Drugs and Crime

Veterinary opioid killing Vermonters

by Guy Page

State officials are refocusing efforts on reducing opioid overdose deaths, as a relatively new killer – a veterinary drug called xylazine – is killing Vermonters.

At his weekly media briefing yesterday, Governor Phil Scott highlighted available resources and new state investments passed this year to combat the opioid epidemic and support those with substance use disorder, including nearly $9 million in new investments for prevention, treatment and recovery.

Vermont experienced 210 opioid overdose deaths last year, the highest in state history. Through April 2022, 61 Vermonters have died of overdoses – just under the pace of 2021.

The unprecedented number of ODs is attributed to availability of fentanyl, a fast-acting, lethal synthetic opioid with ingredients mostly sourced from China. Compounded in Mexico, then smuggled across the southern border. Also, one-quarter of 2022 opioid ODs are from xylazine, a veterinary opioid not recommended for human use. The prevalence of xylazine was highlighted in a UVM report this week. It is often found in combination with fentanyl.

29 Vermont drug overdoses last year were attributed to xylazine, but the percentage is higher so far this year.

At the press conference, Scott reiterated his opposition to ‘safe injection centers,’ locations in which drug users may inject themselves without fear of arrest. New York City and other locations say they have reduced overdoses. But Scott (and others) are skeptical about their effectiveness in reducing drug use. Scott also said that rural drug users would be left out unless there is a center in almost every town.

“Will [drug users] drive from Milton to Burlington?,” Scott asked rhetorically.

Scott was joined by state leaders from the Department of Health, as well as representatives from the UVM Health Network, community prevention coalitions and health care providers.

In total, across all funds, the state budget this year invests $66.2 million for substance use programs at the Vermont Department of Health. This includes nearly $9 million in new or additional state funding for the following:

  • $4 million to local and regional substance misuse prevention coalitions
  • $2 million for substance use disorder treatment and recovery beds
  • $1.2 million in rate increase for preferred providers to support treatment and recovery
  • $1.54 million for recovery centers, employment services and regional recovery partners, like Jenna’s House

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, or in need of services, you can access the following resources and supports:

More details can be found in the below transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks or by clicking here to view the press conference.

Categories: Drugs and Crime

14 replies »

  1. we have spend an incredible amount of money on this and still do not go to the root cause…..close the border, institute a legal and safe way for folks to immigrate as it use to be……..

  2. In the states that commercialized cannabis before Vermont, the pattern of opiod deaths increasing in the wake of increased cannabis use was a visible pattern. Our legislators had access to knowing this and yet voted to commercialize.

    Vermont already had legalized cannabis. People had ways to access it and grow it if they wanted it. The industry made people think there were financial gains to be had from a new industry – despite many negative consequences – like increased opioid deaths. Start at 1:25 on the clip below for graph from CO.

  3. Wow. Maybe I’m cruel and cold-hearted but we’re going to spend a crazy amount of money in a futile attempt to get people intent on doing drugs not to? I guess I figure that if they want to do drugs let them do drugs. If they OD, they made that choice.

    Just think what we could do with all the millions in funding being wasted on addicts. We could use that money to fund great after school programs, music lessons for kids, summer camps, better pay and higher standards for day care and pre-schools, better quality school lunches; any number of really positive things that would make a real difference for VT kids. Instead we’re going to throw it away on people who are making the choice to use drugs, likely paid for by ill-gotten gains such as burglary and robberies.

    • 100% agree. I’m the mother of an addict and moved out of VT to break my son’s cycle of addiction. For me, there was nothing good in that state. Employment opportunities are nil, housing even worse and very little entertainment for young people. The move cost me dearly but my son has been clean and gainfully employed for almost 3 years and has plenty of sober friends to hang out with. Lots to do and see with free concerts and a community of kind and welcoming neighbors. Police are everywhere and I haven’t seen a used needle or strung out junkie since we got here. Tornados be damned, this is the good life.

      • @ Anonymous

        Kudos to you for being a good mom and taking the necessary steps to help your child; so glad it’s working!

      • That’s great to hear!
        Sadly at this point I think leaving the state is the answer for many Vermonters. They can’t make enough money to support themselves and you can’t risk your children’s lives. Drugs are everywhere, no police, no jobs to afford the high cost of living, property values have risen so much since covid and no one except out of staters can afford to buy, and on and on and on.

        I know this may sound crazy, but the lack of sunshine causes many health issues and risks. Vermont doctors need to be telling their patients to supplement year round with D3. The RDA is in my opinion the Recommended Death Allowance. And a good SAD lamp can be huge help for mental well being and energy as well.
        Anyway,….God help us all.

  4. Until war is declared on the cartels running Mexico Vermont will remain a southern border town.the governor will achieve about as much with the $9 million as if he had sunk it in 399 feet of water off Thompson Point.

  5. All this money for treatment and prevention. I missed the part about increases in funding alternative health care where opiates are not part of the treatment. This would be true prevention, not funneling money back to the segment of the health industry that caused this.

    By the way regardless of what the allopathic system reports, the are still handing out opiates. I know, I work in the system.

  6. We can stop blaming the doctors now for hooking all those straight-A high school athletes with knee injuries on opioids. Lets’ stop kidding ourselves, the current crop of overdoses are people who made a conscious decision to use opioids recreationally, and surprise, surprise, got addicted. The main contributing factors now in producing the death toll in Vermont are cheap, chinese fentanyl coming in by the ton across our wide-open southern border and the free hotel rooms for those who claim to be homeless providing a high level of privacy and isolation. Both of these contributing factors are made possible by our caring and compassionate demoKKKrat party. For a party that so overtly condemns past eugenics practices, they sure do an effective job with promoting the naturally occurring form of it: Darwinism.

  7. At the risk of being pedantic, xylazine is not an opiod. It is a drug of the same class as the blood pressure medicine clonidine.

    News organizations should do their homework. Sorry Guy.

    • Thank you! You are correct and I will edit previous story accordingly. NIH says: “Xylazine, a non-opioid veterinary tranquilizer not approved for human use, has been linked to an increasing number of overdose deaths nationwide in the evolving drug addiction and overdose crisis.1 Studies show people exposed to xylazine often knowingly or unknowingly used it in combination with other drugs, particularly illicit fentanyl.”

  8. I guess it is less deadly than some of the stuff they cut heroin with. It’s sad i know about this. Family members have gotten addicted to opiates.

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