Photo by Alana Whelan

Friends of the Library members and guests listen as Glenda Carbaugh and Dr. Mark Komar discuss the book, "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic," by Sam Quinones.


Oct. 30, 2018

Friends of the Library Book discussion raises heavy topic

A discussion about the book, “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” by Sam Quinones, served as a catalyst to examine the continuing problem of opioid addiction throughout the United States and how it came to be the problem that it is, at the Oct. 18 discussion in the Michael Schwartz Library.

After reading the book, Glenda Carbaugh, administrative assistant at Cleveland State University, suggested it should be featured in one of the Friends of the Library book discussions because of the amount of people that have been affected by this devastating epidemic.

Library Director Glenda Thorton then asked Carbaugh to lead the discussion.

“[The book] immediately captures your attention because of these different story lines [the author] tells like a film taking place in front of you,” Carbaugh said.

Carbaugh invited Lake County Coroner, Dr. Mark Komar, to help lead the discussion, as well as Patty Roysden Hart who runs a program called Marcus’ Mission, named after her son who passed away in 2014 from a drug overdose.

The goal of Marcus’ Mission is to help people struggling with addiction to honor the memory of Marcus.

The objective of the book is similar to Marcus’ Mission in that it raises awareness, as well as addresses the complexity of the topic by telling the stories of individuals who have dealt with opioid addiction in some way.

In addition, the book focuses on the greed of the pharmaceutical companies and the families in Mexico who turn to selling drugs in the U.S. to make money.

“I think [the author] was uniquely qualified to tell this story because of his time living in Mexico and the era in which he grew up,” Carbaugh said.

During the discussion, Carbaugh highlighted some of the distressing material the author addresses in the book, the economic impact it is having at the county level, and the millions of people it is personally affecting across the country.

“This author says that heroin is an isolating drug — it makes you think, ‘I can go it alone. I can, you know, I don’t need anybody,’” Carbaugh said. “It’s what addicts do. They insulate themselves from people, from their family. And [the author] says that’s exactly the problem.”

The book, based around the city of Portsmouth, Ohio, takes its name from a swimming pool built and named Dreamland, which served as the center of the community until addiction consumed the city.

“I think it’s an interesting title too — Dreamland, it’s the name of the pool, but it’s also — I think it addresses the American Dream, and how the American Dream was lost when we lost dreamland,”

Carbaugh said. “The American Dream became something different.” Carbaugh also mentioned how she felt the title, Dreamland, was a brilliant choice because it could have a number of different meanings.

The hour-long discussion engaged members of the audience, and many people shared their personal stories and opinions on the topic.

“I feel the discussion that we had really honored the book,” Carbaugh said.

Carbaugh shared some of her insight on what she believes can be part of the solution in solving the opioid problem.

“I think the author would say that this is the kind of thing that promoting the conversation is where we begin to solve the problem.”

Carbaugh also said the author suggests that restoring a sense of community is a big part of what will aid in solving this devastating epidemic.

“That’s what I would hope — restore community, whether it’s on campus or whether it’s in the neighborhood, whether it’s in your city — whatever,” Carbaugh said.

In addition to restoring community, this book has had an impact on people at every level and has created conversations throughout the United States.

“[The author] testified before a Senate hearing about [the book]. He was interviewed for over two hours by the Senate on this subject,” Carbaugh said. “I actually watched the video on CSPAN of that Senate hearing, and the senators all had ‘Dreamland’ on their desks in front of them. They would refer to it when they were asking questions, so clearly this book has been impactful even at that level.”

The Friends of the Library is an independent organization whose objective is to support the Michael Schwartz Library through donations, events, special programs and various other means.


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