Portsmouth looms large in "Dreamland," Sam Quinones' account of the rise of opiates in the U.S.

The blue-collar city on the Ohio River is where Quinones says pill mills -- doctors, clinics or pharmacies that inappropriately prescribe or dispense controlled prescription drugs, like oxycodone, without a legitimate medical purpose -- were invented and innovated.

In the 1990s, as Portsmouth's pill-mill model started to spread elsewhere in Ohio, as well as to eastern Kentucky and parts of West Virginia, a group of heroin traffickers from Mexico made their way to the area looking for new markets in which to sell their product.

Cheap, potent and molecularly similar to opioids, heroin became the fallback drug for addicts priced out of pill mills and unable to get the drugs they needed.

"Dreamland," winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction, will be the selected title of the Northwest Passages book discussion group Feb. 21.

The group meets at 10:30 a.m. the third Wednesday of every month at Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road.

In addition to Feb. 21, the group plans a winter get-together Jan. 17 to consider Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."

Also starting at 10:30 a.m., but on the last Thursday of the month, are the meetings of the Thursday Mornings book group.

Held at Old Worthington Library, 820 High St., winter selections include "Moonglow" by Michael Chabon on Jan. 25 and "Fates and Furies" by Lauren Groff on Feb. 22.

Also held at Old Worthington Library are the first-Wednesday-of-the-month meetings of the Speaking Volumes book-discussion group; all start at 7:30 p.m.

This winter, participants will gather Dec. 6 to select new books for the future.

"Barkskins" by Annie Proulx is the focus of the group's Jan. 3 meeting, and Vanessa Diffenbaugh's "The Language of Flowers" will be considered Feb. 7.

Hillary Kline is a communications specialist for Worthington Libraries.