Whether or not we are qualified or certified, we are all called to be recovery coaches. Truly, Vermonters, our communities must recruit more unqualified volunteers to serve in this field. It isn’t fair, or sustainable, to leave only the sick to care for the sick.
In the last episode of our three-part interview, Vergennes Chief of Police George Merkel explores the consequences that policy proposals like marijuana commercialization and safe injection sites are likely to have on local law enforcement overwhelmed with the opioid addiction and crime crisis.
Individual Vermonters must get informed, train as recovery coaches or counselors, and come along supportively in prevention, counseling, or for those in recovery. The time for ignorant stigma is past.
“We do not see that slowing down as we have recorded almost 50 responses and two fatalities through April 2019,” the officials wrote, adding that “the actual community-wide counts are likely higher.”
In the final part of our dialogue with Megan, we look at policies under consideration by Vermont legislators — such as safe injection sites and decriminalizing buprenorphine — and discuss whether such measures help or hurt opioid addiction.
This week we continue our dialogue with Megan West, a recovering opioid addict from Sheldon, and learn about the federal crime she committed, and how time in prison put her on the path to recovery and redemption.
Megan West, a 32-year old Sheldon native, became addicted to oxycodone at age 15. Since then, prescription opioids, heroin and crack cocaine have consumed her life.
A Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center review of Vermont’s highly regarded “hub-and-spoke” model for treating opioid addiction concludes that the system is working very well.
The CDC’s 2017 data shows that 70,237 Americans died of drug overdoses. That represents a nearly 10 percent increase from 2016, when 63,632 Americans died of drug overdoses. West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania were the states hardest hit.
“Together, we will defeat this epidemic — it’s a true epidemic — as one people, one family, and one magnificent nation under God,” he said.
Over the past four years states particularly swamped with opioid addiction have seen increases as large as 40 percent in their foster care populations.