A drug rehabilitation group offering counselling based on the controversial teachings of the Church of Scientology is to move its UK base to Heathfield.
Narconon, which up until now has operated mainly out of the United States, promotes the theories of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard and has been widelycriticised by mainstream medicine.
But project director Sheila MacLean said the centre, at The Grange in Maynards Green Road, would provide an alternative to conventional treatment to help get people off drugs.
“The majority of our programme is about education and helping people to return to the community,” she said.
“By that I mean life improvement courses – we do not take on those who need a medical detox.
“The next stage is a detox programme – two to three weeks of sweating out the residues to get the drugs out of their system.
“And then our next objective is the use of vitamins and supplements because most addicts have a chronic lack of vitamins in their system.”
Mrs MacLean said work has already started on the centre to provide 18 beds, but no date had been set for its opening.
Narconon has been a registered charity in this country since 1974 but begun life in the US when a former inmate of Arizona State Prison wrote to the Scientology founder asking for advice on battling drug addiction.
Although the organisation admits it is linked to Scientology’s teachings, Mrs MacLean said the programme at Heathfield would be secular and there would be a big emphasis on training Narconon counsellors to work elsewhere.
But residents living nearby warned the organisation to be open about its aims.
Michael Bustard, of West Street Lane, Maynards Green, said: “My view is there are people who have drug problems and anything that can be done to help them out of that situation is good.
“But as a local resident one is worried about what it is going to be.
“Let’s keep our minds open but they need to communicate.
“They have to be honest and open with people – to tell the community what it is Narconon wants to do, not make a secret of it.”
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