Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Vermont governor highlights problem of heroin addition

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) made the growing problem of heroin and opiate addiction the centerpiece of his State of the State address last night.  Katharine Q. Seelye reports for the New York Times under the headline, "In Annual Speech, Vermont Governor Shifts Focus to Drug Abuse."  Seelye quotes Shumlin:
The time has come for us to stop quietly averting our eyes from the growing heroin addiction in our front yards, while we fear and fight treatment facilities in our backyards.
She then seeks to explain why the problem has grown so big in Vermont, and in that regard references the state's rurality (see page 8 of pdf at link, indicating 72.3% of the population is rural if you follow the U.S. Census Bureau's definition of rurality as population clusters below 2,500 or open territory).
Dr. [Harry L.] Chen, [Vermont's health commissioner], said the highest rates of substance abuse were found in New England and the Northeast. No one really knows why, he said, except that the region is a wide-open market for dealers with easy access from New York, Boston and Philadelphia. Law enforcement can be spotty in the rural areas up here, and users are willing to pay top prices. 
A $6 bag of heroin in New York City fetches $10 in southern New England and up to $30 or $40 in northern New England, law enforcement officials said. The dealer gets a tremendous profit margin, while the addict pays half of what he might have to pay for prescription painkillers, which have become harder to obtain.
An earlier post about the heroin problem in New England is here.  

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