Synanon rehab center turned from helping to brainwashing with ‘communal living experiment,’ docuseries reveals

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A California rehabilitation foundation for people addicted to heroin transformed into a “communal living experiment” with cult-like tendencies in the 1950s, according to a new documentary series.

Charles Diedrich, a former alcoholic, initially founded his storefront rehabilitation center in Santa Monica that would become known as the Synanon Foundation in 1958.

By 1978, the center had amassed thousands of members and tens of millions of dollars in assets, including its headquarters located in a historic, private beach club hotel called Club Casa del Mar that remains in business today under its original name.

Diedrich is believed to have coined the popular phrase, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” according to a 1999 article by The Mercury News.

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