\ Jails and Prisons Offer Acupuncture Treatment for Drug Addicted Inmates

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Jails and Prisons Offer Acupuncture Treatment for Drug Addicted Inmates


January 1998

The Denver County Jail has joined other jails in offering acupuncture treatment to drug users to help them overcome their addictions and better deal with stress and violent urges (Mike McPhee, "Acupuncture helps inmates beat drugs," Denver Post, November 17, 1997, p. 1B).

Known as Project Recovery, the plan is operated by the Mile High Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (MHCADA), a private, nonprofit agency. Project Recovery was founded three years ago by MHCADA director Flavia Henderson. She said, "[Acupuncture] is just one part of treatment, which includes group and individual counseling. We also use meditation and bring in other recovery practices." Henderson told NewsBriefs that acupuncture is used by drug court inmates.

According to Henderson, similar programs are being used by Dade County (Miami, FL) Jail, as well as medium and maximum security prisons in Minnesota. In addition, she said about 350 drug and alcohol programs across the U.S. use acupuncture as a component of treatment. The Dade County program was inspired by the Lincoln Clinic in New York City, considered the premier substance abuse center utilizing acupuncture in the U.S. The Lincoln Clinic is headed by Dr. Michael Smith (An in-depth report on acupuncture in drug treatment by J.R. Spray and S.M. Jones, "The Use of Acupuncture in Drug Addiction Treatment," NewsBriefs, September 1995).

Ida Strickland, Director of Development at the San Francisco Sheriff's Office, told NewsBriefs that the San Francisco jail received a Federal grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment for its substance abuse program that includes acupuncture. Strickland said the acupuncture program is used primarily for offenders with substance abuse problems and for violent offenders. According to Strickland, a two-year evaluation of their substance abuse program found that it reduced substance abuse recidivism.

Terril Kennet, an acupuncturist who contracts for Project Recovery in Denver, said that addicts find that the treatment helps with the side effects of quitting drugs. He added, "We also find that prisoners on acupuncture are calmer. They tend not to get in fights because they are able to deal better with their stresses and not react violently."

MHCADA - Flavia Henderson, 1444 Wazee, Suite 125, Denver, CO 80202, Tel: (303) 825-8113.

John Simonet - Director of Corrections, Denver (303) 375-5691.

Dr. Michael Smith - Lincoln Hospital, Bronx (718) 993-3100.

San Francisco Jail - Ida Strickland - 555 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, Tel: (415) 558-2479.