Vermont Has Become the Heroin Capital of America

Vermont HeroinVermont is a small state known for its picturesque landscape and perceived by many Americans as a rural getaway. What many may not have guesses is that it is also the heroin capital of America and is in a desperate fight to stabilize a drug problem that is invading every sector of its society.

To give a picture of just how desperate the situation is becoming, just last month the governor of Vermont, Peter Schumlin, devoted his entire annul address to his state’s current crisis over the dangerous drug. That was the entire speech folks. No Obamacare, no same-sex marriage, no political scandal, just a full on appeal to raise awareness to his constituents about the problems their state is facing.

Schumlin said that each week $2 million worth of heroin is brought into Vermont through highways leading from cities like Boston, New York, Holyoke and Springfield. These are believed to be the major pipelines for pumping heroin into the state.

The governor also said that the amount of people who seek treatment for an opiate or heroin addiction is up 770 percent since 2000. That is almost eight times as many cases. Unfortunately, the increase in addicts has not been leveling itself out either. the amount of heroin related deaths have almost doubled in only the last year.

More bad news is that Vermont is not the only state reeling from drug addiction. The Centers for Disease Control agreed with nationwide experts who claim that the current level of overdose deaths in America is at “epidemic” proportions. Dr. Harry L. Chen, the health commissioner for Vermont, said that since 1990, the rate of deaths caused from an overdose has tripled. He said that, “Nationwide, more people die of drug overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes.”

The highest rates of these abuse cases are found in the Northeast and more specifically New England. The only reasons given for this geographical coincidence is that dealers have quick access to large cities like Philadelphia, New York and Boston and that users in these areas are willing to pay large amounts for the drug.

Experts estimate that $6 worth of heroin in New York can be sold for $10 in rural New England.  It is speculated that it can even be sold for $30 or 40$ in the northern reaches of New England.

Governor Schumlin also pointed out that nearly 80 percent of inmates in a prison in Vermont are in jail on drug related charges. Some agree that the only way to fight this problem is through the kind of gritty awareness the governor was proposing by devoting so much time to it during his speech, but other Republican challengers say that he should have allowed for other hot button issues like health care.

Whether the governor’s plea will spark widespread change in the way we monitor heroin use in the country, or at least in his state, waits to be seen. It does appear however that Vermont’s epidemic of heroin trafficking and abuse will receive the kind of attention is deserves after such a momentous, and straight forwards appeal for recognition.

By Nick Manai

NY Times
Politico
Huffington Post

54 Responses to "Vermont Has Become the Heroin Capital of America"

  1. Melvin lowell   August 6, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Yes Vermont state should stop helping people who use and keep using because they don’t want to get clean because Vermont is paying to get the drugs for them. They for no cash gos out of they pocket. It’s free money to them and they are not buying it the state of Vermont is. I bet they Never thought of tat. Years ago if you was a drinker and smoked pot you could get all the help and money you needed from just Walfar. Tats not going anyway else for a hand out. Now they have stopped helping the drinkers and pot smokers and are now paying for the Big H word. So who is to blame well tats a million dollar question because you know tat the buck will keep getting handed down and the state of Vermont is never wrong they are always right. Ya right I have seen what can happen when Vermont dos not want to Man-Up and put a stop to the paying of Drugs. The people who are trying to make ends meet vermont is making it harder for them and real easy on People who are on Drugs

    Reply
  2. Melissa   August 6, 2017 at 5:12 am

    First “whites” are not a majority of your heroin dealers. Theyare your majority of users. Hispanics are your top majority second blacks and lastly whites. Whites dealing dope are actually using, to pay for there habit so maybe in vermont there are alot of” whites” id say because the demo of colors are also limited and “whites” are using so they are desperate to get more product so they are willing to go to the city. In no state will anyone agree with whotes biggest dealing heroin.lol i am not racist nor do i put blame on any color, supply and demand go hand in hand. Vermont is a little tiny place on the map when looking at this heroin problem, its just become very noticable to vermonters of such smaller populations. In the city your addicts are categorized and there are still alot of working whites that are able to pay for there dope.they ate getting thetes for less money and hiding there addiction more easily

    Reply
  3. Mikey B.   August 5, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Let’s face the truth about the truth. Drug tasks forces and police departments was busy arresting and going after blacks and Hispanics while not going after whites. So thus you have the current balance of things. Now they are going after white dealers whom of course are the heroin dealers mostly.

    Effectively earned title and national exposure seemed to be needed before they started arresting them. Go figure. . .

