Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 371–396 | Cite as

A Tale of Two Policies: The French Connection, Methadone, and Heroin Epidemics

  • Michael Agar
  • Heather Schacht Reisinger


The law enforcement and treatmentpolicies of the Nixon administration are oftencredited with ending the epidemic of heroinaddiction that rose in America's cities in the1960s. In this article it is argued thatalthough the interventions did in fact cause amajor change in heroin distribution and use,the epidemic did not end in any simple way. Thedecline in heroin and increase in methadonethat resulted from the Nixon policies lead to ashift for many addicts in both clinical andstreet settings from one narcotic to another.The temporary shortage of heroin that resultedfrom law enforcement was quickly compensatedfor with methadone, as well as with newdistribution systems from Southeast Asia andMexico. In the end, the interventions caused achange in an enduring “heroin system,” a changethat left that system in a stronger form interms of supply and in a situation ofcontinuing growth in terms of the number ofaddicts.

distribution drug policy heroin history of medicine law enforcement methadone 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Agar
    • 1
  • Heather Schacht Reisinger
    • 2
  1. 1.Friends Social Research CentreBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.EthknoworksTalcoma ParkUSA

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