Letters, We Get Mail, LXIV

Date: Wed, August 9, 2006 3:41 am
From: "Eric F."
Subject: truth in an AA meeting; smoking

Hey Orange, hope this finds you well. I wanted to drop you a note about the recent goings on in my life. I quit smoking at the first of the year but picked them up again in May ( I guess that means I was a "dry smoker"? "smokeless smoker"? "still had a smoker's mind"? LOL) I'm quitting them again this morning — on my own power, much like I did when I quit taking the first drink. I had quit going to AA meetings for a while because I had to do it to get the last vestiges of the cult programming out of my head. I recently returned to the meetings for a couple of reasons. First, there are some good people that I really care for there. Second, and more importantly, there are a growing number of like minded people there who have seen through the lies and refuse to bow to the groupthink pressure. We keep going because we want to offer some real and solid advice to the people who are just beginning to get sober. The great thing is that there are some people who have only been exposed to the AA poison for a year or so who are starting to come around and wake up to the fact that they have been decieved. This has caused no end to the consternation of the old-timers in the group. What really cements things for the people who listen to me is how I tell them that the old-timers will caome and warn them about being around me because I am "spiritually sick" and other such slander.

Hi again, Eric,

It's good to hear from you again. Yes, please quit smoking again, and stay quit. The life you save may be more than just your own.

I've been going back through the propaganda and debating techniques page this morning. Thanks again for putting such a valuable tool online for us. It has such great info for people looking for the truth about AA and for those of us who wish to expose the lies. I admit, though, that I have to use some of these same techniques at times. But when I use them and then demonstrate the parallel from the AA literature, the light bulbs begin to turn on!

Yes. Sometimes I find myself in that situation too. By and large though, I find that I can get by with using only the good (honest, truthful, non-deceptive) ones.

Another thing that I felt that I had to do in a meeting was to announce that if I ever heard of any sponsors telling someone to quit taking medication prescribed to them by a Doctor or Psychiatrist, then I would turn them in to the Attorney General's office for investigation of practicing medicine without a license. That got me some evil looks from the old-timers, but a lot of people came and thanked me for saying that. Apparently there is a lot more pressure to quit psychiatric medications than even I realized.

Far out!! Givem' hell. Telling people not to take their doctor-prescribed medications is just so stupid — homicidally stupid, and pig-headed and obtuse and superstitious.

I really enjoyed James' site, BlameDenial. I'm sorry that he feels the need to back out of the endeavor, but I truly hope he finds peace and happiness. My plans are to start writing my experiences of being indoctrinated into 12 step cultism and my recovery from the 12 steps, probably in a blog type of forum. I have a politcal blog that draws a small amount of traffic, but I know how to get quick bursts of hits when needed. I think that the more things like that we can get out there with the truth in them, the more people can be reached and helped.

James is back at it. He decided not to quit the project after all. He has new videos up too.

If you would be interested in starting a message board for the orange papers site, I would be glad to help. It can be done free of charge on proboards or something like that.

Funny coincidence — I've been thinking the same thing. I know that there is some popular free software for doing it out there; it's just a matter of find it and install it. There was something like a message board on my previous host but I never used it. After the experience with Rick Ross and his "forum", it occurred to me that I could do a better job of it just by not censoring people.

Have a great day, enjoy your waterfowl and sunshine, and know that there are legions of people grateful to you.

Eric A. F.
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewByAuthor.asp?authorID=754 — a link to my published articles at The American Chronicle

[2nd letter from Eric:]

Date: Wed, August 9, 2006 4:35 pm
From: "Eric F."
Subject: Recovering from Recovery blog

Hey Orange, hope your day was great. I've started my blog that I mentioned in my email this morning, The title is "Recovering from Recovery" and can be found at http://freedomfrom12steps.blogspot.com/. I'll put up a link to your site in the side bar. Thanks again for all the work you've done to bring the truth about AA out in the open. You've been an inspiration to myself and many others.

Eric A. F.

Well thanks for the compliment, and good luck with your blog.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "Laughter is the best medicine,
**   and it's cheaper.
**   == Victor Borge

Date: Wed, August 9, 2006 4:18 pm
From: "david s."
Subject: Thank You!

It takes a lot of guts to tell the truth about these folks.

Hi David,

Thanks for the compliment.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "When in the company of deluded people,
**    keep your own counsel."  ==  Buddha

Date: Thu, August 10, 2006 10:12 am
From: "Andy M."

Dear Orange,

I felt a need to write again just to express a bit of gratitude and appreciation for all the work you've put into this project. I had really been close to suicidal despair though long-term sober and drug-free because I felt so ostracized, discredited and belittled in AA as one of the few people who dared to think and speak for himself "in the rooms" locally. You can't win if you take part in this AA thing, you are always in the wrong if you disagree with, or object to, the "program". The AA hard-liners try to rob you of any credit for remaining sober by re-defining sobriety in some nebulous pseudo-spiritual way. It is very encouraging to see that the tide seems to be turning and there are intelligent and feeling people putting up a resistance to this totalitarian control. I used to think that AA was essentially a well-meaning organization, if a little misguided in some ways. Now I'm not so sure. The more one looks into it all, the more dubious it all seems.

Take care,

Hi Andy,

Thanks for all of the compliments, and I'm happy to hear that this web site helped you. That really makes it worth it.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** The finest structure can house the worst evil.

Date: Thu, August 10, 2006 4:20 pm
From: "Steve B."
Subject: Question

I have to start an alcohol treatment program which, will be requiring me to attend 4 AA meetings a week. I have 4 weeks to get a temp sponsor.

Is there anything I can do or say to cause every potential sponsor to not want to be my sponsor?