    Reply
  4. michaeljmcfadden   March 3, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    OK, trying without the excerpt…

    Almost fifteen years ago I wrote a book in which I argued extensively about the dangers of teaching our children that “Smoking Is More Addictive (or deadly or whatever) Than Heroin.”

    I pointed to the parallel, even back then, between the decrease in teenage smoking and in the increase in opiate and inhalant abuse by kids and teens who simply believed what they were told and taught in school and on TV and thus figured there was no harm snortin’ or shootin’ a little Horse while their friends were out on the back porch sucking on death sticks from Big Tobacco.

    I was in Vermont (Burlington) about 20 years ago and was impressed with how liberal and activist it was. I’m sure they were and remained right at the peak of the curve in their antismoking education efforts and it looks like they taught their children well.

    Unfortunately.

    – MJM

    Reply
  5. scott   March 3, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Liberal Run Vermont’s Welfare System allows addicts the lifestyle to live the Junkie life and Liberal Judges set low bail Money for dealers

    Reply
  6. Susan   March 1, 2017 at 10:50 am

    I live in the mid-Hudson valley and it’s terrible here, as well. We’ve had weekends in some of the towns near me, and including my town, with 4 and 5 deaths from Heroin, including many, many overdoses. If you look at the history of Heroin in this country, from it’s introduction through today, it seems that anytime free access is given, it becomes a huge problem. And by free access, I mean the availability of heroin in pill form, aka Oxycontin. Since they put that stuff on the market in the late 80s, we have witnessed the evolution of the current problem. That is how many addicts start, by being prescribed Oxycontin, or experimenting with the black market Oxy as a youth. I cannot tell you how many families in my small town have been affected. I find it very hard to believe that our government cannot do more to stem the tide — more like a raging river — of this drug into our communities.

    Reply
  7. Pauline   February 28, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I live here and yes there’s a problem. However, it’s every where and the only reason it seems to be the biggest here is because of lower population which raises percentage. Comparative to another place 3 times the population would make it appear to be the worst.

    Reply
  8. elliemae_sunshine@yahoo.com   March 1, 2016 at 7:22 am

    and it is 4 times as bad now in 2016

    Reply
  9. sharon   March 1, 2016 at 2:56 am

    Well maybe the gov should RAISE the minimum wage to give folks some hope to be able to look forward to supporting themselves in such an over taxed exspensive Vermont
    a LIVING WAGE,today,not in 5 years

    Reply
  10. Chris follensbee   February 29, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    This is 2 years ago, stop beating a dead horse for shock value.

    Reply
  11. Brenda Mathews   February 29, 2016 at 6:25 am

    Stop giving that stuff to save lives. They take that crap, they must want to die

    Reply
    • Ella   August 1, 2017 at 9:20 pm

      Guess we should stop giving insulin to fat food addicted SELF INFLICTED diabetics then too…. Right?? They eat like that, they MUST want to die!

      Reply
  12. Jay   February 28, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I think now we have such a problem, we should hurry up and make pot legal as fast as we can. Tha will help.

    Reply
  13. Brooke   February 27, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    Look the east isn’t the only it’s washington Oregon and California also. Horrid out here needles left in playgrounds and kids poking themselves on them while there isn’t barely Nothing being done.

    Reply
  14. Ricky   August 28, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Nope the heroin capital of America is Baltimore. Come on Vermont doesn’t even come close.

    Reply
  15. poppageorgio   March 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Let them have all the heroin they want, they will die off and they won’t create future costs.

    Reply
  16. clayton   March 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    vermont lpve it or leave it

    Reply
  17. stacy   March 1, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Poorly written. Full of spelling errors, grammatical and punctuation errors. I wrote better as a 5th grader. Should we really take you seriously? You come across as very unprofessional.

    Reply
  18. Pete Wagner   March 1, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Follow the money all the way back, jusual suspects involved…

    Reply
  19. Matt Savard   March 1, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Hey Nick! First Off, THANK you for your attempt at raising awareness about the heroin crisis in Vermont. However, I must say the bigger travesty here is the fact that someone released this article to press. Starting with the blatant spelling error in the second sentence, this was a hack job from go. Please take a little pride in your work and don’t let crappy writing detract from a horrible message.

    Reply
  20. Wendy Comar   March 1, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Jobs…jobs…jobs. This is what we need in this state. Not hand outs!!! People need a purpose. And yes Michelle, I completely agree with you. Allow those who have helped themselves….help others!!! It is a Huge problem in Manchester!!!! The state is handing out welfare $. Then they spend it on drugs. The money very rarely goes for what it’s intended!

    Reply
  21. Former Resident   February 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Here’s a novel idea – eliminate the disease instead of masking the symptoms. End the anti-business agenda that Shummy and his cronies are shoving down everyone’s neck and give Vermont’s youth something to live for instead of turning to drugs to dull the borden and lack of self worth.

