Tag Archives: addiction

Entitled to Addiction? Pharmaceuticals, Race, and America’s First Drug War

A new article in the Fall 2017 issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine may be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

“Entitled to Addiction? Pharmaceuticals, Race, and America’s First Drug War,” by David Herzberg. Abstract:

This article rethinks the formative decades of American drug wars through a social history of addiction to pharmaceutical narcotics, sedatives, and stimulants in the first half of the twentieth century. It argues, first, that addiction to pharmaceutical drugs is no recent aberration; it has historically been more extensive than “street” or illicit drug use. Second, it argues that access to psychoactive pharmaceuticals was a problematic social entitlement constructed as distinctively medical amid the racialized reforms of the Progressive Era. The resulting drug control regime provided inadequate consumer protection for some (through the FDA), and overly punitive policing for others (through the FBN). Instead of seeing these as two separate stories—one a liberal triumph and the other a repressive scourge—both should be understood as part of the broader establishment of a consumer market for drugs segregated by class and race like other consumer markets developed in the era of Progressivism and Jim Crow.

NBN Interview w/ Claire D. Clark on The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States

New from the New Books Network (NBN) of podcasts is an interview with Claire D. Clark on her newly released book The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United StatesAs NBN describes,

Before the 1960s, doctors were generally in control of the treatment of drug addicts. And that made a certain sense, because drug addicts had something that looked a lot like a disease or mental illness. The trouble was that doctors had no effective way to treat drug addiction. Their best idea–Federal “narcotics farms,” one in Kentucky and one in Texas–kept junkies clean, but only by keeping them away from the drugs those junkies craved. In that sense, they were no more effective than prisons, though in fairness drug farms offered various treatment regimens that enabled some addicts to get and stay clean. Other than locking them up, the medical establishment had no good answer to the question “How do you cure someone of narcotics addiction?” Essentially, then, junkies (who could not spontaneously “kick,” and a lot do) usually ended up in one of three places: on the street, behind bars, or dead.

Enter Charles Dederich. In 1958, Dederich, a veteran of AA and ex-drug addict, decided that addicts should take their treatment into their own hands, much like Bill Wilson and Bob Smith had done with AA in the late 1930s. He took what he learned in AA, adapted it, and created a long-term residential “therapeutic community” expressly for addicts and run by addicts. He called it Synanon, and with it he started what Claire D. Clark calls “the recovery revolution.”

The full interview can be heard online here.

New NBN Podcast: Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic

The New Books Network (NBN) has just released an interview with anthropologist Eugene Raikhel on his recently released monograph Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet ClinicAs NBN describes,

Alcoholism is a strange thing. That it exists, no one seriously doubts. But it’s not entirely clear (diagnostically speaking) what it is, who has it, how they get it, or how to treat it. The answers to these questions depend, apparently, on where you are, which is to say what culture you were born and raise in. Alcoholism and treatments for it in Country A might be very different from alcoholism and treatments for it in countries B, C, and D. Alcoholism is, well, relative.

This is one of the many thing I learned from reading Eugene Raikhel‘s fascinating book Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic (Cornell University Press, 2016). An anthropologist, Raikhel tells us the tale of how the Soviet discipline of “narcology”–the diagnosis and treatment of addiction– evolved during Soviet times and how it adapted after the USSR fell. I won’t spoil the story for you, but suffice it to say that Russians treated and continue to treat alcoholism quite differently that we do in the U.S., though that’s changing (AA has arrived in Russia, something we also discuss).

Listen to the full interview here.

Cornell University Press describes Raikhel’s book on its site follows: Continue reading New NBN Podcast: Governing Habits: Treating Alcoholism in the Post-Soviet Clinic

“I’ve been to Dwight” 2016

51obiAJOTML._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Lancaster University, the Alcohol and Drugs History Society, and the Wellcome Trust have organized a conference in Dwight, Illinois for “transnational perspectives addiction, temperance, and treatment in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

The “I’ve been to Dwight” meeting (July 14-17), is being held at the home of the Keeley Company, the history of which serves as a unique lens to approach the topic:

Though nearly forgotten today, the Keeley Company, based in Dwight, Illinois, distributed its “gold cure” for the alcohol, tobacco and drug habits by post and from franchised clinics across North America, Europe and Australia between 1880 and 1966. The company’s popular, international success ensured that its founder, Dr. Leslie E. Keeley, was among the world’s most famous physicians at the turn of the twentieth century. Keeley however, faced constant accusations of quackery from the forces of professional biomedicine, particularly the BMA and the AMA. Nonetheless, tens of thousands of satisfied patients from around the globe were convinced that his “gold cure” had rid them of their alcohol and drug habits and “I’ve Been to Dwight” was a catchphrase they used to explain their sobriety. After Keeley’s death in 1900, the company worked to conform to shifting standards of biomedical practice, but competition from state-run sanitaria led to its closure in 1966.

Because of its global presence, its difficult relationship with the medical mainstream and its tenacious popularity among ordinary people, marking the closure of the Keeley Company begs many historical questions and it urges us to answer them in broadly critical, comparative and/or transnational terms.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sarah Tracy, historian of medicine from the Department of the History of Science at the University of Oklahoma.

The conference program can be found here.

The village of Dwight, Illinois is directly in between Chicago and Bloomington, and is a short train ride from the city.

Some further online resources about the Keeley Cure:

New JHBS: The Visual Cliff, POW Stress, Models of Addiction, & More

The Spring 2015 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the forgotten animals of the visual cliff experiment, stress research and the POW experience, the use of animal models in addiction research, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The visual cliff’s forgotten menagerie: Rats, goats, babies, and myth-making in the history of psychology,” by Elissa N. Rodkey. The abstract reads,

Eleanor Gibson and Richard Walk’s famous visual cliff experiment is one of psychology’s classic studies, included in most introductory textbooks. Yet the famous version which centers on babies is actually a simplification, the result of disciplinary myth-making. In fact the visual cliff’s first subjects were rats, and a wide range of animals were tested on the cliff, including chicks, turtles, lambs, kid goats, pigs, kittens, dogs, and monkeys. The visual cliff experiment was more accurately a series of experiments, employing varying methods and a changing apparatus, modified to test different species. This paper focuses on the initial, nonhuman subjects of the visual cliff, resituating the study in its original experimental logic, connecting it to the history of comparative psychology, Gibson’s interest in comparative psychology, as well as gender-based discrimination. Recovering the visual cliff’s forgotten menagerie helps to counter the romanticization of experimentation by focusing on the role of extrascientific factors, chance, complexity, and uncertainty in the experimental process.

“Understanding the POW Experience: Stress research and the implementation of the 1955 U.S. Armed Forces code of conduct,” by Robert Genter. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: The Visual Cliff, POW Stress, Models of Addiction, & More