Photo by Jim Law

This website is for people who lived in Synanon to share their experience of Synanon as drug rehabilitation center, therapeutic community, social experiment, cult — it depends on your point of view.

If you want to share a story please let us know on the Contact Page. Thanks for stopping by.

One of the things Synanon was

The Seawall

“Alcoholics Anonymous veteran Chuck E. Dederich established Synanon as an innovative drug rehabilitation center near the Santa Monica beach in 1958. Synanon evolved quickly, however, into an experimental commune and ‘religion,’ which attracted thousands of non-addict members and was strongly committed to social justice and progressive education. This constantly experimenting group gave tremendous power, however, to its charismatic founder and to a small group of Chuck Dederich’s hand-picked, top-level associates. This caused Synanon to be engaged in a number of highly publicized violent actions and radical lifestyle innovations from 1976–1978. The latter events obscured the community’s significant successes in other areas, for example, drug rehabilitation, social integration (across class, gender, age, race, and professional lines), and the provision of millions of dollars in goods and services to disadvantaged people through its redistribution program. The Synanon legacy continues most notably in the ‘therapeutic communities’ approach to drug rehabilitation.
—Rod Janzen from The Rise and Fall of Synanon