The opioid crisis in Vermont is hitting record levels, with more than 200 deaths reported last year. Last year was the highest amount of opioid overdoses recorded in Vermont and marks the second straight year that a new record has been set. Gary De Carolis, the Executive Director of Recovery Partners of Vermont represents 10 recovery centers around the Green Mountain State and shared how upset he is to see the new record.

“When you think of 210 people that we’ve lost needlessly, it’s beyond comprehension. We’re literally 1,000’s of human beings that can contribute to this state, this community, and their family.” Gary believes the pandemic did not help things and that addicts are more likely to take drugs in times of isolation. 

“Isolation is the enemy of recovery. People that are overdosing and dying are doing it in isolation by themselves.”

Loved ones don’t have to sit on the sidelines, and Gary says loved ones should make sure to let people know that they’re there for them. “We can make those phone calls. We can take that walk. We could give that piece of caring to someone else who might be vulnerable to this.” 

He also says to keep Narcan handy. “You never know when you will be in the midst of someone experiencing an overdose. Narcan is like a nasal spray, you spray it into someone’s nose, it’s that easy.” 

David Berard of Recovering Patients has been an addict for 23 years. “It’s been a rough road in recovery. But I stuck with it so I was able to be here and do interviews like this man.” Berard credited Narcan for saving his life. “I can’t even express how many times man. If not for Narcan I wouldn’t be here” 

Berard says addicts should not hesitate to find help. “A lot of addicts build walls. They’re tough walls, they’re thick walls but if you take a couple of bricks down and open the door and let that help come in ad try to reach out a little bit. It’s a world of difference man.” 

As for loved ones who want to help, Berard said, “Don’t try to force it. Don’t try to control the situation because that will push them in the opposite direction. Being there to just offer a lending hand, offer a shoulder, offer an ear is a world of difference. I know it was for me.” 

Berard has a message for other addicts. “This doesn’t have to be it. You got to stick with it man. Life is a challenge. You can’t give up.” 

Today, Berard is giving back by helping out other addicts. “I had a gap and a void. Giving back and helping addicts fills that void for me and connects my dots.”