Libraries become unlikely front in opioid epidemic

Posted: Updated:
PATCHOGUE -

Officials say the opioid epidemic has seeped into an unlikely front on Long Island: public libraries.

At least six people have overdosed in Suffolk County's public libraries over the past year, mostly inside the restrooms. Police say two overdoses happened at the Patchogue-Medford library, and the others were in Centereach, Shirley, Brentwood and Middle Island.

None of the overdose incidents were fatal.

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Steve Chassman, the executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says drug users may be going into library bathrooms to be left alone. He says that in addition to library staff being trained in how to use Narcan, they should know the warning signs of an overdose and be able to point those looking for help with drug addiction in the right direction.

Library officials say they're taking action.

"We have trained literally hundreds of library staff members around Suffolk County on mental health awareness, on use of Narcan, on various first aids and support services,"  says Kevin Verbesey, director of Suffolk Libraries.

To get help with addiction, you can call Suffolk County's 24-hour substance abuse hotline at 631-979-1700.

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