Doctors back schools dropping flawed antidrug program
- Nanette Asimov, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, March 27, 2005
The California Medical Association has declared unanimous support for school districts that have dropped Narconon and other "factually inaccurate approaches" to antidrug instruction from their classrooms, and will urge the American Medical Association to do the same.
Nearly 500 California doctors also endorsed "scientifically based drug education in California schools" at the association's annual meeting in Anaheim on Monday.
Narconon, a drug education program with links [sic: Narconon *IS* Scientology] to the Church [sic] of Scientology, is offered free to schools and has been used in at least 39 California school districts, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as in several other states. It was co-founded [sic: created] by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church [sic] of Scientology.
Although the CMA's resolution carries no force of law, the state and national medical associations can influence public policy.
"The idea is to remove any agency that goes into our schools to teach without evidence for what they are teaching -- this cannot be allowed," said Dr. Charles Wibblesman, chief of the teenage clinic for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco.
He is one of two San Francisco Medical Society doctors who sponsored the resolution. The other was David Smith, founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic.
The resolutions were prompted by reports last summer in The Chronicle that Narconon lecturers were teaching students inaccurate drug information and by independent studies that found Narconon's curriculum was unscientific, said Steve Heilig, director of public health and education for the San Francisco Medical Society.
Both Narconon and Scientology share notions of drug activity, which Narconon lecturers have shared with students over the last decade or so.
Here are some of those notions, which medical experts called inaccurate:
-- Drugs accumulate indefinitely in body fat, where they cause recurring drug cravings and flashbacks for years, even after the user quits.
-- The vitamin niacin pulls drugs from fat, and saunas sweat them from the body.
-- Colored ooze is produced when drugs exit the body.
Narconon officials have consistently stood by the accuracy of their claims.
Following The Chronicle reports last summer, the San Francisco Medical Society conducted a review of Narconon's curriculum and recommended that San Francisco schools drop the program that had been welcome in classrooms since 1991.
The school district barred Narconon, as did Los Angeles schools and several other, smaller districts.
Last month, state schools chief Jack O'Connell urged all California schools to drop Narconon. He based his recommendation on a state evaluation that also concluded the antidrug curriculum contained inaccuracies.
E-mail Nanette Asimov at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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