Vermont Drug Use Trends
Nicknamed "The Green Mountain State", Vermont is home to 626,562 residents (2014 census). With its New England charm, picturesque mountains and many lakes tourism plays an important role in the state's economy. Over the years, residents of Vermont have increased their alcohol and substance abuse. Similar to other states, prescription drug addiction is a serious threat to residents. In 2013, prescription drug addiction was the leading reason behind individuals receiving Vermont drug rehab treatment. Coming in a close second was heroin addiction. Due to the state's location, many drug dealers headed to Montreal, Boston, New York and Philadelphia make their way through Vermont trafficking heroin along their journey.
Heroin in Vermont
As big-city drug dealers move through Vermont they traffic heroin and other addictive substances throughout the state at inflated costs. For example, a bag of heroin that would cost $5 in a big city such as Boston or New York City sells for $30 in smaller towns in Vermont. The number of heroin users continues to grow in Vermont each year. Statistics show that in 2000 an estimated 399 individuals received drug rehabilitation services for heroin addiction in the state. This number grew to 2,102 individuals receiving heroin addiction treatment in Vermont during 2013. The majority of individuals receiving heroin addiction rehabilitation during 2013 were between the ages of 21-30 years old.
- The per capita rate for individuals being treated for heroin and opiate addiction in Vermont is the second highest in the United States.
- During 2013 there were 21 fatal heroin-related overdoses in Vermont.
- In January 2014, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin's entire State of the State message was on the topic of heroin use, abuse and addiction in Vermont.
- Vermont has created a "hub-and-spokes" treatment program comprising a network of statewide treatment centers and local physicians who provide medication-assisted treatment for recovering heroin and opiate addicts.
- Drug courts in Vermont are working to help recovering addicts with non-violent drug charges and who have successfully completed treatment and counseling to have their charges dismissed. Statistics show that relapse rates for these individuals are lower than for individuals who do not go through the drug court program.
Vermont's Prescription Drug Problem
In 2013, the leading reason behind individuals receiving drug addiction treatment in Vermont was prescription drug addiction. Popular prescription drugs of abuse in Vermont include OxyContin, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Xanax, Diazepam and Ritalin. Residents gain access to prescription drugs through a number of different sources including doctor-shopping, internet sales, theft and diverted prescription drugs from Mexico and Canada. Due to the growing number of residents struggling with opioid addiction, The Opioid Addiction and Treatment Care Alliance for Opioid Dependence was created (part of the "hub-and- spoke" treatment program). This statewide partnership of physicians and treatment centers deliver addiction services and medication assisted therapy to residents struggling with opioid addiction.
- 2,525 individuals enrolled in Vermont drug rehab centers for prescription drug addiction problems during 2013, comprising 26.6% of all Vermont drug rehab admissions that year.
- 49.7% of the individuals receiving prescription drug addiction treatment during 2013 in Vermont were male and 50.3% were female.
- The largest age group enrolled in Vermont prescription drug addiction rehab during 2013 was between the ages of 26-30 years old.
Substance Abuse among Young Adults in Vermont
In December 2014, The Vermont Department of Health Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs released a statewide summary. Surveying Vermont residents ages 18-25 the survey was designed to gather data about substance among young adults in Vermont. This survey included statistics from 3,200 young adults living in Vermont and the administration anticipates conducting a follow-up survey in the spring of 2016.
Key findings of this survey reveal:
- 55% of those surveyed reported binge drinking within the 30 days before the survey
- 37% of the survey's young adult population had used marijuana in the 30 days prior to the survey
- 15% stated that they had driven after using marijuana whereas only 4% stated they had driven after consuming too much alcohol
- 17% of the young adults surveyed acknowledged misusing prescription drugs within the past year - 11% stimulants, 7% pain relievers and 4% sedatives
How to Help
Holding an intervention is one of the ways family and friends can help their addicted loved one. When a person's addiction problem is affecting their health, preventing them from functioning normally and impeding in their everyday life an intervention can shed light on the addict's addiction problem and spur them towards getting the help they need to stop using. This process often requires a trained addiction interventionist who can assist the family and friends in the process. The skills the interventionist brings to this meeting includes the ability to prevent the addict from feeling alienated or defensive about the intervention, working with the loved ones of the addict on how to prepare for the intervention, keeping the intervention on track during the entire process and locating a treatment facility that is able to enroll the addict immediately following the intervention. It is important that all individuals participating in the intervention keep the process quite until the actual event. This prevents the addicted person from preparing for the intervention in advance or choosing not to show up at all. When the date, time and location have been chosen a designated person will be responsible for making sure the addicted person arrives at the intervention and the process begins. As each family member and loved one speaks to the addicted individual they will explain how the addiction has affected them and often give an ultimatum if the individual refuses to accept help. When this process does not result in the addicted person accepting help, another intervention can be held in the future to reiterate the person's continued need for addiction rehabilitation.
Population in Vermont:623,050
State Prison Population in Vermont:1,968
Probation Population in Vermont:9,731
Violent Crime Rate in Vermont:
2007 Federal Drug Seizures in Vermont:
Cocaine seizures in Vermont:0.7 kgs.
