When it comes to the percentage of people who admit to using illicit drugs, Vermont leads them all. Although a recent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey indicates that most Green Mountain staters choose marijuana as their drug of choice, the latest anecdotal evidence suggests that heroin use is developing into an epidemic, with one dealer claiming marijuana is harder to find.
Cold Weather, Liberal Attitudes, Dangerous Habits
No one is exactly sure why Vermont, home to more colleges and libraries than any other state in the nation, can now lay claim to America’s worst drug problem. Barbara Cimaglio, the deputy commissioner for the Vermont Department of Health, suggests reasons as varied as the cold climate, high incomes, greater access and more liberal attitudes about drug use in general.
“I don’t think anyone knows for sure,” she told Business Insider.
A report on Vice.com states the same.
“Vermont has always had relaxed attitudes toward drugs,” writers Gina Tron and Hannah Palmer Egan observe. “When we were growing up there during the 1990s, everyone smoked weed and some of our friends’ parents even grew the stuff.”
Today, however, even police officers and public health officials admit that the drug problem has grown much worse than marijuana. Heroin, now cheaper than marijuana, is also easier to find — unfortunately, it’s several times as deadly.
A Growing Criminal Element
The demand for cheap heroin exploded after the maker of OxyContin changed the formula, making it more difficult to crush, snort, or inject. As soon as prescription opiates became more difficult to abuse, the demand for illicit opiates, such as heroin, exploded. As dealers became aware that Vermonters are willing to pay $30 for a $5 bag of heroin, out-of-state distributors began setting up shop in cities and towns across the state. Gang activity, violence and shootings are becoming more commonplace, as are busts where thousands of dollars and hundreds of bags of heroin are found — a once-rare occurrence.
For Vermont residents, especially those who live in underprivileged areas, heroin is like a “worm” dangling on a hook, according to Vice.com. Nearly everyone interviewed in the Vice story knew someone who was detoxing, using or who had died from heroin abuse. All agreed that heroin provided more “bang for the buck” than any other drug.
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