How Vermonters Are Navigating Opioid Recovery Amid The Pandemic

The number of opioid overdoses in Vermont continues to climb, and the isolation brought by the winter and the pandemic makes things difficult for those in recovery, and those trying to use safely. This hour, we talk about what it’s like to be balancing the opioid crisis and the pandemic for those in recovery, and those who are helping people get to recovery.

Our guests are:

  • Julea Larsen, supervisor of opioid response team at Turning Point Center of Bennington
  • Ashlee Loyer, mother based in Burlington who has been in recovery for four years
  • Greg Tatro, president and founder of Jenna’s Promise, a recovery community based in Johnson

Broadcast live on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 at noon. Rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Recovery and treatment resources

The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q&A with Julea Larsen, the supervisor of the opioid recovery program at Turning Point Center of Bennington

Are people still accessing treatment and recovery resources through the pandemic?

We have a program that we run through the emergency room at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and we’re still seeing people coming through the emergency with substance use disorder, who aren’t receiving help because they’re isolated in hotels, lack transportation — a multitude of different reasons.

The need is still there.

More from VPR: ‘We’re Stretched’: Mental Health Providers On The Pandemic’s Toll

I think what has happened is, we’ve created … this system, where when people are in hotels, their basic needs are being met. And so, while we’ve provided this great resource and we’ve been able to help people end homelessness… people aren’t having to seek out inpatient treatment beds as soon as they would if they didn’t have a place to go or they didn’t have somebody to come to, sometimes for the last resort.

But right now, we’re not really seen as the last resort, I guess.

“Opioid overdose is 100% preventable. And we just want to let people know that the service is here and available.” – Julea Larsen, Turning Point Center of Bennington

What resources are available to people right now, to help prevent overdoses?

Read more and listen to the full broadcast on VPR