Author Topic: Need guidance on sending someone to Fresh Start Warner Springs  (Read 3010 times)

Offline mavdad

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Hello --

My 52-year-old sister called today (from Michigan) and told me she needs to bring her 26-year-old daughter (my niece) out to Fresh Start Warner Springs.  My niece, who is a long-time alcoholic with serious liver damage, has already been through several in-patient/out-patient facilities in the Midwest.

I'm not certain how my sister learned about the Warner Springs facility, but she sounded convinced she needed to send my niece there.  She has already spoken to someone at the facility and was told that spaces are limited but one is expected to open up sometime during the week of July 08-12.  Funny how that worked out.  It may be a coincidence or it may be simply that they don't want to give my sister time to fully research their facility.

Later, I started doing some internet research on the S Warner Springs.  Truthfully, what I found scares me.  I have a hard time believing brochures over comments made by former patients, employees or other objective individuals.  However, I can see how my sister could be duped by a glossy brochure or a conversation with an employee at the facility.

Is there anyone I can put my sister in contact with who could objectively give her the pros and cons about sending her daughter to the Warner Springs facility?  Who should she contact (government agency) to obtain information about any complaints/violations against Fresh Start Warner Springs?

I truly appreciate any assistance that I could pass along to my sister before she shells out $39K....

Thanks.....

Offline ethercat

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Hi mavdad, and welcome.  I'm glad you found us before your niece goes to Narconon at Warner Springs. 

Hello --

My 52-year-old sister called today (from Michigan) and told me she needs to bring her 26-year-old daughter (my niece) out to Fresh Start Warner Springs.  My niece, who is a long-time alcoholic with serious liver damage, has already been through several in-patient/out-patient facilities in the Midwest.

I'm not certain how my sister learned about the Warner Springs facility, but she sounded convinced she needed to send my niece there.  She has already spoken to someone at the facility and was told that spaces are limited but one is expected to open up sometime during the week of July 08-12.  Funny how that worked out.  It may be a coincidence or it may be simply that they don't want to give my sister time to fully research their facility.

Narconon is very good at convincing people that they are the only program that can help.  They always say that "space is limited, but this is your lucky day, we just happen to have... "  That they don't want your sister to have time to research is quite likely.  It's good you're doing the research.  There is some danger of the doses of Niacin that are given in the program, way beyond what FDA recommends, and large amounts of Niacin can damage the liver, so I would be quite concerned about that, if I were your sister or niece, since she already has liver damage from drinking.

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Later, I started doing some internet research on the S Warner Springs.  Truthfully, what I found scares me.  I have a hard time believing brochures over comments made by former patients, employees or other objective individuals.  However, I can see how my sister could be duped by a glossy brochure or a conversation with an employee at the facility.

The people trying to sell your sister on the program are very practiced at what they do.  Narconon Warner Springs has also gone by the names Narconon San Diego and Sunshine Summit Lodge, so any information you find about these names refer to the same facility.  There is a lot here in the Narconon in California section (the one this is in) about Sunshine Summit Lodge (Warner Springs), so look over the thread titles to see the ones that relate.

Here are some scripts that were leaked by a former staff member of Narconon Fresh Start, just to give you an idea of the "hard sell" your sister's been given:
http://forum.reachingforthetippingpoint.net/index.php/topic,12184.0.html

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Is there anyone I can put my sister in contact with who could objectively give her the pros and cons about sending her daughter to the Warner Springs facility?  Who should she contact (government agency) to obtain information about any complaints/violations against Fresh Start Warner Springs?

We have a copy of one health inspection that was done at Sunshine Summit Lodge/Warner Springs in 2011: http://alley.ethercat.com/storage/Narconon/Narconon_San_Diego_Notice_of_Deficiency-2011-09-14.pdf
and here's a thread where we discussed it:
http://forum.reachingforthetippingpoint.net/index.php/topic,8697.0.html

Your sister can contact this agency for information about any others that have taken place:
Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs
1700 K Street, Third Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814–4037
Phone: (916) 332–2911
Website: http://www.adp.ca.gov
Licensing and Certification: http://www.adp.ca.gov/feedback/feedback.shtml

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I truly appreciate any assistance that I could pass along to my sister before she shells out $39K....

