Federal Medical Center, Lexington - History


The site opened on May 15, 1935 on 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) under the name "United States Narcotic Farm" then changed shortly after to "U.S. Public Health Service Hospital". In 1967 it changed its name again to "National Institute of Mental Health, Clinical Research Center". Its original purpose was to treat people that "voluntarily" were admitted with drug abuse problems and treat them, with mostly experimental treatments; it was the first of its kind in the United States. The 1,050-acre (4.2 km2) site included a farm and dairy, working on which was considered therapeutic for patients .

The institution was opened in response to a then-skyrocketing prison population of drug addicts that came about as a result of increased federal powers that stiffened drug sentencing laws. The institution was created by Congressional mandate to be both a prison and a hospital with a mission to incarcerate, rehabilitate and study drug addicts.

This facility is well known in the local community as the most haunted property in the city of Lexington. The well known "Gate Gost" has appeared at the facility entrance to many staff and visitors. The area used as the Hobby Craft area was initially used for a morgue and the examination of the dead. Voices and apparitions have commonly been reported from this area.

Throughout the life of the institution as a prison/hospital, approximately two-thirds of those sent to the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital were considered volunteers. While many traveled to the institution on their own to volunteer for treatment, other so-called volunteers were in fact motivated to go there in lieu of federal sentencing. The remaining one-third of the prison’s population - which at its peak capacity as a prison/hospital housed 1,499 men and women - were there due to federal charges either directly or indirectly related to drug use. The most common drug of abuse for those sent to the institution was heroin and morphine.

Those sent to the institution on federal charges were, in some cases, given the opportunity to volunteer to be test subjects at the prison’s lab. The lab, which was called The Addiction Research Center, was housed in the prison's basement and is the subject of a documentary film and compendium book entitled "The Narcotic Farm." Within the Addiction Research Center, anywhere from a handful to a dozen or more federal inmates were given a variety of addictive and dangerous drugs over short and sometimes long periods of time. In one test case, inmates were maintained on high doses of barbiturates for a year. In return for cooperation in the drug testing program, inmates were given a number of enticements, including better living accommodations, better food, time off sentences, and a small amount of drugs upon their release which they could take after completing a round of testing.

In 1975 televised Congressional testimony, former inmates sentenced to the institution in the 1950s stated that the Addiction Research Center ran a “bank” where inmates who had volunteered for the drug testing program could withdraw a small amount of morphine to be taken recreationally. Dr. Harris Isbell, who was present at that testimony and sitting next to inmates making these claims, did not deny their recollections. Though the institution was largely treatment-orientated and conducted vast follow-up studies of former volunteer patients to measure success rates of rehabilitation, in the case of those in the testing program, no post-release studies were ever commissioned.

Drugs tested at this lab in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s included opiates, cocaine, barbiturates and marijuana. Most of the drugs tested at this federal facility were being studied for their addictive potential and the lab’s findings were published in medical journals to inform doctors about overprescribing addictive and potentially deadly pharmaceuticals. The institution also conducted landmark alcohol studies. However, in the late 1940s, the institution began studying hallucinogenics, in part, to see if the drug could offer some insight into schizophrenia and mental illness. It was later revealed in Congressional testimony that the institution’s LSD research was funded by the CIA as part of the Agency’s quest to weaponize the drug in some way. When it was concluded that LSD was not useful in a Cold War application, funding for these studies - which were also conducted at dozens of U.S. medical centers and universities and lasted into the early 1960s- was cut.

Among the research advances made at the Addiction Research Center were the characterization of acute and protracted drug withdrawal syndromes, recognition of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as the active constituent of marijuana, and identification of subtypes of opiate receptors. Treatment advances included methadone to treat heroin withdrawal, opiate antagonist therapy, and recognition of the role of conditioning in drug abuse relapse

In 1974, the institution became a federal prison but maintained a "psychiatric hospital" title until 1998, when 2 inmates killed another with a fire extinguisher. Most psychiatric patients were subsequently moved to other federal medical centers.

Housing units are:

  • General Population
    • Antaeus
    • Bluegrass
    • Cardinal
    • Younity
  • Drug Treatment Units
    • Veritas
    • Mary Todd
  • Psych Units
    • Commonwealth North and South
  • Medical
    • Health Care Unit

Read more about this topic:  Federal Medical Center, Lexington

Other articles related to "history":

Xia Dynasty - Modern Skepticism
... The Skeptical School of early Chinese history, started by Gu Jiegang in the 1920s, was the first group of scholars within China to seriously question the traditional story of its early history "the later the time ... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end" ...
Voltaire - Works - Historical
... History of Charles XII, King of Sweden (1731) The Age of Louis XIV (1751) The Age of Louis XV (1746–1752) Annals of the Empire – Charlemagne, A.D ... II (1754) Essay on the Manners of Nations (or 'Universal History') (1756) History of the Russian Empire Under Peter the Great (Vol ... II 1763) History of the Parliament of Paris (1769) ...
Spain - History - Fall of Muslim Rule and Unification
... The breakup of Al-Andalus into the competing taifa kingdoms helped the long embattled Iberian Christian kingdoms gain the initiative ... The capture of the strategically central city of Toledo in 1085 marked a significant shift in the balance of power in favour of the Christian kingdoms ...
Casino - History of Gambling Houses
... believed that gambling in some form or another has been seen in almost every society in history ... and Romans to Napoleon's France and Elizabethan England, much of history is filled with stories of entertainment based on games of chance ... In American history, early gambling establishments were known as saloons ...
History of Computing
... The history of computing is longer than the history of computing hardware and modern computing technology and includes the history of methods intended for pen and paper or for chalk and slate, with or without the aid ...

Famous quotes containing the word history:

    The greatest honor history can bestow is that of peacemaker.
    Richard M. Nixon (1913–1995)

    English history is all about men liking their fathers, and American history is all about men hating their fathers and trying to burn down everything they ever did.
    Malcolm Bradbury (b. 1932)

    Throughout the history of commercial life nobody has ever quite liked the commission man. His function is too vague, his presence always seems one too many, his profit looks too easy, and even when you admit that he has a necessary function, you feel that this function is, as it were, a personification of something that in an ethical society would not need to exist. If people could deal with one another honestly, they would not need agents.
    Raymond Chandler (1888–1959)