Pandemic poses new challenges to those with opioid use disorder

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont health officials say opioid deaths in Vermont have decreased, but they say this is not a victory.

The Vermont Department of Health says 111 people died last year, compared to 130 the year before. That's the fewest since 2014.

Fentanyl is the primary culprit, contributing to 86% of deaths.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine praised the statewide trend but says a pandemic poses new challenges for people suffering from opioid use disorder, with less access to syringe services and recovery centers. But he said people who want help can still get it.

"There's expanded e-prescribing and tele-prescribing allowed by the federal government for medication-assisted treatment. There is still ongoing access to treatment and there are telehealth platforms for treatment and recovery services," Levine said.

More than 9,000 Vermonters are seeking treatment right now.

For free, confidential information and referrals, visit VT Helplink. That resource is available for patients, as well as their families and friends.