Vermont’s Drug Treatment Centers Focus on Prescription Opioid Misuse

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Vermont, despite its size, has shown remarkable numbers in its drug treatment admissions.

Around 1.5 percent of Vermont’s population had sought addiction treatment and rehabilitation in 2013, a 7 percent increase from it 2012 figures and a whopping 39 percent increase from 2008. This has been taken by Vermont’s drug rehabilitation experts as a good sign that their substance abuse rehabilitation and treatment programs are currently working. However, compared with other states, Vermont’s major problem is on the rising incidence of prescription opioid analgesic addiction. Close to 30 percent of all treatment admissions were attributed to prescription opioid analgesics. Marijuana and heroin addiction accounted for roughly 26 percent of all treatment admissions.

Unfortunately, despite Vermont’s remarkable addiction treatment admissions, its drug overdose mortality rate is considered to be moderately high compared to other states. In 2013, Vermont posted a mortality rate of 15.1 per 100,000 after registering around 93 deaths. However, as if offering some form of good news to its drug rehab officials, Vermont saw a reversal of its drug overdose death rates in 2014 posting an improvement of 13.9 per 100,000 with only 83 deaths. While numerically the number of deaths may seem small compared to the likes of California and Texas, Vermont’s drug overdose death rates is still pretty much a cause of concern.

Like most states in the country, Vermont is rethinking its strategies to address the growing incidence of prescription opioid misuse. The issue is not so much about where drug dependents obtain their prescription opioid analgesics but rather in the way these drugs are tampered with. Normally, an opioid analgesic is in tablet form so that it is slowly released in the digestive tract. This produces a steady stream of biologically active opioid molecules that act on the brain to suppress the perception of pain. The analgesic is delivered in very minute amounts over an extended period of time.

However, when tampered with, the drug is released in one massive delivery. As such, the brain is inundated with the sudden influx of abnormally high concentrations of the opioid analgesic. This not only suppresses the perception of pain, it can only suppress other vital organ systems. In severe cases, the drug can shut down the entire brain. This is the major danger of prescription opioid analgesic tampering. Many addiction center establishments have seen what prescription opioid overdose can do to individuals who are often left in a vegetative state in an ICU setting. Unfortunately, not many people get to see just how cruel narcotic analgesic misuse can be.

It is for this reason that drug rehabilitation centers in Vermont are increasing their information dissemination campaign regarding the dangers of tampering or misusing prescription narcotic painkillers. Rehab officials are working closely with educational institutions to allow the former to provide short presentations to students. Community groups as well as parishes are also being tapped in the information dissemination campaign of Vermont’s drug rehabilitation and treatment centers.

Whether or not these measures will improve the future statistics of Vermont in terms of prescription opioid analgesic misuse and addiction remain to be seen. Drug treatment centers are nonetheless optimistic that they will be able to make such improvements.

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