Tue, 18 September 2018
Our current devastating opioid crisis is unprecedented in its reach and deadliness, but it’s not the first such epidemic the United States has experienced or tried to treat. In fact, it’s the third.
Treating America’s Opioid Addiction is a three-part series that investigates how we’ve understood and treated opioid addiction over more than a century. Through the years we’ve categorized opioid addiction as some combination of a moral failure, a mental illness, a biological disease, or a crime. And though we’ve desperately wanted the problem to be something science alone can solve, the more we look, the more complicated we learn it is.
Part 2 focuses on a controversial rehabilitation program called Synanon, which became the first significant therapeutic community for opioid addiction. From the time it opened its doors in 1958, it seemed to do what no other hospital, prison, or sanitarium had done before: cure the supposedly incurable heroin addict. But over the years its changing methods became increasingly questionable, and the controversy would ultimately lead to its demise. Despite its faults Synanon had a profound influence on subsequent generations of drug treatment programs—many of which still exist today.
Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago
Claire Clark, author of The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States.
Claire Clark. The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.
Film excerpts from:
The Distant Drummer: Flower of Darkness. Washington, DC: Airlie Foundation and George Washington University Department of Medical and Public Affairs, 1972.