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‘Filling the Moral Vacuum’
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Providing Youth With a Future

Narconon’s Drug Prevention Education Keeps Kids off Drugs

Narconon, an internationally recognized drug rehabilitation programme, has been delivering prevention drug education to schools across the U.K. since the mid-1980s, enjoying continuing success with its unique format.
Standing in a Sussex school classroom after a lecture in early February, visiting drug education speaker Noel Nile collected up his papers while the last of the students ambled from the room, carrying books and backpacks. He looked up to see two older teenage girls enter the room. As they approached, he did not make an instant recognition, but they were vaguely familiar — like the thousands of other faces of youth he has lectured over the last eight years.

As the girls would explain, they had attended a lecture Nile gave there two years ago about drugs. They’d both left school since then, but had just heard from friends that he would be at the school again, and made a point to drop in to thank him.

“I’ve never been tempted to try drugs because of what I learned that day,” said one of the girls.

“Me neither. I’ve never taken drugs,” said the other.

It is results like these that have kept Nile and others in the drug education programme at Narconon, a registered U.K. charity, motivated to continue over the past twenty years.

“You can’t go anywhere in the U.K. today — the streets, clubs, playgrounds, across the country — without seeing some aspect of drugs,” said Nile, the director of drug education for Narconon U.K. “It threatens tomorrow’s workforce, managers and leaders. Whether you’re rural, urban or provincial, or rich, poor or in the middle classes, it’s a threat.

“Facts and truth are the only things that can overcome it. We’re doing that every day, one by one.”

Much of the dance and music culture, the films and media for teenage audiences all play their current part in encouraging youth to experiment with narcotics. As Nile sees it, there has never been a time when the peer pressure to try drugs has been greater amongst youth, and there has never been a time when the need to address it has been more pressing.

Narconons operate in many countries around the world, delivering internationally recognized drug education and rehabilitation programmes. Here Narconon has been delivering prevention drug education to schools across the U.K. since the mid-1980s and has enjoyed continuing success with its unique format.

The content of the Narconon lectures has been mostly culled from the extensive research into drugs by humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, and is captured in the education’s title: “The Truth About Drugs”. Lectures are richly illustrated with real life examples, helping students learn of the actual physical and mental consequences of substance abuse and how it can affect their lives for years to come.

“I’ve never been tempted to try drugs because of what I learned that day.”
— Attendee of a Narconon Lecture delivered by Noel Nile

After each lecture, students are encouraged to write what they learned, and how it might help them.

“I know a lot more now and I won’t be as naive in the future,” wrote one student who attended a Narconon drug education lecture.

“This was good,” said a student after another lecture, “because it made sure we understood everything that was said in a non-biased way.”

“You can tell people what you have learned and tell people that drugs are BAD,” another student remarked.

“It shows real life drug problems rather than just facts, so it makes you think a lot more,” said another.

These and thousands of other comments like them over the years are the routine result of the Narconon drug education lectures.

With the vast amounts of money involved in the illegal drug trade — now said to be the third largest industry in the world — customs officers, police and other law enforcement agencies are stretched to the limit by the rising tide of drug use.

Like any other marketplace, the drugs market is based on supply and demand. But successive governments have been persuaded by some drug experts to concentrate on curtailing supply — and have failed. However centuries of history show that, without demand, supply to any marketplace will automatically dry up.

Recent international experience has also shown that demand can only be significantly reduced with both effective prevention and rehabilitation, which do exist — including in Narconon, which began as a rehabilitation programme in 1966 in the United States. (see also “What is Narconon?”)

Nile and others involved in drug education efforts point to a trend over the past quarter of a century that has been undermining prevention, a trend they say is due to a growing pharmacological dominance in the rehabilitation field.

“We see more and more attention to drug-based treatments, like methadone and naltrexone which replace one drug for another, or simply giving prescription heroin,” said Nile. “This all goes hand in hand with defeatism that drug abuse is inevitable, that we have to learn to cope with it, and reduce the harm.

“Of course we need to reduce harm, but not at the expense of prevention. Today there is very little serious talk anymore of prevention.”

Prevention advocates concur that it has to be achieved by working with prospective end-users of drugs at an early age, and following up with them throughout their school years — to avoid having their natural curiosity and hunger for information filled with drug propaganda, of which there is plenty.

“Drug users and pushers have permeated the youth culture with messages that encourage kids to throw caution to the wind,” said Nile. “We hear everything from the idea that cannabis is just a ‘natural herb’ to the argument that Ecstasy isn’t any worse than alcohol. We correct these and many other misleading ‘facts’.

“We don’t use shock tactics, we don’t whinge. We tell them ‘we’ll supply the facts, but we’re not going to tell you how to think. You have to make your own decision.’ That gets their attention from the beginning. That’s why they listen to us,” said Nile.

And they do listen, in the U.K. and in other nations. Most of the drug education specialists in the Narconon network have been trained in the successful lectures of one Narconon graduate, Bobby Wiggins of Boston, Massachusetts in the U.S., who developed his programme from Narconon drug education lectures originally formulated in 1979.

As a former hard-core drug addict himself, Wiggins is the leading drug education specialist in the worldwide network; reduction of drug use of as much as 70 percent has been reported in some schools as a result of his lectures. In response to demand, Wiggins has trained up scores of other lecturers and recorded his own lectures on video. The drug education has reached close to 1,000,000 students, adults and groups, including a lecture delivered by Wiggins in the House of Lords in 1997.

“Narconon’s format is derived from years of research into the true nature of drugs and their effects on the mind and the individual as well as on the body,” said Nile.

The lectures are presented with an even-handed approach and normally allow twenty minutes at the end of the session for open questions. Much of the information contained in the Narconon presentation cannot be found elsewhere — including how drugs create “blank” periods, what they do to a person’s thinking, and how they remain locked in the fatty tissues of the body for years. For most attendees, the facts presented in a Narconon lecture are eye-opening, and teachers report pupils discussing what they have learned for days afterwards.

Over the years, Narconon speakers in the U.K. have imparted their information across the social spectrum, from inner-city youth clubs in Manchester to a top private girls’ school attended by Royals.

Since the beginning of 2001, Narconon has delivered drug prevention education to thousands of schoolchildren up and down Great Britain and the Channel Islands. They have also made civic presentations and media appearances, and presented lectures to the Metropolitan Police at their training facilities.

Narconon’s expanding drug prevention success is based on one simple principle: If you give the truth, it satisfies the demand for knowledge — a demand which lies and drug propaganda might otherwise fulfil.

Today, as it has done for nearly two decades in the U.K., Narconon is living up to that principle.

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