Local website created to help fight opiate addiction

ADDISON COUNTY — Bob Donnis of Bristol knows how a solid drug-addiction recovery program can benefit a patient; he saw one work for a relative.

Hoping to see additional success stories, Donnis and other members of the Addison County Opiate Treatment Committee recently hailed the launch of a new website that will give people the information they need to steer away from drug abuse, or get help if they are already in the throes of addiction.

The site is titled Addiction Help Vermont and can be found at www.addictionhelpvt.com. It is a clearinghouse of information for those seeking information on drug education and prevention, treatment and long-term recovery.

Its content includes information and input from the Vermont Department of Health, Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC), Turning Point Center of Addison County, area physicians and other entities that assist people struggling with opiate addiction.

The United Way of Addison County took a lead role in organizing the Addison County Opiate Treatment Committee following Gov. Peter Shumlin’s plea in January 2014 for the state to confront its drug addiction problems.

“We wanted to reach as many people as possible,” Donnis said of the website.

“We hope it becomes a statewide resource.”

A New York state website providing opiate treatment and recovery information served as a model for the Addison County version. Mount Abraham Union High School students Courtney Loomis and Asher McCauley were instrumental in engineering the comprehensive website, according to Donnis, who also serves as a member of the Addison County Steering Committee on Opiate Addiction.

Neither Loomis nor McCauley could be reached for comment on this story as the Addison Independent went to press.

Bill Brim, director of the Turning Point Center of Addison County, said he is confident the website will reach a lot of people in need of help. The Middlebury center provides an array of recovery assistance, including support groups and recovery coaching

“The population I see, most of them are pretty well-versed in social media,” Brim said, adding that some clients might be more likely to seek out Web-based information than call a professional on the phone. That said, the Vermont 211 help line offers information on programs to help people trying to overcome addiction.

Brim subscribes to the idea that the new website will grow and feature links to nonprofits throughout the state.

“I have a good feeling (the site) is going to grow and become something the state will be proud of,” Brim said. “And it all started here in Addison County.”

Those who log on to the new site can learn about such things as the warning signs of addiction, how to get information to help oneself or a loved one avoid getting addicted to drugs, potentially life-saving tools (such as Narcan) to administer to overdose victims, where to go for long- and short-term treatment, and how to get involved in the fight against drug abuse.

Also highlighted is the progress made to address opiate addiction in Addison County. As previously reported in the Independent, Bristol Internal Medicine, Porter Medical Center and CSAC have partnered to provide medication-assisted treatment along with drug treatment counseling to help local residents overcome their opiate addiction. The Turning Point Center in Middlebury provides an array of recovery assistance, including support groups and recovery coaching.

It was the United Way of Addison County that provided funding to the Addison County Steering Committee on Opiate Addiction to spearhead addiction education and outreach.

Dr. Emily Glick, who provides medication-assisted treatment at Bristol Internal Medicine, is featured in several videos on the site, which also includes a link to the Vermont Department of Health’s ParentUpVT website.

Donnis noted other counties have been following suit with websites of their own. For example, Brandon Cares of Rutland County is planning a site, as is a group in Washington County, according to Donnis.

“Prevention is the key,” Donnis said.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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Addison County Independent

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