Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ban the usage of Narconon in any publicly funded orgianisation.”

I know I said I’d be away, but…

I see (via nullifidian) that a petition which asked the government to ban Narconon from being used as a contributor to drug education in maintained schools (and other publicly funded institutions) has recieved a response from the government.

“In schools, teachers should be the main providers of drug education and maintain responsibility for the overall drug education programme. External contributors can be used where they add to the drug education programme a dimension that teachers alone cannot deliver.  It is for schools and local authorities, however, to decide whether to use the services of an external contributor to assist with their drug education programme, and if so who this should be.”

Strangely the government’s response fails to mention that they have recently committed to developing standards for external contributors who are delivering drug education as part of their response to the drug and alcohol education review.  I’d have thought that signatories to that petition may well have found that a useful piece of information!

Anyone considering commissioning Narconon as an external contributor to their drug education should read the evaluation of their approach by the California Department of Education:

Some NDAP teaching methods may undermine the desired objectives of schools’ research-based drug prevention curricula: using ex-addicts to teach drug prevention in schools may tacitly reinforce students’ perceptions that drug use really isn’t risky and may also contradict efforts to teach students to critically evaluate health information and its sources. Because NDAP presenters are encouraged to be flexible and the presentation materials leave a variety of content and suggested activities with insufficient instructional direction, the standardization and fidelity of implementation may not be high.

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Filed under: Narconon

15 Responses

  1. Steve Rolles says:

    It’s worth mentioning that Narcanon is a Scientology front organisation, and one that, unsurprisingly perhaps, has what can often only be described a an exotic take on science and biology, as visiting one of their websites will rapidly reveal.

    This may or may not be a problem for individuals seeking treatment or commissioning services or education, but should be made clear to all parties, including in this instance, the parents of the children (who may not approve of alien based pseudo-science and religions invented by delusional sci-fi authors in the 1950s).

  2. Maia says:

    Why is the UK government allowing Narconon at all? San Francisco schools banned it years ago after a media expose uncovered not only its ties to Scientology but its completely wrong “facts” about addiction, which are based on the teachings of that church.

    Narconon teaches that drugs are stored in body fat and that craving is caused by this. They claim this comes out in “colored ooze,” when you detox. Obviously, there is no scientific basis for these claims– the neuroscience of craving shows that they are nonsense.

    http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon/sources/media/sfc090604b.htm

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/08/25/MNGG18DVGD1.DTL

  3. Whilst I abhor all cults, I defend the right of free speech. I believe that the petition to prevent Narconon to carry the message of the total harms caused by drug use, is nothing more than an attempt by the pro drug lobby to supress that right. It would apear that the Government in it’s response has taken a similiar view.

    Narconon’s association with scientology is well documented and therefore it is not, unlike many activist organisations who seek to liberalise drugs, thus increasing their avalaibility and the subsequent total harms caused by their use , not a ‘front’ organisation.

  4. sandy lear says:

    Narconon’s “treatment” consists of completely unscientific and potentially dangerous methods, such as hours of saunas and forced exercise to “sweat out” the drugs, along with a full indoctrination into the cult of scientology. That Mr O’Loughlin would take up for such a disreputable and dangerous cult simply to further his intense dislike if those who have more liberal view on drug treatment than he, says quite a bit.

  5. Kenneth Eckersley says:

    “Drug Education” and “Prevention Training” are, as their respective titles indicate, two quite separate subjects with different goals and intentions.

    Based on the false idea that everybody will use drugs at some time in their life, Drug Education founded on so-called “harm reduction” principles seeks to teach our youngsters what is required to make an “infoirmed choice”of drugs, and tells them how drugs may be “safely and responsibly used” – a clear contradiction in terms. This is manifestly “education” in the subject of drug usage, and gives the distinct impression that as long as one takes steps to reduce harm, drug usage can be acceptable.

    On the other hand, Prevention Training as delivered by Narconon and other international groups, is concerned not with the “usage” of drugs but with the “avoidance” of drugs and the “prevention” of habit development.

    As a result, the product of Drug Education is too often a child who will say: “Don’t worry Mum, I know all about drugs – probably more than you do”. But a Prevention Trained youngster will say: “Don’t worry Mum, I have decided I will never use drugs”.

    I know which I prefer, along with other parents – including the Prime Minister.

  6. Ian says:

    Unfortunately Kenneth you have made a big assumption around the nature of ‘harm reduction’. This is a way of working which isn’t based at the universal level of drug education (where Narconon and I can only assume your reference to ‘drug education’ are concerned), but rather at a more targeted level. It is a way of working which should only be used with any person – young or old – who is using drugs or alcohol and is not willing to affect any changes around this. Therefore, rather than consigning them to no service at all at putting them at higher risk, drug services seek to reduce the harm they are putting themselves at by providing harm reduction information until they are at apoint where change is a real possibility. This is not, as you suggest, information which is given in the classroom or to young people who are not using, and on the whole this is not the case. Drug education should be about informing young people of risks and harms of drug and alcohol use, but also needs to be based on fact rather than purely scare tactics and finger wagging.

    My experience suggests it is more the profit making organisations who approach schools to do drug education who make these mistakes, and often good-meaning tier 1 workers who are inadequately trained and supported to deliver drug and alcohol education. In these cases harm reduction messages can and do give mixed messages to young people, and this should be highlighted and correceted. However, generalised comments such as the above only serve to harm the cause of an important, but often misunderstood, way of supporting those who do choose to use drugs and alcohol.