Hi Steve,

Darn! I think I'm answering this too late to do you any good. But my first attempt would be to start telling the truth about A.A. — the whole truth, the whole history, and all of the details in the crazy history of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob, and all of the untrue things that Bill wrote in the Big Book. Few true-believer oldtimers can handle that.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Telling lies about recovery isn't funny, and
**  it isn't spiritual, and it isn't okay.

Date: Fri, 11 Aug 2006 15:28
From: Steve

If you are the guy who wrote the orange-papers, I have a question for you:

How did you get and stay sober?

I tried to cut back and then quit with the help of my doctor. Did not work for very long. Then a fun-filled family intervention and a couple nights stay in detox followed by months of AA meetings didn't keep me sober. Then after having months of sobriety and a few lapses wound me up in a treatment center, I'm back in AA hoping for something, anything to keep me sober. I've tried Smart, but the online meetings are slow, tedious and boring.

I know the vast majority of people who quit do it on their own. I read Pete Hamill's memoir "A Drinking Life" and he just quit one day.

I read and could not believe most of the crap in Jim Frey's "A Million Little Pieces".

I read Caroline Knapp's "Drinking: A Love Story" and was amazed that she could quit drinking but not smoking and that killed her at 42 years old. Killed Bill, too.

I've been to your site many times but I never got an answer. How'd ya do it?


Hello Steve,

Thanks for the question.

Basically, I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and decided that I didn't want to die that way.

I had been really sick for a while, and despaired of ever recovering, and figured that the only thing to do was just stay stoned until the bitter end.

And I got evicted and ended up out on the streets. And a doctor told me to quit drinking or I would die.

And somehow, that convinced me to quit drinking. At first, I was thinking that I would quit for maybe 3 months, just long enough to get my feet back under me. But I was actually so sick that it got worse, and I came down with bronchitis and pneumonia, which prompted me to quit smoking too.

At the three month point, it seemed like I was even sicker. Not really, but it seemed like it. What really happened was that my mind cleared enough to become aware of just how sick I really was, and how much cognitive impairment and memory loss I had suffered, and things like that. So I resolved to stay sober for 3 years.

And then, at the three year point, I knew that I wanted to stay sober for a lot longer. Now I figure that it is for life.

When you talk about "making it", I get the feeling that what you really mean is, "Not relapsing."

As I just explained in another letter (here), it seems like recovery from addiction happens in two distinct phases.

  1. In phase one, you just fight to get unaddicted, to go through the pain and discomfort and disorientation of withdrawal, and to get out of the habit and lifestyle of routine consumption of something addicting.
  2. In phase two, the mind games start. That little voice in your head starts whispering,
    "Oh, it's been so long since we've had one. We've got a handle on it now. We've got it under control. Just one will be okay now."
    If you believe that addictive voice for a minute you are screwed.

Getting through phase one is hard, sometimes very hard, but it is still phase two that is deadly to so many people. They get fooled by that little voice yammering about how a little fun tonight will be okay, and they get sucked back into using something, and get readdicted.

Read about the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. Understanding how that thing works has been a life-saver to me. Staying clean and sober is largely a matter of just not getting fooled any more — not believing the little voice that insists that just one will be okay.

Staying sober for years is really just a matter of not having one, right now.
And not smoking for years is also just a matter of not having one, right now.
The trick is that it is always "right now".

I have the advantage of 30 years of quitting smoking, and getting fooled by that little voice so many times. I finally just got hip to the trip and don't get fooled by it any more.

And I have enough years of failure and readdiction to understand that "just one cigarette" really means smoking for another three years again, and "just one beer" really means drinking for another nine years.

And I clearly understand, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that many more years of drinking and smoking would kill me. That makes it actually pretty easy to stay clean and sober.

I simply decided that I don't want to die that way. It's not any fun.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  To ex-Congressman Mark Foley, who decided to hide in
**  an alcoholism treatment center: "Alcohol Abuse doesn't
**  need people like you besmirching its reputation."
**    ==  a comedy routine on the Randy Rhodes Show.

Date: Mon, October 9, 2006 7:51 am
From: "Steve B."
Subject: RE: Answer to your letter

Thanks for the personal response. I was wondering if I'd hear from you. The "Lizard Brain Addiction Monster" is spot on. That little addictive voice has been my downfall. I know where it's coming from now (damn my base brain). Now that I've been sober for 5 months, he talks to me once in awhile. I recognize the little bastard.

I've been reading Stanton Peele's "Love and Addiction" and it's pretty interesting.

Unfortunately for me, I've screwed up enough in the past that I'm going to have to go through the motions in AA for at least another 7 months to keep my wife happy. It's like being on probation even thought I've never been arrested for anything. The thing that really amazes me about AA is that the group actually worships alcohol like it's some kind of powerful entity. It's not.

Hi again, Steve,

Yes, right on. If you think about it for a while, the idea that a bottle of C2H5OH being more powerful than you are is absurd.

Heck, I have so much power over it that I can even light it on fire and burn it and use it to heat up a cup of coffee.

I have another alternative to AA for you: racingforrecovery.com. Todd Crandell was an addict for years and used AA to finally get himself sober. Now he's moved away from AA and has a program that doesn't follow the 12 steps. I met him recently and was impressed with what he had to say. He doesn't believe in powerlessness and neither do I. He doesn't believe in relapse. He believes in "rechoice".

I like your website a lot. There's so much information on the splash page that it's kind of overwhelming.

Keep on giving us the truth.

Take care.

steve b.

Thanks for all of the compliments, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Programming today is a race between software engineers
**  striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs,
**  and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better
**  idiots.  So far, the Universe is winning.  == Rich Cook

Date: Fri, August 11, 2006 8:43 pm
From: "kris k."
Subject: mumbo-jumbo

Dear Sir,

I have no idea what is the purpose of your article. Is it to argue with the validity of the 12 steps program" Or is to bash AA for its semi-religious character?

