What is the Drug Situation in Vermont?
New England’s heroin problem may be one of the biggest public health issues of the past few years, and Vermont is the epicenter of the explosion in heroin addiction. The state has seen an increase of more than 250% in people receiving heroin treatment since 2000. The greatest percentage increase, nearly 40%, occurred this past year. In 2013, there were twice as many federal indictments against heroin dealers than in the previous two years, and over five times as many as had been obtained in 2010. And last year, Vermont had nearly twice the number of deaths from heroin overdose as it did the prior year.
Most surprising in this sea of stats is the drop in non-medical prescription opiate abuse overlapping with an increase in heroin abuse. The reason may come down to basic economics: illegally obtained prescription pain killers have become more expensive and harder to get, while the price and difficulty in obtaining heroin have decreased. An 80 mg OxyContin pill runs between $60 to $100 on the street. Heroin costs about $9 a dose. Even among heavy heroin abusers, a day’s worth of the drug is cheaper than a couple hits of Oxy.
Quick Facts on Substance Abuse Issues in Vermont
- Opiates, including prescription drugs, are the most commonly cited drugs among primary drug treatment admissions in the state, followed by marijuana.
- Burlington and Rutland have seen drastic increases in heroin use and treatment admission for other drugs such as prescription painkillers and marijuana are also high. For example Rutland has seen a 770% increase in treatment for opiate addiction, 40% of that in the last 2 years.
- While the a public health crisis stemming from heroin overdoses has been building for years, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin finally brought the subject to national attention in January 2015 after focusing his entire State of the State address to the region’s heroin crisis.
- Vermont is a microcosm of the nation. Across the U.S., heroin abuse among first-time users has increased by nearly 60 percent in the last decade, from about 90,000 to 156,000 new users a year, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Vermont’s heroin problem would seem a foretelling of things to come in the more affluent parts of the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Vermont’s median household income, home ownership rate, and percentage of people with graduate and professional degrees are all higher than the national averages, and Vermont’s percentage of those living at or below poverty level is significantly lower than the national average.
- Vermont leads the nation in illicit drug use per capita. That’s not particularly surprising or alarming when it comes to marijuana, but the wave of heroin that’s surged into the state is cause for concern.
- Police officers, drug counselors, and drug addicts all agree that heroin is easier and cheaper to come by than pot these days. Some people even said heroin is becoming socially acceptable the way marijuana is.
Find Drug or Alcohol Treatment in Vermont
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