So, how much time do you think the governor of Vermont spent on opiate addiction versus other issues? What about job creation? City expenditures? How about education?
What if he spent his entire State of the State address on opiate addiction?
Because that is exactly what he did.
Governor Peter Shumlin had this to say about Vermont’s growing opiate addiction and heroin problem:
“In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us. It threatens the safety that has always blessed our state. It is a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many, but is already highly visible to law enforcement, medical personnel, social service and addiction treatment providers, and too many Vermont families. It requires all of us to take action before the quality of life that we cherish so much is compromised.”
Not exactly trying to downplay the issue, is he?
Shumlin is right, though. However, Vermont is not the only state facing this issue; opiate addiction has become a catastrophic problem for many other states in the Union.
Vermont currently has the highest rate of illicit drug use, with 15% of the population saying they have used drugs within the last month. It has ranked highest for use of almost every drug. Since 2000, the state has seen addiction rates increase 770%. In 2013 alone, heroin deaths doubled.
So what is the root of this recent explosion in addiction rates? Everything from high incomes, to liberal politics, to favorable views of marijuana, cold weather, and numerous other factors have been denounced as the source of such rapidly growing rates of addiction. Most likely, however, is a wide-reaching combination of all of the above, as well as those not listed.
Further, the state is right on the major roadway between several major cities. Within the past year, drug-related crime has risen substantially. Most of those arrested are from out-of-state.
Throw in higher prices for the drug than dealers would otherwise get in the big cities, and Vermont is the perfect environment for a drug epidemic to erupt. Frighteningly, Vermont’s trends in addiction and drug abuse are a very accurate mirror for the rest of the nation and the troubles it has had as a whole with the issue.
The state has been doing the best it can with the resources available, substantially boosting their drug addiction treatment programs as well as law enforcement, but it is still not enough to stop (let alone reverse) the growing problems caused by heroin and opiate addiction.
Most notable, though, is that this once-rural state known for maple syrup is now facing the same problems as metropolitan states. While Vermont may have been able to stick its head in the sand at one time, it can no longer afford to do so, as Shumlin said. Addiction is a problem not just confined to the cities—it is a problem that every community has to face.
Opiate Addiction in Vermont
What are your thoughts about Shumlin’s State of the State speech? What about Vermont’s opiate problems? Let us know in the comments!