Vermont Sees Surge in Heroin Use

As unlikely as it may seem, a prime area for heroin users is now the sleepy state of Vermont. On Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin’s entire State of the State address was devoted to what he called Vermont’s “full blown heroin crisis.” Vermont now has the highest rate of illicit drug use in the United States.

According to 2010-2011 surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 15% of the Vermonters surveyed said they had used illicit drugs in the month prior to the survey. In 2000, the number of Vermonters treated for heroin abuse was 399; in 2012, the number had exploded to 3,479.

Users in the 25-34 age group, which numbered less than 200 in 2000, skyrocketed to roughly 1,800 by 2012, the greatest growth among different age groups. Rutland, Vermont’s police chief James Baker told Vermont newspaper Seven Days that one reason for the growth of heroin in the state is that drug dealers can sell a bag of heroin for $30 in Vermont as opposed to the $5 they would get in a big city, where dealers are plentiful. Another reason is that Vermont is close to Montreal, so drug dealers traveling from Canada find it an easy stop along their route.

Barbara Cimaglio, Vermont's deputy commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs, said:

I think what drives this up tends to be the higher use of marijuana, and if you look at the states [with high illicit drug use], they tend to be the states that have decriminalized or have more favorable attitudes toward use of marijuana. I think Vermont is really in sort of a perfect storm because we're on that highway between Montreal, Boston, New York, and also going to Philadelphia. You have to go through Vermont to get to some of the bigger cities like Boston, so it seems like some people are just trafficking along the way and Vermont is one of the stops.


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