July 6, 2016 | Addiction & Recovery

Community opiate discussion informs & connects experts & families

By Tone Veilleux
Burlington Labs Medical Office Assistant
Morrisville, VT Patient Service Center

Last Wednesday evening (June 29) saw a great turnout for a community meeting about opiate use in Lamoille County – a rural region of north-central Vermont. Panelists included Dr. Katie Marvin, a family-practitioner in the area; Dr. Betsy Perez, a specialist at the regional hospital; Eric Miller, US Attorney for Vermont; and Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux.

Discussion Pic edited

Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux (at podium) moderates a panel discussion on opiate use, treatment and recovery in north-central Vermont. Panelists, from left to right: Dr. Katie Marvin, Dr. Betsy Perez, and US Attorney Eric Miller.  

The meeting was held at the Green Mountain Technology and Career Center in Hyde Park, and Jocelyn Willey and I attended and represented Burlington Labs. In addition, I also represented the North Central Vermont Recovery Center, whose mission is to help in sharing resources among family members of people struggling with addiction, as well as all of those impacted by opiate addiction.

Jocelyn had several individuals reaching out to her before and after the event, since her daughter is in a rehab center out-of-state. Her family’s experience proved the point – brought up during the discussion – that rehab centers in Vermont should have programs that last more than a few weeks. (The doctors on the panel confirmed that it takes many months of recovery in order to deal with the epidemic we are facing, especially when users are mixing heroin with fentanyl.)

Panelist Dr. Katie Marvin explained the use of Narcan to revive individuals who have experienced an opiate overdose, and she also discussed maintenance drugs such as Suboxone (Bupenorphine) and the new Vivitrol shot, approved earlier this summer by the FDA. That information was very helpful for a lot of people in the audience. Sheriff Roger Marcoux, who moderated the event, introduced Vermont US Attorney Eric Miller, who discussed how law enforcement is approaching the opiate epidemic in Vermont.

After those discussions, the event wrapped up with a showing of the movie “The Opiate Effect.” The movie was created after Vermonter Will Gates passed away from a heroin overdose. His dad, “Skip,” wanted to spread awareness with the actual facts on opiates, and the film tells a powerful story. (You can check out the film here: https://vimeo.com/41741770)

According to panelist Dr. Betsy Perez, everyone should get involved in the conversation about the problem and potential solutions, since we all know somebody dealing with this disease. At this point, we need to tackle the heroin epidemic head-on. Once we can talk about the truth, and the reality of being an addict, then we can help others find successful Recovery.