Each episode of #HistChem Distillations examines a unique aspect of humanity's material legacy and asks the question "how did we get here?" Michal Meyer (a historian) and Bob Kenworthy (a chemist) of the Chemical Heritage Foundation are your guides to engaging conversations about history, technology and chemistry.
#HistChem Distillations navigateright Episode
“We should never, ever forget that addiction treatment is a search for meaning in a place other than using drugs.”
—Nancy Campbell, historian of drug addiction
In the final chapter of this series we travel to the heart of our modern opioid crisis. In what is now a notorious Philadelphia neighborhood called Kensington, we meet two victims of the epidemic and follow them on two distinct paths toward recovery.
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.
Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago
Reporters: Mariel Carr and Rigoberto Hernandez, with additional reporting by Meir Rinde
Senior Producer: Mariel Carr
Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez
Audio Engineer: James Morrison
Photo illustration by Jay Muhlin
Additional audio production by Dan Drago
Music courtesy of the Audio Network.
Claire Clark, author of The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States.
Nancy Campbell, historian and director of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Chris Marshall, former member and director of the Last Stop.
Miranda Thomas, Kensington resident.
Joseph Garbely, vice president of medical services and medical director of the Caron Treatment Centers.
Lara Weinstein, primary care physician, Project HOME and Pathways to Housing PA
Special thanks to Jennifer Reardon of Temple Health Communications and to Joseph D’Orazio and David O’Gurek.
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Clark, Claire. The Recovery Revolution: The Battle over Addiction Treatment in the United States. New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.
Giordano, Rita. “Opioid Addiction Treatment with Medicine Works Best. Why Don’t More Young People Get It?” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10, 2018.
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Rockefeller University. “The First Pharmacological Treatment for Narcotic Addiction: Methadone Maintenance.” Rockefeller University Hospital: 100 Years of Bridging Science and Medicine website. New York, 2010.
Shuster, Alvin M. “G.I. Heroin Addiction Epidemic in Vietnam.” New York Times, May 16, 1971.
Thompson-Gargano, Kathleen. “What Is Buprenorphine Treatment Like?” Farmington, CT: National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment.
Villa, Lauren. “Methadone and Suboxone: What’s the Difference Anyway?” Drugabuse.com.
Waldorf, Dan, et al. Morphine Maintenance: The Shreveport Clinic 1919–1923—Special Studies No. 1. Washington, DC: Drug Abuse Council, April 1974.
Whelan, Aubrey. “She Was Just out of Rehab. She Was Excited about the Future. Three Hours Later, She Was Dead.” Philadelphia Inquirer, June 26, 2018.
Winberg, Michaela. “Kensington’s Famous Last Stop Addiction Recovery Center Prepares to Move.” Billypenn.com, March 26, 2018.
Efootage.com. Richard Nixon “Law & Order” Speech—1968. Video.
John Chancellor. “Washington, DC Heroin Addiction.” NBC Evening News. February 4, 1971.
Columbia Center for Oral History. Marie Nyswander, oral history. New York: Columbia University Libraries, Oral History Archives, 1981.