Deaths related to opioid overdoses dropped from 35 (in Chittenden County) in 2017, to 17 deaths in 2018. That’s a steady decline for Vermont’s most populated county and the lowest level they have seen in six years. However, the rates across the rest of the counties in Vermont increased by 36 percent, totaling to 110 deaths this past year, which is up from 108 in 2017. That total is actually a new record for the state of Vermont.
The mayor of Burlington, Miro Weinberger, claims the decrease is due to the area’s support of MAT, medication-assisted treatment, and joint efforts between Chittenden County Opioid Alliance, hospitals, and local law enforcement. For example, Burlington police have made a promise to not arrest those with buprenorphine found on them, a medication that is used to reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Vermont uses a “hub and spoke” system for the MAT treatment, there are intensive treatment facilities acting as “hubs” and regional, local treatment that is continuous, “spokes”.
Fentanyl-related deaths increased and the dangerous synthetic opioid was involved in 75 percent of the opioid related deaths last year. That number was triple the amount from 2015 and heroin was involved in 55 percent of the fatalities, often mixed with fentanyl. A majority of these deaths were accidental, and the remaining were not conclusive.
Seven Days (2018).“Opioid Deaths Rise in Vermont but Plummet in Chittenden County” https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2019/02/14/opioid-deaths-rise-in-vermont-but-plummet-in-chittenden-county
Burlington Free Press (2018). “Opioid Deaths down 50 percent in Chittenden County” https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2019/02/15/opioid-deaths-down-50-percent-chittenden-county-vermont/2882146002/