Either way, the phenomenon of the "dry drunk" does not depend on the number of years one managed to live without alcohol, but it depends on the quality of their life. If its' shit and they fell miserable, they should go go back to drinking — at least they'll feel less miserable.

From my own experience (and I'm not advocating AA, because I'm not a part of it) when it comes to recovery, you may stick your so called "will power" deep up your ass. It's pointless and a waste of one's time and energy.

The whole point of 12 steps (without all that semi-religious mumbo- jumbo) is to deal with underlying issues of any dependency — which is unresolved pain.
That's the whole point of the treatment.
And if you manage to do the step 7 you'll have a chance to experience something, you have never thought possible — Freedom and Happiness.

've been there, than that!
You obviously haven't, so maybe you should shut your mouth and keep quiet about the things you have no clue about.
Because you haven't experienced them!


Hello Kris,

I am not going to even waste my time responding to your accusations, because you are obviously not interested in learning the truth. You have chosen to devote your life to repeating superstitions and misconceptions, and angrily denouncing anyone who disagrees with you and challenges your erroneous beliefs.

What a waste of a life.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
** a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
** it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

Date: Sat, August 12, 2006 12:33 am
From: "Tim C."
Subject: Hi

Hello Mr. Orange,

I was wondering if you know how much money Bill Wilson made off of that movie based on him called 'My Name is Bill' or something like that. I was wondering, because I couldn't find that on your site.

I used to be a member of the AA cult and well it made my life even worse then before I went to it. I will explain later what happened to me in AA. It was not positive at all.

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the letter and congratulations on your escape from the cult.

That's an easy question to answer: Bill Wilson got no money from the movie "My Name is Bill W.", because he was long since dead. Bill Wilson died January 24, 1971, and the movie was made in 1989.

William G. Borchert wrote the screenplay. If anyone got any royalties, it was probably him.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If you persist in making criminals out of
**  alcoholics and addicts, you will find that
**  you have lots and lots of criminals. — Orange

Date: Sat, August 12, 2006 9:49 pm
From: "Charles K."
Subject: One more meeting

Attended one more meeting tonight, and the topic was the ever popular, "The first drink gets you drunk." There were only about 15 people there and it still ran over the allotted hour. Most of the "sharing" by the members sounded like they were trying to convince themselves of the truth of this fact. Why else would they speak for 5 to 10 minutes on such an easily understood concept? Others seemed not to have integrated their personalities, and talked about their diseased minds (and some of these people had up to 10 years of "clean" time) lying in wait for them, running parallel to their recovery.

All that needed to be said is, "Alcohol changes the way I look at the world, and today I have the resolve and choose to look life straight in the eye without alcohol".

This aside I have found some very good friends in AA who have helped through some very trying times, when escape from reality looked good to me. For me its more about good people (and there are some assholes in a AA like anywhere) caring about one another. I had too many problems caused by my drinking, now my probems are real and I have people who help me. As for God I could write a seven page essay. Suffice it to say too many AA's use God as a cosmic aspirin.

Agent Green

Hi Agent Green,

Thanks for the letter, and the story.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Argue for your limitations, and sure
** enough, they're yours."  == Richard Bach

[another letter from Charles K.:]

Date: Mon, August 14, 2006 2:39 pm
From: "Charles K."
Subject: No coincidences in A. A.?

Sat through another A. A. meeting today and I had to smile rather than grind my teeth as I heard many people use the catch phrase, "there are no such things as coincidences". If there are no coincidences then the meaning of the word is useless. In the extreme, to use such a phrase in the negative implies the word coincidence should not even exist.

The sloppy thinking and trashing of the English language in A. A. never ceases to amaze me. Coincidence in my dictionary means the chance occurrence of 2 things at such a time as to seem remarkable.

A.A.ers, for the most part, then jump to the conclusion that any chance remarkable occurrence, is a supernatural event. This is what most Religious Fundamentalists believe, that nothing happens by chance, everything is God's plan.

This form of thought in A.A. has a threefold purpose:
1) to indoctrinate
2) to stop individual thought
3) to make a person totally dependent on God and A.A..
Complete dependency on anything, no matter how appealing, negates our ability to have healthy and meaningful relationships.

In my opinion, complete dependency on God as a pain killer is a setup. We can turn our lives and wills over to the care of God all we like, but we still need to keep up our end of the bargain. I believe this is one reason for A.A.s rather dismal success rate. When we use God as a Cosmic aspirin we set the stage for a return to drinking, because when the pain comes asking God to remove it is unrealistic. The best I can do is to ask God to suffer along with me, and first I cope, then I heal. This hope helps me. Whatever helps you helps you, but when I encounter sloppy thinking, trashing of language, and superstitions I get my back up.

In closing, I would like to say there are coincidences, but by using my God given powers to reason, to feel, and my intuitions I can make the most of the coincidences in my life. I cannot do this, by experience and personal choice, using alcohol.

Agent Green

P.S. No reason to respond if you decide not to. Also, feel free to use anything on your website. If I am a pain let me know and I'll stop e-mailing you. Until then I will keep writing to you about my opinion and observations of A. A..

Hello again, Agent Green,

You aren't a pain at all. I like getting other people's observations. Thanks for the letter.

You are right on the money with the observations about the A.A. attitude towards coincidences and the Fundamentalist religious attitude it reveals. And that attitude came straight from Frank Buchman's perverted cult religion, which was the precursor to Alcoholics Anonymous. This is the standard Big Book rap on coincidences:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake.
The A.A. Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, the story Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict, page 449.

