Vermont: America’s Heroin Capital
Once upon a time in the little state of Vermont was most known for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, maple syrup, dairy farms, liberal views and of course, Bernie Sanders. Unfortunately, the Green Mountain State is swiftly becoming known for something a lot less pleasant than its previous claims to fame and has even earned a new nickname along the way. These days Vermont is being called the “America’s Heroin Capital” thanks to the out of control use of the drug and its devastating effects.
Let’s go ahead and put Vermont’s heroin epidemic into perspective before we get too much further. There are roughly 626,000 living in the state and 43,820 of those residents reportedly use heroin with 70 out of every 1,000 adults is fighting against it. The end result is an astounding 800% increase in illegal drug use since 2000 that only seems to be getting worse.
Hooked on Heroin
Young adults in Vermont have the highest risk for addiction to opioids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the highest rates for non-medical use of prescription painkillers is among the youth in the state aged between 18 and 25. Almost 4,000 Vermonters receiving treatment for opioid abuse, more than one-quarter are young adults. More than half of the youth who inject heroin report that they abused prescription opioids before they started using heroin.
The reason that more young people are getting into heroin use is the steady flow of the drug into the state. Heroin is brought into Vermont from cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Philadelphia. Out-of-state drug dealers bring in large amounts of the deadly drug since they want to supply the market and unfortunately, there is clearly a market. Last year, the governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, said in his annual address that $2 million worth of heroin (and other drugs) is brought into the state each week.
Heroin is popular among the youth as it has become increasingly available and does not cost as much as prescription drugs. On top of this, this state is not exactly booming with jobs so this leaves despair in the minds of many people. Also, a lack of jobs means there is more time to do drugs and escape to another world. Moreover, it is estimated that the drug is available at one-fifth of the cost of prescription opiates. The widespread use of prescription painkillers has primed users for addiction to heroin.
The Spread of Heroin Abuse
Heroin has its a firm grip on all demographic groups in the US. In the past, the drug was thought to be mostly an inner city problem. However, today, it has reached people of all ages, even in rural and suburban areas. According to health officials, the biggest surge is among groups that have a history of lower rates of heroin abuse – white (non-Hispanic) people and women. They are mostly aged between 18 and 25.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, heroin users also abuse more than one other substance, prescription opioid painkillers and cocaine in particular. It also stated that over half a million people in the US used heroin in 2013. That represents an almost 150 percent rise since 2007.
According to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 8,200 people in the US died of heroin overdoses in 2013. Most combined the drug with other dangerous illicit substances, mainly cocaine. In recent years, the number of heroin-related deaths has skyrocketed. It has increased from 1,800 deaths in 2001.