Narconon describes itself as an "alternative" drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that emphasizes communication, self-control and drug-free detoxification in accordance with the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the late science fiction writer and founder of the Church of Scientology.
The program claims a "success rate" of up to 76-percent. But even the organization’s own expert court witness in the lawsuit filed by Patrick Desmond’s parents against Narconon of Georgia cast doubt on that figure.
Speaking during a deposition in the case, Dr. Louis A. Casal was asked by plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Harris if he believe that 76-percent success ratio to be accurate. Below is part of that deposition:
Dr. Casal: Mr. Harris, I'll be honest with you, that's a big number.
Attorney Harris: Yeah, it's - it's a real big number.
Casal: It's a big number.
Harris: And it's completely inconsistent…
Casal: I hope it's true, but, 1 mean, I would need some convincing.
Harris: Yeah, well, it's completely inconsistent with what most drug and alcohol treatment facilities experience in terms of their success rate; you'd agree with that?
Casal: Yes, I would.
Harris: And what is a success - well, first of all how do we define success rate?
Casal: Abstinence to a certain number of years, depending on how mu - how far out you want to - you know, complete abstinence for either six, 12 or 24 months is what I've seen in the literature, and - and the numbers vary quite - largely anywhere between, you know, roughly speaking, 20 to 80 percent is - is what I've seen in –
Harris: Depending upon how far you go out in terms of the length of time that they've abstained?
Casal: Yes, sir. Right. How many people have - are still abstinent after six months or 12 months or 24 months. And the numbers are all over the - all over the map. You know, I can answer -I can give you an answer to the question I'm thinking about. I'm thinking, you know, if I had one-third of my patients sober after one year, I would be jumping for joy.
The extended use of a sauna and extremely high doses of niacin are also key parts of the Narconon detoxification program (see "Narconon Program Description" http://www.wsbradio.com/documents/2012/sep/30/narconon-program-description/). Clients take hundreds of milligrams of niacin and sit in the sauna for periods of up to five hours except for short break periods with the idea that the vitamin and heat together rid their bodies of the toxins associated with drug addiction. Again, during his deposition in the Patrick Desmond case, Narconon’s expert witness, Dr. Casal, admitted that was not true.
HARRIS: Have you looked at the Narconon literature on what Narconon contends the benefits from the sauna program are?
CASAL: Yes, I have.
HARRIS: And the sauna program, what Narconon contends is that in - it in fact detoxifies your body. True?
HARRIS: But there's no scientific basis that you can point me to to support that contention, is there, sir?
CASAL: You're correct.
HARRIS: So when Narconon states that the sauna program detoxifies its students, you're not aware, as a medical doctor, of any scientific basis for that contention?
CASAL: I agree.
HARRIS: The vitamin regimen. You're familiar with the vitamin regimen?
CASAL: Yes, sir.
HARRIS: What - do you have an opinion about whether or not the vitamin regimen is effective at treating addiction?
CASAL: I believe that it has very likely no bearing whatsoever on the treatment of addiction.