Scientology's Narconon Under Fire From Within | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Scientology's Narconon Under Fire From Within

A former Narconon exec accuses it of preying on the vulnerable and offering non-existent treatment.


A dangerous scam? Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman


| Share

The Scientology-affiliated rehab Narconon continues to come under fire. Its flagship location in Oklahoma has had seven patient deaths since 2005, three of them between November 2011 and July 2012. An exposé last August on NBC show Rock Center with Brian Williams investigated the three most recent deaths; tonight the same show features the former president of the facility and a former executive at a Narconon facility in Michigan accusing Narconon organizations across the country of engaging in non-existent treatment and deceitful marketing techniques. "Narconon preys on vulnerable people. That's part of the sales techniques," says Lucas Catton, who stepped down as President of Narconon's Arrowhead facility in Oklahoma in 2004.

Catton and his former colleague Eric Tonorio accuse Narconon of hiring recent college graduates to be counselors, without any formal drug treatment training or instruction on how to treat patients addicted to drugs and alcohol. The rehabs reportedly spends thousands of dollars on "Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor" certificates for its staff from an organization called the Pita Group, Inc., which was created by Kent McGregor, a contractor for Narconon’s Arrowhead facility. Both Tenorio and Catton now describe Narconon's methods of treatment—such as spending five hours per day in a sauna for 30 straight days—as "pseudo-science." Both men arrived at Narconon as patients in the mid-'90s and eventually became Scientologists, at one point crediting the program with helping them get sober.

Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith has sent an email to NBC News that denied Tenorio and Catton's accusations, claiming that only a small percentage of Narconon patients join Scientology and that only 25% of staff are Scientologists. He also provided a 2011 statement from Catton that thanked the facility for saving his life, while the Church of Scientology released video statements made by Tenorio in 2008 and Catton in 2009 thanking Narconon for turning their lives around. Despite that, Catton maintains, "Everything [at Narconon] was dedicated toward the purpose of advancing Scientology's aims."

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv