Vermont 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