Presented by Clark Carr at the International Conference on Chemical Contamination and Human Detoxification, Dec 1 -2, 1995, Los Angeles, California
The Narconon(R) Drug Rehabilitation Program is a social education drug rehabilitation model. The program was founded in 1966, based on the works and researches of L. Ron Hubbard. The first free-standing center was in Los Angeles. The network spread to Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and around the world and the U.S. in a grassroots expansion. The program curriculum was codified in manuals and standardized into a uniform model in the early 1990s.[i]
The Narconon New Life Detoxification Program (NLDP), often called the ‘sauna sweat-out,’ was adopted by the Narconon network after it was released by Mr. Hubbard in the late 1970s. It follows only after full and complete physical withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol. Medical permission to follow the sauna detoxification regimen is required, before starting. The daily procedure[ii]: One must have had adequate rest, then he/she takes a vitamin/mineral packet (and small amounts of vegetable oils at other times of the day), then 30 minutes of physical exercise, followed by 4 – 5 total hours sweating in 20-30 minute episodes in a dry, well-ventilated sauna (temperature varying +/- 150 degrees Fahrenheit). The participant takes a prepared group of vitamins and minerals, balanced around incremental doses of crystalline, instant-release niacin, graduating from 100 mgs upward to 5,000, increased only as earlier dosages cease to produce reactions (which reactions are the theme of this paper). Frequent rest breaks are taken to cool off and take plenty of water along with salt, potassium, and cell salts, as needed. The program is supervised on-site by a staff member as well as being monitored and ‘programmed’ daily by a case supervisor. It takes 3 to 6 weeks to complete the procedure, sometimes longer.
The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the transitory reactions or changes, physical, mental, and emotional, mentioned above, stimulated or brought about by the detoxification procedure, lasting usually from minutes to an hour or two. These phenomena, although individually unpredictable, are anticipated and occur off and on throughout the NLDP of most participants. It will be shown that these highly varied episodes experienced by NLDP participants begin or “turn on,” continue for a short time, and then cease or “turn off,” assuming that the NLDP procedure is not interrupted, but allowed to continue. Eventually the reactions cease entirely, accompanied by an overall attitude of well-being and the participant feeling much freer concerning the effects of past drugs or other toxins consumed.
A few case studies are presented here of persons with specific drug histories who manifested such reactions, often closely related to the drugs earlier used by the participants.
“Reactions,” “changes,” “events,” or “episodes” that might occur during the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program
A fundamental premise underlies the sauna detoxification program. The human body makes a continuous effort to detoxify itself via the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, etc. of drug or other toxins consumed (eaten, drunk, smoked or inhaled, injected, absorbed through the skin). Because of the xenobiotic (foreign to the body) nature of the toxins ingested, the body often does not in fact fully metabolize and/or cleanse or rid itself of the unwanted toxins. Although the blood serum and/or urine after a few hours, days, or weeks may test ‘clean’ regarding a substance earlier consumed (alcohol, marijuana, opiates, stimulants, hallucinogens, pharmaceuticals), the serum or urine registering clean does not certify that drug or other toxic metabolites or residuals may not remain behind, sequestered in fat or other organ tissue.
This principle was presented by L. Ron Hubbard in his book Clear Body Clear Mind [iii] and in other related works. Mr. Hubbard was researching the progressive, complex deterioration of a drug user, resulting in what Hubbard described as the ‘drug personality.’[iv] He represented how in life, after having earlier used drugs, the former drug user might later experience unwanted, uncontrolled ‘flashbacks,’ [v] associated with that earlier drug life. These episodes could be momentary, or they could be full-fledged re-enactments, mental, emotional, even physical, of earlier drug-associated events — experiencing the highs, lows, irrationalities, or physical effects of being under the influence of the drug, withdrawing from the drug, craving the drug, virtually anything. Acting-out or re-living drug experiences are familiar to those who have consumed large amounts of toxic substances. The phenomena are recognizable also to their families and/or friends who have had to live through the unpredictable chaos of a person suffering an addiction. Acting out irrationally, he often does not realize that it is “the drugs that are talking to him,” as it is commonly put. Mr. Hubbard recognized the pernicious long-term danger that drug residuals storing in the body could mean and developed the full sauna detoxification procedure as a long-lasting, healthful resolution. This ‘flashback’ phenomena could apply not just to drugs, but to other toxins as well (as in firemen breathing in toxic fumes, employees absorbing poisons from toxic workplace environments, etc.)
