Rod Keller’s story last week about former staff members of Scientology drug rehabs dying produced some fascinating results. Here he is to follow up…
Last week, we reported on the deaths of three young men who had worked at Scientology’s “Narconon” drug rehab centers, and we talked to other former Narconon workers who told us they knew about several other recent deaths as well. They charged that Narconon centers offer no continuing care, and don’t even tell former patients and employees to remain strictly sober.
Now, our sources have identified two more Narconon staff members who relapsed and died in recent years. Nathan Dwyer passed away on November 11, 2013.
Former staff member “Beth” from last week’s article now wishes to use her real name – Wendy, and recalls about Nathan:
He was an intern in Caliente, Nevada, and went on a leave of absence with his family for one day and ended up using cocaine. They kicked him out even after he begged to stay because if he went home he would OD.
Nathan died a week later in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The Medical Examiner lists the cause of death as Acute Mixed Drug Intoxication.
On February 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, Jacob Joseph Heider died of a heroin overdose. He was a staff member at the Narconon in Warner Springs, California.
Wendy tells us that after last week’s story, Narconon officials had discovered her true identity.
She says that some of her former co-workers took to Facebook this week in an attempt to shame her for speaking out about the deaths.
Josh Penn is correct – patients who attend other rehab facilities have relapsed and died after returning home. American Addiction Centers in particular was even charged with murder in February of this year for negligence in the death of Gary Benefield. The difference with Narconon is that these deaths are staff members, not just patients. Patient relapses are common, staff relapses are very unusual. Penn is on staff at the new Narconon headquarters in Glendale, California.
Wendy says she received phone calls from two of her former co-workers, who tried to silence her. Neither of them had read last week’s article.
I asked Wendy to explain her continued support for the effectiveness of the Narconon program even as she was speaking out against staff deaths. She blames the changes to the program made when the Scientology group the Association for Better Living & Education (ABLE) took over Narconon.
With the new program that rolled out last December we have had an abnormal number of deaths and relapses. I have done both the old program and the new program. I have studied both old and new staff tech. The new program doesn’t provide anything to help get and stay sober. I am not attacking the group. They will say I am attacking them and that I am an antisocial person. I am not. Their main concern is money and statistics. When the statistics are down, the executives tell the staff to hurry and get them through so the stats will go up, or to lie about the stats. Doing that causes the staff members to commit overts. Students are not getting what they need or pay for. Staff are stressing over hearing students relapsing or overdosing. After so many orders from the executives to do things that they know are wrong staff start committing other overts and withholds which lead to using drugs or drinking.
The centers are being run by interns. They hardly have staff members at the centers anymore. I am not all in with Narconon and I’m not all out with the critics, Narconon now doesn’t work. It is painful to see something like this happening. A few years ago it was the best place to be and work for. I understand at any rehab you will have problems, relapses, and overdoses, but not a substantial amount like Narconon has had in the last year!
And finally we have a photo of former staff member Elizabeth Breedlove at a heroin awareness walk in Cleveland, Ohio, holding a sign she made honoring the memory of Tabatha Fauteux and Kevin Vavricka.
— Rod Keller
Ireland now has a Scientology National Affairs office, and not a clue why
We want to thank Pete Griffiths and Andrea Garner for their dispatches from Dublin yesterday to keep us all informed about Scientology’s strange grand opening of its new national affairs office in Dublin. Pete and John Duignan really generated a lot of great press coverage going into this event, which then went off yesterday with the typical balloons-and-confetti nonsense, attended by a small crowd of onlookers.
Of all the press reactions, we found today’s piece in the Irish Times most telling. Reporter Emer Sugrue said that she’d found herself invited to the event but not as a journalist. And that gave her perhaps greater access than she would have obtained otherwise.
She noted how the staff of the new office, as well as the celebrants, all seemed to have come from other places, and the silly ceremony itself was distinctly American in flavor. But most of all, we appreciated her sense of wonder: Why does Ireland need such a thing?
Chatting to someone whose business card described them as ‘The Way to Happiness Co-ordinator’, I was told about the plans for the new office. She explained that this would be a secular branch of the church, not trying to convert people but just helping with social issues. She particularly stressed that they would be fighting for our human rights, human rights we don’t even know we have.
We’re glad the Times picked up on what a waste of expensive real estate this facility is. Scientology was practically dead in Ireland when church leader David Miscavige came up with the idea of opening this office. But keep in mind, if it seems futile for Scientology to pretend it can affect Ireland’s national affairs with five flown-in staff members in a building that will stand otherwise empty most of the time, the real purpose of this white elephant is the same as all the other empty buildings that Miscavige has been opening around the world in recent years. He does these things simply so he’ll have something to tell the big donors at the next big international event.
In other words, it’s another empty public relations exercise. Jazzed up with the Jive Aces.
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield