Vermont is facing the same uphill battle against opiate abuse as the rest of the country. The epidemic is getting the attention of the governor. Vermont's Governor Peter Shumlin is letting the public know that the opiate abuse going on in his state is a “major focus” of his administration. He is well aware of the issue and is going to make a lot of changes in the way Vermont handles their drug issues.
“I’m really concerned about the growing opiate epidemic in Vermont, and I want to spend time using my voice as governor to do a better job of fighting a battle that we’re losing,” Shumlin said in an interview. “I’m willing to be creative and innovative and deal with all the players to reduce the number of folks who are becoming addicted and find more innovative ways to succeed in more immediate recovery.” “We are gaining addicts to opiates at a rate that, if it continues, it will make it difficult for us to offer treatment in a system that’s already overrun with demand,” Shumlin said.
Vermont is having trouble keeping enough beds available in treatment centers to help addicts in need. Nothing is more discouraging to a addict seeking recovery than being turned away because of the lack of room or finances. The addict is in a very vulnerable state and can go back to using when the slightest excuse arises. Keeping addicts on a tight program from start to finish with no gaps in treatment is very important for sobriety.
Approximately 4,293 people in Vermont were treated for opiate addiction in 2012 (that last year of stats taken). That is more than a 25% increase since 2005 according to a study from the Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Department of Health Access. Vermont expanded the amount of programs from treatment last year but still can not keep up with the overwhelming demand from addicts seeking help.
This is a serious crisis that effects every citizen in the state. When there aren't enough options for addicts who want help, they go back to using. They are operating motor vehicles putting citizens and children in harms way. They are connected to violent crimes and burglaries in order for them to get their next fix. When there is an increase in crime, tax payers pay more money and lose their overall sense of safety. Many generally low-crime areas are seeing a dramatic increase of burglaries and break-ins. This is a direct connection to the opiate epidemic in the state. Shumlin says, “This is one thing, on a long-term basis, that could degrade the quality of life, the sense of safety and security that we take for granted, in Vermont.”
I applaud Governor Shumlin for taking a stand to show his concern to his citizens struggling with opiate abuse. He understands the impact this issue has not only the abuser and their family, but the innocent neighbors who live alongside these individuals.