Collaborative eight-part opioid series explores substance use disorder in Vermont

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Collaborative eight-part opioid series explores substance use disorder in Vermont

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 9:28am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine “Understanding Vermont’s Opioid Crisis” is an eight-part series highlighting the science of addiction as well as the cultural, social and economic challenges associated with addiction. Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley, hosts of Vote for Vermont on ORCA Media, Montpelier, and Ed Baker, host of the Addiction Recovery Channel on Channel 17, Town Meeting TV, Burlington developed the series in cooperation with the Vermont Opioid Coordination Council. It features experts in the field of substance use disorder, state and local health, education and public safety officials, and members of community-based organizations, all focused on addressing and preventing addiction.

“I appreciate the work behind this project, as we continue our efforts to address the opioid crisis. This includes increasing our understanding of its impact, causes and solutions, while reducing the stigma of addiction,” said Governor Phil Scott.

Each segment stands on its own, while telling a larger story about the programs, resources and people who work every day on prevention, intervention, treatment, recovery and enforcement.

“This series is testimony to the innovation and commitment of professionals, families, communities and people in recovery. It addresses efforts to reduce the use of psychoactive drugs, raise public awareness about addiction, and emphasizes that treatment is always available, and hope is possible,” said Jolinda LaClair, Director of Drug Prevention Policy for the State of Vermont.

September is National Recovery Month with the theme Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.  We are proud to release this opioid series and celebrate recovery month with Vermonters in every region of our state. 

The eight-part series can be accessed through:


Opioid Coordination Council:

Each episode is 60 minutes long, and includes:

  1. Science of the Brain and Addiction

In this segment, host Ed Baker and his guest discuss the risk factors for addiction and the changes that occur in the brain as the disease of addiction, or substance use disorder, develops and progresses. They explore what is required to treat those changes and begin the process of recovery, all a part of the Opioid Coordination Council’s strategies. We hope this knowledge will help to eliminate the stigma often associated with addiction. With compassion, appropriate medical and/or psychotherapeutic treatment and recovery supports, there is hope.

  • : Peter Jackson M.D., Addiction Psychiatrist at University of Vermont Medical Center
  1. Treatment

In this segment, host Ed Baker interviews three Vermont experts in treating opioid use disorder.  They discuss the art and science of treatment in detail, and Vermont’s nationally-recognized Hub and Spoke system, available in all regions of our state, and resulting in positive outcomes for a growing number of individuals and families.  Supporting, evaluating and improving treatment is a priority strategy for the Vermont Opioid Coordination Council.

John Brooklyn, M.D., Medical Director, Howard Center Chittenden Clinic (Hub) and BAART, St. Albans (Hub) (Dr. Brooklyn was an architect of Hub and Spoke)

Christopher Lukonis, M.D., Medical Director, Gifford Addiction Center Hub

Deborah Hopkins, Chief Operations Officer, Central Vermont Substance Abuse Services

  1. Recovery and Recovery Coaching

In this segment, host Ed Baker and his guests explore the process of recovery from opioid addiction and other substance use disorders. The Opioid Coordination Council’s strategies highlight the need for a strong statewide network of recovery centers, recovery coaches, and support programs. These services are essential to Vermonters working toward long-term recovery, and to their families and loved ones.

Peter Espenshade, President, Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR)

Andrew Gonyea, Chief Operations Officer and Co-founder, Foundations of Recovery, Vermont (VFOR)

Gary de Carolis, Executive Director, Turning Point Center of Chittenden County

Kelly Breeyear, Coordinator, New Moms in Recovery Program, Turning Point Center of Chittenden County

  1. School- and Community-Based Prevention

Prevention begins with ensuring our children, schools, families and communities have the skills, programs and support they need to thrive. In this segment, host Ed Baker talks with three guests about comprehensive, statewide approaches to school- and community-based prevention, statewide prevention messaging, and effective opioid education for health care providers and consumers, all part of the Opioid Coordination Council’s strategy to support successful prevention efforts.


Mariah Sanderson, Executive Director, Burlington Partnership for a Healthy Community

Anne Gilbert, Executive Director, Central Vermont New Directions

Christine Lloyd-Newberry, Executive Director, Champlain Valley School District Prevention Project

  1. Enforcement

In this segment, host Pat McDonald focuses on the Opioid Coordination Council’s strategies to reduce the supply of, and demand for, opioids and other drugs in Vermont through law enforcement efforts. This includes roadside drugged driving tests, drug treatment courts, investigations and prosecution, and corrections. Guests also discuss the changing role of law enforcement to effectively address a growing number of people with co-occurring substance use disorder and mental health issues.


