Will there be a couch-jumping epidemic in British schools soon? A report conducted by the Evening Standard has found that Narconon, a Scientology-based program, is being used in schools across the country to promote an anti-drug message.
The investigation reveals that tens of thousands of students, including some as young as 10, have been exposed to the program which has been accused of acting as a “soft introduction” to Scientology. Approximately 35,000 students took part in the Narconon program in 2016, including over 16,000 in London.
“We have known for years that Scientologists have been targeting schools through drugs education packages,” David Nutt, former chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said to the Evening Standard. “They are the main provider of teaching aids to schools, as neither government nor local authorities put any money into this topic. It’s an outrage.”
Aside from exposing young children to an alleged cult and potentially indoctrinating them into a belief system that includes claims that humans are inhabited by the spirits of aliens, Narconon also promotes unrealistic standards of substance abuse rehabilitation.
It claims to be a “highly effective drug-free withdrawal, detoxification and rehabilitation program, which utilizes techniques developed by L. Ron Hubbard.” Proponents say it rids addicts of their addictions and future cravings through a drug-free withdrawal process, as well as vitamins, running and hours-long sauna treatments. The inspiration for the program stems from an account of a 1960s prisoner who is said to have cured himself of his addictions while incarcerated by studying the principles of Hubbard.
Not surprisingly, the program has come under fire from medical professionals.
“[Narconon has] a lot of underlying assumptions that are not borne out by the current state of scientific literature,” Dr. Thomas Brown, an addiction scientist at McGill University, said to The Fix.
Students seem to be especially attractive to Narconon, David Touretzky, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said in the Evening Standard expose.
“The first step is to get people to see L. Ron Hubbard as a benevolent authority figure instead of a sociopathic cult leader. The drug education programme is just about taking that first step.”
Many of the schools’ administrators were oblivious to Narconon’s ties to Scientology, and some teachers who sat in on presentations said that the discussion was strictly on drug prevention. One student at Camden School for Girls in London, however, alleges that during one of the Narconon presentations, Hubbard was described as “a great humanitarian.”
While Camden council has advocated against using Narconon in schools, the Department of Education says that each individual school is responsible for vetting their guest speakers.
Scientology counts many celebrities among its followers, including Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kelly Preston and Elizabeth Moss.