In response to the growing heroin epidemic in the United States, the National Library of Medicine’s Specialized Information Services has created a portal to provide resources and information on prescribing, overdose, medication-assisted treatment, and recovery. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is defined as:
“A primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.” 1
The portal includes information for those addressing addiction: healthcare providers, educators, researchers, patients and families.
Deaths from overdose have been steadily increasing nationwide, and from 2002 – 2015 there was a 2.8 fold increase in number of deaths from opioids. In Seattle and King County such deaths numbered 359 in 2016, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. Understanding addiction and treatment is part of the picture, as well as chronic pain management, education, and support for families and those in recovery. Besides offering educational resources, some libraries have joined the front lines in preventing death from overdose. Public libraries around the country have trained their staff in the use of Naloxone, a nasal spray which reverses overdose from opiates and saves lives. The King County Library System is considering adopting such a program.2 Some of the branches, both urban and suburban, have found needles in public restrooms, and consider administering Naloxone akin to having a defibrillator on hand or being trained in CPR. Another resources for communities in Washington State is stopoverdose.org, a program of the Center for Opioid Safety Education at the UW Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.
To comprehend the big picture, check out the Opiate Addiction and Treatment Portal, and find information on understanding addiction, opiate prescribing, pregnancy and opiate use, and topic-related searches of PubMed and other NLM databases. The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, a program of the NLM, is also working on a National Substance Misuse Initiative. Feel free to contact me for more information.