Vermont Tackles Heroin

As aggressively as Vermont is attacking opioid addiction, the number of deaths from heroin is going up, not down. In 2014, Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his State of the State address to what he called a “full-blown heroin crisis” in Vermont. The State Legislature enacted many of his initiatives, including giving one-time grants to addiction clinics to help them reduce the size of their waiting lists.

Preliminary data from the state Health Department shows that the number of deaths involving heroin reached 35 in 2014, an increase of 66 percent from 21 deaths in 2013. (Deaths from prescription opioids stayed the same.)

It is a familiar story across the region. Middlesex County, Mass., which encompasses much of the metropolitan area outside Boston and is the most populous county in New England, reported 103 heroin deaths in 2014, an increase of 212 percent from the 33 deaths reported in 2013.

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