And here is Marjorie Harrison's criticism of Buchmanism, the Oxford Group religious teachings, in 1934:

        Here is another instance of the shallowness of thought and extremes of teaching of which the Group must be held guilty. In a booklet issued by the Group entitled The Guidance of God, there is a story of a three-year-old child taught to be quiet and listen to God's Voice. He looks up and remarks: "God says that you must eat more porridge this morning." Although the child is obviously reiterating an injunction of his mother's, this is put forward as a direct instance of Divine Guidance.
        In the same booklet there is the dangerous injunction: "Look for the coincidences" as sign-posts of Guidance.
... If every passing thought is to be followed as Guidance, and every coincidence regarded as a Divine intervention, where are we to stop this side madness?
Dr. Buchman has no authority whatever for his doctrine of direct guidance available at any moment.
        The result of such a teaching, made "with an infallibility the Pope would envy", is to rob men and women of their God-given intelligence, and to weaken their sense of reason and their capacity for judgement until they become almost non-existent.   ...   It is a pitiable fact that many young children are now being brought up this way. I believe that there are no words too strong to condemn such a teaching, and that its consequences can be so terrible that no warning is too grave.
        The "Quiet Time" encourages introspection: the pseudo-guidance is its result. Minds deranged, homes made tragic, careers broken, bitter disappointment following the unhappy or negative outcome of this so-called guidance — these are the consequences.
        I would sum up in the words of The [London] Times: "It must be the most serious charge against the Groups that they encourage their members to shirk the discipline of thought in favour of impulses received from they know not where."
        The teaching on Guidance is as great a superstition as any purged from the Church at the Reformation.
Saints Run Mad; A Criticism of the "Oxford" Group Movement, Marjorie Harrison (1934), pages 67-68.

Yes, really "stopping individual thought".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The man who does not read good books has no advantage
**  over the man who cannot read them.
**   ==  Mark (Samuel Longhorne Clemens) Twain 1835-1910

Date: Sun, August 13, 2006 3:41 pm
From: "Andrew W.S."
Subject: Fwd: Today's Buzzword — wikiality

Quite relevant, I think....

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: BuzzWhack <[email protected]
Date: 09-Aug-2006 06:45
Subject: Today's Buzzword — wikiality

[image: B U Z Z W O R D O F T H E D A Y] <http://www.buzzwhack.com/>

*User-created reality — where something becomes "true" if you can get enough people to believe it. Thanks to the growing number of wiki sites, such as Wikipedia.

*Spread the buzz to your friends*
Forward Buzzword of the Day to your friends. They can sign up at:

*Got a buzzword to nominate? *
Heard a new buzzword lately? Or have an old favorite. Share it with us at:

Thanks, Andrew,

That's good, and yes, it's really relevant. I especially like "user-created reality".

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Gandalf said, "The demons of the darkness howl in
**  pain when you shine the light of truth on them."

Date: Sun, August 13, 2006 5:17 pm
From: "Sharen K."
Subject: Emailing: studies

Narconon Exposed: Does Narconon work? — Studies

Speaking of programs treating addicts which are supposed to have studies proving that they're effective, let's not forget the Scientology a-holes, Narconon. This webpage, at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon/studies.htm, is off a website against these twits, whose homepage is at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon/, and webpage describing the organization at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon/whatisnn.htm.

Does Narconon work?
Studies Last updated
2 January 2003

Contents > Does Narconon work? > Studies

a.. Studies
a.. Research Papers
a.. Success stories


The way that Narconon presents its claimed success rates is, on the whole, very peculiar. As well as not making available source data from studies, it often claims that its success rates are universally applicable — that is, that a particular success figure is obtained everywhere. In a great many cases, figures are quoted without any reference to their sources; basic information such as where they come from, when they were determined and how many people were evaluated are often wholly absent. Even when some kind of citation is included, it is often extremely vague — for instance, "a study conducted by an independent organisation" (who, where, when, how?). Detailed citations are vanishingly rare in Narconon's literature.

Narconon's publicity material presents a number of different figures for its claimed success rates, for instance:

a.. Narconon International — 75% success rate
b.. Narconon's methamphetamineaddiction.com website — "over 76%"
c.. Narconon Finland — 70%
d.. What is Scientology? — 78.37%
e.. Narconon of Oklahoma — "86% improvement in reported criminal activity"
f.. Narconon Montreal — "a 60%-70% success rate over two years"
g.. Freedom magazine (a Scientology publication) — "more than 70 percent"
h.. Ron the Humanitarian (another Scientology publication) — "84.6 percent"

[URLs are respectively: <http://www.narconon.org/narconon_results.htm> ,
<http://www.methamphetamineaddiction.com/research.html> ,
<http://www.narconon.fi>, <http://www.scientology.org/wis/wiseng/25/25-nnpgm.htm>,
In many cases, the sources of these figures are not given. When they are, however, the most commonly cited sources are studies carried out in Sweden and Spain during the 1980s and in Oklahoma during the 1990s and 2000s.

The Swedish Study

Narconon has made much over the years of a study of its graduates carried out in Sweden in 1981 that, depending on where you obtain the information from, showed that variously 78%, 78.6%, 84.6% or 85% of those that completed the Narconon programme were still drug free a year later. On Narconon's websites, there are only three mentions of the study's author, no details are available of how the study was conducted, the detailed figures are not reproduced and the organisation does not appear to have made the study report available anywhere — it also does not appear to respond to requests for it, as many people (including the present author) have requested copies over the years but have never been able to obtain them from Narconon. Typically, Narconon will omit to mention how many actually completed the programme. For instance, Narconon International's website states:

In 1981, Peter Gerdman, an independent researcher, examined the long-term effects of the Narconon program for 61 drug abusers who graduated from Narconon Huddinge, a facility outside Stockholm. He followed the graduates for four years after they completed the program.

Although 69 percent had been using drugs for 6 to 10 years prior to coming to the Narconon program, and nearly all were addicted to a multitude of different drugs, four years later 78.6 percent were drug free. ["Summary of Evaluations of the Narconon® Program over the Last 30 Years" — <http://www.narconon.org/narconon_studies05.htm>]

In other words, 78.6% of the 61 drug abusers had become drug-free. Simple arithmetic shows that this cannot possibly be correct — 78.6% of 61 is 47.946 people — and a closer examination of the study reveals the true facts, which are very different to how Narconon presents them.

