How one determined drug addict spearheaded effective drug rehabilitation around the world

The good folks over at Narconon recently put together this video about the early days of Narconon, which has now been saving lives for over 40 years.

Although I found out about the Narconon drug rehabilitation program in 1972 when I was working in Los Angeles, and I visited their drug rehab center, I never met Willie Benitez. But I heard the story; as an addict and prisoner at Arizona State Prison in the mid-1960’s, Willie figured out how to apply some of the information developed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Scientology religion, to help himself and others overcome drug addiction. I was then and still am a Scientologist. I visited the Narconon center then to see first-hand what they were doing. It was very encouraging.

It’s not just a matter of drug withdrawal. These days that’s relatively easy. There are reasons that people start taking drugs, and go back on drugs after a stint in drug rehab. These reasons for going back on drugs have to do with loss of self-respect, lack of ability to communicate, inability to deal with other people in one’s circle of family and friends, lack of a personal moral code, and lack of the skills necessary to get and hold a job. As well as the physiological pull that drugs have for people who have used them.

The physiological aspects of drug addiction are handled, in large part, by doing a purification program that gets the drug residues sweated out of the fatty tissues in the body. It’s a rigorous program (I’ve done it) and it is life-changing all by itself.

But what those who have become addicted to drugs really need are tools for dealing with other people and making a success of their lives.

Willie Benitez recognized (while reading a book by Mr. Hubbard) that the practical drills in the book would help him and other addicts, and he adapted them for use in the prison system to help addicts learn to communicate, learn how to educate themselves, and get out of the trap of drug addiction.

Willie turned down a parole so he could stay in prison and make sure the Narconon program he started there would continue to help drug addicts after his release from Prison. That’s determination at work. Willie Benitez, who passed away a few years ago, would be very proud of the work now being done by Narconon International to help educate people about drugs and to help addicts like him get off and stay off drugs.

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