Cen­tre vi­o­lated pa­tient’s rights: rul­ing

‘DAN­GER­OUS QUASI RE­HAB’ Scien­tol­ogy-linked Nar­conon ex­ploited mem­bers: Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion

Montreal Gazette - - Montreal - CATHER­INE SOLYOM THE GAZETTE [email protected] mon­tre­al­gazette.com

Four years af­ter he left Nar­conon Trois-Rivières, and two years af­ter the so-called drug-re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre was shut down by the pub­lic health agency, David Love has been vin­di­cated by the Que­bec Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion, which con­cluded the cen­tre ex­ploited and abused him — fi­nan­cially, phys­i­cally and men­tally — along with two other com­plainants.

Love, who was first a pa­tient then an em­ployee at Nar­conon un­til he re­al­ized it was closely linked to the Church of Scien­tol­ogy, said the com­mis­sion’s re­cent de­ci­sion was a “global win” against Nar­conon, which continues to run drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres in sev­eral coun­tries — putting pa­tients’ lives at risk.

“Some say I’m in it for the money, but it’s not true — I want to help the ad­dicts,” said Love, a na­tive of B.C. who has stayed in Mon­treal to fight Nar­conon, first be­fore the Que­bec Labour Tri­bunal, then be­fore the Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

Both agencies me­di­ated in his favour and against Nar­conon, an or­ga­ni­za­tion vaunted by Scien­tol­o­gists like ac­tors Kirstie Al­ley and John Tra­volta.

“This isn’t just about crit­i­ciz­ing Nar­conon and Scien­tol­ogy,” Love said.

“It’s about sav­ing lives. Drug ad­dic­tion is an epi­demic and I want to help ad­dicts avoid the pit­falls of these pseudo treat­ment cen­tres.”

Love wouldn’t dis­close the amount the com­mis­sion has pro­posed Nar­conon pay Love and the two other plain­tiffs, also for­mer pa­tients, in moral and puni­tive dam­ages. But he con­firmed the to­tal amount is in the “six fig­ures.”

Michel Mé­nard, a lawyer for Nar­conon Trois-Rivières, said he couldn’t com­ment on the de­ci­sion other than to say it was merely a rec­om­men­da­tion — and not bind­ing.

Cit­ing con­fi­den­tial­ity, Pa­tri­cia Poirier, a spokesper­son for the com­mis­sion, said she couldn’t com­ment, ei­ther. The com­mis­sion is still study­ing the case and has not yet de­cided whether to take the mat­ter fur­ther and present it be­fore the Que­bec Hu­man Rights Tri­bunal, she said.

Based on a three-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the fa­cil­ity in Trois-Rivières, the writ­ten doc­u­ment ob­tained by the Gazette says Nar­conon sub­mit­ted Love to “de­grad­ing and hu­mil­i­at­ing prac­tices,” “con­tro­ver­sial teach­ing meth­ods not based on any sci­en­tific study,” “poor liv­ing and food con­di­tions” and “co­er­cion and forcible con­fine­ment.”

Fol­low­ing the lead of the Supreme Court of Canada, the com­mis­sion cat­e­go­rized drug ad­dic­tion as a disability, and con­cluded that Love and oth­ers were dis­crim­i­nated against and fi­nan­cially ex­ploited be­cause of their disability. Nar­conon pa­tients — con­sid­ered “stu­dents” by the fa­cil­ity — were charged $23,000 for the treat­ment, which typ­i­cally lasted three to five months and in­cluded high doses of vi­ta­mins such as niacin com­bined with four- to five-hour ses­sions in a sauna — known as the “Pu­rifi­ca­tion Run­down.”

Fol­low­ing the teach­ings of Scien­tol­ogy founder and sci­ence fic­tion writer Ron L. Hub­bard, pa­tients were also de­prived of any pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion for men­tal ill­ness, and had to un­dergo per­son­al­ity and IQ tests as well as train­ing rou­tines, which Love said were de­signed to make them ac­cept to be un­der some­one else’s con­trol — and teach them how to con­trol oth­ers.

Sit­ting in a restau­rant near his workplace in Mon­treal, Love said it is this mind con­trol that has left him suf­fer­ing so many years later.

He is drug-free, but trau­ma­tized by his ex­pe­ri­ence. Di­ag­nosed with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der, he of­ten has night­mares and can’t sleep. Some­times he bursts into tears sit­ting at his desk at work.

The de­ci­sion feels good, he said, but it’s not over.

Nar­conon Trois-Rivières, which was told to pay the plain­tiffs by March 21, has re­fused. It of­fered Love 20 per cent of the rec­om­mended amount, but only if he signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment that would pre­vent him from

“Some say I’m in it for the money, but it’s not true — I want to help the ad­dicts.” FOR­MER NAR­CONON PA­TIENT

DAVID LOVE

speak­ing pub­licly about the case or his ex­pe­ri­ence with Nar­conon. He re­fused. “It’s more im­por­tant for me to get Nar­conon ex­posed as one of the most dan­ger- ous, quasi re­hab cen­tres in the world,” said Love, who be­lieves Nar­conon fun­nels mil­lions of dol­lars into the Church of Scien­tol­ogy. “Four­teen people have died in­side Nar­conon cen­tres, how many have died out­side?”

In the book he is writ­ing about his ex­pe­ri­ence, which he hopes to pub­lish with do­na­tions from the pub­lic — Roller Coaster Ride Out of Hell — Love refers to sev­eral sui­cide at­tempts by pa­tients, like one at Nar­conon Trois-Rivières who jumped from a sec­ond-storey win­dow af­ter staff al­legedly took away his anti-de­pres­sants.

When Nar­conon Trois-Rivières was closed in April 2012, the head of the Mauricie pub­lic health agency, Marc Lacour, said that at least four of the cen­tre’s pa­tients had been taken to a hospi­tal in the pre­vi­ous few months, but for rea­sons of pa­tient con­fi­den­tial­ity, the agency could not pro­vide de­tails.

Nar­conon has since tried to open a new cen­tre in Hock­ley, Ont., north of Toronto, but has been re­fused the nec­es­sary zon­ing changes af­ter res­i­dents mounted a con­certed cam­paign against it. It still op­er­ates about 50 cen­tres around the world, mostly in the United States and Western Europe.

Calls for com­ment made Tues­day to the Mon­treal of­fice of the Cit­i­zens Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights, a “men­tal health watch­dog” co­founded by the Church of Scien­tol­ogy, were not re­turned.

VIN­CENZO D’ALTO/ THE GAZETTE

“It’s more im­por­tant for me to get Nar­conon ex­posed as one of the most dan­ger­ous, quasi-re­hab cen­tres in the world,” says David Love, who won a Que­bec Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion case against the drug-re­hab cen­tre linked to Scien­tol­ogy.

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