I know you’ve been wondering for a while what your favorite acupuncturists do on Saturday nights. I wish I had some good information for you, but it’s a mystery to me as well. I’m usually asleep by 10 so I can get to the clinic by 8:30 am to warm up the clinic and get it ready for my Sunday morning shift.
But this last Saturday I can report on the whereabouts of 5 of us. Evelyn, Kate, Kelsey, Sarah, and I gathered in Sarah’s back yard with pizza, popcorn, drinks, and LOTS of blankets to watch “Dope is Death” together.
The documentary uses a mixture of present day interviews and archival footage to tell the story of the Lincoln Detox Clinic – a project of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords that started in the Bronx in the 1970s. Worried about the prominence of heroin use in their communities these two groups and accomplices opened a clinic to help folks detox from drugs, create mental and physical health, and learn about the political implications of addiction.
And what was the tool they used to help folks detox? Acupuncture!!
After reading a 1973 article in the NY Times which reported on the effectiveness of acupuncture for addiction, Dr. Mutulu Shakur and others started researching, experimenting with, and studying Chinese medicine. Eventually they introduced acupuncture to the Detox Clinic and developed a special protocol for drug addiction. This protocol, known as the NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association) protocol, is commonly used throughout the world today for addiction and trauma recovery.
Here at OAP we feel particularly indebted to the Lincoln Detox Center and its founders. It was possibly the first community acupuncture clinic in the US and its ethic of providing accessible health care to all inspired and continues to inform the Community Acupuncture movement.
If you’d like to watch the film, it is viewable online via the NYC documentary film festival through November 19th.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur is currently incarcerated in the US after being accused of being a ringleader for an armed robbery that resulted in 3 lives lost, though he was not present at the robbery. He has been in prison for 34 years and has been denied compassionate release several times despite a diagnosis of bone cancer. Go here to read more about his case and here to sign a petition supporting his release.