The drug rehabilitation
30 years of saving
By Warren Pagliaro
ow much is a life worth?
That is a question Kirstie Alley, international spokesperson for the Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Program, posed to the audience at the organizations 30th anniversary in Beverly Hills this spring.
But she also saved the audience from having to answer that touchy question, with her own sensible answer: It is worth saving. And that is what Narconon is all about, and has been about for three decades. In fact, it is because of the rehabilitation methods used by Narconon that I am alive to talk to you today.
Emotional, Star-Studded Evening
From the moment of arrival at the Beverly Hills Hotel it was clear that this was to be much more than just an awards dinner. Kirstie Alleywho acted as hostess for the evening, chairing a hosting committee which featured Anne Archer, Chick Corea, Tom Cruise, Danny DeVito, Willie Gault, Earvin Magic Johnson, Nicole Kidman, Carlos Palomino, Priscilla Presley, John Travolta and many other luminarieswas determined to put on a show which both enlightened and entertained. And Alley, personally involved in every step of the planning and execution of the evening, delivered. Before the dinner and presentations, a silent auction raised funds for the expansion of Narconons programs and facilities. Bidding was lively on the auction menu that included an NBA basketball signed by Magic Johnson, a black leather crew jacket from Days of Thunder, a set of doctors surgical scrub attire donated by ER star George Clooney, a limited edition Yamaha bass guitar signed by Billy Sheehan, and many other collectibles including movie posters and animation cels signed by the likes of Whoopi Goldberg and Kevin Costner. Bidding was even more spirited in the live auction later in the evening. Items included a customized Harley-Davidson motorcycle donated by actor Parker Stevenson, a trip for two in John Travoltas private jet to Pebble Beach Lodge, an acoustic guitar signed by every member of the Eagles, donated by Don Henleyand the list went on. Every dollar raised through the auction went straight to supporting and expanding Narconons drug education and rehab programs.
After dinner and the unique storytelling/musical combinations offered by actor Geoffrey Lewis project, Celestial Navigations, Kirstie Alley welcomed the hundreds in attendance and saluted Narconon on its 30 years of life-saving and innovative drug rehabilitation.
Her salute was personal and sincere. I am understandably biased when it comes to Narconon, Alley said, because, had I not done it, I wouldnt have the career, the family, the success, the life that I have today.
Alley then was joined on stage by a young woman named Kelly Piper.
For 17 years, I was trapped on drugs, Piper said. I spent more than a million dollars on crack cocaine over a four-year period. I got pregnant twice and lost both of those children during pregnancy. I got arrested twice.
Then, during that last year, I got pregnant again and I got arrested again. Life looked really bleak and without hope.
But, fortunately for me, the judge ordered me into a rehab. I started the Narconon program in 1993. That is my freedom date, because Narconon changed my life forever. I learned how to confront my life, and I learned how to be happy, and it had nothing to do with drugs. Before, I thought I had to have drugs to be happy.
Kirstie Alley then introduced her co-auctioneers, Iz Chait from I.M. Chait Galleries and actor Jim Meskimen, and kicked off the live auction, which by all measures was a huge success.
To introduce the second part of the eveningthe Drug-Free Hero awards for 1996the enthusiastic crowd heard legendary singer-composer Isaac Hayes perform his composition, Windows of the World. Hayes told the audience that he wrote the song more than 20 years ago to send a message to the world that it had to take better care of itself.
People can do so much good, Hayes said, but they can also do so much harm. I want people to know when they hear this song that they canlike so many of you aremake a difference and help clean up the windows of the world.
Kirstie Alley then introduced the 1996 Drug-Free Hero award winners. These awards were originated five years ago by Alley who wanted to acknowledge those who work tirelessly and effectively to set an example of drug-free living for children and others. She was assisted in presenting the awards by former Los Angeles Raiders wide receiver Willie Gault, 1993 Drug-Free Hero award recipient.
The first award recipient was Dr. Fred Baughman Jr., a 30-year pediatric neurologist who has worked effectively to establish that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (see The Myth of Attention-Deficit Disorder) is nothing more than a scam intended to make money for psychiatry. More importantly, he has worked to keep children off Ritalinthe dangerous psychiatric drug which is prescribed by psychiatrists to deal with this disorder. Baughman has informed many people about how Ritalin predisposes children to future drug abuse.
In accepting his award, Baughman said, I have worked with children extensively over my 35-year career in medicine. Too often, when children fall behind in class, they get blamed and diagnosed as having learning disorders and the like, and that in turn becomes an excuse to drug them in treatment. And now that treatment is a growth industrywith 90 percent of the Ritalin consumption happening here in the U.S., this deception must be exposed and stopped.
Academy Award-winning actor Lou Gossett Jr., received the Drug-Free Hero award for his tireless support of numerous community projects and causes, including the United Negro College Fund and the Coalition for a Free South Africawork that he was only able to accomplish after winning his own battle with drugs.
Next was Jerilyn Simpson, a community leader from San Bernardino County, California, who has worked effectively for more than a decade to fight drug abuse in her area. She is the founder and president of San Bernardino Communities Against Drugs, which reaches more than 35,000 youth each year. In accepting her award, Simpson said, There is nothing more rewarding for me than knowing that you have been able to keep a child from going down the road of drug abuse. I am very happy to do what I do, and very happy to have the good people at Narconon to help get people off of drugs when they wind up on that road. I urge all of you to continue.
Jack Gustafson, chief executive officer of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors Inc., a national network of leaders in the field of drug abuse treatment and education, was then honored. Gustafson plays a leading role in the public policy process and gaining support for new programs. He was followed by actress Diane Ladd, who was awarded for setting an example of caring and drug-free living for the entertainment industry and the world. Ladd toured the country for half a year to see the drug problem for herself so she could speak out about it with knowledge and conviction.
The final award recipient was world-champion boxer George Foreman, who went from his successful boxing career to becoming a pastor and then opening a community center for troubled youth in his home town of Houston.
Alley explained that Foreman has set a drug-free example for millions of children through his personal efforts. Foreman put it simply: I am glad that I can help through what I do. And I am even more glad that you people do what you do to help as well.
The moving close to the evening came when David Crosby and his son came on stage to perform his Crosby, Stills & Nash classic Teach Your Children Well, to a rapt audience which was almost instantly singing along in unison. His performance was met with a standing ovation, andplied by Kirstie Alleythey then did an encore, Crosbys more recent hit Heroes.
It was a fitting close to an evening honoring true heroes of the drug rehabilitation field.