Rehab. Who can you trust? I mean, who can you trust to take your opiate addicted skeletal wasteland of a child, the fruit of your loins, the barely human shell of the being you put so many years of energy and love into, and make them well again Is it a crap shoot?
Is it worth the money?
Fact: There is no oversight committee, no government agency regulating drug rehabilitation and determining best practices.
Word on the street is that realistic expectations for recovery outcomes hover somewhere around 14%. Fourteen percent of the addicts who go into some kind of rehab come out and never get hooked again. Or is it 40%? Could it be as high as 75%? The only thing that numbers games can’t mess with is the fact that if it works for your kid, that’s 100%, and if it doesn’t, well, that’s 0%.
Recently, a high-profile critique of the rehab that my son went to is playing out in the media. Frankly, the piece was full of holes. The most significant evidence they’re presenting seems to indicate that Narconon inflated their success rate. This is damaging testimony and I don’t have any info to rebut it. All I can say is for my son, it worked. It was what he needed. It was 100%.
The criticism often centers on the cost of this rehab, but I’ve found it cheaper than some, more expensive than others. One mother I met in my travels said to me, “We always said that we couldn’t afford rehab but we found the money to bury our daughter and they were almost the same exact amount.” In my new book, I write about a father who has been throwing Band-aids at his son’s gaping wound of an opiate addiction for many years. He has spent, been conned out of and been robbed of over $125,000 during these efforts to “help” his son, when a good rehab at the outset might have cost him $30K.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that treating addictive disorders early is a very cost-effective investment —since the costs of not treating them are more than we are willing to imagine, and get worse over time.
Is it dangerous?
Fact: There is no oversight committee…determining best practices. What does this disease treatment look like?
Drug use kills. Addicts die on the streets, addicts die in hospitals, addicts die in their homes, and yes, addicts die in rehab. Addiction is a dangerous profession. If we are afraid to send our addicts to receive professional treatment, this fear will cost lives.
Deaths happen everywhere when it comes to addiction and rehab centers are far from exempt. I understand that addicts have died during their stay at a Narconon treatment center and as horrendous and tragic as that is, the true tragedy would be to steer people away from professional help when that may be the only thing that may save their child’s life and rebuild a family as it has ours. This epidemic is sweeping our children into early graves and professional treatment is as necessary for it as for as treating cancer. Some will not survive. (As a footnote, the official statement released by Narconon’s Arrowhead center notes that in 20 years of operation, there have been no deaths at the facility until the three in 2012. As is true of success, though, if it is your kid who dies, that’s 100% failure, and naturally you’ll be looking for someone to blame, it’s just human nature to do so.)
There are no guarantees when treating any disease and addiction is not an exception. I read an obit the other day of a 40-year old woman who died following a tonsillectomy. There are no guarantees. How many addicts die at methadone clinics? How many die during treatment with drugs like Suboxone? How many die in the streets because they never sought professional treatment? I spoke in a room of 60 parents in Orange County and approximately 50 of them had buried at least one child from an overdose that started with a prescription drug.
Is it a cult?
Fact: Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley are spokespeople for Narconon and they are Scientologists. And behind their back, “normal” people think that’s weird.
Yes, Narconon is one of the sprockets of Scientology’s wheel. BFD. I think one sided sensationalized news coverage is sad when it affects the lives of others. When media becomes the player and the referee, who is the announcer of the game/facts? Conspiracy theories are a dime a dozen. Because of the high profile faces attached, anything Scientology is flashy news.
How many families will try to treat addiction at home as their dirty little secret because a few grieving, disgruntled, unsatisfied people, including a long time addict who reportedly threatened the rehab center with extortion (I talk about the signs of long-term unsuccessfully treated addiction in my new book) got some air time?
I am forever grateful for what Narconon and professional treatment did for my son. My son learned how to handle his addiction, live in a world filled with drugs and face the demons that once consumed him. I have talked with hundreds of referrals from Narconon about our family experience at Narconon and I have never received one dime of remuneration.
When my son was 22, he entered the Narconon rehab center in the San Diego area of Werner Springs, CA. He was 6’2″ and weighed 127 pounds. He looked like death and we as parents had tried everything to “cure” him after we discovered he was abusing pain pills.
We are not Scientologists and neither is our son, but we were aware that the Narconon rehab center was affiliated at some level with this religion. We knew that some of their teaching about ethics and morals originated from Scientology as well as the sauna detoxification treatment. Honestly, we didn’t care. We knew family and friends who had used the program successfully and all we wanted was our son clean and alive. If your kid is a heroin addict on the streets about to die, do you honestly care even if he comes out of rehab wearing a sarong, a ponytail and selling incense at airports? Is that worse than having him dead? To us, it was worth making the leap of faith; we had no other options– all we were doing as parents was too much and not enough at the same time.
And guess what, surprise! None of us, including my son, were ever subjected to any pressure to join Scientology, in fact, quite the opposite. The only time we visited our son at the facility during his nearly 6 months of treatment was on Easter Sunday. In the parking lot were two buses which I inquired about as we toured the facility. The two buses were going to two different churches to honor the religious beliefs of those who attended the rehab and wished to celebrate Easter with their religion of choice.
Our son is an addict in remission and we are truly blessed to wrap our arms around his healthy 27 year old body (now 195lbs).
Brandon uses the tools Narconon taught him every day to navigate life in the real world where drugs can be found on every corner and in every medicine cabinet. Narconon staff was wonderful to us as parents and their level of communication was well beyond our expectations.
Any recovery program can be turned into a cult, even the revered 12-step program.
Our experience, as you know has lead me down a path and into a passion as well. I founded the website www.rxdrugaddict.com, wrote the very well received nonfiction book, Defining Moments, A Suburban Father’s Journey Into His Son’s Oxy Addiction. I am just finishing my second book, The Addict Among Us, which is a self-help book based on interviewing over 400 parents and addicts over 18 months. Some interviews happen behind prison walls and some as I hold a mother as she points at the marks on the closet wall where she found her dead son hanging due to his battle with addiction.
I speak publicly at schools, parent groups, NA conferences, on radio, in print, on TV and my son and I were featured in a newly released full length award winning documentary “Behind The Orange Curtain.”
And yes, our family is also interviewed in the Narconon testimonial video on www.drugrehab.com as we are not only proud to say our son attended this rehab facility, I would highly recommend it to others. I recommend a rehab that keeps the addict as long as treatment takes and is far away from family and friends so they can find themselves and be with like minded people of all ages and backgrounds who have a common goal of sobriety.
With all the good that these rehab centers do, I worry what adverse affect a negative report might have on someone like the parents I talk to every day on my dime, who need to stop the madness of wishing addiction away and instead give their addict to a professional rehab center and hope, pray or cross their fingers that they return clean from the demon of addiction that once owned them and armed with the tools to fight it off when it returns and tries to call them back to the darkness.