Thursday, April 16, 2015

The View From Vermont

This might help your vision:

"Bennington College is getting a $5 million donation to support the school’s visual arts program. The gift from the New York-based Helen Frankenthaler Foundation will establish the Helen Frankenthaler Fund for the Visual Arts. Frankenthaler was a 1949 Bennington graduate. The college said she went on to become one of America’s most celebrated abstract painters. She is described as one of the ‘‘foremost colorists of our time,’’ who produced a body of work whose impact on contemporary art has been profound. In a ceremony on April 12, the college will name the visual arts wing of its 120,000 square-foot arts facility for her (AP)."

This in full view:

"Heroin tide, resolve rise in Vermont; State leads charge against drug’s use, but foe proves hard to defeat" by Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff  April 06, 2015

ST. ALBANS, Vt. — The 25-year-old single mother has been clean for six months, although the risk of relapse into opioid addiction is always with her as she struggles to make ends meet with a low-paying cleaning job.

She is lucky to have a job.

She feels better. She feels safer. But still she’s tempted by the carefree numbness and easy money that come from using and selling drugs.

Oh, a drug dealer getting sympathy?!

Stephanie Robtoy’s fear and her hope are Vermont’s as well. No other state has gone as hard at the opioid deluge, beginning when Governor Peter Shumlin last year devoted his State of the State address to what he called a “full-blown heroin crisis.” Since then, Vermont has emerged as a national leader on the issue.

But also since then, heroin use and its related deaths have continued to rise.

And they are the leader! Can you say failure?!

And no one — not the governor, not health workers, and not recovering addicts — can say with certainty if the tide will turn for good.

“It’s probably how you Bostonians felt when the snow kept falling,” or so I'm told.

I can say with certainty when it will end: when the propaganda pre$$ owns up to the fact that it is the CIA smuggling most of the drugs and using the black profits for black operations after laundering them through banks to increase their bottom lines. 

Otherwise, we are just going to get this same old hand-wringing along with a continuously failing "drug war."


That “enough is enough” attitude, embodied by Shumlin’s speech in January 2014, led to a flurry of resources to fight the widespread abuse of heroin and prescription opioids. Funding for treatment nearly tripled this year; more clinic staff has meant smaller waiting lists; and naloxone, a drug used to reverse overdoses and save lives, is more widely available.

In the courts, a state program to divert nonviolent drug offenders to treatment instead of trial is being implemented.

And across Vermont, an interconnected string of outpatient treatment clinics, primary care physicians, and recovery centers has been praised as the only such state-supported system in the country.

And you thought health costs were high already!

“Vermont has emerged as the leading state in the country in addressing opioid overdose,” said Lindsay LaSalle, a California-based attorney with the Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy group.

And the deaths continue to mount!

Although heroin use has not abated, the state’s effort has had some positive effects.

I've overdosed on this authority-promoting public relations brochure calling itself a newspaper.

As resources increase in Vermont, the stigma surrounding addiction is crumbling. From Bennington in the south to St. Albans in the north, Vermonters appear to have moved beyond the hurdle of acknowledging the problem to brainstorming ways to reach and treat thousands of addicts and new users, health officials said.

Where is the stuff coming from and who is bringing it in?

“We’ve changed the conversation,” Shumlin said recently. “This isn’t an issue to be ashamed about any more than you should be ashamed of getting cancer or kidney disease.”

It should be.

An example of ramped-up dialogue swept through the State House in Montpelier last month during the annual Recovery Day. Dedicated to addiction treatment and prevention, the event attracted hundreds of people who have been afflicted by the disease or are trying to help those who are.

“This is going to take courage from all of us,” Shumlin said to loud applause in a packed conference room.

The work, however, is seen only as a beginning in what could be a decades-long fight. “I don’t think in America we should ever underestimate how deeply opiate addiction is affecting all of us,” he said in an interview. “The question is, can we move fast enough to innovate our way out of this mess?”

Despite gains, the intractability of addiction makes for a grueling, patience-sapping challenge. As addiction to prescription opioids appears to be waning, heroin fills the void.


Deaths in Vermont from prescription opioids, which have become more difficult to obtain, dropped to 43 in 2014 from 53 the year before. But fatalities from heroin, which is cheaper and more readily available, rose to 35 from 21.

Numbers bear out the consumer shift in opioids. In 2014, the state treated 2,258 people for heroin use, a staggering 64 percent increase over 2013 and more than three times the 623 people treated in 2010.

More services have spurred more access to treatment, but resources have not kept up with the demand. To close that gap, state health officials are trying hard to enlist more physicians who are authorized to prescribe Suboxone, which is used to treat recovering addicts.

Despite the resources being increased threefold and the glow from earlier? Must be the come down now.

Finding enough doctors “has probably been the biggest challenge” in providing treatment to everyone who wants help, said Barbara Cimaglio, the state’s deputy health commissioner, who supervises substance-abuse programs.

Health workers estimate that for every person being treated, two or three more might be abusing opioids. “I think the issue going forward is, how do you pay for it?” asked Williamson, the clinic director.

Insurance will cover it.

Katie Tanner, a 28-year-old woman from St. Albans, has watched opioids devastate her life and that of many others in this small community of 7,000 people. A recovering morphine addict, Tanner nearly died from an overdose before becoming sober nine years ago.

Then, last April, she relapsed with the painkiller Vicodin during a panic attack. Tanner is seeking help once again at the Turning Point, a recovery center that helped her remain clean for nearly a decade.

So far, the reinforcement and peer support she receives there have helped keep the demons at bay. But still, temptation is never far away.

“There are little places in your brain where it’s always around,” Tanner said.


Opioids have become too addictive, for too many, to be rolled back dramatically in the short term, said Mary Pickener, the state’s point-person here for substance-abuse programs.

Reducing them is possible, health officials said. Eradication? Probably impossible.

“I don’t think it will ever go away,” Pickener said.

I can't $ee why not?


Notice the difference in tone of coverage when it comes to the heroin addicts as opposed to the medical marijuana sufferer?