  7. Sandy Lear responding to my comment has adopted the usual tactics of the pro drug lobby by seeking to distort and diversify from the points I made.

    I made it perfectly clear in my opening sentence, that I abhor all cults. I did not, and do not endorse Narconon, but I do support the principle of free speech, and will not be shut up by those with vested interests, with their agenda to legalise the use of toxic, addictive and psycho active substances.

    That they are willing to go to any lengths, in their futile and pathetic attempts, to suppress the voices of those who think otherwise. is self evident.

  8. Kenneth Eckersley says:

    As Ian suggests, the original harm reduction principles are valid and useful for those committed drug users who will never abandon their addition and so must be protected against their own loss of control over their lives.

    But those same principles when moved into youth drug education have no validity in respect of youngsters who have yet to use drugs and who often gain the impression that – because of harm reduction availability – drug taking is not as serious a problem as they earlier thought.

    Incidentally, which are the profit-making organisations which deliver Drug Education to our schools? It is certainly not the Narconon not-for-profit charity which in any event delivers Prevention Training.

  9. Steve Rolles says:

    Peter – The debate around free speech is somewhat different from the debate around who should provide state funded drug education to children. Conflating the two is absurd. I have made no point about freedom of speech – something I vigorously defend, nor has anyone interfered with yours.

    I made a point about parents being made aware of who was providing such education. Do you want parents to be kept in the dark about this – especially if it involved a ‘cult’ you ‘abhor’? I would say parents should be aware of any external group (whether a faith group or not) providing drugs, sexual health or for that matter any other education to their children. This is another freedom worth defending.

    This obviously has *nothing whatsoever* to do with the debate over whether drug markets should be regulated by the state or left in the hands of violent criminal profiteers. Your ongoing attempts to use any opportunity, however unrelated, to have a dig at those whom you disagree by insultingly suggesting they are ‘pro-drug’ or must have ‘vested interests’ are just childish.

  10. As usual Rolles, you missed the point, or sought to avoid it. Lear sought to establish that I was endorsing Narcon.He failed.

  11. Steve Rolles says:

    Peter – You clearly equated the right of Narcanon to access public funds to teach drugs education in schools with a free speech argument.

    Just to be clear: I support drug education is schools, I support free speech, and I support the right of parents to know who is teaching their kids. None of these are relevant (or incompatible) with my broader views on drug law and its enforcement, any more than they are to yours.

    What point have I missed?

  12. Kenneth Eckersley says:

    I like Peter O’Loughlin’s realistic and balanced views, but am amazed at the way other contributors have avoided the real issue.

    Should our children be educated about drug choice and usage, OR, should they be trained to avoid drugs and to learn for themselves how to prevent becoming addicted.

    Like, the National Drug Prevention Alliance, TeenEX, Positive Prevention Plus and other prevention groups Narconon has been delivering effective prevention training in 43 countries for 42 years on a not-for-profit basis, and supported by celebrities from sport, stage and screen has enrolled many more adherents to prevention in any one year than methadone has cured heroin users of addiction since methadone was introduced half a century ago.

    Narconon (and Scientology) has been attacked by vested interests since its inception in 1966 because it robs the psycho-pharmaceutical fraternity of profitable counselling and prescription drug sales, all paid for by our taxpayers – including you and I..

    I can provide proof of this to anyone prepared to approach me directly and in confidence.

    What have you got to lose, apart from some false propaganda?

  13. Sam says:

    In fact the real issue in the original post is absolutely clear – and has nothing to do with the important but yawn inducing vogue for abstinence/harm reduction burbling. It is simply that the underlying philosophy behind narconon’s approaches to treatment, and therefore ‘prevention’, is based on utter nonsense, their methods have been clearly found across the world to be ineffective. If they were effective you wouldn’t have to personally contact their minions ‘in confidence’ they would be clearly available to all through peer reviewed published research. They clearly operate in as close a manner to any reasonable person’s definition of ‘a cult’ as can be, and therefore should not be anywhere near our schools. They clearly take advantage of the fact that schools operate in a bit of a vacuum at the mo re: drug education (soon to be remedied hopefully) and the offer of a free couple of hours freed up to do some marking no doubt has been an attractive option to some PSHE leads who haven’t the time or nous to do some simple background checks. Note too that when they write to schools offering their wonderful services they make out that they are being supported by the local authority (which in our case they definitely weren’t), and despite what Peter suggests they definitely don’t introduce themselves as ‘narconon’ obviously because if a teacher did a quick google search before they came in they’d be cancelling pretty sharpish.

  14. Steve Rolles says:

    Ken – I neither started the petition, signed it, nor even knew about it. I haven’t suggested Narcanon be banned whatever my reservations about them or Scientology.

    I think there is an important debate over who provides school drug education, and what the contents of that education should be. That debate should be informed by evidence of effectiveness in reducing drug use and drug harms amongst young people.

    But just as that important debate has nothing to do with free speech, I also don’t think its useful to bring in the debate over methadone – its a completely separate issue. Further more I don’t think its helpful indeed start suggesting anyone who disagrees with your position, or supports a harm reduction element in drugs education (that in no way precludes teaching about risk or encouraging abstinence) is part of some big-pharma conspiracy.

    I have massive issues with big-pharma politics but that doesn’t mean I default to any policy position on education or treatment.

  15. max daly says:

    If anyone has any evidence of Narcanon being involved in any school i would like to see it. There has been none i can find to date – it’s all talk. Narcanon says it’s involved in many schools and have their fingers in many pies, but then they would say that wouldn’t they.

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