Addiction Treatment in Vermont
The United States is experiencing an overdose epidemic led by opioids. Then, it is followed by other substances such as alcohol, heroin, and cocaine. 2018 was the first year that saw a decrease in overall overdose deaths. Nonetheless, these deaths are four times higher than they were in 1999. Vermont is one of the states that saw an alarming rise in overdose deaths over the last several years.
In 2018, the National Institute for Drug Abuse found that in the United States:
• 67,367 drug overdose deaths were reported.
• 46,802 of those deaths involved an opioid.
• 28,400 of deaths involved a synthetic opioid other than methadone.
• 14,975 of deaths involved a prescription opioid, which represented a decline from 2017.
• 14,996 of deaths involved heroin, which represented a decline from 2017.
The NIDA also found that for Vermont in 2018:
• 127 overdose deaths involved an opioid, a number that has remained consistent since 2016.
• 106 overdose deaths involved a synthetic opioid other than methadone, which was up from 33 in 2015.
• 68 overdose deaths involved heroin.
• 27 deaths involved a prescription opioid.
In 2018, providers in Vermont wrote 42.4 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, which was lower than in past years. It was also lower than the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions.
The state of Vermont is estimated to have a population of just under 624,000. The median age is 42.6 years old. The age bracket of 5 to 18-year-olds is 18.5% of the population while the age bracket of 65 years and older is 19.4%. Studies by the NIDA and the Centers for Disease Control pay attention to the young population. These agencies have published several reports that monitor the drug and alcohol use trends among youth and college students.
A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that Vermont teenagers were engaging with several substances. High school students were surveyed, and the data showed that:
• 9% smoked at least one cigarette in the past 30 days.
• 33% had tried to quit smoking.
• 14% had their first alcoholic drink before the age of 13.
• 33% had a drink of alcohol in the past 30 days.
• 6% had sniffed a substance in order to get high in the past 30 days.
• 4% had tried a cocaine-related substance at least once in their lifetime.
Youth statistics such as these have become of interest among U.S. health agencies because they may predict future substance abuse problems. Prevention is now a big priority for several states, including Vermont.
The NIDA takes the time to focus on risk and substance abuse, especially among youth. Research shows that the brain continues to develop into a person’s 20s. During adolescence, a person is undergoing several developmental and social changes, too. Addiction re-wires the central nervous system and the brain. If the brain is not fully developed and a youth is already addicted to a substance, they may never have the opportunity to develop themselves or their potential fully.
Vermont is one of the states that has taken decisive action against the overdose death epidemic in the United States. The Department of Health’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs has set up several initiatives. The department believes that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can recover. The division offered several insights into its progress for the 2017 year.
The staff members divided up their methods into priorities and what they are doing to achieve success in those priorities. There are four categories:
Prevention priorities include reducing underage drinking, youth marijuana use, and prescription drug misuse. The actions the division took to achieve success included promoting living a healthy lifestyle through educating the public. This was turned into a community effort that involved forums and partnerships between retailers and law enforcement.
The intervention phase involved an increase in substance abuse screening, decrease in prescription sharing, and improving the drug-prescribing best practices. The goal was to identify the early signs of drug misuse.
Treatment and recovery are important facets of the plan the state of Vermont released in 2017. Let’s cover those in more detail.
From the outside looking in, it is not always clear why a person may fall into addiction. Addiction is seen as a complex disease that occurs because substances, including alcohol, re-wire the brain. Thanks to research, the medical and rehabilitation fields believe that professionals have a better handle on how to help individuals overcome their condition.
The state of Vermont has made it a priority to:
• Increase the number of treatment options and facilities
• Increase the number of people who engage in treatment
• Increase the number of people who complete treatment
To achieve those priorities, effort is made to provide comprehensive support for treatment. This means that underlying mental health disorders are addressed because co-occurring issues have become more common. Treatment options such as outpatient services, medication-assisted treatment, and residential services have been given additional support.
When treating addiction due to alcohol or drugs, there are several treatment options, including:
• Behavioral counseling
• Medical devices and applications
• Co-occurring treatment
• Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse
Treatment can be completed via outpatient or inpatient programs. The best treatment plan depends on several factors such as the severity of the addiction, current environment, and urgency.
A private rehab center like Green Mountain Treatment Center in New Hampshire is a wonderful option for many cases. We offer:
• Medical detox
• Individualized treatment plans
• 12-step centered curriculum
• Holistic therapies
• Evidence-based clinical treatment
Some of our amenities are:
• Chef-prepared meals
• Meditation and yoga sessions
• On-site gym facilities
Vermont has expanded the number of facilities and programs available to residents in-state. First responders are trained and equipped to administer treatment to those they diagnose as suffering from an overdose on the spot. Thereafter, a person may be dropped off at a hospital emergency room for further diagnosis. After a consultation, the next steps are recommended. It is up to the patient to decide what they are going to do next. You or a loved one can pick a publicly funded program, but due to financial constraints, the amenities offered by these programs are often limited.
