By: Adam Sockel, Marketing & Communications Specialist.

It’s no secret that the United States has seen a surge in the amount of opioid usage and drug overdoses in recent years. The amount of people who died in 2015 alone from overdosing is up ten times the level of 1971. Of the 33,000 deaths in 2015 from opioid overdose, half of them were the result of the use of deadly heroin and heroin-fentanyl mixtures*. This crisis reaches all corners of the United States but is currently hitting Appalachia, Midwestern and Northeastern states the hardest. In these areas, librarians are stepping up to help save lives.

In Pennsylvania, where the opioid usage has massively increased, library staff at the Free Library of Philadelphia are receiving training on administering the lifesaving antidote Narcan and already resuscitated several people who overdosed on library grounds. The staff  work closely with organizations such as Prevention Point which provides services for addicted individuals and the City government is providing extra assistance in this community. They’ve also taken preventative steps in an attempt to limit the number of these cases moving forward. You can read their full story in this write up at

CNN has another story about how library employees in Denver and San Francisco are being trained to administer Narcan, as well. In Maryland, there have been several instances of library staff resuscitating patrons who wouldn’t have made it if they had to wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Bob Kuntz, Director of Operations and Innovation at the Carroll County Library, notes that, “We currently have 120 staff (all volunteers) trained to administer NARCAN at all of our locations because they are on the front lines and see and hear of the effect this epidemic is having on their community each and every day.”

Opioid Crisis

OverDrive wants to help these librarians who are saving lives everyday so we’ve created several lists of books that can help inform communities to better understand and manage the opioid epidemic. In these lists, you’ll find content that deals with overcoming addictions, books that explain how the opioid crisis came to be and how to manage these issues for addicts and loved ones of those dealing with addiction. You’ll find books for adults, teens and multilingual communities. Rhode Island is another heavily impacted state and their libraries appreciate the anonymity these digital collections offer. “We appreciate that this collection can be accessed by patrons who may otherwise feel nervous about requesting or checking out a physical book from their library on this sensitive topic. These titles can be accessed from the privacy of a patron’s home via virtually any computer, e-reader, tablet, phone or other mobile device,” said Lisa Sallee, Assistant Director of Ocean State Libraries.

OverDrive has also donated materials to libraries in affected communities dealing with the Opioid Crisis. Bob Kuntz, Director of Operations and Innovation at Carroll County Public Library in Maryland, says of the titles, “This collection will be an important and much needed addition to the service we provide our customers.” For information on how your library can receive OverDrive support in adding these collections, contact your Content Sales Specialist.

*Statistics from Medical Press.