By Mary Healy

Contributing Writer

Although a somber topic to start the new year, it is important to understand the current crisis our country is facing with the opioid epidemic.

The following books I chose give information on the crisis, offer support on dealing with addiction, and offer hope to all involved.

I am currently on the county’s Top-Secret Project, which is an initiative designed to increase awareness of potential drug use by young people. This unique traveling exhibit and program helps parents recognize simple items that might indicate drug abuse. I invite you to attend one of these free events being offered three times in early 2018:

–Jan. 9 6-8:30 p.m. at Centennial High School West Building, Circle Pines.

–Jan. 11 6-8:30 p.m. at Anoka-Hennepin School District Educational Service Center, Anoka.

–Feb. 22 (time to be determined) at St. Francis High School.

To register or for more information, visit For additional books and resources on addiction and recovery visit the library’s website at

“Dreamland: The True Tales of America’s Opiate Epidemic” by Sam Quinones. One of those books that everyone should read to see where the connection from OxyContin overuse escalated to full-blown heroin addiction in small town USA. Acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones brings together a cast of characters from the Mexican drug cartel entrepreneurs, the Pharma pioneers, the narcotic investigators, the addicts, the families, and the survivors to tell the tale of how these illegal and legal drugs have wreaked havoc on small towns to midsize cities across the country. The book reads like a series of articles but truly gets to the heart of why, as Quinones states, “Wherever those pills go, heroin comes.” Bloomsbury Press; Reprint edition c2016.

“Addict in the House: A No-nonsense Family Guide Through Addiction & Recovery” by Robin Barnett. Everyone suffers when there is an addict in the house. Barnett, an expert in alcohol and drug addiction, offers a real-life account from her own personal experience in a “no-nonsense way” for readers to understand the different steps of the journey of living with and loving an addict. There is information on how to talk to your loved one about getting help without forcing it and to help readers understand what codependence is all about. This book can be a great start to finding the help one needs for their loved ones and themselves. New Harbinger Publications Inc. c2016.

“Bird” by Zetta Elliot. A picture book for older children grades 1-5, “Bird” tells the story through pictures of a young African-American boy and how he tries to understand his emotions surrounding his drug-addicted brother’s death. With guidance from family friend, Uncle Son, and his drawings, Bird begins to come to terms with the events in his life and learns there can be hope and optimism after all. New York: Lee and Low Books c2008.

“Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy” by David Shef. In “Clean,” Shef compares drug addiction to other chronic diseases like heart disease or diabetes except that it doesn’t get treated like the others. It doesn’t just happen to bad people or those without willpower. If we change the way people are treated, maybe there can be a chance for survival. He shares stories of addicts and reports on his visits to treatment centers. He wants help for drug addicts, not punishment. Shef also authored “A Beautiful Boy,” which tells the story of his own son’s addiction and the experience he dealt with as a father of an addict. Eamon Dolan/Mariner Books c2014.

Mary Healy is the branch manager at Anoka County Library Centennial Branch.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.