One Swede, Catarina Pamnell, did manage to trace the report. It had been sent to the municipality of Huddinge in 1983 as part of an evaluation on whether Narconon should be fully accepted as a treatment facility, and is publicly available under Sweden's "Offentlighetsprincipen" (freedom of information laws). Peter Gerdman, a Stockholm social worker, conducted the study in May 1981. On his behalf, Narconon staff interviewed persons who had entered the Narconon programme in Vårby Gård (at the Narconon Huddinge branch) just outside Stockholm in 1977. This presents an immediate problem with the veracity of the data, as Gerdman was dependent on Narconon's staff being scrupulously honest and impartial. In his introduction to his report, he refers to the problem of the "halo effect" (of the data gatherers polishing up the data), but concludes that since the staff are themselves former drug addicts and there is no monetary gain involved, such an effect is unlikely. This may, however, be overly optimistic as it does not take account of possible ideological motives — as the "Narconon and Scientology" section explains, L. Ron Hubbard's followers encourage (indeed, demand) an uncritically worshipful attitude towards their guru and his works. Oddly enough, he later writes that "the use of an independent scientific consultant constitutes a form of warranty against "sunshine research" [geared towards showing positive results rather than describing reality]. From the point of view of objectivity, it cannot be considered satisfactory to plan and execute an evaluation of one's own activities." In effect, he dismisses the worth of his own research methods.

When the actual figures gathered by Gerdman are considered, it is hardly surprising that Narconon has been so reluctant to publish the study. They show that:

a.. 61 individuals entered the programme, of whom
b.. 24 left during detoxification;
c.. 23 left during other stages;
d.. 14 completed the programme.
The overall completion rate was thus 23%.

Of the 14 who completed the programme, 13 were contacted a year later (the last could not be reached). When asked if they had used drugs any time during the year after completing the programme, 7 said yes; 4 said no; 2 said they didn't know. Those who had used drugs had taken heroin (5), amphetamine (3), marijuana (3) and alcohol (more than temporary intake) (2). When asked if they were presently, i.e. within the last month of the interview, taking drugs, 11 said no, 1 said yes, 1 said they didn't know.

Of those who left Narconon before completion, 24 of 47 were interviewed. 10 said they were drug free (41.6% of those surveyed, 16.4% of the total). This group of people appears to be omitted entirely from any statistics quoted by Narconon.

The 84.6% percent figure quoted by the Narconon and the Church of Scientology corresponds to 11 out of the 13 people interviewed after completion saying that they were not using drugs presently. The alternative figure of 78.6 percent refers to 11 out of the 14 completions (but is skewed due to the uncontactable 14th person being counted as a failure). This is, to say the least, a very partial presentation of figures which overall are extremely unflattering for Narconon:

a.. 77% of those who enrolled on the course quit before completing it.
b.. 50% of those who did complete it went back onto drugs afterwards (and another 14% somewhat mysteriously didn't know if they had or not).
c.. 54% of those interviewed afterwards who did not complete it went back onto drugs.
d.. 34% of enrollees said they had completed the programme and relapsed but claimed to be drug free at the moment.
e.. 6.6% of enrollees said they had stayed totally drug free for one year afterwards.

If the latter figure — those who completed the course and claim to have completely turned their backs on drugs — is taken as the eventual success rate. Compare this with the rates quoted in Ron the Humanitarian — "The rate among similarly comprehensive rehabilitation clinics, even when patients are "handpicked," averages but 15 percent, often as low as 1.6 percent." If this is so, then Narconon is achieving poor results even by its own standards. If the results of the study are treated as being generic for all Narconon branches, which is how Narconon itself treats it, then it suggests that:

a.. Most Narconon entrants do not complete the programme.

b.. Most of those who do complete the programme return to drug abuse subsequently. There can be little doubt that the success rates found by Gerdman's studies have seriously been misrepresented. The Scientology publication Ron the Humanitarian states that "Even a year after completion of the program, independent Swedish studies found a full 84.6 percent of Narconon graduates remaining entirely drug-free." [Narconon Sydney home page — <http://www.drug-rehabilitation-resource.com> and Ron the Humanitarian — <http://drugrehab.lronhubbard.org/page50.htm>] In fact, the Gerdman study showed that only 6.6% of Narconon Huddinge clients "remain drug-free permanently" — if this is any way typical, it represents a success rate only one-eleventh of that which is claimed. Similarly, Narconon International's website states that "61 drug abusers who graduated from Narconon Huddinge ... [were] followed for four years after they completed the program. Although 69 percent had been using drugs for 6 to 10 years prior to coming to the Narcononprogram [sic], and nearly all were addicted to a multitude of different drugs, four years later 78.6 percent were drug free." This suggests that Gerdman managed to follow all 61 individuals, which he did not, and that the 78.6% figure relates to the full sample of 61, which it does not (and cannot — 78.6% of 61 people is an impossible 47.946 people). It also does not mention the fact that the 61 individuals represented only 23% of the entire intake, the rest having dropped out prior to graduation. ["Summary of Evaluations of the Narconon® Program over the Last 30 Years", Narconon International — <http://www.narconon.org/narconon_studies05.htm>] In fact, it is remarkably hard to find any figures from Narconon on what percentage of its clients manage to graduate.

The Spanish Study

Another source which Narconon often quotes is a study, variously described as "official" and "independent" said to have been carried out in Spain. Narconon Montreal cites this study on its website:

In a study conducted in Spain by an independent sociological research foundation it was found that 78% of the individuals were still off drugs two years after they completed the program. In another study in Sweden, it was found that 80% of the Narconon graduates who completed the program were still drug-free five years after completing the program.

