Drug abuse prevention director discusses Vermont’s opioid epidemic response

In his second executive order, Gov. Phil Scott established the Opioid Coordination Council. The council, which focuses on drug-related prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement activities, is charged with ensuring inter-agency and intra-agency coordination between state and local governments responding to opiate addiction.

Heading up the 22-member council is Jolinda LaClair, director of Drug Abuse Prevention, and a 35-year public service career veteran. The Opioid Coordination Council, through expert presentations and testimony, has examined the potential benefit of recovery coaches, alternative pain management, Vermont’s 2-1-1 crisis helpline and other tools for addressing Vermont’s opioid crisis.

In this episode of Vote for Vermont, co-hosts Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley interview LaClair about the scope of the opiate epidemic in Vermont.

According to LaClair, the council has improved licensure and professional opportunities for people working in substance abuse treatment professions. In addition, Opioid Overdose Awareness Day, marked last April at the Statehouse, brought together addicts, first responders and family to share their stories about drug addiction and how they are working to overcome it.

In her interview, LaClair discusses the progress being made by Vermont’s “hub and spoke” treatment center model, which was enacted in 2012 and has achieved national recognition. Furthermore, she explains the importance of working with employers and communities to skirt stigmas associated with addiction and give people opportunities to return to productive, healthy living.

Watch full episode:

Image courtesy of Vote for Vermont/Pat McDonald

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