Vermont Blueprint for Health Hub and Spoke diagram
Vermont Department of Health

Vermont Governor Phil Scott and the state’s Secretary of Human Services were in Washington Tuesday to testify before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.  Their focus was on the state’s “Hub and Spoke” treatment model that is getting more people into treatment for addiction.

The western Massachusetts city of Greenfield is the first in the state to sue opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Senator Bernie Sanders holds student meeting on opioids and addiction at Burlington High School
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders held a student town meeting at Burlington High School late last week to discuss the addiction and opioid crisis.

Senator Bernie Sanders at Burlington High School student opioid forum
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders held a student town meeting at the Burlington High School Friday afternoon to discuss the opioid crisis.

Ryan Leaf speaking at SUNY Plattsburgh
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Ryan Leaf is a former NFL quarterback. At 28 he quit professional football.  By 35 he was in prison for stealing painkillers.  Leaf says his addiction to opiates was based in part on his ego and narcissism.  He now travels the country to talk about addiction and recovery and was in Plattsburgh this week.

SPARCC business roundtable on addiction
Pat Bradley/WAMC

In a major speech this afternoon President Donald Trump will direct his Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency. That will allow changes such as expanded access to medical services in rural areas.  The addiction crisis is affecting all sectors from emergency, health and law enforcement to families and counselors.  Recently the Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery of Clinton County coalition held a roundtable to discuss the impact of the crisis on business.

Vermont has streamlined the process for becoming a substance abuse counselor as the state continues to address the opioid addiction crisis.

Kaushik Narasimhan/Flickr

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker met with President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in Washington Wednesday to discuss the state and federal response to the epidemic. Residents in the western part of the state are dealing with the same strife. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief JD Allen spoke with Gary Pratt who is leading a rally Saturday in Pittsfield in hopes of curtailing addiction.

Mayhem: A Memoir

Sep 26, 2017

In the summer of 2012 a woman named Eva was found dead in the London townhouse she shared with her husband, Hans K. Rausing. The couple had struggled with drug addiction for years, often under the glare of tabloid headlines. Now, writing with singular clarity and restraint, Hans’ sister, the editor and publisher Sigrid Rausing, tries to make sense of what happened. 

In Mayhem, she asks the difficult questions those close to the world of addiction must face. “Who can help the addict, consumed by a shaming hunger, a need beyond control? There is no medicine: the drugs are the medicine. And who can help their families, so implicated in the self-destruction of the addict? Who can help when the very notion of ‘help’ becomes synonymous with an exercise of power; a familial police state; an end to freedom, in the addict’s mind?”

Sigrid Rausing is the founder of the Sigrid Rausing Trust. She is also the owner of Granta magazine and Granta Books. Her book is titled Mayhem: A Memoir. 

Office of National Drug Control Policy acting director Richard Baum
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The acting head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is in Vermont this week to study the state’s response to the opioid crisis.  The nation’s “drug czar” says the Green Mountain State’s programs and efforts are models that can be emulated nationally.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

As law enforcement adapts to the growing heroin and addiction crisis, members of local communities are finding new ways to help those in recovery get back on their feet. One group based in upstate New York is distributing bicycles to help people get to work or to meetings and restore a sense of independence.

Substance Abuse and Recovery of Clinton County/Facebook

SPARCC, or Substance Abuse and Recovery of Clinton County, was formed in 2016 to raise public awareness and enhance opioid addiction prevention efforts in the North Country.  The group is now seeking volunteers to tell their addiction stories in hopes of getting more people into recovery and eliminating stigma.

With social services stressed and law enforcement often overwhelmed, a growing number of counties in New York are choosing to bring legal action against manufacturers of prescription opioids as they grapple with the addiction crisis.

Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George
Chittenden County State's Attorney's office/Facebook

The prosecutor in Vermont's most populous county has asked a committee of health and law enforcement professionals to look at the possibility of setting up a safe injection site for heroin and other opioid users in order to reduce overdoses and get addicts more treatment.

Burlington opioid forum
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Opioid deaths in Vermont increased 38 percent in 2016 despite efforts by health, law enforcement and government officials to stem the crisis. Now, the city of Burlington has drafted 11 principles to guide its approach in dealing with the crisis.  Thursday evening, the mayor hosted a public forum to encourage public input on the principles before they are presented to the city council.