Heroin seizures in Vermont:0.0 kgs.
Methamphetamine seizures in Vermont:0.0 kgs./14 du
Marijuana seizures in Vermont:131.2 kgs.
Hashish seizures in Vermont:0.0 kgs.
MDMA seizures in Vermont:1.7 kgs./6,158 du
Meth Lab Incidents in Vermont:2
(DEA, Vermont, and local city Law Enforcement)
Drug Situation in Vermont:
- Marijuana, both domestic and imported, is the most broadly abused drug in the State of Vermont.
- High-purity level heroin is available throughout Vermont.
- Cocaine is also a significant concern throughout Vermont, specifically in urban areas.
- Law enforcement officials report minimal availability of methamphetamine in Vermont.
- Vermont's two interstate highways, I-89 and I-91, end at the U.S./Canada border, allowing drug traffickers easy access to metropolitan areas in Canada and the United States.
- Cocaine is readily available throughout Vermont and is abused by illicit drug users.
- Cocaine is available in all quantities in Vermont, from fractional ounces to kilogram quantities.
- Cocaine traffickers in Vermont, traditionally Caucasians, obtain the drug from source areas in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.
- Cocaine is transported into Vermont mainly through the use of passenger vehicles; often it is then distributed in bars.
- Crack cocaine is not broadly available in Vermont, although there is limited availability in the areas of Rutland and Barre. There has however been a rapid increase of crack cocaine use in Burlington, Vermont.
- The cost of crack cocaine in Vermont is usually two to three times the cost of cocaine purchased in source areas.
- Crack is mainly distributed in Vermont by African-American violators who obtain the drug in New York and Massachusetts.
- There is availability of heroin in Vermont in small quantities.
- A typical heroin distributor in Vermont is a heroin user who distributes the drug in order to support his/her own heroin addiction.
- The heroin in Vermont is obtained by individuals who travel to source areas in Massachusetts and New York.
- The most common method of transport of heroin between Vermont and source areas is private automobiles.
- Methamphetamine is not readily available throughout Vermont; although three clandestine methamphetamine laboratories were seized, one in October 2007, September 2005 and another in June 2004, prior to the seizure in 2004, the last seizure of a clandestine methamphetamine laboratory in Vermont occurred in 1990.
- Recent intelligence reports that methamphetamine use and availability is escalating in the northern counties of Vermont.
- Sources of intelligence report that methamphetamine is being transported from Canada into the United States and into Vermont by individuals frequenting popular ski resorts near the international border.
- There were 2 meth lab incidents in Vermont in 2007.
- MDMA (Ecstasy) is available sporadically in Vermont.
- Until June 2001, having MDMA in your possession was not a crime under Vermont state statutes.
- There have been no reports of widespread availability of other club drugs such as GHB and ketamine in Vermont.
- There have been some reports of the availability of LSD, LSA, PCP and psilocybin mushrooms in Burlington, Vermont.
- Marijuana is available in all areas of Vermont, and is the drug of choice for illicit drug users.
- Marijuana is transported into Vermont from the southwestern U.S. via automobiles, campers, and tractor-trailers.
- Another major source area for marijuana in Vermont is Canada.
- High grade hydroponically grown marijuana from Canada is smuggled across the U.S./Canada border by Canadian-based drug trafficking organizations for distribution in Vermont and in transit to Massachusetts, New York, and other states. The marijuana brought into Vermont is often carried in backpacks across remote areas between the ports of entry; tractor-trailers carrying marijuana loads also transport the drug across the U.S./Canada border.
- In addition to marijuana transported to Vermont, marijuana continues to be grown locally in the state.
- In the past, local growers in Vermont operated large-scale outdoor marijuana cultivation operations. The current trend in Vermont has changed to small outdoor plots which can be difficult to detect.
- Indoor grows and hydroponic systems are operated in Vermont on a small scale.
- The most commonly diverted pharmaceutical drugs in Vermont are Vicodin, Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Methadone, Ritalin, Xanax, OxyContin and Diazepam.
- Impaired practitioners are a concern in Vermont.
- Current investigations show that the diversion of oxycodone products such as OxyContin continues to be a problem in Vermont.
- Primary methods of diversion of pharmaceuticals being reported in Vermont are illegal sale and distribution by health care professionals and workers, "doctor shopping", forged prescriptions, employee theft, pharmacy theft, and the Internet.
- Methadone and Vicodin were also reported as being among the most commonly abused and diverted pharmaceuticals in Vermont.
- Vermont shares approximately 95 miles of border with Canada. The cross-border terrain is remote with no large metropolitan areas and few inhabitants. This provides an ideal setting for cross-border illicit activities.
- The Vermont Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs (ADAP) provides alcohol and drug treatment services with contracted nonprofit organizations.
- According to ADAP, use of marijuana/hashish in Vermont accounted for 17% of the clients in treatment (primary substance of abuse), other opiates/synthetics 15 % of clients in treatment, heroin seven percent of clients in treatment, cocaine/crack seven percent of clients in treatment and non-prescription methadone one percent of clients in treatment during Vermont fiscal year 2007 (July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007).
- There were 21 drug violation arrests in Vermont in 2007.