Alarm over drug treatment group
Fri 5 May 2006
COUNSELLING experts have issued a warning about a drug and alcohol treatment group operating in the Capital, linked to the controversial "Church" of Scientology.
The group, called Narconon Scotland, is targeting the city's drug and alcohol addicts to join its rehabilitation programme.
Leaflets have been put through doors in Leith and Muirhouse urging addicts or their families to get in touch. The leaflets contain no references to the quasi-"religious" group despite using the principles of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard to treat addicts.
The group was banned from Edinburgh University's student union in 2004 after concerns were raised that posters it had put up about counselling services might be used to recruit new members for Scientology.
Support groups today raised fears about Narconon Scotland's credentials and methods for treating people with drug and alcohol problems, which have been described as "unconventional".
Tom Wood, chairman of the Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Action Team, said: "We know of this group but we would only ever encourage people to attend credible counselling groups. I would advise people to be careful about engaging with any group that does not make its qualifications clear."
Narconon, which claims to have helped 250,000 people overcome drug and alcohol addictions, was formed in 1966 by William Benitez, a former heroin addict, with the help of Hubbard - a science fiction writer.
Peter Anderson, rough sleepers manager with Edinburgh homeless charity Streetwork, said he was concerned about people being going to Narconon.
He said: "They don't make clear exactly what they do, what it will cost and what is involved, so it does make you cautious.
"What we need is the addicts in this city working with professional and approved agencies not a group that comes along and offers unproven methods that might confuse the treatment picture."
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Drug Forum said: "Perhaps this case underlines the urgent need for more properly validated methods for drug treatment than are currently available."
Narconon did not respond when contacted for comment.
Scientology is a system of beliefs, and practices created by American science-fiction author L Ron Hubbard in 1952.
Promoted as a "religion", scientologists are dedicated to self improvement through counselling and rehabilitation.
But critics claim it is a fake "religion" based on making money from and exploiting its followers.
One of the most high profile followers is Tom Cruise. His fiancee Katie Holmes recently gave birth to the couple's daughter, Suri, according to the principles of Scientology, which say a woman must give birth in silence. "