State Of Recovery

Two years ago, Gov. Shumlin highlighted the state’s opioid epidemic in his state of the state address. VPR News looks at the progress that’s been made and the problems that remain.

Courtesy, BRAEBURN Pharmaceuticals

Doctors in Vermont and across the country are being introduced to a new tool for treating opioid addiction. It’s an implant: four tiny plastic rods, inserted into a patient’s arm, deliver a steady dose of buprenorphine. 

Lynne McCrea / VPR

Opiate addiction and how best to treat it continues to be a focus in Vermont. And that includes the question of where to provide medication-assisted treatment.

Often, people are seen in one of Vermont’s five main treatment centers, or "hubs." But lately, physicians are being encouraged to see such patients in their own local practices.

Gopats92 / wikicommons

The challenge faced by people struggling with addiction has been exacerbated by lengthy waitlists for treatment. The backlog is now starting to shrink. And the positive trend is thanks in part to local doctors making a special effort to do more.

Mel Evens / AP

Naloxone, or Narcan, is a prescription drug designed to reverse respiratory depression caused by opioid overdose.

The drug has become widely accessible in Vermont, with various police agencies and first responders gaining access to the drug.

Toby Talbot / AP

Two years ago, Gov. Peter Shumlin unveiled Vermont's dirty little secret. The state had an opiate abuse problem.

In his 2016 State of the State address, he pointed out that the problem still lurks among us and he drew a direct connection to addiction caused by the over-prescribing of pain medication. And he has called for limits on what can be prescribed for minor procedures.

Lynne McCrea / VPR

When it comes to opiate addiction, treatment that leads to recovery rarely involves a quick fix. For many, overcoming addiction is a life change.

Nadezhda1906 /

More heroin is coming into Vermont than ever, state officials say, and the ripple effects are disturbing.  Families are facing tough choices as their loved-ones descend into addiction, and communities working to respond to the effects of addiction, including increased crime.

But Vermont's opiate epidemic also has a huge impact on the children who are living through the crisis.

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont has tried to keep up with the opiate crisis by offering services to those directly affected by addiction. But the parents and spouses of addicts face a lonely and confusing journey of their own.

Steve Zind / VPR

Walk through the business district in the Orange County community of Randolph and you get the sense of a town that's doing pretty well. There are nice restaurants, a locally owned variety store, a little movie theater and a couple of busy cafes.

But a series of overdoses, including the death of a man in a convenience store restroom last spring, have underscored the heroin problem that exists here, as it does in so many other communities.  

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

It's hard to keep secrets in a place like Londonderry. In this small town of about 1,700, people tend to know each other's business, and so if you want to know where drugs are being sold Chad Stoddard is happy to show you.

Nina Keck / VPR

State officials say more heroin is coming into Vermont than ever, and the ripple effects are disturbing. 

A little over three years ago, Rutland began a multi-pronged, community-wide effort to fight opiate addiction, reduce drug-related crime and reclaim hard hit neighborhoods. But what progress, if any, has Rutland made?

As the heroin problem in Vermont has affected more and more families, communities across the state are responding by increasing treatment options for those afflicted by addiction.  

Nina Keck / VPR

By the time Gov. Peter Shumlin shined a spotlight on Vermont’s heroin problem in his 2014 State of the State address, Rutland had been actively battling the issue for more than a year, opening a methadone clinic and launching an innovative multi-pronged, community-based approach called Project Vision.