    Let’s put the nonsensical issues on hold and ramp up our legislation to focus on growth initiatives like attracting companies to invest, build, and prosper in VT. Attack the drug issue from both sides, employ the non-users before the needle and pay for the rehabilitation programs with the increased tax based resulting from new jobs.

    Unless you’re a business owner in Vermont where do you work? There are no big companies. The geniuses in Montpelier have effectively chased them across the borders.
    I grew up in VT. I desperately want to live in VT. I can’t because I’ll never come close to earning half of what I earn now.

    Reply
  22. Grant Lefevre   February 28, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Vermont love it or leave it. Its still a little slice of heaven even if it has its travails.

    Reply
  23. Jenn Dundas   February 28, 2014 at 7:54 am

    As a former Vermonter from Windsor County, I agree with many of the comments listed here. Yes, all of the U.S. is lacking in mental health care. Due to the rural setting of VT that everyone loves, it is often a great distance between homes and doctors, hospitals, and mental health providers. In Windsor County, there is only one State mental health provider that I am aware of. The providers at this facility were merely counselors, and could not dispense medication, provide psychological examinations, or handle truly complex mental health cases. This truly could be corrected by simply hiring people who are better qualified for the job at hand. Also, money is a HUGE factor in all things, but more importantly mental health. If you’re worrying about traveling an hour to and from work, paying for gas, somehow paying to heat your home and also find cash to eat, the last thing on your priority list is seeing a therapist and adding to the expenses you do have. While this is the case in many places, VT’s economy and lack of employment positions that pay well and offer insurance to cover mental health play a big part here. Keep in mind that most things cost more in a rural area, if not based on price alone, then coupled with the cost of travel. There is no quick fix to the drug problems in VT, but there should be more programs and community outreach to keep people, especially children, engaged in other things besides recreational drug use. Studies continuously show that those who are otherwise engaged are less likely to form drug habits. For those who are using, health and mental care should be available without jumping through endless hoops.

    Reply
  24. K   February 28, 2014 at 12:56 am

    Does anyone realize this article is from some random guy who can’t even spell or use proper English? Although there may be a legitimate issue to discuss, this article is not factual and has absolutely no reference or credibility.

    Reply
    • newarkschool   February 28, 2014 at 8:21 am

      K raises a good point – the article is poorly sourced.

      Reply
  25. Kerry Hull   February 27, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Vermont may have a problem but the Heroin Capital of America? What a joke. I grew up in Vermont and now live in a small college town in the bordering State of New Hampshire. You folks haven’t seen nothing yet.

    Reply
    • Donna Woods   March 5, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      The availability of substance abuse clinics in this area make it too easy for an addict to say to themselves Ill just use for a bit and then go gut methadone or buep and ill be ok till i get more money to buy again. The clinics here in Vermont have a revolving door. The abusers need stricter rules about being able to get help.

      Reply
  26. Madge   February 27, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Vermont has the problem because it’s closest to the mother lode, which is the Montreal mafia.

    Reply
  27. Adelle   February 27, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Ever heard of spell check or proofreading??? If you can’t even bother to capitalize the first word of the sentence, how can I believe anythin you write? Just a friendly tip.

    Reply
    • Adelle   February 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Anything**. Damn phone.

      Reply
      • jhfhfkgj   February 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm

        You should proof read! LOL

        Reply
  28. Loriann lawson   February 27, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I was born, raised and spent most of my life in northeast kingdom. It has always had no jobs, very poor mental healthcare, and a statewide case of ignorance! There needs to be more education and support for substance abuse! Why would someone want to get and stay clean when your just judged and punished! I feel sorry for Vermonters, now I live in a wonderful state where people care!!!

    Reply
  29. LaNell DeCosta   February 27, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Vermont has a bad problem In regards to heroin use and anyone who does not recognize this, is living in denial. I think Governor Shumlin is right in making this a top priority. I also think it’s not enough help and not happening fast enough. I also feel there has to be more than just rehabs, drug treatments and drug court. There has to be more education for the young, more jobs for everyone including the people who are getting out of jail now with criminal records and have no place to live and no way to support themselves. For those people who think its is a matter of getting tough and locking them up, do you have any idea how much money it cost to lock up and individual for a year? That many heroine users have other health problems like bad teeth, hep c and mental health issues. That there are heroine addicts that have small children and then lose custody of them. This then becomes the tax payer’s burden. It will cost us less in the long run to look at alternatives ways to deal with this problem as it is only getting worse. Addiction is a disease. There is a ripple effect that it is having on the families, jobs, courts, neighborhoods, medical doctors, schools, villages and the economy. It is such a complex issues with many fronts. We need to do more and sooner than later. Let’s stop hiding our heads in the sand. By all means lets get some feedback from addicts.