The conceived explanation was that it was in the process of toxic residuals being later mobilized into the bloodstream through exercise, weight loss, stress, hunger, heat, etc. that a former drug user might re-experience physical and emotional sensations associated with earlier drug or alcohol use. In this presentation, we will show that these ‘drug reactions’ in fact frequently occur as an anticipated part of the process of the the NLDP participant going through his or her sauna detoxification program. Former drug users may experience not only “highs” and “lows,” but also a myriad of other mental, emotional, and physical phenomena associated with their past drug or other toxin use. A multitude of things can ‘turn on,’ continue for a time, and then ‘turn off’ or disappear.
The kinds of ‘re-vived events’ or ‘turn ons’ really are uncountable because they are dependent on the person’s individual, unique experience. Nevertheless, many are somewhat predictable in kind depending on the drugs the participant earlier consumed. Former opiate or opioid users in the sauna frequently start to ‘nod off,’ as they used to do moments after shooting up. Their arms or other body parts may manifest ‘needle tracks’ for half an hour before disappearing. LSD or other hallucinogenic users may experience delusions or hallucinations they had when ‘high,’ although now they are not ‘taking’ the drug, but ‘sweating it out’ (or metabolizing it from tissue storage). This can include transitory paranoia, depression, hyper-euphoria, and other emotional phenomena, momentarily unpleasant, but quickly diminishing. As drug users also took in licit drugs during their lives, such as local anesthetics in dentistry or general anesthetics during operations, phenomena associated with such medical experiences might come up.
These ‘stimulations’ or ‘restimulations’ of earlier toxic experiences might be expected to appear during the NLDP after a person ingests and starts to metabolize instant release, crystalline niacin. Mr. Hubbard stated regarding this that:
“It is a matter of record that a reaction turned on by niacin
will turn off where the administration of niacin is continued.” [vi]
Amongst other effects, niacin is associated with a brief suppression, but then a several hour increase in the metabolization of fatty acids.[vii] It is during this later metabolization of lipid or fatty tissue and the consequent release of possible stored drug or other toxic residuals that such drug reactions might be predicted to ‘turn on’ and be experienced.
It is the purpose here to show a few case examples of how, notwithstanding the momentary discomfort or disorientation sometimes associated with these events, that they are not dangerous, but predictably will dissipate and/or ‘turn off’ as readily as they ‘turned on’ if the standard sauna detoxification procedure is allowed to continue. Whereas someone inexperienced in this procedure might want to depart from protocol and ‘treat’ something as a negative medical event (e.g., a rash appearing on the skin, or depressed thoughts), someone with training in the sauna detoxification procedure knows that “a reaction turned on by niacin will turn off where the administration of niacin is continued.” Persons about to do the sauna detoxification procedure are familiarized with this phenomena before they begin. They are doing the NLDP to reduce the mental and physical effects of past drug use. Getting all the way through the procedure is therefore valuable to them. Hence, they are very willing once something has ‘turned on’ to continue to sweat their way through it, even if it may be unpleasant for a while. It is also can be educational as the emotional and mental phenomena reveal themselves as related to drug usage, and the recovering addict step by step learns to dissociate himself from ‘drug think’ to his own thinking.
This does not mean that someone who might be starting to experience early signs of heat exhaustion should not be directed by a supervisor or his partner doing the procedure with him to leave the sauna, drink fluid, take salt and/or potassium, and cool off. Common sense is required, as in all things.
Several specific cases
The sequence is that at any particular dosage of niacin, a participant might report experiencing a reaction. This could occur any time during the day after first taking niacin and starting the exercise/sweating procedure. Having noticed such a reaction, the person continues his sweating and cooling-off standardly for that day. On the next succeeding day, that person is administered the same dosage of niacin (balanced always with other vitamins and minerals) that was associated with the first reaction. If the earlier phenomena continues or increases in intensity on this next day, he stays at the same niacin dosage for another day. And so on. When the reaction begins to lessen or disappears, the following day the niacin dosage is increased on a gradient. New phenomena might occur, then or later, with a higher dose. And the same procedure is followed — maintain the niacin dosage, flatten off the reaction, only then increase the niacin.
