Chittenden County Senators Host Forum on Opiate Crisis

RICHMOND, Vt. - The opiate crisis continues to be an issue in our region, and lawmakers are searching for ways they can help.

Wednesday night, Chittenden County senators hosted a forum to discuss it, and provide updates to the community.

"I don't know that there's many Vermonters left who aren't at least one or two degrees separated from somebody that's been impacted by this crisis," said Sen. Chris Pearson.

Even Pearson himself knows someone impacted by it.

"I have a family friend that's been through this, is going through this, and we're all rooting for her," said Pearson.

Pearson says a big part of the crisis are wait lists for treatment centers.

"You just hear people's families ripped apart, a lot of anecdotes about people who particularly are ready to seek treatment and can't quite get through the door," said Pearson.

Bob Bick, Director of the Howard Center, recalled a story from a father who wanted to get help for his daughter.

"And while she was waiting on a wait list, she was injecting every day and his fear was that he would come home one day, and she would be dead," said Bick.

About a month ago, state leaders announced there were no longer wait lists at Chittenden County opioid treatment facilities.

"We have occasional small wait list, that other sites throughout the state, it's a very dynamic and fluid process," said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont Commissioner of Health.

Authorities say there were 750 people on the list to get treatment at the Howard Center in 2013. Bick says a virtually zero wait list has been monumental for treatment.

"It allowed us to get to a point at which we can now clincally triage an individual when they call," said Bick.

Bick adds he doesn't want people to forget the statistics shared represent individuals struggling.

"It's a very personal problem for children who are removed from a home as a result of a parents opioid. For a parent or a loved one, for someone who OD's and dies," said Bick.

For more information on treatments center in Vermont click here.

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