Tom Anderson, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Public Safety

Tony Facos, Chief of Police, City of Montpelier

  1. Wellness – Integrative Health Care for Pain Management and Treatment

In this segment, co-hosts Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley explore with their guests approaches to pain management and addiction treatment that reduce or replace the need for opioids.  Guests discuss a holistic approach to treatment and the use of alternative modalities for treatment and pain management.  This requires education for prescribers and patients, and improved screening of patients – strategies that are underway and highlighted by the Opioid Coordination Council.


Mark Levine, M.D., Commissioner, Vermont Department of Health

Jon Porter, M.D., UVM Medical Center (UVMMC) – Medical Director, Complex Pain Management Service

Josh Plavin, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont

  1. Co-Occurring Disorders:  Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness

Many people suffer from both substance use disorder and depression or other mental health challenges. In this segment, host Pat McDonald and guests explore effective prevention and treatment services for people with such co-occurring issues. Guests noted that there are no wrong doors for a person with addiction to enter. Every door leads to supportive services.


Sienna Fontaine, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Howard Mental Health

Mary Moulton, Executive Director, Washington County Mental Health

Rebecca Porter, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC), Department of Mental Health

  1. Wrap Up: Jolinda La Clair, Pat McDonald, Ed Baker, and Ben Kinsley

In this final segment in the series, “Understanding Vermont’s Opioid Crisis,” Jolinda LaClair is joined by series hosts Pat McDonald, Ed Baker, and Ben Kinsley. They consider the successes, challenges, and opportunities highlighted in the previous seven segments, and discuss the work ahead for the many state partners invested in addressing this crisis.

Disclaimer:  The comments reflected in each video segment represent perspectives and positions of our guests, and hosts, and may not reflect the opinions of the Vermont Opioid Coordination Council or sponsoring entities.   Any rebuttals are welcome and can be expressed by contacting Hosts Pat McDonald or Ed Baker, contact information below.   

Program Hosts:

Jolinda H. LaClair, Director, Drug Prevention Policy, State of Vermont

Contact information:; 802-585-0613

Jolinda is Governor Scott’s Director of Drug Prevention Policy with oversight and management of Vermont’s Opioid Coordination Council which was established by the Governor’s second Executive Order on January 5, 2017.  The Council is charged with leading and strengthening Vermont’s response to the opioid crisis by ensuring full interagency and intra-agency coordination between state and local governments in the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement activities.  Prior to this role, Jolinda was Deputy Secretary for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets; State Director of USDA Rural Development for VT & NH; and State Director for U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords.  Jolinda has two children and two grandchildren…and her pal Nelson, a labradoodle.

Pat McDonald, Co-Host and Co-Producer of Vote for Vermont

Contact; 802-371-7080

Pat has co-hosted and co-produced Vote for Vermont at ORCA Media for over two years and more recently serves as the President of the Board of Directors of Campaign for Vermont.  Previously, Pat spend 25 years in the private sector in ever-increasing management level positions and 25 years in the public sector, serving in 6 appointed positions under Governors Snelling, Dean and Douglas and two terms as a State Representative in Vermont’s House of Representatives. She has also served as a member of the Berlin Select Board, chair of various local committees, and member of several non-profit Boards.  Pat was also a Project Manager for the City of Barre for over 10 years. Pat enjoys her dog Koko, cooking, entertaining, motorcycling and RV camping. 


Contact; 802-793-9252

Ed is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Alcohol/Drug Counselor with over 30 years’ experience working with individuals with Substance Use Disorder.  Recently retired from clinical practice, he now focuses upon public education and hosting/producing the Addiction Recovery Channel (ARC) (Ch 17-Burlington), a public TV broadcast devoted to eliminating the stigma associated with addiction.  Ed is in long-term recovery from addiction for 34 years.

Ben Kinsley, Co-Host and Co-Producer of Vote for Vermont

Contact Information:; 802-310-3904

Ben owns and operates a Government Relations firm utilizing CRM and marketing tools for nonprofit advocacy and political campaigns in addition to project management and public policy development. In his down time, Ben enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and boating on Lake Champlain.