Dr. Paredes' Program Overview


A Descriptive Overview

By Dr. Alfonso Paredes


This paper provides a basic description of the Fresh Start Program components, which uses and is based on the Narconon drug rehabilitation technology, the methodology applied and the underlying rationale behind the approach. A basic understanding of the main features of the program may help to consider what it may have to offer to individuals with substance abuse problems. A better appreciation of the program may be obtained through actual visits to Fresh Start facilities or participating as a student.

This overview of the Fresh Start Rehabilitation program is based on observations made during personal visits to various Fresh Start centers and interviews with staff and patients. It is also based on a review of the training manuals, policies and procedures and other client documentation. The author, Dr. Alfonso Paredes became familiarized with the program through his participation as a non-salaried member of the Science Advisory Board for NarcononInternational. Dr. Paredes is not an employee, staff member or paid consultant of the program.

Background of the Fresh Start Program

Dr. Paredes is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science at UCLA. He has pursued a long career in research and administration in academic alcohol and other substance abuse treatment and research programs. In addition to UCLA he has held professorial positions at the University of Southern California, University of Oklahoma and Jefferson University Medical School in Pennsylvania. During his tenure as director of the University of Oklahoma Alcohol and Drug Related Studies, he was responsible for a program of basic and applied research supported by the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism. Under NIDA's support he established the UCLA/VA Laboratory for the Study of Addictions, which became the site for several NIDA and State of California funded studies. He is former Chairman of the California Department of Mental Health Research Advisory Committee. Dr. Paredes is investigator of a UCLA- based 12 year follow up study of cocaine dependence supported by NIDA, He has authored and co-authored more than 116 published articles, He is a former member of the Editorial Board of Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, Associate Editor of Recent Developments in Alcoholism and member of the program committee of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Dr. Paredes is a member of the Science Advisory Board for Narconon International.

The Fresh Start Drug Rehabilitation program was first developed in an Arizona State Prison in 1966 by an inmate, William Benitez, who made use of concepts and methods written by the philosopher and humanitarian, L. Ron Hubbard, Benitez was impressed by the fact that Hubbard's writings focused on identifying the abilities necessary for constructive survival in society rather than on the disabilities affecting the individual. He was also impressed with the practical exercises developed by Hubbard to develop these abilities. He felt that by gaining these skills, the drug addict could learn to identify his problems and solve them. Benitez believed that the substance abuser had the potential to learn to communicate effectively with others, as well as able to define a set of personal ethical standards and become a responsible member of the community.

From the start the program had a strong educational orientation with the goal of teaching drug dependent individuals the broad range of skills necessary to maintain a drug free life style. Participants in this program are therefore called students rather than clients or patients.

Building on his perceived success that the program achieved within the institutional setting, upon his release from prison, Benitez established in 1967 in Los Angeles the first Narconon residential drug rehabilitation center. In 1970, Benitez legally incorporated the Narconon program as a 501(c) 3 non-profit public benefit corporation within the United States. At that point it received increased conceptual input and support from L. Ron Hubbard. Mr. Hubbard is well known as the Founder of the Scientology religion; however, the materials used in the Narconon program are based on his observations of the societal problems of drug abuse. The program is a humanitarian endeavor that does not promote or proselytize for any particular religion or religious principles.

As Narconon's activities evolved, Mr. Hubbard continued his inquiries into the drug problems and incorporated additional techniques to address the impact of drugs and alcohol on the individual. He introduced the use of the sauna as a method to manage some of the physical effects of substance abuse as well as a means of alleviating drug craving.

The Fresh Start treatment philosophy is clearly rationalized and the procedures and standards for the performance of all activities are defined and implemented according to manuals first published in 1990.The materials are copyrighted and are used to structure the program components into a well-defined logical sequence of steps or modules. The manuals are used by participants and staff to guide them in the implementation of the program.

Today the Narconon organization is an international network of drug rehabilitation and prevention centers that have broad acceptance as a resource to assist persons with problems of drug dependence. The replicability of the approach across several languages and cultures has contributed to making the Narconon network one of the fastest-growing drug rehabilitation programs in the world.