Thanks.....

TP member Cigul was at Warner Springs in 2011, so some of his/her posts relay his/her experiences.  Here's a link to his/her posts: http://forum.reachingforthetippingpoint.net/index.php?action=profile;area=showposts;u=326

And TP member Sunshine has a large amount of knowledge about Narconon in that area of California, also.  Here's a link to his/her posts: http://forum.reachingforthetippingpoint.net/index.php?action=profile;area=showposts;u=140

You can also look on RipOffReport.com for complaints about Narconon.  It would probably be easier to sort through the complete list, rather than to search a specific name, since there are multiple names you'd have to lookk for (and yes, that's by design).  Here's a link: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/search/narconon

Don't let your sister spend the $39,000 - she will, in all likelihood, be unhappy, and then will have trouble getting the money back.  If they do give a refund, it will not be a full one, and she will be required to sign a gag agreement (agreeing not to speak badly of Narconon, Scientology, or L. Ron Hubbard) in order to get it. 

If she'd like to come on the forum and ask her own questions, she's more than welcome to.  We have some former staff members and others who can speak to different points than I have in this post, and they may reply also, so check back here for more.

Hope this helps.   :)

P.S. And beware, there are Narconon programs in Michigan, too.  They are called: Narconon Freedom Center, Best Drug Rehab, A Forever Recovery, and a new one that just opened, Best Choice Rehab.
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Offline mefree

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Hi mavdad and welcome to this forum. Ethercat gave you some good information.

Tell your sister to think about the following:
Why does a rehab continuously need to change it's name? This is happening in other states, as well as California.

With a Narconon in Michigan, why does Narconon want to send her to California?

One of the worst complaints I have heard is that Narconon does not provide any form of real counseling and that patients ( they call them students) are actually discouraged from talking about their feelings. To me, this is a very basic and necessary, missing component of the Narconon program.

Yes, it is Scientology and yes, the vitamins are dangerous. But, I think there is quite a lot missing from the program that should be there.
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

Offline mavdad

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Thanks Ethercat and Mefree for your quick reply to my post!  :)

One of the things my sister is waiting for is a report from a doctor treating my niece regarding the condition of her liver.  I'm not certain why, but this is the last thing that is needed before she can bring my niece out to the Warner Springs facility.  She is seeing the doctor tomorrow and planned to fly out to Fresh Start later this week if the doctor tells her my niece can travel. 

My sister told me that my niece's liver has suffered severe damage due to her alcoholism, so the information about the questionable use of Niacin sends up a major "red flag" in my mind.  :o

I'm worried my sister is simply grasping at straws.  She has tried nearly everything to help my niece and may feel this is her last or only chance to save her.  In her mind, she is convinced that this is her best chance.  Being a parent of two, myself, I can completely understand her desire to do whatever she thinks she has to.

I will check through the links that were provided, but I know that I have probably already seen the majority of them.  The ripoffreport.com site was the first one I found after doing a google internet search on Fresh Start.  That, thankfully, led me to this site.  After strumbling onto a few more sites, I became extremely concerned about Fresh Start.

One thing I forgot to mention in my original post is that I live in San Diego county and am about an hour away from the Fresh Start facility.  My gut tells me that I should drive out there to see how the actual facility compares to the sales brochure.  Do you think they would allow this?

Being able to look at this objectively, I have a bad feeling about Fresh Start.  Now, I simply want to give my sister as much information so she can make an informed decision that is based on facts and not "parental emotion."

Thanks again.....

Offline mefree

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With liver damage, she is in real danger at a Narconon program. Is the physician who is evaluating her independent of Narconon? If so, maybe you could call or send him some links to information. Take a look at the Narconon of Georgia and Oklahoma sub-forums here as well. There have been numerous deaths and investigations into health insurance and credit card fraud.

