Freaky Friday: Grand Rounds with Dr. Dave Smith, Founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic

Poster for Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic Benefit, 1967, Mari Tepper

Thanks to the wonders of technology, Points readers interested in the secret history of addiction medicine and the psychedelic ’60s can check out a Grand Rounds talk that Dr. Dave Smith, founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, gave at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine in December of 2010.  (Click on the link above, then scroll down to the date and click “watch presentation.  It takes a while to load.)  Accompanied by a series of powerpoint slides (including images of some of the many rock stars whose financial contributions supported the Clinic early on), the fifty-five minute talk is wide-ranging, but the through line is the ideological connection between the founding of the Free Clinic and the creation of the AMA-recognized specialty of Addiction Medicine.  Addressing medical students who are pursuing Addiction Medicine in one of the new residency programs that have sprung up around the country, “Dr. Dave” draws on his own experience to urge them to be mindful of the connections among the biochemical, sociocultural, and political dimensions of addiction, treatment, and recovery.

Dr. Dave, ca. 1967

Smith is a fascinating person, and one whose work as a public health innovator and a central figure in the counterculture deserves to be better known. 

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