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Perspectives

“By far the best period of my practice life has been in this work. And that’s not because it’s been easy or cheerful or un-challenging. On the contrary, it’s been quite challenging. “
About five years ago, William Porter, MD, decided to stop working as a primary care physician and devote his practice to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for patients with opioid use disorder. He explains how the medication saves lives, and the gratification he gets helping people in recovery.
“There’s enough evidence now that what we’re doing here is working.”
Mayor Miro Weinberger shares how the City of Burlington is addressing the opioid crisis using a connected network of community organizations called CommunityStat. This action team is responding to the opioid challenge as a public health issue by coordinating police, public health and safety, and social services in Burlington and the greater community.
“People are using substances like opioids to manage the pain of life. Sometimes, the pain people experience are understandable reactions to life adversity.”
Sandra Steingard, MD of the Howard Center talks about how the public discourse regarding mental illness and drug use has been centered on a conceptualization of these problems as “illnesses like any other.”
“We want to create an environment where individuals affected by opioid addiction know they are welcome, and we want to help without judgement.”
The emergency department at UVM Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital and its Ticonderoga Campus, led by David W. Clauss, MD, seeks to reduce stigma and erase judgment when treating patients with opioid use disorder.
“We have to own our piece of it and hold each other accountable.”
Stephen Leffler, MD, saw the opioid epidemic develop first-hand treating patients in UVM Medical Center’s Emergency Department, and now helps shape the response to it as a senior leader. He shares his perspective on how we got here, what seems to be working and what challenges lie ahead.
“We are working to address prevention, treatment access, recovery supports and employment for people with substance use disorders.”
Christine M. Johnson, Executive Director of the Chittenden County Opioid Alliance, explains how the community can help those struggling with opioid addiction with treatment, compassion and understanding.