You absolutely cannot trust what they will tell your family to get her in the door.

A few links for the physician, if he's trusted:
www.narconon-exposed.org
www.california-rehab-referral.com
and this forum
www.reachingforthetippingpoint.net

The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

Offline Sunshine

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mavdad,
I would call the facility and ask for a tour. Narconon is located in the northern part of San Diego County,  if your niece was to require emergency medical services the first responders would be the local volunteer fire department they are very good but have limited capabilities. The closest hospital is located in Temecula (Riverside County)  over thirty miles away. If it's a life threatening condition life flight is available, I would not send your niece due to her liver problem to any facility that was not within a few minutes from an emergency hospital.
 

Offline ethercat

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Thanks Ethercat and Mefree for your quick reply to my post!  :)

One of the things my sister is waiting for is a report from a doctor treating my niece regarding the condition of her liver.  I'm not certain why, but this is the last thing that is needed before she can bring my niece out to the Warner Springs facility.  She is seeing the doctor tomorrow and planned to fly out to Fresh Start later this week if the doctor tells her my niece can travel.

My sister told me that my niece's liver has suffered severe damage due to her alcoholism, so the information about the questionable use of Niacin sends up a major "red flag" in my mind.  :o

Make sure the doctor is aware of the excessive vitamin use that is part of the program.  Niacin is used in the program to (supposedly) flush the toxins out.  The amount of Niacin taken increases until there is no longer a physical response (skin redness, itching, burning).  This can increase until it reaches 5,000 mg - the recommended dosage for adults is 14-16 mg.  This page is fairly technical (medically) but the doctor should understand it if you or your sister don't: http://livertox.nlm.nih.gov/Niacin.htm

There is some medical usage of larger doses of Niacin for adjusting cholesterol levels, but this is done under a doctor's supervision, and cholesterol is not the problem being solved here.

I should also add that Niacin is not the only vitamin that is taken in excessive dosages.  This page outlines the levels used in Narconon (New Life Detoxification, aka sauna):
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon/detox.htm

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I'm worried my sister is simply grasping at straws.  She has tried nearly everything to help my niece and may feel this is her last or only chance to save her.  In her mind, she is convinced that this is her best chance.  Being a parent of two, myself, I can completely understand her desire to do whatever she thinks she has to.

I understand that too, but let's consider what components of the Narconon program might work.

The sauna and vitamin detoxification part:

There is no scientific evidence that the stated effects can actually occur, and in fact, there are authoritative statements that there is no way the sauna and vitamins produce the stated outcome.  Toxins are not eliminated through sweating, but through the liver and urine.  It is based on Hubbard's book, Clear Body, Clear Mind; and is a duplicate of Scientology's Purification Rundown.  There is information about the Purification Rundown here, and everything on this page would also apply to the Narconon version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purification_Rundown

Exercise: Never a bad thing, but hardly unique to Narconon.

Proper nutrition: Also never bad, hardly unique to Narconon, and it's actually questionable whether Narconon provides proper nutrition based on reports of the food at various Narconon facilities.

The coursework, training books, the "meat" of the program: Taken directly from scientology.  These teach the "student" to be a scientologist, to be compliant.  Nowhere in them is addiction or substance abuse actually addressed. 

Being out of the daily environment and away from temptations/ability to access alcohol: There is something to be said for this, but it's hardly unique to Narconon.  Most of the reports we've heard is that drug and alcohol use takes place on a regular basis in Narconon.  This seems to be systemic throughout the various Narconons.  There are also instances where people have gone to Narconon for one substance, and ended up being introduced to (a) new substance(s) and trading one type of abuse for another.

The desire of the individual to quit: The most important factor in whether any program works or not.  The individual has to want to quit, or else they will return to using as soon as they are out of the program.  This does not depend on Narconon at all, but on the individual themselves.

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One thing I forgot to mention in my original post is that I live in San Diego county and am about an hour away from the Fresh Start facility.  My gut tells me that I should drive out there to see how the actual facility compares to the sales brochure.  Do you think they would allow this?

