Windham County Consortium on Substance Use launch event

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. – The Windham County Consortium on Substance Use will host a launch event on proposed actions to address the devastating impacts of heroin, fentanyl, and other substances in Windham County Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. until noon, at the Latchis Theatre in Brattleboro. A reception and open house at the Turning Point of Windham County will happen immediately following the event. This event is free and open to the public.

COSU is a collaborative effort consisting of organizations and individuals who work across the continuum of substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery. The group takes a community-driven, rural focused approach to addressing the impacts of opioid and other substance use in Windham County. In October 2018, COSU received a Health Resources & Services Administration, Rural Community Opioid Response Program planning grant, allowing the group to work with community members to assess gaps in service and systems around opioid use and reduce discrimination.

After a yearlong assessment process, COSU and its fiscal agent, HCRS, received a three-year, $1 million federal HRSA implementation grant, which started Sept. 1. The goal of the grant is to decrease death and disease caused by heroin, fentanyl, and other substance use as well as increase prevention efforts, building recovery-ready communities.

COSU was also awarded a Community Action grant through the Vermont Department of Health, as part of a three-year, $9.5 million Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant. The purpose of the grant is to increase the state’s ability to track and respond to overdoses and overdose fatalities and to further build momentum in communities with high rates of opioid-related overdoses.

The launch event will share specifics on proposed collaborative prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery efforts that were identified during the planning period and many of these efforts will be supported through the grants. The event will provide details and stories around a five-point community-driven response. Members of the public, press, and elected officials are invited to come hear about the proposed action and to have an opportunity to ask questions.

Chad Simmons, project coordinator for COSU, commented on the importance of addressing opioid use in our area by stating, “The impact of heroin, fentanyl, and other substances on Windham County, Vt. and our nation is nothing less than devastating. Through the people most impacted, resources such as the HRSA grant and policy change, we can save lives, improve collaboration and service delivery and ultimately, increase connection and build the resilient Windham County we know is possible.”

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