SMACK in the Middle
SMACK in the Middle

SMACK in the Middle: My Turbulent Time Treating Heroin Addicts at Odyssey House

In 1967, I was offered a job treating heroin addicts at a new establishment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I was excited because I knew I would be working alongside one of New York’s most determined, pioneering and charismatic leaders in the field of addiction treatment, Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber, founder and director of Odyssey House. After a few days on the job, there was no doubt in my mind that Dr. Judi was a genius who possessed a rare, intriguing, and intoxicating mix of intellect, passion, and originality. With her at the helm, Odyssey House was a living, breathing, growing addiction treatment center. It was a dream job. Even as her methods became more autocratic and bizarre, and even as my dream started to turn into a nightmare, I remained an active participant in Odyssey's pioneering ‘can do’ community, which was reflective of the spirit of the late Nineteen-Sixties. I guess I was too infatuated at the time to see that, like the decade itself, everything must come to an end. Sometimes by crashing.

Book Details

Genre: 

  • Nonfiction
  • Special

Age Level: 

  • Mature Young Adult
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In Smack in the Middle: My Turbulent Time Treating Heroin Addicts at Odyssey House, psychoanalyst Dr. Gibbs Williams recounts his 17 months working as an assistant director at New York’s infamous Odyssey House, a facility that treated recovering heroin addicts in the late 1960s. Led by founder Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber, Odyssey House employed some controversial techniques to keep its residents clean and put them on a solid path to recovery.

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