug rehabilitation services to the public in residential facilities. The main criteria tracked in surveys have been the number of clients off drugs, involvement with the criminal justice system, and employment status.
The Connecticut survey was done shortly after program completion, the West Berlin study 7 months after graduation and the Boston study shortly after program completion.
In each of these surveys, the majority of the Narconon program graduates were no longer using drugs. Where monitored, their involvement with the criminal justice system had lessened and their employment improved. None earned money from crime after.
The Narconon program appears beneficial in both reducing drug abuse and reducing involvement with crime.
These results align with an independent study of the Narconon facilities done in Spain in 1985. In this study, an independent sociology group called Teenicos Asociados de Investigacion y Marketing (TAIM) evaluated the Narconon program. TAIM had also done studies on drug issues for the Ministry of Health, the Social Services Department of the Town Hall of Madrid, and the National Institute of Social Services of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security of Spain.
The Spanish study showed that 78.4 percent of the people who completed the Narconon program remained off drugs. Overall, 69.2 percent of the people contacted (including those who had not graduated) were still off drugs.
TAIM Study: Drug Use and Crime of Clients
Figure 2: TAIM Study – Change in Drug Use and Involvement with Crime after Graduation.
The Narconon program also had a profound effect on the criminal activities of clients. Before doing the Narconon program, 62.2 percent of the participants admitted having committed robberies and 73 percent had been dealing drugs. Only 10.8 percent of the participants did not previously engage in criminal activity. The study revealed that no criminal activities were reported by any of the Narconon program graduates after graduation.
Regarding relationships with their families, 67.6 percent of Narconon program graduates said that their family situation was now much better, 29.7 percent said that it had changed for the better and only 2.7 percent said that it was the same. No one stated that it had changed for the worse.
Evaluation of Recent Narconon Program Graduates:
Narconon program clients generally take from three to five months to complete the program, though some take significantly longer and a few have completed the program in two months. Each step is designed to address an area that virtually all substance abusers need to improve. The order of components is carefully laid out to utilize prior tools and prepare the student for the next step. The ideal situation is that every Narconon program client completes the full program.
The percentage of program completions is therefore an important measure of the success of this program. The number of clients completing the program internationally in 1990 was 789 (39% of starts), in 1991 was 1,019 (51% of starts) and in 1992 was 1,084 (56% of starts). (see Figure 3)