Vermont Cracks Down on Drug Trafficking While Encouraging Addiction Treatment
The number of deaths related to opioids in Vermont has risen above the national average in recent years. Last year, more than 100 people lost their lives to an opioid overdose. Especially noteworthy is the increase in fentanyl-related deaths. While the opioid epidemic continues to make headlines in the state as it does nationally, other substances of abuse, like methamphetamine and alcohol, complicate the state’s already complex drug problem.
To further exacerbate the matter, Vermont, like other states, isn’t just struggling to prevent overdose deaths. Substance addiction often contributes to other serious and in some cases life-threatening conditions. For example, the CDC has identified “220 counties at risk of outbreaks of HIV and/or hepatitis C as a result of the opioid epidemic.” In Vermont, counties at risk include Essex and Windham Counties. Families of individuals with addiction thus also suffer greatly, as do whole communities. Helping individuals successfully manage their addiction is therefore a goal for the state.
While critics have condemned many states for their ineffectual approach to the opioid epidemic, they have also pointed to Vermont has a state with promise. Although Vermont continues to struggle, it has made some significant headway in the fight to reduce drug trafficking and to improve treatment access to residents in need of professional substance abuse treatment.
Vermont’s Drug Sweeps Yield Results
WCAX 3 recently reported on a three-day drug sweep that took place in Battlebro, VT. During the sweep, police discovered “1,000 bags of heroin and 70 grams of cocaine base” in one hotel room alone. After sweeping the hotel and several homes, police arrested 16 people; according to the report, “12 have been charged in federal court with participating in drug trafficking crimes and two in state court with drug possession crimes.” Officials stated that their intent with sweeps like this is to put out the message that they are going after everyone selling illicit drugs at any level—from kingpin down.
Windsor County Fentanyl Bust
In another story, VTDigger reported: “A traffic stop on Interstate 91 in Hartland has resulted in three arrests and what a prosecutor calls the largest bust involving fentanyl he’s seen in Windsor County.” During the bust, “police seized 2,970 baggies containing a mixture of heroin and fentanyl.” Yet, while Vermont isn’t the only state to put a dent in drug trafficking on its streets, it isn’t relying only on its police force to combat the epidemic. Helping people with substance addiction access treatment is also part of the state’s proposed formula for the drug problem.
Help for Arrestees
Many Vermont officials realize that “busting” drug users is only a temporary solution. Addiction is a chronic disease; while many people necessarily “get clean” while incarcerated, they wind up using again after they are released. Addiction is a life-long condition; without effective treatment, sufferers will continue to be vulnerable to relapse.
To address this aspect of the drug crisis, the city of Burlington, VT, is launching an initiative to help those arrested get help for their substance abuse and addiction. “As part of a new program, city social workers are asking people charged with crimes about their drug use in an effort to get those who are addicted into treatment.”
Officials have realized that many individuals they arrest in conjunction with a drug crime, they often release with a mere citation. The citation doesn’t help them manage their addiction. While awaiting their court date, these at-risk individuals may even commit more crimes or could suffer an overdose. Burlington believes the program will save lives, and if the program leads to success, it could be adopted by other Vermont cities—other cities across the country too.
In another move, “The Vermont House Judiciary Committee has approved legislation decriminalizing possession of the opioid use disorder treatment drug buprenorphine,” according to NECN. Officials have noted that overdose-related deaths in Chittenden County have already decreased by 50 percent. They believe that access to doctor-prescribed “buprenorphine” can play a role in further decreases. Buprenorphine, also known by the brand name “Suboxone,” helps to curb cravings for drugs like heroin.
Treatment for Substance Addiction
With its focus on treatment, the state of Vermont is demonstrating that a multi-faceted approach is what’s needed to address the state’s drug problem. Similarly, it’s a multi-faceted approach that is what’s needed to help individuals suffering with substance addiction. FHE Health specializes in behavioral health treatments, including treatment for substance addiction. By offering multi-type treatments, FHE Health can help individuals manage their addiction and achieve long-term recovery.
FHE offers treatments that help individuals suffering with addictions to opioids like heroin and fentanyl as well as other addictive substances like meth, cocaine, and alcohol. Quitting these substances “cold turkey” is next to impossible, but professional treatment that targets the different aspects of the disease, like its physical and psychological dependencies, helps individuals learn how to combat compulsions and cope with their disease triggers.
Whether you live in Vermont, Illinois, California, or FHE Health’s home state of Florida, you need to get help if you are addicted to alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription drugs. Your physical and mental health are at risk. Waiting to hit ‘rock bottom’ is waiting too long. Contact FHE Health to learn more about its substance addiction programs and what treatments might be ideal for you. Get an evaluation from qualified addiction specialists so that you can enter a treatment regimen that will help you get sober— and stay sober.