In the middle of the 20th century, it was hard to know what to do about drug addiction when they did not have the resources we have today. The foundations of drug addiction treatment came from The Narcotic Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, which was a government-funded program and rehab for those struggling with addiction. By learning about the country’s first attempt to rehabilitate those struggling with addiction, we can see how far we have come in treatment.

How Did The Narcotic Farm Treat Those Who Were There?

The Narcotic Farm opened in 1935. The men prepared the ground, harvested crops, milked cows, and raised pigs. Female patients cooked, sewed, and did laundry. Team sports were encouraged with tennis courts, a bowling alley, and fields for sports. Patients were even given makeovers and taught how to take care of themselves all to make sure a healthy environment means a healthy person. Unfortunately, agricultural labor did not help prevent relapses or promote recovery for those with drug addiction

What Kind of Research Was Done at The Narcotic Farm?

The Addiction Research Center was another part of The Narcotic Farm to access the drug abuse in patients. They helped discover why so many patients go through relapses after successful treatment, drug dependence is not limited to opiates, profiling the psychological and physiological effects of drug classes, etc. The practice, though, was questionable in that these studies were voluntary and were done by offering drugs to those in recovery in order to join the study. After the program director received CIA money for LSD research, the Addiction Research Center ended in 1976 and prisoners were not allowed to volunteer for study participation.

What Can We Learn From The Narcotic Farm?

Despite the controversial experiments at The Narcotic Farm, their findings did help prevent seriously addictive drugs from going on the market. It shows how back then, addiction recovery was very hard to understand and research. The problem is that whether or not The Narcotic Farm did a good job in addressing addiction as a social or medical issue, the federal government still leaves communities to fend for themselves in regards to addiction recovery. Luckily, $945 million federal dollars are being used for various research efforts like NIH’s HEALing Communities project. Even though research is important, The Narcotic Farm shows us actions need to be done as well to prevent more drug overdoses.

Located in Georgetown, Texas, Alta Loma is a transformative living center to help those struggling in early recovery to transition out of our Psychiatric and Substance Abuse inpatient center. Alta Loma believes that addiction is born from an untreated mental illness in which our facility is here to help you. Our facility offers residency, medication management education, individualized treatment, life skills education, 12-step support, and more tools to bring patients the confidence to be able to live an independent life. For more information, please call us at 866-457-3843.