MONTPELIER — Gov. Phil Scott announced next steps to fight opioid abuse in Vermont at a press conference Thursday afternoon, based on the recommendations of his Opioid Coordination Council (OCC), which released its final report at the same time.

The Vermont Department of Labor will begin career counseling and employment services at treatment centers, first in Burlington in April, followed by Rutland and Brattleboro in July. Scott said those services will be available at treatment centers statewide by the end of the year.

The Vermont Agency of Education’s Tobacco Use Prevention Education Coordinator will become a Substance Use Prevention Coordinator. The coordinator will work with the Vermont Department of Health’s alcohol and drug abuse programs, with the Vermont Department of Mental Health (VDMH) and with prevention specialists to design new prevention programs for schools.

The OCC will also work with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, Office of Professional Regulation and the VDMH to continue “streamlining” rules for licensed clinical mental health counselors with the intent to expand the state’s substance use disorder treatment workforce.

Scott said he plans to announce additional action, but told reporters he will “have to save some of those ideas for the budget address, or else you won’t come.”

Scott created the 22-member OCC in a Jan. 5, 2017 executive order, establishing the OCC to coordinate inter- and intra-agency coordination between state and local governments in matters of opioid abuse prevention, treatment and law enforcement.

For more on the governor’s press conference, pick up a copy of Friday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.