    Reply
    • Cheryl Cramer   February 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      I totally agree with what LaNell DeCosta has said here. These folks do not WANT to be addicts. Putting them in jail just makes them worse…they lose their homes and family and have nothing to live for anymore. There is only expensive help; most don’t have access to clinics that they can afford, and the problems go on. We need to get these addicts together so they can tell the communitythe kind of help that will get them back on their feet.

      Reply
  30. Maria   February 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    The job market is very non existant in a state that relies too much on tourism and farming. With bad or unfruitful weather these two things fail to bring in any options of consistent full time and good paying jobs. In some towns of Vermont, they’d rather not put up a Wal-mart which would service so many areas for an all around good home store and give many jobs to it’s community. Instead, they would rather continue putting up more of the same type stores that end up going out of business because of the competition such as a Tractor Supply next to an Aubuchon next to an Ace Hardware!!! There’s no variety and you have to travel far to get to any of the other stores. With the cost of fuel and drive time and bad weather, no one is going anywhere. It can lead to boredom which in turns fuels a possible path of destruction. A variety of restaurants and a super store is not going to harm the economy but keep the towns booming with a variety of options and places to go. This would have job options for teens and teach responsibility and keep them off the street and offer more to the community.

    Reply
    • K.M.   February 27, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      Walmarts don’t create jobs. The market is finite so it is essentially a zero-sum game: when Walmart or other chain stores (or restaurants) move into a small town they don’t create jobs out of thin air – They take away business from local establishments because often they are cheaper (cheap imports from China, min. wage labor). When they take that business away from local businesses, those local establishments are forced to close down or fire employees to cut costs. Those employees who used to work for the local shops now have to work at Walmart and no new jobs are created.

      The end result? No new job creation – all profits go into corporations’ pockets and are not reinvested in the community and state, whereas they are with local profits, and the town now covered with a Walmart, chain restaurants instead of local joints, and fewer one of a kind local shops. This makes the town like Anywhere, USA – covered in generic chains an box stores with people now working for minimum wage and on govt. benefits, with profits going to the corporations and not back to the people and very little room for upward movement.

      One way that Vermont is unique in so many ways is that it has refused to become Anywhere, USA and has maintained its local businesses, restaurants, and small community feel. This doesn’t meant it isn’t without its own problems (see above article on Heroin use) – but box stores and chain restaurants wouldn’t solve anything.

      Reply
  31. BRYAN G   February 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    People who start using heroin are idiots. We all know what heroin is and what it does… Who in there right mind when asked “lets try some heroin” would do it… Weak minded people, I don’t care how much people don’t make for income… If you are poverty sticker and do heroin, you are even more of an idiot. Put food and shelter on the priority list… If you overdose on heroin… Sorry about your luck! take responsibility for your actions!!!

    Reply
    • CBC   February 28, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      You are uninformed about what sometimes happens to an addict. It is often the doctors who prescribe painkillers and then take them away, and the then addict still has not overcome the pain or injury they have, and head to the street for relief. Then after they, perhaps, have been on percs or oxys, the police sweep the dealers off the street for awhile, and then the heroin shows up and is cheap and all that is available to stop the horrible sickness that overcomes them.

      Reply
  32. herbert fields   February 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    its also a sexes state there no equal rights for men

    Reply
  33. T.M. Collins   February 27, 2014 at 11:16 am

    I moved to this area 14 years ago to raise my kids children because I believed it to be a safe place with drugs being hard to find. I still believe Vermont is one of the safest places to live. Is there Heroin and so many other drugs coming in? yes.. How do you put a stop to it ..well honestly you don’t that’s the reality . where one gets caught 2 more will pop up. This state has so many young people coming out of high school or college with no way to support them selves . so many working for wages that just about put a roof over their head but barely food in their mouth. come on its a chain reaction. no money= depression = drug or alcohol use to numb it out. Kids start by using pain pills in high school build up there tolerance and go searching for something that will do the job end up with heroin, saboxin , methadone, or bute (don’t know if I spelt it right) . Once on these the scum that has settled here from other states to make there cash cow seek these kids/teens out and make them their pushers/mules. Then you have local law enforcement . Under paid and under staffed and these out of state pushers know this . towns like Newport, Lyndonville, St. J (in the NEK) have their own forces but the rest rely on state and sherrifs dept. which lets face it is allot of ground to cover with very little man power. this makes it near impossible to actively be able to follow up many of the tips they do receive I’m sure . Rehabs. well lets face it waiting lists to get help ?and AA and NA groups there should be multiple meetings in each 10 mile area but no there is not meetings are hard to find and spread out all over. I love this state this is MY STATE now . I have watched healthy wonderful people (kids) who had so much to offer get caught up in this whirl wind of a problem. my heart breaks for the parents who scream out for help but it falls on deaf ears, for the agencies doing all they can but just don’t have the funds or the resources to keep up with the numbers.
    The bottom line its our state the powers that be can do their part by finding money to help build the resources . WE the people can start opening our mouths and screaming out . you know or think you know of someone tell the cops. you afraid to use your name , write it in a letter and drop it in the mail to your local law enforcement make sure you have the persons name , times of activity dates when you have seen thins go down addresses if you have them something that would help them to start a case ..a name is a start but activity is even better..maybe I am wrong but for once i think i got it right.

