The heroin and opioid epidemic has been overwhelming the state of Vermont for quite some time now. Vermont locals have had to wait for weeks or even months to get into treatment facilities in order to curb their addiction to heroin and/or prescription opioid painkillers. This has put a large number of people at ongoing and persistent risk for dying from overdoses. As of now, Vermont is a state where defendants are even being offered contracts from some prosecutors so that that they do not have to face criminal charges, but are instead forced into recovery. However, drug addiction treatment in state has not been as accessible as it may seem.
Suboxone is currently one of the most common prescription maintenance treatment that is given to people who are in rehabilitation programs in Vermont for opioid dependence. Peter Shumlin, the current governor of Vermont, recently gave a State of the State Speech that completely revolved around ridding Vermont of heroin. Numerous states in the Midwest and Northeast have been ravaged and have been experiencing a spike in lethal overdoses as a result of opiates, including heroin.
OxyContin, a synthetic opiate, and other similar prescription painkillers are rather costly and continue to be regulated. Consequently, U.S. citizens have been switching to taking heroin, whether to get high or for pain relief. There has been been a rise in the production of heroin in places like Afghanistan and certain areas in Central America. Thus, not only is the heroin available on the streets relatively cheap but also quite potent as well.
Not too long ago, an innovative program in Vermont tried to ensure that help would be available to addicts as quickly as possible. At a certain treatment clinic in Vermont, addicts were placed on a waitlist and to aid their recovery until actual treatment would be available to them, research began to prescribe them buprenorphine, which is an anti-addiction drug. Reportedly, the results of this program were quite promising.
With the help of buprenorphine, not only were these patients able to avoid taking drugs again, but barely experienced any withdrawal-related psychological symptoms like anxiety and depression. This proves that providing the right medication can help extinguish an addict’s criminal activity and drug use, ensuring that the psychological benefits from the treatment they are seeking will be even more effective.
To help Vermont escape America’s drug epidemic, a novel program has been pioneered by the top local law-enforcement agency of the state. Under this new program, anyone who commits a drug addiction-related petty crime will not be sent to prison, but will instead be steered into treatment and other services. Drug addicts who are arrested usually do not wish to be incarcerated and state of officials are able to use this as leverage to enroll them in the program. As long as the addicts arrested adhere to the contract, they are able to move on without any charges.
This program has its payoff. These people get to keep a clean record, do not have to go to jail, do probation or join a work crew. While the daily struggle of withdrawal remains, hopefully this payoff will prove enough to motivate them to avoid taking drugs like fentanyl and heroin ever again. This program could succeed in helping Vermont deal with the opioids that have been afflicting the state.