Burlington Vermont Police Chief Brandon del Pozo responded to the viral obituary of Madelyn Linsenmeir, a 30-year old woman who died from complications caused by her Substance Use Disorder. He raises some very valid perspectives and lists the initiatives underway in Burlington, Vermont.
Here are some of the highlights of Burlington’s strategy:
– Support and propagate needle exchanges (done in BTV);
– Give out buprenorphine at needle exchanges to basically any user who requests it (BTV is doing it);
– Give out buprenorphine at the emergency room to anyone who presents with an addiction and requests it (BTV doing it);
– Treat every prisoner who needs it with buprenorphine, methadone or vivitrol as best fits them (Vermont is at least trying);
– Stop arresting and prosecuting for simple misdemeanor-level possession of non-prescribed addiction treatment meds (our city’s police & prosecutor policy);
– Stop requiring total abstinence in recovery housing and allow people stabilized on addiction treatment meds to live in them (not even close);
– Equip users with the tools to test their drugs for fentanyl (Vermont is doing it);
– Create enough capacity to eliminate wait lists at treatment hubs (almost there in VT);
– Train primary care doctors to treat addiction and prescribe addiction meds (making progress in VT);
– Return the opioid prescribing rate to pre-epidemic levels (on the way in VT);
– Recognize addiction as a chronic disease and that abstinence-based therapy only works a small percent of the time, for certain people (old stigmas die hard);
– Saturate communities with Naloxone (done in Vermont)
Not One More is in the process of creating programming on some of these fronts. Join us if you want to see these initiatives implemented in our community.
He closes powerfully with a call to action:
Maddie’s gone. She can’t feel your sorrow. But others are next. Some aren’t beautiful. Others look nothing like you. Some are like Maddie’s twin, and have little children too. They are all human beings and they need our help. Go. Get to work. We still need to earn the feelings her obituary inspired in us. We should have felt them years ago.
Reach out if you need help at LetsTalkHelps.com or contact us if you want to get into action doing something about this problem.