Librarians Stock Up On Overdose Antidotes As People Flock To Philly For A Better High

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Drug addicts are flocking to Philadelphia to score purer heroin and are using public libraries to shoot up, causing librarians in the city to stockpile the overdose reversal drug Narcan.

Residents are calling the visitors “heroin tourists,” who come to the city in an attempt to seek out the purest or most powerful heroin, which Philadelphia has a growing reputation for. The result is a large uptick in the number of overdoses in the city, particularly inside public libraries, where many librarians are now trained in administering Narcan to revive users, reports Lancaster Online.

The McPherson Square Branch library is getting hit hard by the influx of out-of-state heroin users. The public grass surrounding the library is referred to as “needle park” and volunteers even find needles on a nearby playground. The situation rapidly deteriorated in 2016 as the opioid crisis in the city worsened. Early data shows opioid overdose deaths are up 30 percent so far in 2017 in Philadelphia.

“They had been wanting the training for a long time,” Marion Parkinson, a library supervisor, told Philly.com. “It’s a very, very helpless feeling when someone is gasping for breath and you can’t do anything.”

The librarians say the addicts tend to come from states plagued by addiction to painkillers and heroin, like New Jersey, Delaware and Ohio. Libraries in other major American cities are also experiencing a surge in drug overdoses on their properties.

Police dispatchers received 44 calls from the Denver Public Library’s central branch for drug overdoses on the premises between January and April of 2017. The problem is getting so bad that library security workers, like the librarians in Philadelphia, are now trained to administer Narcan.

A reporter with 9News who stayed in the library for three days undercover, witnessed multiple drug deals, many with children in the vicinity, and addicts injecting heroin.

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