What turns it on will turn it off.
The desired conclusion to the full NLDP is that all such drug or toxin-associated mental, emotional, or physical ‘events’ (reactions, turn on’s) cease to manifest. While continuing to take vitamins and minerals including niacin and to exercise and sweat, the participant should now feel very good overall, experiencing often a new clarity of thought or other positive feelings, and having no persistent negative thoughts, emotions, or attitudes related to or controlled by past drug usage (including alcohol). The participant, more likely than not, will originate that he “hasn’t felt like this since…”, giving a date that goes back to before he ever started using drugs or alcohol in the first place, however early in his life that might have been.
The following cases were selected from one Narconon drug rehabilitation center’s clientele for their illustrative example of this sauna detoxification ‘reaction’ phenomena. Client identity was kept anonymous. For each of the sample cases, we will show pages from Daily Reports filled out by the participant (or dictated by him to a supervisor) during the New Life Detoxification Program, on sequential days. This standard report form asks the client to record daily, among other things, what occurs initially after first taking the niacin (sometimes involving a temporary itchy skin flush of varying intensity, but not dangerous), then during the exercise period, then during the sweating episodes throughout the day, and finally any final comments or ‘realizations’ had during the day. The staff supervisor monitoring the client and others doing the NLDP also has an opportunity to add observations of the client.
Case #1: A heavy heroin user
This case enrolled having recently been consuming heavy doses of heroin (and methadone, by the way), as well as having taken psychiatric pharmaceuticals. He was about 21 years old, well educated. He had had a challenging withdrawal.
We start at Day 9 in the sauna at 400 mgs niacin with balance of other vitamins.
He reports: “I got very annoyed when my [niacin] flush came on. Then got a massive buzz, heroin maybe, tranq[uilizers] mixed in. Sex thoughts.” This was clearly a reaction, a ‘turn on,’ and he was continued on 400 mgs niacin the next day.
Day 10 – 400 mgs niacin continued.
His daily report states simply “Disinterest.” On the first page of his daily report he wrote “Less niacin reaction.” The Sauna In-Charge [monitoring the clients in the sauna detoxification] wrote the comment, “He was civil to me today. We even had an interesting discussion for a while after he had finished.” Heroin cases tend to be nasty tempered for quite a while. Because this client’s reactions are diminishing compared to the day before, the niacin is increased to 500 mgs for the next day.
Day 11 – Raised to 500 mgs niacin
“Having massive stomach problems,” he reports. “Eyes puffy at end. Less niacin flush. Also having difficulty sleeping.” These are heroin use symptoms; therefore, the niacin is continued at 500 mgs until the symptomatic reactions reduce.
Day 12 – 500 mgs niacin continued.
He had an increased reaction to the niacin. “Mega weird buzz,” he reports. “Felt really high. Smack [a street term for heroin]. But really ill at the same time.” The Sauna In Charge reports, “Very strong drug reaction. Possibly anesthetic coming out. Skin pale. Eyes unfocussed. Deathly. I gave him a locational and sent him back in to continue sweating in the sauna. It went away.” Note: A locational is an orientation exercise, pointing things out in the environment, etc., which helps a person keep himself ‘in present time,’ in the here and now. This student, by the way, had had a serious auto accident a few years earlier and had been anesthetized in hospital; hence his speculation about anesthetics. The client also notes, based on what he is experiencing, that “toxins are quite possibly, just maybe maybe leaving my body…” As his drug reactions are strong, he is continued at 500 mgs niacin.
13 – 500 mgs niacin continued.
The client is feeling better this day. He reports in his joking manner, “Elephantiasis of the scrotum and glans. Good sweat.” Elsewhere he also reports that he has continued to have trouble sleeping at night. The rules regarding having sufficient sleep are quite strict in sauna protocol; therefore, a few days break was taken to catch the student up on his sleep. When he returned to the sauna, his niacin was increased to 600 mgs.
Day 14 (in the sauna) Niacin raised to 600 mgs.
The client is doing well and jokes, “Sweat, sweat. Nothing else. My normal wacky self.” He goes on in this jocular manner. His sleep has improved and he says no niacin reaction at all. The niacin dose is therefore increased to 700 mgs. Continuing to have reactions, he is maintained at 700 mgs for several days. We skip to Day 17, still at 700 mgs.