The Spanish study also showed that before entering the Narconon program 62.2% committed robberies and 73% sold drugs. After the Narconon program, robberies and drug dealing decreased to 0%. In other words, 100% had no criminal activity after the program.

The Spanish study was conducted by a sociological group called Tecnicos Asociados de Investigacion y Marketing (TAIM). They have conducted other studies for the Ministry of Health, the Social Services Department of the Town Hall of Madrid, and the National Institute of Social Services of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security... ["Narconon Professional Endorsements" -<http://www.narconon.ca/English/Professional.htm>]

The date of this study is usually not given but where it is disclosed, it is claimed to be either 1985 or 1987. Like the Swedish study, its source is also only rarely named — it is more usually attributed to "an independent sociological research foundation". A Spanish writer on cults, Pepe Rodr'guez, investigated the matter after Scientology and Narconon became embroiled in a major public controversy which saw the President of the Church of Scientology International arrested and released on a $1m bail (which he promptly forfeited). [See <http://www.lycanon.org/sci/narcanon-chupasangres/narconon-chupasangres.htm> (in Spanish). Sr Rodr'guez has a website focusing on cults at <http://www.pepe-rodriguez.com>] It is unclear what TAIM's relationship with Narconon was, as the organisation no longer appears to exist. Prior to the production of the TAIM report, Narconon had become the subject of public criticism apparently after dissatisfied customers began to complain. Rodr'guez reports that a meeting was held between Narconon executives and a Scientology lawyer, Jose Luis Chamorro, on 14 January 1987, in which Chamorro advised that "if we are able to demonstrate that 60% of the students of Narconon really are rehabilitated, we will be able to utilize this to show the effectiveness of our system [and defend] against the attacks on Narconon." (In itself, this is very intriguing; Narconon had been operating in Spain for nearly four years, so why had it not already demonstrated its effectiveness?) Tecnicos Asociados de Investigacion y Marketing (TAIM) was hired to do the study, which it conducted in March/April 1987, and subsequently reported that 78.37% of individuals who had completed Narconon in 1985 were drug-free.

However, the raw figures reveal considerable statistical creativity. For a start, it is impossible to derive a figure of 78.37% from a sample of 52 people; that corresponds to 40.7524 people, an obviously impossible number (what is 0.7524 of a person?). The sample size does not support that precise a measurement of the success rate. The same statistical oddity prevails throughout the TAIM survey — many of the figures which it cites range from dubious to simply impossible. As Dr. David Touretzky of Carnegie-Mellon University puts it, "anyone who would make that kind of elementary mistake is clearly not familiar with scientific research, much less competent to conduct same." [Conversation with the author.]

The individuals concerned came from several areas of Spain but the only Narconon centre surveyed was that at Los Molinos, near Madrid, which at the time was one of four such centres in Spain. 93 people were contacted for the survey (73.8% of those who had passed through the centre in 1985, which has a capacity of 30 people at a time), of whom 52 — little more than half — responded. The 1985 intake was the only one surveyed, despite the centre having been open since 1983.

Of those interviewed, 78.4% said that they had recommended the Narconon programme to others, 78.37% reported that they performed jobs for Narconon and 78% reported that they were no longer using drugs. It is highly likely that these very nearly identical percentages comprise the same group of about 40 people. The fact that so many of those who responded worked for Narconon severely skews the results; the sample is, in effect, a self-selecting one in which the drug-free were almost certainly heavily over-represented. The success rate is far less impressive when compared with the total number of those contacted — only 43% of the total reported being drug-free — and even less impressive compared with the total yearly intake of approximately 120 — about 33%. It also notably omits the important question asked in the Swedish survey, namely whether those reporting to be drug-free had not used any drugs since completing the course.

The great majority of those interviewed were of above average socioeconomic backgrounds: 17.3% classed themselves as wealthy, 67.3% as well-off and only 15.4% as average-to-low earners. This is highly significant: sociological studies have repeatedly demonstrated the close link between drug addiction and poverty, and drug addiction is principally an affliction of the poor. Los Molinos' graduates, therefore, were far from representative of drug users as a whole. As Rodr'guez points out, it is also indicative of the way that Narconon's high costs filter out those who cannot afford it (which in practice means most drug users). Interestingly, the socioeconomic class of the graduates had a major influence on their successful completions. While the average time of completion was 160.8 days (about five months), on average the wealthy completed the programme in 97.5 days (about three months), the well-off in 123.8 days (four months) and the average-to-low earners in 174.6 days (almost six months). It is hard to envisage how wealth could make such a drastic difference to the results of a residential course, unless those involved were receiving differing levels of treatment due to their varying abilities to pay.

The extremely strange statistical figures given in this study make it difficult to take its findings seriously, and the obvious methodological flaws do not help either. Without actually having a copy of the study report — Narconon claims to have it "on file" but it does not appear to have been made available anywhere, either in print or on the Web — it is impossible to evaluate the methodology used. In terms of providing a satisfactory analysis of Narconon's efficacy, it is effectively useless.

The Oklahoman Studies

Narconon claims to have conducted a number of studies of its effectiveness at its Chilocco (now Arrowhead) branch in Oklahoma in the United States. These do not appear to have been published, so there is no way of gauging their reliability or methodology. However, a few figures have been given by Narconon Arrowhead's executive director, Gary Smith, in an interview with the Oklahoman newspaper on 1 July 2001. The Chilocco facility was said to have had 2,029 clients since it opened; in 2000, 352 students enrolled and 185 graduated (a graduation rate of 52.5%) and from January through to the end of June 2001, 350 entered and 189 graduated (a rate of 54%). An overall success rate of 70-74% is claimed for the graduates, producing an overall success rate of only 40% of all entrants to the Narconon programme. Narconon does make this distinction in some cases, although it never seems to allude to the much lower overall success rates — for instance, the Narconon Arrowhead website (at http://www.stopaddiction.com) states that "70% of Narconon Graduates Beat Their Drug Addiction Permanently" (my underlining). Yet the same Narconon branch's printed literature makes no such distinction; a letter from its Admissions Coordinator claims that "we achieve a very high success rate; that success rate is 76%, the highest in the nation" and its promotional brochure states that "The Narconon® Program Achieves A 74% Success Rate". The claim is not qualified in any way (and there is no explanation of why the same source should quote three different percentages). A search of Narconon's websites suggests that the unqualified claim is used far more often than the qualified one, giving a very misleading view — going by Narconon's own figures — of its success rates. At the very least, it shows a remarkably careless use of statistics.

