Acupuncture group honors Duggan for drug therapy

April 04, 2003

Robert Duggan, president of Tai Sophia Institute in North Laurel, was recently honored by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association for his work in treating drug addicts with acupuncture.

"His organization was the first to provide acupuncture treatment behind the walls to female offenders in the country. A decade later, acupuncture is a common practice," said LaMont W. Flanagan, commissioner of Maryland's pretrial detention and services division, who was also honored.

At Penn North, a free Baltimore acupuncture clinic run by Tai Sophia, patients are getting better, Duggan said. The community center grew out of the work of Peter Marinakis, a member of the faculty of Tai Sophia (then known as the Traditional Acupuncture Institute).

"There are hundreds of our students who have gone down there and worked at Penn North community health initiative," he said. "Now we have lots of folks who are no longer addicted who come for help with all sorts of illnesses, in that neighborhood, especially - asthma, high blood pressure, allergies, headaches, diabetes. About a third of all the clients there are also HIV positive."

About 750 new people come in the door each year. Penn North gives them more than acupuncture.

"We're using tai chi, we look at food, we look at shelter, we make sure they get a whole supported package of care," Duggan said. "One of our tai chi teachers at Penn North, AlDuha Chase, says, `You know heroin is a very faithful friend. If you want me off my heroin, you'd better build me a friendship community.' So that's what we're doing."

The service is free. Duggan has found about $1.3 million over the past five years to keep it going. An acupuncturist, Duggan works there most Friday mornings.

"The patients pay nothing. They're folks coming in off the street. I believe we are the only on-demand addiction center in the city of Baltimore where you can walk in off the street and immediately get treated," Duggan said.

He would like to provide complementary medicine for the working poor and people without health insurance, and is looking for funding to open a clinic in Howard County.

"We're really concerned that complementary medicine, while it's used by more than 40 percent of the population ... is really a phenomenon of those who earn a good income. We were determined that this was relevant to everybody," Duggan said. "We have to really open our eyes and see that both of those issues exist here - addictions and [the] uninsured."

Duggan came to Columbia in 1975, when he and Dianne Connelly founded the institute. It has grown from 2,000 square feet in Columbia's American City Building to an established graduate school with a 12-acre campus. Degrees are offered in acupuncture, botanical healing and applied healing arts.

Information about Tai Sophia: 410-888-9048. Penn North: 410-728-2080.

- Fay Lande

Egg hunt registration deadline is tomorrow

Register for one of Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks' spring egg hunts, scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon April 12 at Laurel Woods Elementary School and Schooley Mill Park.

Children, ages 2 to fifth grade, should take a basket to collect the eggs. Games and activities are planned.

Registration is requested by tomorrow. The rain date is April 19.

Information: 410-313-7275; text telephone, 410-313-4665. In the event of inclement weather: 410-313-4452 after 7 a.m.

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