A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Educating Tweens/Teens about Substance Use

by Lydia N. Collins, Consumer Health Coordinator, NNLM Middle Atlantic Region, University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System, Pittsburgh, PA  on June 14, 2018

By: Lydia N. Collins, Consumer Health Coordinator, NNLM Middle Atlantic Region, University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System, Pittsburgh, PA 

Historically, public libraries exist within communities and work to support, improve and sustain the individuals who live in their neighborhoods. The ultimate goal of all public libraries is to help build capacity for individuals in their communities through the various services and resources they offer. However, as social issues like homelessness and substance abuse become topics of national debate, the same becomes true within the context of libraries.  

Over the past two years, coverage has increased about drug and substance use, specifically opioids, in public libraries. Public libraries and the communities they serve are being directly affected by the many individuals who suffer from substance use disorders, and decisions on how to address this public health issue must be made. Meanwhile, public libraries are taking action in a variety of ways. 

Resources for Substance Use Awareness 

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is responding to the need for libraries to obtain reliable information on substance use and has created an Opiate Addiction and Treatment Portal with links to help individuals learn more about opioid-related topics. Topics covered in the portal include understanding addiction, opioid overdose, opioid drugs, medications to treat opioid addiction, recovery and more.  

Library staff can also use MedlinePlus, produced by NLM, which is a health and wellness resource that provides information on reliable and up-to-date health information at no cost. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also has resources for the general public, teens and medical and health professionals 

Tween/Teen Substance Use Awareness Program  

Public libraries are also encouraged to offer programming on health and wellness topics to promote awareness of health conditions. It is important that library users have safe places to engage in open dialogue about real issues affecting their communities.  

In order to encourage programming about substance use, the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) has created a substance use awareness program for tweens/teens called Drugs and Your Body: Myths and Facts Unveiled. This interactive, one-hour program provides a detailed look at how drugs affect the different parts of the body while revealing myths and facts around substance use. The toolkit provides presentation slides, speakers’ notes, discussion activities and other ideas to enhance your program offering. A recording of the Drugs and Your Body: Myths and Facts Unveiled program is available for viewing which features resources from NLM and NIDA.  

Locate your NNLM office to learn about NLM resources, training opportunities and additional resources to support your library’s health outreach efforts.  



National Library of Medicine: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/  

Opiate Addiction and Treatment Portal: https://www.sis.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/addiction.html  

MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/  

National Network of Libraries of Medicine: https://nnlm.gov/  

Drugs and Your Body: Myths and Facts Unveiled: https://nnlm.gov/mar/guides/programming-class/tween_teen    

National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/  

NIDA for Teens: https://teens.drugabuse.gov/  

NIDA for Medical and Health Professionals: https://www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed-medical-health-professionals  

Drugs and Your Body: Myths and Fact Unveiled Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kgaadnriyk&t=4s&index=2&list=PLUlRqrjIldD7QLiZ9kocxXMKINpIanuae  

Locate Your NNLM Office: https://nnlm.gov/regions  


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