At this point in time it is still up in the air how the Frederick County Council will vote in regards to the historical designation of the Trout Run property. Councilmen Billy Shreve and Kirby Delauter seem really anxious to approve, Jerry Donald not so much, and the remaining four have been more tightly lipped. While I do not believe that Trout Run is deserving of a historic distinction, I believe that Narconon, a branch of the Church of Scientology, will eventually get their way.
So what will that mean for Frederick County? Will we get a much-needed drug treatment facility in a state that has declared a state of emergency in regard to its heroin problem? Not likely.
First, a little history of Narconon. This program originated in the Arizona prison system. Its founder was a heroin-addicted inmate by the name of William Benitez, who came up with the program after reading a tattered copy of L.Ron Hubbard’s “The Fundamentals of Thought.” Benitez wrote to Hubbard, who in return encouraged the program, even offering him the assistance of the Phoenix branch of the Church of Scientology. The program itself consists of some questionable and potentially dangerous practices.
Narconon believes that you can sweat out the toxins present in your body due to your addiction, a premise refuted by many prominent toxicologists. So, if you enter this program you can expect to spend up to five hours a day sweating for no real discernable purpose. You will also be expected to ingest a variety of vitamins (niacin in particular), minerals and a special drink called Cal Mag. While claiming to be a non-religious program not associated with the Church of Scientology, you will be expected to study and learn all about L. Ron Hubbard and his teachings.
Narconon has been the subject to allegations of fraud and wrongful death suits due to their unproven methods throughout the United States. In 2013, they had to surrender their license to Georgia state officials after complaints of insurance fraud and that the program was operating illegally as a residential unit. Three patients at the Oklahoma Arrowhead center died between 2011 and 2012. Lawsuits have been filed in all three cases. Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop went as far as to say, “My recommendation about detoxification is to keep away from it. You don’t need it. I’m not sure it does what this book describes. It’s dangerous. I don’t think L. Ron Hubbard has credibility in the scientific world. The author’s suggestions about detoxification can be detrimental to your health.”
So while Councilman Kirby Delauter may not care “what kind of drapes you have, what kind of flooring you have”, many of us do. If Narconon is allowed to operate in Frederick County it will surely be a decision we will come to regret. We need reliable, proven methods to deal with our drug problem. Not one based upon the teachings of a science fiction writer whose main objective was making a whole bunch of money.
Shannon Green writes from Frederick.
(Due to an editor’s error, Narconon was misspelled in the headline.)