May 21, 2017

Former 'students' claim core focus of Australian drug rehabilitation centre is converting addicts to Scientologists

A Current Affair
May 19, 2017

A former staff member at a controversial drug rehabilitation program claims the core focus of the treatment is Scientology conversion.

A Current Affair has spoken to many ex-Narconon students and their families - who are too frightened to appear on camera - that claim they were mistreated within the facility.

Students at the facility in Warburton, east of Melbourne, are expected to consume huge amounts of vitamins, yell at inanimate objects and spend hours in saunas.

The practise has been linked to deaths at Narconon centres in the US.

No doctors or psychologists are on-site to help addicts and it's kilometres away from a hospital or police station.

But despite this, desperate families regularly pay $30,000 to get treatment for their drug-addicted loved ones.

Alan - who has asked for his surname to be withheld - worked at the facility as a chef for several years.

He says students were often violent and there was nowhere near enough security.

A private security company is currently suing the Scientology-backed rehabilitation centre over more than $150,000 in unpaid bills for round-the-clock sniffer and guard dogs.

Students at the facility work on a course based on the teachings of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard.

Alan says management expected staff to do the course, but he refused.

The former Narconon chef is an ashmatic and once suffered an attack while working.

"I Actually had an asthma attack there one day and they did one of their things, which they do, which is called a Body Com and they'll put their hands on you and they'll go, 'can you feel my hands?' And you'll say, 'yes,' and they'll thank you. They'll put their hands around your body and say, 'can you feel my hands?' 'Yes, thank you.' 'Can you feel my hands?' 'Yes, thank you,'" Alan said.

Despite being asthmatic, Alan claims management refused to allow him to use Ventolin.

"I used to keep my Ventolin hidden. They knew I was an asthmatic, but I'd keep it well hidden so no one saw it. They never saw me take it. I'd just go to the back of the kitchen if I had to," he said.

Australian Therapeutic Communities Association executive officer Dr Lynn Magor-Blatch is highly sceptical of the controversial treatment methods.

"If you are coming in to treatment or your family member is coming in to treatment, you obviously want to know what you're getting is based on the best practise and also evidence, so that also includes qualified staff to actually run the place and give the person the best treatment that they need," Dr Magor-Blatch said.

"In terms of actually helping them to work through their drug and alcohol problem, to work through the underlying issues, there's no evidence to say that (Narconon) is actually good practise."

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon wants Narconon shut down and has slammed the Victorian Government for leasing public land to the Scientology-backed company.

"What's happening at Narconon highlights the fact that there is inadequate regulation or no regulation when it comes to treating people with substance abuse," Senator Xenaphon said.

"If any government is giving a leg up to Narconon, they should demand accountability for the fact that they're effectively getting taxpayer help to operate. They should demand transparency in their books, they should demand accountability in their treatment programs."

"When you have people so vulnerable, so desperate for help, to be roped in to something that appear to be a front for Scientology is just not on."

No comments: