Video: Down on the Narcotic Farm
The Narcotic Farm is a 2010 documentary about the nation’s first facility for opiate addicts. “Narco,” as it was known, opened in 1935 outside Lexington, Kentucky, as a combination prison-treatment center, housing both addicts who checked themselves in voluntarily and addicts who were remanded there by the courts. They were locked up, made to labor in the dairy and do other farm work, and used as subjects for what was viewed as cutting-edge research into withdrawal, relapse and the activity of drugs in the brain.
Over the years, Narco was a melting pot for the nation’s growing drug subculture, where famous jazz musicians, drug-using doctors, drugstore cowboys and street busters mixed and mingled. The Farm closed in the 1970s, a victim of medical maltreatment scandals combined with the advent of methadone and community clinics. The Narcotic Farm provides a vivid picture of an obscure piece of recovery history and of the harshness of “treatment” addicts had to suffer in the US for much of the 20th century.
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