Vermont Tries to Curb Opioid Addiction

The News Times online, in Vermont, reports on new legislation that seeks to curb prescription drug abuse in Vermont. Just like the rest of the country, Vermont has seen a huge spike in the instances of opioid addiction in their communities. A local addiction specialist, Grace Keller, is quoted: “In Vermont, one person a week dies from an opiate overdose,” Keller said. “Many of these deaths are easily preventable,” she said, adding that the legislation would help those prevention efforts.”

Leaders in the Vermont House on Friday lauded passage of multi-pronged legislation designed to stem drug abuse and reduce overdose deaths. The measures were given preliminary approval Thursday and final passage Friday, and now go to the Senate. “These bills, in summary for me, save lives, promote recovery and protect our communities,” said Rep. William Lippert, a Hinesburg Democrat who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “I think those three goals are really what we need to do in response to opiate addiction and methamphetamine abuse across Vermont.”

Among the measures to be enacted are tools that many others states are already using, such as the mandatory registration of doctors who prescribe narcotic painkillers with a state database that seeks to stop users who “shop” doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for the drugs they abuse. Other measures are not so widely in use, and we can only hope that Vermont’s efforts will inspire other states. For example, hospitals are now required to refer patients who appear to be addicted to painkillers to drug treatment programs.

“And the legislation also would create new “good Samaritan” immunity from prosecution on drug charges when a person calls 911 to report someone appears to have overdosed.

Lippert said his committee heard testimony from a man who told of serving time in prison after making a call that saved a friend’s life. He told lawmakers he first hesitated in making that call, Lippert said.”



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