There are literally hundreds of instances on Narconon's websites of the claimed Oklahoman success rates being presented in a very misleading and occasionally downright untruthful fashion. For instance, the websites of Narconon Sydney and a number of other Narconon organisations declare that "76% of Narconon® Clients remain drug-free permanently!". If around 45-50% of its clients drop out, which Narconon's own figures suggest, this cannot possibly be true. Likewise, the Oklahoman results are treated as being universally applicable. The official Narconon FAQ, which appears to be a standard pro-forma document disseminated with minor changes by Narconon branches as far apart as Oklahoma and New South wales, declares bluntly that "Our success rate is 76%" (where "our" is clearly meant to refer to the local branch). ["Frequently Asked Questions About Narconon Arrowhead" — <http://www.addiction2.com/narconon_faq.html>] Almost identical versions of the same document are distributed by Narconon branches around the world, with only the name of the branch changing. In other words, at each individual branch of Narconon a 76% success rate is supposedly achieved. This is quite clearly untrue. The Oklahoman results were produced at one Narconon organisation in one country for a limited period of time; there is simply no way that such a small survey can be extrapolated for Narconon as a whole.

Other Studies

Narconon occasionally quotes a number of other studies of its efficacy. No copies have been been obtained by the author, so comment is necessarily confined to what Narconon itself says about the studies (with all the attendant uncertainties that brings).

a.. The Russian Study

Narconon International's website states:

In 1998, an "Expertise of the Drug Rehabilitation Program at Narconon Moscow" was prepared by U.D. Gurochkin M.D., N.N. Grigoriev (Lecturer, Russian Interior Ministry), and V.V. Khlystoun (Special Correspondent "Trud" [Labor]). Studying the files and medical documents of 32 students who had completed the Narconon program between 1995 and 1998, their research included health examinations, evaluation of objective and subjective data following program completion including drug screens, and evaluation of the students' mental condition.

Their final "Conclusions" state, "Professional study of Narconon materials and the medical-psychological investigation of 32 patients has shown:

1. The Narconon Method's ratio of efficiency is 72%, demonstrated by study of the patient histories.

2. Professional inspection of patients' physical and mental condition has shown significant improvements.

3. The Narconon Program can be recommended to the State Narcology Institutes of the Ministry of Health for application." ["Summary of Evaluations of the Narconon® Program over the Last 30 Years" — <http://www.narconon.org/narconon_studies05.htm>]

Until late 2002, a fourth author was included on the list — "Vladimir E. Ivanov (Candidate of Medical Sciences)". ["Narconon — Reducing the Drug Problem" — this page is no longer available on Narconon's website but was formerly at <http://www.narconon.org/html/results/page61.htm>] However, in June 2001, Dr. Ivanov publicly broke with Narconon and Scientology, denouncing the latter as a "criminal cult". He has since become a non-person in the eyes of Narconon; in the most recent version of the page on the Russian study, his name has been removed from the list of authors. Narconon's "disappearance" of Dr. Ivanov has a certain irony in a country with such a long history of erasing the politically inconvenient from history.

The Russian study was almost certainly prompted by the Russian Ministry of Health's prohibition in 1996 of the use of the Narconon programme in the Russian public health system. Several problems are immediately apparent with this study:

a.. As usual, it is not reproduced in full — all we have are the "headline figures" which, as we have already seen, Narconon misrepresents for other studies. (In fact, it appears to be mentioned only once on just one of Narconon's many websites.)

b.. Because of this, we have no information about the methodology used. Without knowing something about the methodology, it is impossible to assess the reliability of the survey methods used.

c.. The sample size is very small (only 32 people); this makes it impossible to reliably extrapolate the results to other Narconon organisations.

d.. The only actual statistic quoted is so vague as to be meaningless; what is a "ratio of efficiency"? If the figure of 72% of 32 people is supposed to represent a cure rate, it is mathematically impossible; it works out at 23.04 persons.

e.. The qualifications and independence of its authors are questionable; one of the authors was the man who ran Narconon Russia (hardly an independent assessor!), one was a lecturer and one was a journalist, leaving only one medical doctor whose relationship with Narconon is undisclosed. In short, the quoted study results are so vaguely stated and so poorly documented that, once again, it is impossible to draw any reliable conclusions from them.

a.. The Palo Alto Study In January 1977, the Californian city of Palo Alto made an evaluation of a contract with Narconon which it had recently terminated. Narconon was deemed to have failed to meet its performance targets, due at least in part to poor internal administration, and its success rates were also not encouraging; between 1 July 1975 and 1 February 1976, 43% of those enrolled on Narconon's course quit before completing it. The authors of the study did not examine whether the remainder were certifiably drug-free afterwards, apparently being more concerned with throughput than outcomes. (See "Annual Performance Evaluation of the City of Palo Alto's Contract with Narconon Palo Alto" for details.)

a.. The Prison Studies Narconon International also cites a number of "Drug reversion surveys of Narconon graduates done in the 1970s" in various prisons in the United States:

The California Dept. of Corrections reported on 19 inmates who had participated in the Narconon program while in prison. 17 had been paroled. 12 of these were reported as clean (70%). Of the 5 remaining, 2 were not found, 2 had been arrested and one had been suspended from the program due to cocaine use.

