Last Reviewed: August 2021. Author: Alcohol & Drug Abuse Programs, Vermont Department of Health
The use of heroin and misuse of other opioids (e.g., prescription narcotics) has been identified as a major public health challenge in Vermont. The potential health, social, and economic consequences of this problem have led to the development of a comprehensive treatment system that is focused on opioid addiction. This system, known as the Hub and Spokes, has significantly increased access to care, including medication assisted treatment, Vermont.
Vermont has a multifaceted approach to addressing opioid use disorder that involves multiple community partners. Programs and services include regional prevention efforts, drug take back programs, intervention services through the monitoring of opioid prescriptions with the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS), recovery services at eleven Recovery Centers, overdose death prevention through the distribution of Naloxone rescue kits, and a full array of treatment modalities of varying intensities to fit individual needs. Vermont is also working with communities on initiatives, including Rapid Access to Medication Assisted Treatment (RAM) and Recovery Coaching in Emergency Departments to both increase ways people with opioid use disorders can get into treatment and to support them in staying in treatment.
For those with opioid dependence, treatment with methadone or buprenorphine, medications used to reduce cravings for opioids (e.g., heroin, prescription pain relievers, etc.), can allow individuals the opportunity to lead normal lives. Medication assisted treatment (MAT) was originally developed because detoxification followed by abstinence-oriented treatment was not very effective in preventing a return to opioid use. People who use opioids after detoxing are at high risk over overdose. There is clear evidence that medication assisted treatment using either methadone or buprenorphine helps reduce the risk of overdose deaths and can increase the likelihood that people will stay in treatment and achieve recovery. The positive effects of medication assisted treatment can include: abstinence or reduced use of opioids; reduction in non-opioid drug use (e.g., cocaine); decreased criminal behavior; and decreased risk behavior linked to HIV and hepatitis C infections.
NOTE: Number for Q3 2019 and forward are estimates due to late reporting by some Hub locations. Numbers will be retroactively updated as new information is available.