Day 17 – Maintaining at niacin 700 mgs
He reports on page one of his daily report that He is “feeling kind of massively ill. It came simultaneously with the flush, but outlasted the flush.” On page two…
…of the same day, he writes, “I got a pretty sporting heroin buzz after the illness. Felt pretty mellow, pretty AOK, except for when I was thinking of slitting your throat for making me angry when I didn’t feel well.” The niacin is continued at 700 mgs. Many drug-related reactions are going on.
Day 18 – 700 mgs niacin continued.
Less niacin flush, but the client reports, “Became strangely anxious. Irritated. Mellow. Sweat reeks like a hospital.” [This last is true. It appears that many of these chemicals, as they come out, evaporate. Sometimes one can smell them in the air of the sauna. Marijuana. Methamphetamine. Industrial toxins, etc. It can be quite noticeable to others.] The niacin is continued at 700 mgs as he is still having strong reactions.
Day 19 – 700 mgs continued.
He reports, “Less niacin flush. But tracks [hypodermic marks] are appearing on the forearms. Tracks looking purple. Places where veins had collapsed are very apparent. Ran [continued appearing] for about an hour or two and then went away. A heroin buzz for 15 to 20 minutes. Then it ran out.” It is clear the reactions are continuing. These are heroin and methadone reactions. It is taking many days to ‘run out’ these symptoms. He is continued at 700 mgs.
Day 20 – 700 mgs continued.
Light niacin flush. He reports, “Nothing except for the first time I almost drifted into sleep, and I never thought I would. It was weird actually. I couldn’t believe it.” The student also mentions in his realizations that he thinks he may be experiencing reactions to the antidepressant Elavil. He also notices the chemical odor of his body as it continues to sweat out substances even after the sauna sweating period is over. His reactions overall appear to be reducing. His niacin is increased to 800 mgs.
Day 21 – Niacin increased to 800 mgs.
Minor niacin flush. “Pretty irritated,” he reports. “Same things as happened yesterday. Nodding out. It happened 20 times. And I really wasn’t tired when I got here. It felt like something hypnotic. The feeling went away about an hour ago.” This is now the familiar heroin characteristic of compulsively nodding off. His program continues… The illustration has been made, how manifestations appear, continue, and then diminish or disappear when the program is continued without interruption.
This client completed the full sauna detoxification after 52 days. While on the sauna protocol he continued to have heroin buzzes, methamphetamine heart-racing turn-on’s, and strange things like “My face and lips are vibrating, numb, slight drug paranoia, staring at people.” Who knows what drug combination might have been behind that? The client related to us that he had sometimes taken LSD and heroin at the same time! He did very well after he completed the New Life Detoxification Program and the Narconon life skills courses that follow after it. He later told us that he had originally come from New York City to a Narconon center on the West Coast “to get some sun and then die.” That was the mood he had arrived in, apathetic to the point of suicide. After graduating the program, he eventually moved back to New York and resumed (or began) living a responsible life in good communication with his family.
Case #2: Pot, heroin, Prozac…
This was a female who had used a large variety of drugs. Prior to enrolling in the Narconon program, she was smoking marijuana daily and had begun using heroin. She also had been on Prozac amongst other drugs.
Day 1 – 100 mgs niacin.
On her first day on the sauna detox, this client developed a facial rash. After first feeling “hyper,” she experienced a “druggy exhaustion,” then drug-related hallucinations. She was maintained at 100mgs niacin.
Day 2 – Maintained at 100 mgs niacin.
On the second day, all the first day’s reactions or ‘turn ons’ were gone. Her niacin was upped to 200 mgs.
Day 3 – Increase to 200 mgs niacin.
She now reported feeling as if high on the designer drug Ecstasy, including experiencing jaw clenching. “Somatic” means an uncomfortable feeling or sensation coming from some earlier experience. She had other heat-related troubles but these were solved with salt and potassium increase. Similar drug reactions continued on her 4th day. We move forward to Day 8.
