A group opposing Narconon’s plans for a drug rehab center at Trout Run is gathering support.
The group, which started on Facebook as “No Narconon at Trout Run,” met Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening with Thurmont resident Mark Long moderating questions and a presentation by former Narconon graduate and former staff member David E. Love.
About 20 people attended each meeting. The group started discussing a plan of action Wednesday night.
Members of the group are concerned about Narconon, an organization that provides drug rehabilitation programs that uses methods developed by the Church of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Narconon’s proposal for a “residential drug rehabilitation center” at the 40-acre Trout Run site near Thurmont hinges on the approval of the Frederick County Council.
“My focus is to make sure the council votes no,” Long said.
Love told the group at both meetings that Narconon’s drug treatment program would be a detriment to the county.
“You do have a very evil entity coming to town,” he said.
Love and two other former Scientologists at the meeting said the Narconon program left clients with post-traumatic stress disorder and broken families.
Craig Tyler, a Frederick resident and member of the “No Narconon” group, wanted to take action.
“What do we do? How do we stop this?” he said.
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Long responded.
County residents who attended the meetings included psychologists and people with experience in drug rehabilitation services.
Jim Lamott, a clinical neuropsychologist based in Frederick, said he has been familiar with Narconon for about as long as it had been around.
He was concerned that the language Narconon uses obscures its actual practices from clients. The program is “abuse masquerading as rehabilitation,” he said.
The property owner has submitted plans to convert Trout Run into a rehabilitation center for 12 live-in clients, referred to as “students” in the proposal.
The center would have five more beds for treatment and withdrawal and would accommodate eight staff living on-site and eight staff living off-site.
Patient programs would last for about six weeks, according to the plans, though Love and former Scientologists at the meeting said the program may take three months or longer.
According to Narconon’s website, the saunas used in their treatment purge toxins from the body that may have built up after a period of drug abuse.
Narconon Eastern U.S. Executive Director Yvonne Rodgers said their program “has been studied and or reviewed scientifically and objectively for 40 years.”
She referred to a paper presented at an Environmental Protection Agency conference in 1998 detailing Hubbard’s detoxification method as applied to victims of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, where people were acutely exposed to radiation and lived in a contaminated environment.
Twenty-four male subjects received the Hubbard treatment, which was a daily regimen of 30 minutes of jogging and up to 4½ hours of alternation between a “moderate temperature sauna” and a cool-down. Vitamin and mineral supplementation was also part of the program, according to the paper.
The researchers concluded that “in spite of its robust regimen, there is an absence of negative health effects.”
The Narconon program is secular, church representatives and Narconon representatives have said, and welcomes people regardless of faith or religious background.
Rodgers responded to Love and others’ claims that Frederick County residents would not be treated at Trout Run.
“Of course Narconon Trout Run would treat residents from Frederick County as well as anyone else who needs our help,” Rodgers said.
The corporation that owns Trout Run — Social Betterment Properties International — is itself owned by the Church of Scientology, Rodgers said.
The corporation “owns properties which they have leased to two or three different Narconon centers,” Rodgers said.
The “No Narconon” group is planning a meeting in the near future to find out what action may be taken to oppose the organization’s plan to settle in at Trout Run. The Facebook group has about 230 members.