Columbus Metropolitan Library has added to its already extensive collection of resources. In January, the library began its partnership with Southeast Healthcare's RREACT (Rapid Response Emergency Addiction and Crisis Team) treatment program to help individuals impacted by the opioid epidemic.
"As a public library that is open to all, we feel we have a responsibility to both educate our community about this issue and work to address it because community crises demand community solutions," library spokesman Ben Zenitsky said.
Every Monday and Thursday, RREACT staff members spend a few hours at the Main Library on Grant Avenue in Columbus to help library guests in need. The staff is stationed on the library's second floor where they provide resources to anyone who could use addiction services for themselves or someone they know. The services suggested are provided by Southeast Healthcare or other ADAMH partners in Central Ohio.
"We best address this opioid epidemic with services being taken into the community. The library is the best place to provide resources to the community and have discussion of addiction," said James Alexander, Southeast RREACT program manager.
In addition to providing treatment options to individuals, RREACT staff offers individuals instructions on how to use naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication. They also distribute free naloxone kits.
Library staff members have a role too. Not only have they opened the doors to the RREACT team, but Columbus Metropolitan Library is also a member of the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, working to prevent the misuse of prescription opioids among the next generation. The library staff has worked to spread Opioid Alliance resources throughout the library system's 23 locations. Printed materials can be found in each location, educating readers on the dangers of opioids, offering tips on how to talk to someone about opioids, and demonstrating safe disposal of unused medication. The tips are also linked on columbuslibrary.org.
"Public libraries are reflections of the communities they serve," said Zenitsky. "We know that our customers come to us for needs that extend beyond books and reading. They come to us for information, resources, and guidance. If we can connect even a handful of addicts with resources that can help them overcome their addiction, it will have been well worth the effort."
For information on talking to kids about opioids or about safely disposing of leftover prescription drugs, visit dontliveindenial.org.