At a news conference on Tuesday Sept. 23, which included state officials, substance abuse experts, medical staff and others, Gov. Peter Shumlin outlined Vermont’s progress in the battle against opiate addiction since January.
“I am proud of our state for taking on one of the most challenging problems facing Vermont and the nation, and moving quickly with compassion to do everything possible to battle opiate abuse, keep Vermonters addiction-free and healthy, and protect communities from the crime that too often accompanies drug abuse,” Gov. Shumlin said. “We spoke aloud about a taboo problem that for too long has been hidden by shame. Now the nation is having that same conversation and working to reduce the drug crisis that is hurting our friends and family members, our communities and our economies.”
Since the governor’s State of the State address in January, which stressed that drug addiction is not just a problem for law enforcement but also a health care issue, the state has:
Significantly expanded drug treatment programs, bringing the number of people in treatment across the state to 2,519.
Brought together governors and/or their staffs from NewEngland and New York to coordinate law enforcement and substance abuse initiatives across the region.
Expanded the use of pre-trial risk-assessment programs to more counties through implementation of Act 195, the comprehensive pretrial services bill.
Acted as co-chair of the nation-wide Governors Association’s Drug Abuse Academy.
Co-hosted, with United Way of Vermont, a statewide community forum on opiate addiction, with local follow-up forums across the state.
Received an 18 month, $300,389 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, which will enable the Health Department to support the Vermont Prescription Drug Monitoring Program with enhanced data collection and a comprehensive educational website.
Distributed the contents for 1,175 overdose rescue kits to participating pilot sites, through the Department of Health, with an additional 185 kits to Vermont State Police to equip frontline troopers.
Created a pilot project to allow prison inmates in Chittenden and Rutland to remain on maintenance drugs to reduce the likelihood of re-addiction upon their release from jail.
Supported a pilot project by Dr. William Roberts and Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans to provide treatment for some former inmates now on probation or parole, using a new drug, Vivitrol, before moving on to suboxone or other maintenance drugs.