The California Institute for Women reported on 25 Narconon clients. 23 had been paroled. 18 of these were clean (78%). Of the remaining, 3 were parolees at large and 2 had been re-arrested.

The Arizona Correctional Authority reported on 76 Narconon students who had been released from prison. 32 were found. 24 of these were clean (75%).

Rikers Island Institute for Men in New York. Of the 81 students who had started the voluntary Narconon program, 43 had completed the initial program. 21 of these had been paroled and 17 were contacted. 14 of these were clean (82 percent of those found, 67 percent of total parolees). ["Summary of Evaluations of the Narconon® Program over the Last 30 Years" — <http://www.narconon.org/narconon_studies05.htm>]

The veracity of these reported results has not yet been confirmed. Again, however, the survey reports are not published anywhere, no information is provided of their authors or methodologies, the samples are small and only the "headline" statistics are given. Even the dates are not given, although in the case of California it was probably before October 1974, when the State Evaluation Committee strongly criticised the programme and recommended a termination of funding. Narconon states that "all these studies had been done prior to the development of the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program", which must mean some time before 1978; they therefore represent a very different Narconon programme to that which exists today. As even the very existence of these studies cannot be confirmed, let alone the veracity of the reported results, they are of little use as evidence.

Some of Narconon's claimed success rates in correctional facilities were considered in 1974 by the California State Department of Health's assessment team, but were rejected out of hand as "simply not true":

a. Public Descriptions by Pamphlets, Notices, etc.: The 86% "cure rate" is totally unfounded. Narconon publishes a voluminous amount of paper for the purpose of public relations. The main Narconon rehabilitation program bulletin states that a high percentage of clients, approximately 75%, are rehabilitated within 3 months. The pamphlet further states that one supervisor can supervise 42 people a day in three 3-hour periods. Furthermore, one supervisor can train 14 new supervisors in three months.

b. Misleading Claims: Narconon claims to have an 86% cure rate for narcotics addicts which is simply not true. Mr. Greg Zerovnik, National Director — Narconon U.S., explained that the 86% figure came from a study of parolees from the Arizona State Prison who may or may not have been narcotics addicts. This sort of claim is, of course, misleading to both the prospective client and to public officials who are sincerely attempting to find ways to cope with the problem of drug abuse.

Narconon also advertises detoxification with mega-vitamins and other non-medical procedures that may be hazardous and in some cases lethal. Attachment 19 is a Narconon letter to the East Valley Free Clinic advertising an extraordinarily expensive detoxification procedure. It furthermore claims a 68% two year "success rate" for drug abstinence and for arrests "for anything related to drugs." It implies that these success ratios are applicable to heroin addicts and alcoholics. This claim is either misleading or miraculous. Without supporting data the evaluation team cannot but presume this document, however enticing, is a misleading claim.

Narconon implies that it can raise I.Q.'s and generally increase communication skills for their clients. There is no scientific evidence that these alleged changes cause a cure in approximately 50% of cases seen as stated by Mark Jones [then Executive Director of Narconon] in a Los Angeles Times article. ["Outline for recovery, House Evaluation" — by Forrest S. Tennant, Jr., M.D., Dr.P.H., Jane Thomas, R.N., Mike Reilly, and Joseph Shannon, M.D., M.P.H. Submitted to Don Z. Miller, Deputy Director, Health Treatment System, State Department of Health, Sacramento, CA, on 31 Oct 1974]

One prison study which Narconon does not mention, for some reason, is that conducted in Ionia State Prison, Michigan in April 1980. Between 1978 and 1980, some 200 inmates were put through the Narconon programme under a contract with the state's Department of Corrections. The Department's Program Bureau examined the recidivism records of those who had been paroled prior to 1 September 1979, so as to provide six months of community experience to study. 14 were excluded as not having a prior history of substance abuse (so why were they in Narconon in the first place?), leaving 29 individuals who had a history of substance abuse and had completed at least part of the Narconon course. Only one of the 29 had actually completed the programme — barely a 3.5% completion rate — while the majority, some 79.3%, had got halfway through. The study concluded that "the graduates from the program clearly are not doing as well as the average prisoner going to the community ... [they] do not do as well as our population in general." Four of Narconon's graduates (including the one who completed the course) committed a new felony and went back to jail; five committed technical violations of their parole; seven absconded; and thirteen were "maintained under supervision" (i.e. they abided by the terms of their parole). Overall, the recidivism rate was just over 55%. This compared unfavourably with the return rate from other programmes in Michigan, which "has varied between 28% and 40%, historically." Overall, "the optimism of [Narconon's] supporters in [the] belief that it will produce significant behavioral change for the long run is not supported." [Evaluation of Narconon program in Ionia State Prison, Michigan Dept. of Corrections Program Bureau, 7 April 1980]

a.. Studies
a.. Research Papers
a.. Success stories

NOTE: This website is not owned, operated, sponsored or endorsed by Narconon International, the Association for Better Living and Education International or any related entities. All trademarks and service marks remain the properties of their respective owners.

Okay, Sharen,

Thank you for the information. Somehow, I am not surprised to find that Scientology's treatment program doesn't work any better than anything else (which means, "not much").

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "You can fool all the people some of the time, and
** some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool
** all the people all the time." — Abraham Lincoln

Date: Mon, August 14, 2006 12:27 am
From: "Mike H."
Subject: Guess What A. Orange

...well, thank you Sir.

I got sick and tired of being that way. But you taught me the way out quicker than anyone.

Anyways, whoever you are, I already made up my own mind. I have had enough.

I'm tired of drinking myself to death. Thanks again.

p.s. I read what you wrote and I just thank you.
That's all.

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the thanks, and congratulations on your escape from hell.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have
** is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick.
**         Rabbi Harold Kushner

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