Gov Office reports 6.25.2019 – Hyde Park, Vt. – Tuesday, around 200 people attended the 4th Annual Opioid Forum at Green Mountain Technology and Career Center. This year’s forum was a community call to action and gathering of hope, in honor of Jenna Rae Tatro (1992-2019).

Governor Phil Scott began the evening by signing S.146, an act relating to substance misuse prevention and touched on the important work happening to combat substance use disorders. “I can’t underscore enough, the importance of connecting with other people and knowing that someone is there to give you a helping hand while in recovery,” said Governor Scott. “Tonight, we must recommit ourselves to the important work ahead and continue to work together, because in order to win this battle, we need to prioritize prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery,” Governor Scott added.

Greg and Dawn Tatro, of Johnson, lost their daughter, Jenna Rae, in February of 2019 after a six-year battle with substance use disorder. They shared Jenna’s journey and their efforts in creating Jenna’s Promise, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating barriers to treatment:

“The fentanyl epidemic, as well as the opioid issue overall, is a crisis, and we need to treat it like one. The only way we can do that is if every part of the community and government join the fight and pull together. Tonight, is a step in the right direction.

“We imagine a future in which we have succeeded in breaking down stigmas surrounding addiction – when we no longer whisper about the challenges we’re facing and instead speak openly, without embarrassment, so that those suffering know they’re not failures and should not feel lesser for what they’re experiencing. Dawn and I refuse to be ashamed about our situation and loss, and will always speak openly, and loudly, about our story.”

Ed Baker, LICSW, LADC explained Substance Use Disorder and the ways in which this disease “hijacks” the brain of the person with addiction.  “What is of the utmost importance is that Vermonters understand people with addiction or Substance Use Disorder,” Baker said. “Addiction is not a ‘choice’ or ‘moral failing’. Addiction is a chronic brain disease, with risk factors like other diseases, and symptoms. It has a course, like other diseases, and it can be fatal,” Baker added.

“Equally important, addiction is treatable, and with the proper medical, psychotherapeutic and recovery support services people with addiction will achieve what’s called ‘recovery’, or health. Community support is essential to the recovery process, as is the elimination of stigma, and the clear expression of compassion for people with this disease,” Baker finished.

The 4th Annual Opioid Forum was presented by Upstream Lamoille, a community collaborative addressing substance misuse and in collaboration with the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department, Jenna’s Promise, Healthy Lamoille Valley, North Central Vermont Recovery Center, and the Morrisville Office of the Vermont Department of Health.

Anyone looking for immediate help in the Lamoille County Area can call: 
Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley: 802-888-6009 or
North Central Vermont Recovery Center: 802- 851-8120

For additional information about recovery services in your area, call 2-1-1