Author to share drug addiction research, recovery stories at Lawrence event

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A California-based author and journalist will interact virtually with participants at a Lawrence event, sharing his research on drug addiction and recovery.

Hosted by the Lawrence Public Library, Sam Quinones will discuss his most recent book, “The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth.” He’ll speak via Zoom to attendees and then answer questions before the event pivots into an in-person panel of Lawrence professionals.

In his book, Quinones documents stories from the “frontlines of the opioid epidemic, profiling communities across the United States contending with the realities of far more dangerous street drugs,” according to the library’s event page.

Contributed image “The Least of Us”

Panelists will then offer their local perspectives on substance use disorders and addiction challenges people navigate. They’ll focus on initiatives, research, and current social services for those working toward full recovery.

Dr. Bruce Liese, director of the University of Kansas Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment, will facilitate the discussion. Around six years ago, Liese founded the Self Management Addiction Recovery Training (SMART) program, housed at the library.

Panelists will include Dr. Nana Dadson, chief medical officer at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center; Chrissy Mayer, chief community based services officer at DCCCA (Developing Caring Communities Committed to Action); Zijun Wang, assistant professor at the KU Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology; Lt. Mark Mehrer of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office; and David Hawley, owner of Avalon Wellness and Recovery.

The author talk is scheduled for 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 8 at the Lawrence Public Library auditorium, 707 Vermont St. It’s free to attend.

Registration is required ahead of time, and as of Thursday evening, 21 seats were still available. Reserve free tickets via the library’s website,

The event will not be livestreamed, but it will be recorded and posted afterward to the library’s YouTube channel,

“The Least of Us, True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth” was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

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