Burlington, VT – The Vermont Department of Health released a report Monday showing the opioid epidemic continues to take its toll on Vermonters.
In the first three months of 2023, 55 Vermonters lost their lives to an opioid overdose. Over the past three years, the average number of overdose deaths from January through March was about 45.
Adam Greenlee, Medical Director of Psychiatry at the Community Health Center, says the issue goes deeper than just drug abuse.
“This is a multifactorial issue,” he said. “ I think we’re seeing the loneliness and isolation of the pandemic, we’re seeing the uncertainty of the pandemic and the changes that brought for many people. We’re seeing the housing crisis come to bear.”
Officials say organizations around the state are providing drug counseling and other services to help people struggling with addiction.
Geoff Butler, Executive Director of the Johnson Health Center, says they are also distributing opioid reversal kits.
“They contain two doses of Narcan, fentanyl and xylazine test strips, a breathing mask, and gloves as well,” Butler said.
Butler and other health professionals say opioid addiction can affect anyone and that removing the stigma surrounding the issue is crucial to resolving it.
“This is an issue that is striking anyone from our young teenagers and even preteen community members, to the elderly community members, and everyone in between,” Greenlee said.