The Rise and Fall of America’s First Prison for Drug Addicts

cover of the Narcotic Farm

The Narcotic Farm: The Rise and Fall of America’s First Prison for Drug Addicts is a book exploring an experiment to deal with addicted criminals.

The farm was the first place to look at drug addicts as patients that were in need of treatment instead of criminals in need of punishment. The farm did experiments to learn about addiction including on methadone (which is commonly used to try and ease the transition from narcotic addition today). Certainly the methods practiced on the farm were of debatable ethical ground however there was a great deal of learning and desire to learn and treat drug addition.

From 1935 until 1975, just about every junkie busted for dope went to the Narcotic Farm. Equal parts federal prison, treatment center, farm, and research laboratory, the Farm was designed to rehabilitate addicts and help researchers discover a cure for drug addiction. Although it began as a bold and ambitious public works project, and became famous as a rehabilitation center frequented by great jazz musicians among others, the Farm was shut down forty years after it opened amid scandal over its drug-testing program, which involved experiments where inmates were being used as human guinea pigs and rewarded with heroin and cocaine for their efforts.

Published to coincide with a documentary to be aired on PBS, The Narcotic Farm includes rare and unpublished photographs, film stills, newspaper and magazine clippings, government documents, as well as interviews, writings, and anecdotes from the prisoners, doctors, and guards that trace the Farm’s noble rise and tumultuous fall, revealing the compelling story of what really happened inside the prison walls.

Listen to an NPR podcast on America’s First Drug-Treatment Prison

Related: How Effective is Drug Addiction Treatment?Drug Rehabilitation Centers in CaliforniaWhy Can’t Drug Addicts Quit on Their Own?

Quit Smoking Advice from the UK National Health Service

Smokefree from the UK National Health Service provides useful advice for smokers everywhere. It is targeted to those living in the United Kingdom (sensibly, given their mission) but provides information anyone can benefit from, such as: “you are up to four times more likely to succeed if you use NHS support and stop smoking medicines such as patches or gum to manage your cravings.” So, if you live outside the UK, you will have to see what assistance is available to you, but still knowing that support makes quiting successfully more likely is valuable information.

It also shows the benefit of a health system managed at the national level that can spend money on reducing smoking which greatly reduces health afflictions for citizens.

Information for fathers, or hopeful fathers:

Smoking affects fertility levels and can increase the risk of impotence. If you are a smoker, you may have fewer, less mobile sperm than a non-smoker. It is estimated that 120,000 men, in their 30s & 40s, are impotent as a direct result of smoking. If you are 30-40 years old, smoking also increases your risk of impotence by about 50%.

Exposing your pregnant partner to secondhand smoke means you are exposing your baby to secondhand smoke, which contains thousands of toxic chemicals. The risk of miscarriage, still birth, under-development and cot death are all increased.

The site also offers FAQs, including

How can I help someone close to me give up smoking?

It’s hard to persuade someone to stop smoking. They really have to decide for themselves that they want to give up. But, giving them encouragement and support can really help. Explain to the person that you are worried about their health. You can talk to them about this website and about finding a way to quit that works for them. Information about different ways to quit. There are lots of brilliant reasons for going smokefree. Perhaps some of these might be helpful…

  • Risk of having a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker five years after quitting.
  • Risk of getting cancer drops with every year of not smoking.
  • Setting a good example to the children.
  • Having more money to spend on other things.
  • Living longer – half of long-term smokers die early and lose about 16 years of life.
  • Better skin, fewer wrinkles and fresher breath.

What to expect when you quite smoking:

The first few days after your quit date can be challenging. Nicotine withdrawal can make you feel very irritable and frustrated but this intense period of withdrawal only lasts 48 hours and you will soon notice an improvement. Nicotine patches and gum can really help you to cope with the early stage symptoms of withdrawal.

24 hours – Carbon monoxide will be eliminated from the body. Lungs start to clear out mucus and other smoking debris… and now you have saved £4.20.

48 hours – There is no nicotine in the body. Ability to taste and smell is greatly improved… £8.40 keep going the best is yet to come.

72 hours – Breathing becomes easier. Bronchial tubes begin to relax and energy levels increase and you have saved £12.60 in three days…

3-9 months – Amend to “Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems improve as lung function increases by up to 10%.”

5 years – Risk of heart attack falls about half that of a smoker, after 5 years you could use a holiday, saving £7665.00 should cover it?

10 years – Risk of lung cancer falls to half that of a smoker. Risk of heart attack falls to the same as someone who has never smoked. After 10 years, even if they never went up in price, that’s a saving of over £15,000.

The National Health Service provides more support for those living in the UK, but, smokers anywhere can gain valuable information on why quiting smoking is important and how to do so.

Related: Global Cancer Deaths to Double by 2030 (due to increased smoking)Why Can’t Drug Addicts Quit on Their Own?USA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

Hugh Masekela Fighting Against Drug and Alcohol Addiction

photo of jazz musican Hugh Masekela

Masekela’s message for ‘addictive’ SA

One of the biggest names in world music – trumpeter Hugh Masekela – has said the message behind his latest album Time is to help the fight against drug and alcohol addiction in his native South Africa.

Masekela himself is a recovering addict, having gone into rehabilitation six years ago before establishing an organisation to help those with similar problems in his homeland. And he told BBC World Service’s The Ticket programme that he felt a duty to help others suffering from the same problems.

“I myself am a recovering addict and alcoholic. Six years ago I came to England, took up counselling, and learned the psychology of addiction.”

Drug-busting Masekela calls a brave new tune

The project, called the Musicians and Artists Assistance Programme of South Africa (Maapsa), is a partnership between several South African celebrities, including musicians Jabu Khanyile and Family Factory, actress Connie Masilo and talkshow host Felicia Mabuza-Suttle. Masekela said: “This organisation will make South Africans aware that addiction is a dynamite powder-keg. In South Africa, people are often praised for being able to drink a lot. They think drinking is something to be proud of.”

Victor Ntoni, another respected musician, said alcohol and substance abuse among musicians was exacerbated by the increasing exploitation of artists in South Africa.

Mabuza-Suttle, one of the trustees of Maapsa, said that because she came from a background of alcoholism, she knew about the devastating effects of addiction on families.

Hugh Masekela Biography

As the brutality of the Apartheid state increased, Hugh finally left the country with the help of Trevor Huddleston and his friends Yehudi Menuhin and Johnny Dankworth who got him admitted into London’s Guildhall School of music. Miriam Makeba who was already enjoying major success in the USA later helped him with Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillepsie and John Mehegan to get admission to the Manhattan school of Music in New York. Hugh finally met Louis Armstrong who had sent the Huddleston Band a trumpet after Huddleston told the trumpet king about the bank he helped start back in South Africa before deportation.

With immense help from Makeba and Belafonte, Hugh eventually began to record, gaining his first breakthrough with “The Americanization of Ooga-Booga” produced by the late Tom Wilson who had been producer of Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel’s debut successes. Stewart Levine his business partner in Chissa Records went on to produce hit records for Hugh on Uni Records, beginning with “Alive and Well at the Whisky” in 1967 and then “”Promise of A Future” which contained the gigantic hit song “Grazing in the Grass” in 1968.

By the beginning of the 1970’s he had attained international fame, selling out all of America’s festivals, auditoriums and top nightclubs. Heeding the call of his African roots, he moved to Guinea, then Liberia and Ghana after recording the historical “ Home is where Music is” with Dudu Pokwana.

photo from Ritmo Artists

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