    Reply
    • Charity swan   February 27, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Very well said / \

      Reply
    • MT   February 28, 2014 at 10:49 am

      Very Well Said!

      Reply
  34. Katie Elizabeth   February 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

    A major part of this “epidemic” is the lack of substance abuse treatment available to Vermonter’s it is currently easier to find drugs and alcohol than to find treatment. Governor Shumlin has cast a very dark light on a state that relies so heavily on tourism, bad call.

    Reply
    • CBC   February 28, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      You are right!

      Reply
  35. mike   February 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I m not denying that there is a problem, but our little state ranks in the top 3 every year for intelligence and the top ten for healthiest, frequently number 1 in each. Gov. Shumlin’s speech was more about getting national recognition for himself and less about the reality of our state, He accomplished his goal and in so doing wrecked the vision of Vermont.

    Reply
  36. Helen Rivers Munger   February 27, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Hard for me to believe. People need to stop blaming the state and put the blame where it belongs ON THE PEOPLE NOT THE STATE step up and take your licks!!!!!

    Reply
  37. Karen Marino   February 27, 2014 at 5:12 am

    I’m wondering if the mental healthy crises in Vermont is in any way related to the drug problem. SRS and Mental health agencies are letting down our families because they are ill equipped to handle any type of crises. I wonder when the “professionals” in this state will figure out this “coincidental” occurrence.

    Reply
  38. Hadley Graham   February 27, 2014 at 5:06 am

    The police need to be more on top of this. Six years ago they had pictures of the people who were running things over the border into Vermont and they did absolutely nothing about it. Thank god those particular people have since gotten sober. However, there is always someone looking to take their place as the “runner”. The dealers (generally black people from NY) pay well to have you work for them. When people perceive you as a scummy person then it is their only job opportunity. This state needs to stop offering the legal high of methadone clinics and start “understanding” less. It is the weight of the punishment when the addict is caught that makes the greatest impact. Let them withdrawal, feel the pain, and squirm in their own skin – maybe then they wouldn’t ever want to go through it again. Cushioning their fall only allows them to have an easy out of their heroin withdrawals and thus the active addiction. Someone needs to put a firm foot down and give nothing but tough love. Obviously the methods they have been using to “help” addicts has gotten this state nowhere. It’s time for change!

    Reply
    • time for a change   February 27, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      U r ever so right vt is to soft on them no more methadone its not working time to get tough they know that they won’t get into trouble just rehab its not a diease doesn’t the law cousilers know they r laugh at smarting up Vermonters

      Reply
    • CBC   February 28, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      One has to be TOUGH to overcome addiction. You are heartless.

      Reply
      • V   August 3, 2017 at 8:35 am

        Agreed. And all it takes is ONE time, whether a chronic user or a first time user. Get something tainted w/ fentanyl or carafentanyl (elephant tranquilizer) & it’s over. Fentanyl is the new craze, which is a thousand times stronger than heroin. Do you think that the dealers are going to inform users that they have cut the H w/ something as deadly as fentanyl? ….not a chance.

        Reply
  39. ClydeC.   February 26, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    If 1 out of 100 users wanted to get clean for themselves and are not being forced to by the courts, family, or the idea of facing court for a drug offense, it would be doing good nowadays. Not many truly want to get completely clean, and use cigarettes and alcohol as a crutch, until they think they fooled everybody, or so they think.

    Reply
  40. Michelle Lynn Hamlin Pierce   February 26, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Maybe if Schumlin asked for help from Ex-using addicts, this would pan out quicker… We, as addicts, know a lot more than we are given credit for, and can use our knowledge and experience to help, but NO!!! People that have had a substance abuse issue can’t POSSIBLY do any good!

    Reply

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