A student’s view of Vermont’s Opiate Addiction

The opiate addiction issue is no longer someone else’s issue. This past July Vermont Public Radio came out with a survey, conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute, that had a broad spectrum of questions related to issues in Vermont. Opiate addiction was, of course, on that list.

Eighty-nine percent of respondents in the poll said that opiate addiction is a “major problem” in Vermont. No one responded that opiate addiction was not a problem for our state. Opiate addiction in such a small state came as a shock to many, and was even featured in Rolling Stone magazine alongside an image of a Vermonter doing heroin on a maple syrup bottle.

Robertson Graphic
Figure 1. Percent of Vermonter’s who see Opiate Addiction as a major problem

This past 2016 State of the State address focused largely on the opiate epidemic. Governor Shumlin spoke about daily drug related violence, and uncared for children due to drug addicted parents. He then discussed his plans to further battle the Vermont opiate addiction.

When respondents were asked if they or someone they know have been personally affected by opiate addiction, the state was almost evenly split, with those responding “yes” (53 percent) in a slim majority.

Of those who said yes, to knowing someone affected by opiate addiction, 94 percent said that they “personally” know someone who has struggled with opiate addiction. This shows that this issue reaches much farther than just the respondents.

Despite the high numbers of those who know someone struggling with addiction there is a light that is shining over the sad news. Groups throughout the state are working throughout communities to decrease the use of opiates, as well as other drugs. In Rutland County there is an organization called Project Vision. Project Vision is a leading example of organizations that are getting the community actively involved to fight drug addiction and build the community. It also has local law enforcement actively involved, which creates a positive relationship between them and the communities they serve. Although opiate addiction is an issue it is definitely being fought by different groups of people throughout Vermont.