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Targeting Vermont's drug problem and possible solutions - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Targeting Vermont's drug problem and possible solutions

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NORWICH, Vt. -

Vermont and drugs: they're two words making national headlines.

"I believe that's the one thing that could undermine that quality of life, could take it from us, could destroy it, is this issue," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

The state's drug problem recently filled the pages of Rolling Stone and was the focus of Governor Shumlin's entire State of the State address.

Tuesday, Shumlin joined policymakers and medical experts at Norwich University to talk about ways to tackle the problem. Right now there are more than 600 opiate addicts waiting for treatment in Vermont and the state's health commissioner says making sure they have options is key.

"The problem is, when you go to rehab you have to leave rehab. So the extent that we can ground them in the community, surround them with services, provide them stabilization with methadone and buprenorphine, that is really where the evidence is right now," said Vermont Health Commissioner Harry Chen.

Shumlin argued getting struggling addicts into treatment and not just funneling them through the courts will be key to curbing the problem. He wants to add staff to help get that job done.

"So what we're saying is let's take what works. Chittenden County, Addison County other counties have been doing it. When you get busted or you bottom out and you're at that moment of opportunity to drop the denial and move to recovery, let's give people the chance to do that," Shumlin said.

But some Vermonters are skeptical of the state's treatment plans. They say it takes more than just words and promises.

"I was in treatment myself, and it took three or four months before I even got a call back. Fortunately, the reason I entered recovery was because I wanted to recover. Had I had any skepticism about that I would have relapsed and probably would be doing the same old thing," said recovering addict Christopher Luce.

And others say paying attention to prevention is also essential.

"I think its fabulous that we're talking about addiction. I just think it's really important that we keep prevention and early intervention services as a critical component to anything that's going to have a sustained outcome in the state of Vermont," said BHS counselor Margo Austin.

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