Substance Use and Overdose in Public Libraries: Results from a Five-State Survey in the US

A recent study featuring PISC Senior Scholar Margaret Lowenstein, MD, MPhil, MSHP, and Executive Committee Member Zachary Meisel, MD, MPH, MA, evaluates the impact of the overdose crisis in public libraries. The study includes librarians in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, and Virginia. Participants are qualitatively surveyed about substance use and overdose within their communities. Results indicate that, over the past month, 45% of librarians have witnessed onsite alcohol abuse, and 14% of librarians have witnessed onsite injection drug use. Throughout the past year, 12% of librarians have witnessed at least one overdose in the library. Library naloxone uptake varies from 0% in Florida to 33% in Colorado. Despite receiving minimal drug overdose training, 90% of librarians express strong interest in additional training sessions on the overdose crisis. Because public libraries are a valuable community resource, public health collaboration with libraries has significant potential to “strengthen substance use outreach and overdose prevention efforts” within communities.

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