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Theft of drug recovery books at San Francisco public libraries leads to proposed free book program

PIX Now Afternoon Edition 2-20-24
PIX Now Afternoon Edition 2-20-24 08:02

After determining the books most frequently stolen from San Francisco public libraries' shelves focus on recovering from addiction, city officials want to provide universal access to free drug recovery books, including Alcoholics Anonymous' 12-step recovery book.

San Francisco City Supervisor Matt Dorsey on Tuesday introduced legislation to create a program to distribute addiction recovery books for free at the city's 27 public libraries. If approved, San Francisco would be the first city in the nation to do so as communities coast to coast confront an unprecedented fentanyl crisis.

Dorsey said library workers noticed they had to keep replenishing books about recovering from substance abuse, especially Alcoholics Anonymous' 12-step program, known as the "Big Book."

"Drug and alcohol treatment can certainly save lives, but recovery programs are what truly change lives for the long term," said Dorsey, a recovering meth addict.

The library launched a pilot program last April to distribute such materials at three public library branches. Since then, they have distributed more than 2,600 books about beating addiction.

The books offered will include AA's 12-step program, as well as publications by Narcotics Anonymous and Crystal Meth Anonymous. The texts will be offered in all available languages and those who want them won't be required to have a library card, according to Dorsey's proposed legislation.

San Francisco, like many other U.S. cities, is in the throes of a fentanyl drug crisis. Last year, a record 806 people died of a drug overdose.

Drug-addicted people in San Francisco have access to free life-saving Narcan, and clean syringes and other drug paraphernalia to prevent the transmission of diseases.

Having access to recovery literature could be an entry point to one of the dozens of in-person recovery programs offered in San Francisco, where there are more than 560 weekly AA meetings, recovery experts said.

"There are many pathways to recovery, and this admirable program will help more addicted people find the one that works for them," said Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and former White House Senior Drug Policy Advisor in the Obama Administration.

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