Breaking down the numbers on opioid overdoses in Vermont

By  | 

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Despite the many initiatives the state has implemented to fight the opioid epidemic, overdose deaths continue to rise in Vermont.

Preliminary data from the Vermont Health Department shows opioid overdose deaths generally did not change from 2017 to 2018.

In 2017, the health department reported 108 opioid overdose deaths.

In 2018, that number rose to 110.

Our Dom Amato has been digging through the data and breaking down the numbers to show you what else it reveals.

Vermont has seen an increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths in the last eight years. But opioid-related fatalities have nearly tripled to 110 since 2010 when 37 were reported.

Heroin and fentanyl are both opioids so let's break this down further.

Deaths involving fentanyl have also increased. Remember, fentanyl is 50-times more powerful than heroin and users often don't know that it's mixed in with heroin.

In 2018, 83 Vermonters overdosed on fentanyl. That's 75% of all opioid overdoses.

In 2010, only four deaths were attributed to fentanyl.

Also increasing are overdoses involving heroin. There were 60 deaths last year compared to one in 2010.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine says a lot has been done to try to curb opioid overdose deaths. Officials are using a policy Levine calls meeting the person where they are, meaning the state is offering ways for people to access timely treatment.

"If they happen to be at home and they're calling, fine. If they happen to be in the doctor's office, fine. If they happen to be walking to the hub, fine. If they happen to be at a syringe service program or an emergency room, fine. We should be able to enable them to get into treatment from any of those access points," Levine said.

Levine says there is no waiting list for those seeking treatment but it could take up to 72 hours to get your first appointment.