Narconon Rehab Fined For Wild Claims About Detox Programs

By McCarton Ackerman 05/12/15

An Australian-based Narconon program was hit with a fine for baseless claims about heat therapy curing addiction.

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A Narconon rehab facility in Australia has come under fire for claiming its detox programs can completely cure drug addiction, receiving a fine for its baseless statements.

The Get Off Drugs Naturally Foundation in East Warburton, located just outside of Melbourne, was fined $3,000 by Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) and ordered to remove the claims from their website. The CAV probed the organization and found that their claims were medically unsubstantiated and not scientifically tested. They also noted that the foundation failed to provide evidence that the patient testimonials on their website were genuine.

CAV Minister Jane Garrett wrote that the foundation made claims about helping people kick their addictions “using saunas and heat therapy ... without the use of any medication or other services,” and that their detox program could “thoroughly remove the physical cravings for drugs and alcohol naturally and even rid the body of toxins and other chemicals.” They also claimed to have an 80% success rate of complete withdrawal within 30 days.

“This is a real warning to any other organization out there who is offering services to vulnerable people, to drug addicted people,” said Garrett. “They’d better be able to back up their claims that they’re making because to mislead, particularly vulnerable people, just isn’t on.”

Andrew Cunningham, executive director of Get Off Drugs, confirmed that the foundation is working with CAV to clarify the content on its website. However, he denied any wrongdoing and insisted that his facility continues to do good work.

“Anyone doing this program must have their health-care professional’s advice as to their suitability for the program. This has also been a long-standing policy for our facility. We have been organizing a scientific, peer-review study here in Australia,” said Cunningham. “We have assisted hundreds of addicts and their families, over a decade, to become drug free and productive members of society.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.