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"Dreamland" author Sam Quinones to speak at Toledo library

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Journalist Sam Quinones, author of "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic," will speak at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library on Oct. 3. handout not blade photo

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Sam Quinones, author of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic,” will speak Oct. 3 at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library about his reporting on the addiction crisis.

“Dreamland” is a collection of stories about those affected by opiate addiction, the pharmaceutical industry’s effort to produce and market an opioid painkiller free of addictive properties, and a heroin trafficking operation from Mexico that fanned across the country using tactics likened to delivering pizzas.

He will discuss his work at 7 p.m. in the McMaster Center in Main Library at the first of two opioid awareness-related events hosted by the library in partnership with the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Lucas County. Such speaking events are a way to prompt conversation about the urgent national crisis, Mr. Quinones said. 

“This is affecting your neighbors and your community...your schools, your jails and how much you pay in taxes to sustain those things,” he said. “If you're an employer it's definitely affecting the kind of workers you have.”

It’s not if you are affected, he said, it’s if you know how much.

While researching for the book, which was published in 2015, Mr. Quinones said he experienced “a remarkable silence” around the issue. Families didn’t want to talk and it wasn’t grabbing the attention of politicians or the media. That is slowly changing, he said, but for many it becomes important only when it hits close to home.

The small city of Portsmouth, Ohio, features prominently in the book, thanks to a history of abundant “pill mills” and free-flowing prescription painkillers there. Ohio’s starring role made for a natural opening for dialogue in Toledo, said library spokesman Ben Malczewski.

“This is a forum where we can create awareness and have constructive conversation,” he said. “It's a role we take seriously.”

As a follow-up to Mr. Quinones’ appearance, the library will host a community forum Oct. 17 with area law enforcement, social services, and health officials that will focus on what is happening in northwest Ohio. On the panel will be:

● Andrea Boxill, deputy director of the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team

● Robin Reese, executive director of Lucas County Children Services

● Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp

● Scott Sylak, mental health and recovery services board executive director 

● Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department

Melissa Voetsch of WTVG-TV, Channel 13, will moderate the discussion, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Area addiction and treatment-related organizations will staff resource booths beginning at 5:30 p.m. Both events are free and open to the public.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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