From left:  VT Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen, Mayor Miro Weinberger, State's Attorney Sarah George, Dr. Stephen Leffler, Chief Brandon del Pozo
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Burlington, Vermont Mayor Miro Weinberger announced a series of initiatives Thursday aimed at addressing the opioid crisis in the city.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

A frank discussion on heroin and opioid addiction was held in Washington County Wedneday night. The forum, moderated by District Attorney Tony Jordan, focused not only on the prevalence of opioid addiction in the Washington, Saratoga, and Warren County regions, but also moving firsthand accounts.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and state Health Commissioner Harry Chen recently announced proposed changes to the Health Department’s rules that would severely restrict the prescribing of opioids for pain. Much of the outgoing governor’s tenure has been devoted to countering the heroin and opioid crisis.

More than 600 people were at the Strand Theatre in Plattsburgh Tuesday evening for a community forum on the prescription opioid and heroin addiction crisis.  The evening featured a guest expert on how the drugs affect the brain.

  "Whoever said you can't get sober for someone else never met my mother, Mama Jean. When I came to in a Manhattan emergency room after an overdose to the news that she was on her way from Texas, I panicked. She was the last person I wanted to see on that dark September morning, but the person I needed the most."

So begins this astonishing memoir ― by turns both darkly comic and deeply poignant ― about this native Texan's long struggle with alcohol, his complicated relationship with Mama Jean, and his sexuality. The book is listed as “Required Reading” in Mary Karr’s bestselling The Art of Memoir and was a Book Chase Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2015.

Kaushik Narasimhan/Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday $10.5 million over five years will go to support six new Recovery Community and Outreach Centers.

photo of pills
wikimedia commons

New York lawmakers are considering legislation that would limit the amount of prescription opioid drugs patients can get after an initial visit to the doctor's office, part of an effort to curb a statewide addiction crisis.

Moby's Memoir

May 25, 2016

  There were many reasons Moby was never going to make it as a DJ and musician in the New York club scene. This was the New York of unchecked, drug-fueled hedonism in pumping clubs where dance music was still largely underground, popular chiefly among working-class African Americans and Latinos.

And then there was Moby—not just a poor, skinny white kid from Connecticut, but a devout Christian, a vegan, and a teetotaler. He would learn what it was to be spat on, to live on almost nothing. But it was perhaps the last good time for an artist to live on nothing in New York City: the age of AIDS and crack but also of a defiantly festive cultural underworld. Not without drama, he found his way.

But success was not uncomplicated; it led to wretched excess and proved all too fleeting. And so by the end of the decade, Moby contemplated an end in his career and elsewhere in his life, and put that emotion into what he assumed would be his swan song, his good-bye to all that, the album that would in fact be the beginning of an astonishing new phase: the multimillion-selling Play.

Moby's new memoir is entitled, Porcelain.

Prison Bars
Gemma Longman Flickr

Connecticut officials are planning to expand methadone treatment to prisoners across the state over the next year or so, in what authorities believe would be the first statewide prison program in the country to use the drug to help inmates avoid withdrawal symptoms and overdoses.

  Augusten Burroughs is the author of the autobiographical works Running with Scissors, Dry, Magical Thinking, Possible Side Effects and A Wolf at the Table, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. Running with Scissors remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two consecutive years and was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Annette Bening.

His only novel, Sellevision, is currently in development as a series for NBC. Dry, Augusten's memoir of his alcoholism and recovery, is being developed by Showtime. In addition, Burroughs is currently creating an original prime-time series for CBS. Augusten's latest book is called Lust & Wonder.

In it, he chronicles the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, he examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. He will be speaking about and signing the book in our region next Wednesday – April 13th at 7 p.m. at the Northshire Book Store in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Listener Essay: Dianne Olsen

Mar 17, 2016

Our grandson, Liam, died last year of a drug overdose. He was 26. Everything we thought we knew has changed.  

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand brought her campaign to fight the scourge of opioid addiction and death to the City of Newburgh on Friday where she announced new legislation that will target the epidemic at one of its key sources: opioid pain medication prescriptions.

  Irvine Welsh returns to Edinburgh, the home of Trainspotting and so many of his novels since, with a new novel – A Decent Ride -  featuring one of his most iconic and beloved characters—'Juice' Terry Lawson—that's thick on the Scottish brogue, heavy on the filth and masterful in its comedic timing.

Oxycodone pills

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has persuaded his fellow governors to push for new protocols in their states for physicians prescribing painkiller drugs. Shumlin says too many doctors have handed them out like candy in recent years.

Picture of Heroin
Adobe Stock

Clinton County will soon have an addiction treatment center. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an agreement Friday that will bring a detox center to a region that has been lacking such a facility.