US Public Health Service Hospitals In

1929, President Herbert C. Hoover signed a law enacted by the U.S. Congress to establish two federal institutions for treatment of narcotic addiction. The principal purpose of the institutions was to confine and treat persons addicted to narcotic drugs who had been convicted of offenses against the United States. However, the law also provided for voluntary admission and treatment of addicts who were not convicted of any offense. The two institutions were named U.S. public health service hospitals. One was opened in 1935 at Lexington, Kentucky, and the other in 1938 at Fort Worth, Texas. The Lexington hospital had a capacity of 1,200 patients; the Fort Worth hospital could accommodate 1,000 patients. From opening to closure in 1974, the hospitals admitted over 60,000 narcotic addicts; because of readmissions, the total admissions exceeded 100,000. Most of the admissions were voluntary. The term narcotic addiction has been replaced in modern diagnostic terminology by the term opioid dependence, but in this discussion the older term is retained because it was regularly used during the era reviewed here. The history of the hospitals is divided into three periods.

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