Private rehab centers like Green Mountain Treatment Center are designed to feel like a resort. This particular location is situated near the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Lakes Region. It is serene, panoramic, and secluded. Here, patients are among nature. The backdrop is comforting so that there are no distractions from treatment. For some patients, detox and recovery are intense, which means that it requires commitment and effort.
The exact program you will undergo is developed for you after an evaluation. Someone can benefit from experiential therapy while another patient may require anger management. Our treatment facility aims to help patients rediscover how to live a fulfilling life again. Individualized programs thus give patients the opportunity to understand the underlying root of their addiction. There are individuals who get hooked on prescription opioids through no fault of their own; they simply took the prescription their doctor gave them in order to heal from an injury. Then, when their prescription has no more refills, they realize that their body craves the medication. For others, trauma leads to addiction.
At Green Mountain Treatment Center, men and women have separate programs and sleeping quarters. This allows each gender to be in a safe place in which they can be vulnerable without feeling judged.
When a patient successfully completes a 30-day inpatient program, they leave with a set of tools designed to help them cope, resist, and exist in uncomfortable situations. If the environment the patient is returning to is the reason for the addiction, the individual is taught how to cope with triggers. Changes may have to be made. Until then, resisting and existing should be practiced in order to prevent relapse.
Why Seek Help
A person who believes that they are experiencing an addiction is encouraged to seek help. First and foremost, help gets a person back to living in a sober manner. It is important to be able to keep up with your individual responsibilities like keeping a roof over your head. Plus, if you have a family, they need you to be in good health, too.
Getting help prevents the addiction from becoming worse. As time goes on, it is more difficult to overcome the disease. In the long run, addiction can lead to mental health problems, homelessness, and even death. Those who are abusing a substance frequently end up behaving in an irresponsible manner. For example, a person who injects heroin or a different substance will likely share a needle with others.
In the haze of a high, people do not always look for a new needle or thoroughly clean the one that is being passed around. According to the NIDA, continued drug injection use increases the risk of exposure and contraction of HIV or hepatitis C. In Vermont in 2017, 693 people were living with a diagnosed HIV infection. Injection drug use factored into 20.1% of male cases. For females, the rate was 34.4%. Approximately 3,700 persons in the state were living with hepatitis C due to injection drug use.
Vermont has made it a priority to increase the number of people continuing recovery. The state also aims to increase peer-led recovery services and access to safe housing for recovery support. To meet demand, training individuals to be peer leaders has also been made a priority, and services that help residents maintain a healthy lifestyle are promoted more. The support services that are more heavily promoted are recovery centers, temporary housing, and peer recovery support programs. With the training programs, all these services make up the Vermont Recovery Network.
Since addiction is considered to be a chronic condition in many medical and rehab circles, treatment does not end after a 30-day program is completed. Included in patient recovery services are anonymous meetings. These are widely available throughout the United States and Vermont almost every day of the week. Long-term follow-up treatment is another option. The point is to prevent relapse.
The NIDA defines recovery as the process of change that is used to help an individual improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. A person who is run by their addiction is not a person who is living their own life anymore. Some people require maintenance treatment after a 30-day program.
The state of Vermont has also taken the time to evaluate how well it is doing with its priorities and actions. During a self-evaluation, the state found that an estimated 90% of residents did receive the messaging in one form or another. Researchers found that fewer youths had consumed a substance in 2015 compared to 2013. Statewide, 604,079 people were served at a cost of $8 per person. Researchers estimated that for every $1 that was invested in substance misuse prevention, $10-18 in costs were saved in the areas of health care, criminal justice, and lost productivity. This is considered a great win.
Both alcohol and drug abuse are being addressed. Approximately 1,400 health care workers were trained to provide screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment. Doctors were trained in the new best practices for prescriptions. Health care providers were trained in the areas of trauma and substance, and the focus was the relationship between the two.
Vermont’s initiatives have helped increase treatment capacity. New residential facilities were opened that served specific groups such as women, men, and the elderly. Since residents of the state were receiving treatment in greater numbers, it was found that criminal activity related to substance abuse decreased. By the same token, health, sobriety, and family relationships improved. The state’s officials knew that alcohol, marijuana, and opioids were being abused. This was leading to more car crashes, health disorders, and deaths, so action was necessary.
Help is widely available in Vermont for those who require it. Don’t hesitate to reach out and seek treatment.