Vermont’s Drug and Alcohol Problem: Addiction and Prescription Opioid Abuse
Until 2014, motor vehicle collisions in the United States were the leading cause of accidental deaths in the country. That year, opioid overdoses eclipsed car crashes and claimed more than 42,000 lives in the U.S. While there are several illicit drugs that cause problems for law enforcement, the healthcare industries, and communities, prescription opioids are by far the deadliest and are legally available through a doctor.
Every state deals with unique challenges when facing drug overdoses, addiction rates, drug-related crime, and other concerns of substance abuse, but Vermont displays a few particularly worrisome trends. In 2013, Vermont ranked highest in the nation for the rate of illicit drug use, with 15% of people reporting that they had used some form of illicit drug within the past month.
Vermont is situated fairly close to several large cities such as New York and Boston, making access for drug traffickers relatively easy. This makes it easy for substances like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin to make it into the state. However, Vermont’s problem seems to be rooted in prescription drugs, not illegal ones. The United States has seen a rise in prescription opioid sales that corresponds to the growing number of accidental overdose deaths. It’s important to recognize that awareness and education are critical to preventing substance abuse and drug overdoses.
The Opioid Addiction Epidemic
Between 2004 and 2015, the number of opioid overdose deaths in Vermont almost doubled. The most tragic aspect of these deaths is that each one could have been prevented. Many patients simply don’t know that prescription opioids can be habit-forming or deadly. They will take their medications assuming they are completely safe but will end up failing to notice addictive patterns forming. Additionally, if a regular user decides to increase his or her dosage without a doctor’s approval, the risk of overdosing increases.
The Issues with Prescription Opioids
Opioids are powerful painkillers, but due to their molecular nature, the human body quickly develops a dependency on the drug after consistent use. Additionally, cravings are typically very intense once the previous dose begins to wear off, and this leads some addicts into illegal behaviors. Prescription opioids cost American taxpayers billions of dollars every year in substance abuse treatment costs, law enforcement, and crimes resulting from prescription opioid addiction.
Types of Opioids and Addiction
Opioid overdoses involve either prescription opioids or heroin. When an addict’s supply of prescription opioids runs out, he or she may turn to various methods for obtaining more. Heroin offers a much cheaper alternative to purchasing prescription opioid pills on the black market, encouraging many prescription opioid users to eventually turn to heroin. Heroin is illegal, therefore unregulated, meaning heroin dealers alter their drugs however they wish. This often means diluting the heroin to increase sales volume and encourage dependency in customers. When a person develops an opioid addiction, he or she will need increasingly larger doses in order to curb withdrawal symptoms.
Once the withdrawal has set in, the victim can experience intense muscle and joint pain, hallucinations, mood swings, sleep problems, sensory confusion, nausea, and dehydration. Individuals with severe addiction can experience organ failure as well. When individuals attempt to stop using opioids, medical assistance is imperative. Additionally, having ready access to overdose treatment is important as well.
Vermont’s Problems with Substance Abuse
To address the growing concern of overdose deaths in Vermont, state lawmakers have enacted several measures to provide more robust substance abuse treatment and reevaluated law enforcement’s tactics in combatting illegal drug crime. Unlike other states’ “Good Samaritan” laws, Vermont’s goes a few steps further and offers immunity from drug-related charges for individuals who report an overdose to save another person’s life. Additionally, Vermont has made the life-saving drug Naloxone available over the counter. Naloxone is relatively cheap and can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
While Vermont has established several “hubs” for residents to seek treatment for addiction, there are so many people seeking treatment that it’s difficult to make room for everyone, necessitating time limits on how long individuals may remain in treatment centers. Unfortunately, it seems many patients wind up going through multiple rounds of this process before sobriety is achieved if they are able to achieve it at all. Additionally, substance abuse treatment centers in Vermont face a shortage of doctors willing to treat drug addiction.
Why Florida Offers the Best Treatment
Vermont residents may not be able to find the level of care they require to achieve sobriety, and many people nationwide wind up visiting Florida for substance abuse treatment. In the substance abuse health community, Florida is often called “The Recovery State” due to its large substance abuse treatment and support network. Substance abuse research and therapy have flourished in Florida due to the state’s long history battling illegal drug activity and substance abuse.
A Long History of Substance Abuse
Many illegal drugs are manufactured internationally and shipped into the United States through the country’s various harbors. Miami sees an incredible amount of cargo every year, making it fairly easy for drug traffickers to camouflage their wares and get them into the hands of their clients. Consequently, Florida has often been the first state to see new “boutique” drugs from overseas as well as the effects of new drugs and drug combinations. As a result, Florida is now home to some of the best substance abuse doctors and treatment centers in the country.
Look for the Best Treatment for You
Every addict has a unique situation, and while there are some important overarching concepts like awareness and education, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for drug abuse. Treating addiction is different for every individual. It’s vital for people who are addicted to a drug to find a treatment that takes their medical status, the substance of choice, behavioral health issues, and severity of use into account. We at The Treatment Center want every one of our patients to reach lifelong sobriety, and we develop comprehensive treatment plans for every individual in our care.
If you or your loved one need a treatment center that can offer medically-assisted detoxification, counseling, group therapy, behavioral health services, or any combination thereof, The Treatment Center is the best choice for fighting substance abuse. Situated two miles from the beautiful Florida beach, our treatment program helps you fight addiction at every level and embrace a new lease on life free from substance abuse.