Former Patient, Employee At Narconon Speaks To News 9
McALESTER, Oklahoma - Jake Wilson said he checked into Narconon Arrowhead as a patient last June and loved it, but once he became an employee last month, things changed.
"You see a different side of it, and the things that they try to cover up while you're a student," said Wilson. "You got to see a little more of it while as staff members, but you still didn't know the information of all that was going on."
Wilson lives in Edmond now, but for the last eight months, he called the Narconon drug rehab center in Canadian, Oklahoma home. Wilson battled alcoholism for years, so he enrolled in Narconon's 8-step program for $30,000.
"From the outside looking in, it does look kind of weird. Whether it was an ash tray or a ball or anything else, it had its purpose," he said.
Wilson said the program worked, and he was cured in four months, so he stuck around and started training to be a staff withdrawal specialist. But he said things started going sour after fellow student Stacy Murphy overdosed and died at the facility last July.
From then on, legal battles, investigations and bad press hit the center hard. And just this month, the National Association of Forensic Counselors revoked Narconon's CEO and several employees' counseling certifications, but hasn't said why.
"The tension started building, within staff and everything," said Wilson. "It seemed like everything was getting questioned, no matter what you did. You were walking on egg-shells, basically."
So, Wilson walked away two weeks ago, and said he's not looking back.
"Ever since the Stacy incident, it had slowly declined," said Wilson. "We had lost a lot of students, slowly started losing the staff, and at that point, I think everybody started losing sight of what we were doing."
John W. Bitinas, spokesperson for Narconon Arrowhead says the program is still certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to offer non-medical detoxification services and has been for years.
Bitinas says the counseling certification has nothing to do with the program's accreditation, and it is business as usual for Narconon and its employees.