Yale Medical Conference To Mark Centennial of Heroin Use

U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., and Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will be featured speakers Sept. 18-20 at a special historical conference marking the centennial of the commercial introduction of heroin. The conference, sponsored by the Yale School of Medicine, will be at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, 155 Temple St.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., and Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will be featured speakers Sept. 18-20 at a special historical conference marking the centennial of the commercial introduction of heroin. The conference, sponsored by the Yale School of Medicine, will be at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, 155 Temple St.

Leading scholars and policy experts will gather at the national conference to describe and analyze the United States’ long and bitter experience with this powerful chemical substance that was initially promoted as a cough remedy.

“The extensive history of heroin is almost totally unknown, even to policy makers. It is not a question of the last five or even 20 years,” said David F. Musto, M.D., a medical historian and professor in the Yale Child Study Center, who is convening the conference. “By examining the commercial introduction and spread of heroin around the world in the last 100 years, our hope is that we will be better able to confront this destructive force.”

Moynihan will open the conference with an address on Friday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. about his long experience with federal drug policy. Leshner will speak on Saturday, Sept. 19, at a 7 p.m. dinner on the policy implications of heroin research. Conference registration is $25 and the Leshner dinner is $35.

Jerome Jaffe, M.D., who, as the nation’s first “drug czar,” led federal treatment programs in the early 1970s, and Egil Krogh Jr., who managed federal drug control policy from the White House at that time, also will speak, highlighting Nixon Administration initiatives that have shaped present day approaches to heroin control.

Musto will lead off discussions on Saturday, Sept. 19, with an overview of the early development and medical use of heroin, beginning with its first synthesis by C.R.A. Wright in 1874, through its introduction into commercial use as a cough medicine by a major European pharmaceutical company in 1898. Musto’s introduction will be followed by a review of current theories of the pharmacology of heroin, presented by Eric J. Nestler, M.D., Ph.D., who is the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Yale.

Other speakers and topics include:

* Social historians David T. Courtwright, Ph.D., of the University of North Florida, and Kathryn Meyer, Ph.D., of Lafayette College, on the introduction of heroin to America and its spread throughout the world.

* Peter Reuter, Ph.D., a policy analyst at the University of Maryland, on the concept of heroin maintenance.

* Jill Jonnes, Ph.D., author of “Hep Cats, Narcs and Pipe Dreams: A History of America’s Romance with Illegal Drugs,” on the place of heroin in American popular culture.

* Robert L. DuPont, M.D., former NIDA director, on heroin use among young people in the 1970s.

* Bruce Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Special Populations Research, on evidence suggesting that certain age cohorts are responsible for disproportionate shares of total heroin consumption.

* William L. White, author of “Slaying the Dragon: the History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America,” on the early history of heroin treatment.

* Richard Schottenfeld, M.D., director of the Substance Abuse Treatment Unit at the Connecticut Mental Health Center, on substance abuse treatment.

Twenty additional scholars will serve as discussants to the presentations. The conference is sponsored by the Yale Child Study Center and the Yale School of Medicine’s section of the history of medicine in cooperation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. For more information, contact Pamela Korsmeyer, conference coordinator, (203) 785-4259.

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