Edit: I see Sunshine has replied to this, and a good reply it is, but I'll leave this part in anyway.
I don't know whether they would allow it or not, but I'm sure if they did, you would be given a tour of what they want you to see, just like in the brochures.  No business, especially Narconon, is going to voluntarily show you the negative part of their business.  You might try checking it out without alerting them, but it looks pretty isolated, and I don't think they would take kindly to someone driving up and walking around on their own.  It might be worth asking them to check out the facility, though, just to see what they say or do.  That might be telling, in and of itself.

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Being able to look at this objectively, I have a bad feeling about Fresh Start.  Now, I simply want to give my sister as much information so she can make an informed decision that is based on facts and not "parental emotion."

Thanks again.....

You're welcome.  If you have any other questions, feel free to ask - that's what we're here for.  Please also let us know whether your sister decides to proceed, or changes her mind about sending your niece to Narconon.   :)   

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Offline ethercat

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mavdad,
I would call the facility and ask for a tour. Narconon is located in the northern part of San Diego County,  if your niece was to require emergency medical services the first responders would be the local volunteer fire department they are very good but have limited capabilities. The closest hospital is located in Temecula (Riverside County)  over thirty miles away. If it's a life threatening condition life flight is available, I would not send your niece due to her liver problem to any facility that was not within a few minutes from an emergency hospital.

Great thing to consider, Sunshine.

Something I forgot to mention, too, is that if your niece is drinking a lot on a regular basis, it could be dangerous for her to go cold turkey when she arrives at Narconon, and the untrained staff at Narconon could possibly interpret the withdrawal effects as something desirable, when in actuality, they would indicate an emergency medical situation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delerium_tremens
Quote
Withdrawal reactions due to physical dependence on alcohol are the most dangerous and can be fatal. They often lead to physical effects including shivering, palpitations, sweating and in some cases, convulsions and death if not treated.
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Offline mefree

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Personally, with the known potential dangers to your niece, touring seems like a waste of time. I don't mean to discourage you though.

Maybe, an eye-witness account of the facility would be helpful to your sister.
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

Offline mavdad

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Thanks for all of the thought provoking replies.....

I just contacted my sister and gave her a link to this website.  I encouraged her to register and even post so she could ask more informed questions.

Offline ethercat

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Very good, mavdad.  I've given you and your sister PM capabilities so you can converse with Cigul privately.  I've responded and added some more information in your sister's thread: http://forum.reachingforthetippingpoint.net/index.php/topic,12556.msg32019.html#msg32019
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Offline mavdad

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Thanks to all of you......

My sister just emailed me told me that she will not be sending my niece to Fresh Start Warner Springs.

Her decision was based on this website and all of the great information it contains.  She was also able to speak to someone (via phone) who posts on this website. They talked for nearly an hour.

I can't express how appreciative I am for this degree of support....

Offline mefree

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You're so welcome!
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

Offline Mary_McConnell

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Welcome mavdad. I'm glad you got the assistance you needed.

Terrific work, everyone, including you, mavdad! The consequences of your niece going to Narconon in such poor health would have been disastrous.

Best wishes,
Mary
I am a volunteer advocate for victims of the Narconon scam. I am a former scientologist. I post anonymously. Mary McConnell is my long time nom de plume. Feel free to contact me for assistance in righting the wrongs.

Offline ethercat

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This makes me very happy!   (cOocO)9
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Offline Kelly Irwin

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Quote
Narconon is very good at convincing people that they are the only program that can help.  They always say that "space is limited, but this is your lucky day, we just happen to have... "  That they don't want your sister to have time to research is quite likely.  It's good you're doing the research.  There is some danger of the doses of Niacin that are given in the program, way beyond what FDA recommends, and large amounts of Niacin can damage the liver, so I would be quite concerned about that, if I were your sister or niece, since she already has liver damage from drinking.

I seem to remember someone quoting Mary Rieser as saying, "We just happen to have a bed." Like it's the hottest thing in town, lol.

Thankfully, this young woman avoided harm.