Addressing opioid overdose takes a comprehensive and holistic approach
Opioids – such as prescription painkillers and heroin – are powerful drugs that are highly addictive. Opioids slow breathing and heartbeat, and act on the brain to relieve pain. They can rewire brain chemistry, making anyone susceptible to addiction. Opioid use disorder (OUD) can have potentially devastating consequences for people who experience addiction and for their families and our communities.
In Vermont, the number of deaths due to opioid overdose has increased almost 500% in the last 10 years. The synthetic opioid, fentanyl, which is 50 times stronger than heroin, has been a driving force in the increase of overdoses.
The Vermont Department of Health has taken a comprehensive and holistic, inter-divisional approach to address OUD and prevent overdose deaths. Strategies include increasing public awareness, supporting community-based services and enhancements in Vermont’s health systems. These strategies have been developed and evolved in coordination with programs across the Health Department and with partners across the state.