The use of heroin is affecting the communities we live in. Heroin is on the rise in Vermont as well as here in Charlotte. Heroin doesn’t discriminate, it is possible that it could affect you, someone you know, love and care about too.
I have been lucky enough to be able to keep a safe distance from heroin, but many people I know and grew up with were not so fortunate. I have seen this nasty drug change so many people I know including high school friends, ex-boyfriends, even people I went to elementary school with and at one point looked up to. It seemed to have changed my whole home town in a matter of a year. It’s almost like I woke up one day and the majority of the people I knew were addicted to heroin. It’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t surprise me anymore to see a familiar face in the paper or news for something having to do with heroin. Although it doesn’t surprise me anymore, it still saddens me to see such good people go down in such a bad way.
Heroin use is growing rapidly in the communities we live in, and to the people around us.
Vermont is the state of the green mountains, with beautiful views of hardwood forests and maple trees full of red and orange leaves. It’s the kind of scenery that brings in nearly 14 million tourists and $1.7 billion of their money every year. It’s a state where you see red barns and historical covered bridges, and where billboards are illegal.
Vermont has always had a relaxed attitude on drugs. Growing up there in the 1990’s everyone smoked weed, and some of our friends’ parents even grew it. According to surveys conducted in 2010 and 2011 by the substance abuse and mental health services administration, Vermont leads the nation in illicit drug use per capita. Which is not too surprising when it comes to marijuana, but the wave of heroin that’s come into the state is a good cause for concern.
In 2014 the rise in heroin use in Vermont gave Vermont the name of the heroin capital, and Vermont’s governor, Peter Shumlin devoted his entire state of the state address to the issue of the rise of heroin addiction in Vermont to create attention to the rising problem. Peter Shumlin had stated in his speech that twice as many people died from heroin overdoses as the year before. Since 2000 Vermont had seen an increase of more than 770 percent in treatment for opiate addictions and up to 4,300 more people in 2012.
Lieutenant Matthew Birmingham, the head of the Vermont State Police narcotics task force said that opiates are the top drug problem statewide – which makes since to him because of rural New England’s cold, dark winters and isolation that make it ideal downer country. OxyContin was a big problem over the past decade and a half, but when the manufacturer changed the formula in 2010 to make it harder to crush, dissolve and abuse, heroin became the drug of choice as and easier and cheaper alternative to prescription opioids.
Dr. Harry L Chen, Vermont’s health commissioner said in an interview that the rate of overdose deaths across the country had tripled since 1990. Dr. Chen also said the highest rates of substance abuse were found in New England and the Northeast.
No one really knows why, he said, except that the region is a wide open market for dealers with easy access by main highways from New York, New Jersey, Boston, and Philadelphia.
Not only do highways make it easier to bring heroin into Vermont, but heroin is much cheaper in the big surrounding cities than it is in Vermont. A past drug dealer that dealt drugs into Vermont from New Jersey said that he could buy a bag of heroin in the city for $5-$10 and sell it in Vermont for