Skipping to Day 8
On the 8th day, the client reported that she was sweating well, then was unable to sweat in the sauna (despite showering and taking more water.) This could have been related to Ecstasy, but was solved with standard heat handling. “Arm tracks” then showed up. She also felt “very angry” and that “everything was fine when it wasn’t,” emotions she associated with Prozac. We skip to Day 12…
Lots of changes. Her pulse went up, but came down after a break. She felt “paranoid,” felt “tired, having a hard time breathing.” She feltshe was “running something out.” She saw “patterns in the floor, tiles, figures” and for a time thought “others were talking about her when she left the sauna” (some kind of paranoia reaction). But she kept going “back in the box,” and sweated through the reactions.
Her heart rate went up and down, high for two hours. She thought this was a pot high and said she got the “munchies” afterwards.
This client remained on the program for 56 days with a continual lessening of drug-related manifestations. She completed the Narconon program and at the time of the paper remained off drugs.
Case # 3: Methamphetamine
This client was a female who reported using principally methamphetamine prior to enrollment.
For the first time the client reported feeling “a little wired.”
“Tasted speed.” Sweating more than usual (more than usual in the sauna).
Again tasted speed in the mouth. Also felt restless, depressed. (The “box” she “hates” is of course the sauna where she is spending hours cleansing her body of toxins. She might “hate” it, but she continues day after day to accomplish the purpose of the program.)
Heart rate rapid, on and off. Tired on and off. Groggy at end of sweating. (Several days of meth reactions now starting up.)
Noticeably drowsy on and off for an hour. Fast heartbeat. “A little giggly” for 10 mins. Slurring words sometimes. Nervous sensation in stomach. A little depressed — all symptoms relating to methamphetamine during different stages of being high or coming down.
Lots of energy at the beginning and middle of the sweating period, “hungover” towards the end, “maybe a little stoned” (which dissipated after 20 mins)
“Really restless the whole time… kinda felt like I was a little wired.”
“I was in a really good mood all day and still am. I didn’t really feel anything.” (And the several days of reactions have come to an end, ‘run out.’)
Discussion and Conclusions:
The three cases demonstrate that during the process of reducing the toxic body burden with the Hubbard sauna detoxification program, various manifestations can appear (‘turn on’) and, when the daily regimen of exercise and sweating is continued, they reduce and/or disappear without need to deviate or address them as individual events.
The sauna sweat-out phenomena or reactions which manifest vary so widely in terms of mental, emotional, and physical events that it would be difficult to associate any one of them with anything specific in the client’s past drug experience, although the clients often report that this is the case. The fact that ‘needle track marks’ physically reappear on the arms of clients where they have earlier injected drugs is indicative that there is some kind of body memory of that earlier event.
Additionally, the fact that aromas or fumes associated with specific drugs evaporate from client bodies also indicates that there must have been some physical drug or toxic residual storing in tissue somewhere. This has been the case with persons doing the sauna detox after industrial incidents as well.
To try and prove that there is always a physical cause of the various toxic-related events would be fruitless as it is obvious that there is as much psychosomatic at issue as direct physical cause. The same can be said for the many facets of drug addiction. Addiction is neither just physical nor just mental, but a combination of both, involving as well societal issues.
The purpose of the Narconon New Life Detoxification is not to produce any of these phenomena, but to help clients achieve a clinical result of improved causation over drugs and freedom from the destructive effects of past alcohol and other drug use. The case reports shown above, although registering events sometimes challenging to clients mid-procedure, show that the participants are more than willing to go through them in order to have a better chance to achieve the purpose for which they enrolled in the drug rehabilitation program.
Note: A summary of this paper was published in the proceedings of the International Conference on Chemical Contamination and Human Detoxification, published by the Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education (FASE), 1996, as “Case Histories: The Impact of the Detoxification Program.” (http://www.detoxacademy.org/pdfs/case_histories_drug.pdf)
[ i] www.narconon.org
[ii] “Clear Body Clear Mind,” L. Ron Hubbard, Bridge Publications, 1990, pgs 31 – 39
[iv] Ibid, pg 5.
[v] Ibid, pg 24, pg 31.
[vi] Ibid, pg 74-75.
[vii] Carlson, L. A. and L. Oro (1962). “The effect of nicotinic acid on the plasma free fatty acid; demonstration of a metabolic type of sympathicolysis.” Acta Med Scand 172: 641-645. As well as, Carlson, L. A. (2005). “Nicotinic acid: the broad-spectrum lipid drug. A 50th anniversary review.” J Intern Med 258(2): 94-114.