Current prEvents — December 20, 2019 — The Times Argus

By EVAN SMITH, LICSW and JAVAD MASHKURI, MD, Central VT Treatment Partners

Heart wrenching stories about death and family disruption due to the opioid crisis have become commonplace. The continued loss of life and suffering over the last decade has become dangerously familiar. As Vermonters we will not accept the substantial negative impact of the crisis on local communities as routine. Countless families and friends have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis as their families and communities struggle to offer help.

For the first time on record, your odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than dying in a motor vehicle crash. The most recent Community Health Needs Assessment reports that the rate of opioid-related deaths in Washington County increased tenfold between 2014 and 2017 and is occurring at a higher rate than the state (20.6 vs 17.6 per 10,000 residents). Sadly, the number of overdose deaths per year continues to climb in Washington County.

Despite this bleak picture, there is good news and hope. Significant strides have been made in Washington County to call attention to and address the opioid crisis. Tremendous resources in terms of money and time have been garnered at the local, state, and federal level to stop the devastating consequences this crisis inflicts on our communities.

In Vermont, access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), the primary treatment approach for opioid use disorder, is available to those who seek it. There are no waitlists. Access to buprenorphine, the most common medication used to treat opioid use disorder, is even available through our local emergency department at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC.)

Despite efforts to improve the availability of treatment there is more work to be done. The National Institute of Drug Abuse believes that only 17% of those with an active opioid use disorder are receiving treatment. This is why we need your help. As a community we need to help those suffering with opioid addiction by providing information and encouragement to access services. Information is knowledge and knowledge empowers change.

Central Vermont Treatment Partners, a collaboration among local prevention, addiction and mental health treatment providers, is launching a public service campaign to call attention to opioid addiction and the availability of timely treatment in Washington County. Over the next three months the campaign will be making a targeted push across Washington County.

The campaign messaging includes: “Are you struggling with pain killers or heroin? Central Vermont Treatment Partners are here to help. Central Vermont Treatment Partners provides confidential, caring, judgement-free help to quickly get you on your path to recovery. They are here to help you right away. If you are worried about transportation, work schedule, child care, or other concerns, just talk to them and they will find what works for you.”

Partners and locations include: Central Vermont Addiction Medicine (CVAM) in Berlin; CVMC Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program in Berlin; Central Vermont Substance Abuse Services (CVSAS) in Berlin; Gifford Medical Center in Randolph; Gifford Health Center in Berlin; Kingwood Health Center in Randolph; Treatment Associates in Montpelier; Turning Point Center of Central Vermont (TPCCVT) in Barre; and Washington County Mental Health in Berlin.

All are quickly connecting people to medication assisted treatment and support.

If you, or someone you know needs help call 802-371-4875 or visit The number is answered by local addiction professionals who can help you get accurate information and the help you need. The opioid crisis is a community crisis. To effectively address this community crisis, we need community help.

Share this number and encourage those who need help to seek it. (802) 371-4875

Evan Smith, LICSW, is the Lead Clinical Coordinator for MAT, SBIRT, & Women’s Health Initiative with Central Vermont Medical Center.

Javad Mashkuri, MD, is the Emergency Medicine Physician and Medical Director of Emergency Services at Central Vermont Medical Center.

Central Vermont Treatment Partners
Call 802-371-4875

Current PrEvents is produced by Central Vermont New Directions Coalition as part of the Regional Prevention Partnership grant from the Vermont Department of Health

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