Special Report: State spends millions on addiction-fighting drug that is diverted for street sale

Jessica Coleman, 34, of Rutland. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Jessica Coleman, 34, of Rutland. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

A drug intended to release addicts from the tyranny of heroin and painkillers is trafficked on the streets of Vermont alongside the very substances it was created to thwart.

Taxpayer dollars are subsidizing the addiction habits of hundreds of Vermonters, and lawmakers are considering legislation to crack down on buprenorphine diversion.

The state last year spent $8.25 million in Medicaid money on buprenorphine, a narcotic prescribed to help Vermonters overcome dependency on opiates.

Suboxone
State officials have no idea how much buprenorphine, known by the brand name Suboxone, is diverted, even as the state funnels more money into the fight against what Gov. Peter Shumlin calls a “full-blown heroin crisis.”

The very drug that is supposed to be part of the solution is increasingly becoming a problem as some addicts sell their medication on the street to buy cheaper drugs, such as heroin.

You can buy buprenorphine outside Rite Aid on Cherry Street in Burlington. “Got the bupe?” people ask. “Got the strips?”

Most Vermonters who take “street bupe” aren’t after a high, they are tired of chasing pills or heroin, and they are self-medicating with illegally obtained bupe because they can’t get medical care.

Waitlists for Suboxone treatment from private doctors can extend six months or even several years. Hundreds of addicts in Vermont are waiting to see a doctor who can prescribe buprenorphine.

The trouble is, addicts can’t wait that long. Once they are ready to get clean, they need help right away.

Gordon Wade, 58, of Mount Holly. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Gordon Wade, 58, of Mount Holly. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Gordon Wade’s addiction cost him his wife, his dog, his job. The 58-year-old from Mount Holly finally got tired of running after that ephemeral bag of heroin. “I was sick of the drugs,” he said.

“On the Suboxone, you can function normal,” he said.

Though many addicts have a difficult time finding legitimate access to bupe through a doctor, Wade was lucky. He was able to find a doctor after he finished his most recent treatment at Evergreen Substance Abuse Services in Rutland.

What is bupe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002 approved Suboxone and Subutex, the brand names for buprenorphine. The drugs were the first narcotics that could be prescribed for opiate addiction in an office setting.

The FDA made the drugs widely available because there weren’t enough methadone clinics to accommodate the number of patients who wanted opiate addiction therapy.

Buprenorphine is an opioid. It contains just enough of the narcotic so addicts won’t experience withdrawal. Bupe also contains a blocker so addicts can’t get high on another drug simultaneously.

People who take buprenorphine say the psychological effect of knowing they can’t get high even if they tried is as powerful as the chemical itself.

Suboxone has a “ceiling.” The doses never need to be higher than 16 milligrams, according to Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer. It used to come only in hexagonal pills (called “stop signs” on the street) but now is primarily prescribed in strips that dissolve under the tongue. The new packaging was intended to make the drug harder to traffic.

But people who abuse Suboxone, addicts say, sometimes melt the strips and inject them, or dissolve it under the tongue and shoot the saliva.

As early as 2002, FDA officials knew that the drug was addictive and there was a risk that bupe could be trafficked, according to a report from that agency.

Patients began selling the drug illegally in Vermont a few years later, according to a 2006 federal study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Contraband chart
In 2012, buprenorphine accounted for half of all illicit substances found in Vermont correctional facilities. In all, 157 contraband items were found that year, according to the DOC.

One 8 milligram pill of Suboxone on the street costs between $25 and $35. A bag of heroin costs about $20. One Suboxone lasts all day, while an addict might require as many as 20 bags of heroin.

The Medicaid co-pay for a two-week supply of buprenorphine is $2, according to the Department of Vermont Health Access.

State officials say buprenorphine treatment costs the state about $400 to $500 per patient per month. The support services that are supposed to accompany medication therapy cost another $500 per month, according to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services division of the health department.

After Oxycodone and Ambien, bupe is the most common substance involved in drug diversion investigations, Vermont State Police say.

Shelley Sweet, a former treatment center employee in central Vermont, said it’s not uncommon for women to try to become pregnant in order to bump themselves to the top of a waitlist for Medicaid-subsidized treatment. Often those women take half their bupe and give the rest to the baby’s father, Sweet said.

Not enough doctors

When Wade and others tell their stories, it’s easy to understand the burgeoning street market for buprenorphine. There’s often no legitimate way to buy bupe, and addicts are experts in back channels.

Those who do have a doctor often travel across the state – or across New England – to get their prescription.

Tyler Nolan, 22, of Burlington. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Tyler Nolan, 22, of Burlington travels to New Hampshire to get treatment. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Tyler Nolan, 22, of Burlington finished treatment at Maple Leaf Farm in Underhill 60 days ago, he said. As he left, the staff found him a buprenorphine doctor – in New Hampshire.

Starting this week, Medicaid will pay to drive Nolan from Burlington to see a physician in West Lebanon, N.H., every day for two weeks. There he gets a daily dose and counseling. The long-distance recovery plan makes it hard to find a job, he said.

“There needs to be at least 10 to 15 more doctors that can prescribe Suboxone just in Burlington alone, just in Chittenden County and that’s absurd. It’s absolutely crazy,” he said.

Jessica Coleman drives four hours each way from Rutland to Norton, Mass., each month for a 30-day supply of buprenorphine. The 34-year-old takes a pill called Subutex because she is allergic to Suboxone, she said.

The travel time is especially difficult for Coleman, who is going to college and caring for her 18-month-old and 3-year-old. She plans to become a substance abuse counselor.

“To find a doctor in Vermont to prescribe Subutex is impossible, it really is,” Coleman said.

In Williston, substance abuse clinician Alice Larned helps addicts who have children. Patients tell her they’re ready to get better, ready to be clean. She tells them they’re looking at five months on a waitlist.

“I have to say ‘I know it’s been helpful for you and it’s not an option for you because we don’t have a prescribing doctor,’” Larned said. “It’s just an unfortunate conversation to have to have.”

Jessica Coleman, 34, of Rutland. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Jessica Coleman, 34, of Rutland. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Of her last 30 patients, eight were using illicit buprenorphine, she said. Six were taking the drug to recover from addiction, two were using it to get high.

While Larned’s clients wait, they hustle daily for a pill – of one kind or another. But street bupe doesn’t come with life skills coaching, she said.

“They’re trying to get better and because we don’t have legitimate prescribers they still have a foot in the old lifestyle,” Larned said.

It’s not easy to call a long list of doctors or get into an office if a patient doesn’t have a phone, a safe home or transportation, she said.

Coleman’s younger sister just got out of jail and treatment and can’t find a doctor, she said. It’s all Coleman can do not to share her little white pills.

“It’s really hard,” she said.

Alice Larned of Lund in Williston. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Alice Larned of Lund in Williston. Photo by Laura Krantz/VTDigger

Valley Vista, a residential treatment center in Bradford, last month surveyed 22 patients in treatment, nearly all of whom had taken buprenorphine. Of them, only 40 percent obtained the drug from a doctor.

Still, some physicians have no waitlists at all, and it is unclear why there is such discrepancy.

Dr. Fred Rossman, in Morrisville, sees from 90 to 100 addiction patients between his two clinics. He said one or two people are on his waitlist.

Diversion is always a concern, he said, because there will always be a way to game the system.

“I do what I can, but I’m afraid sometimes that it’s not enough. You hope that you’re helping the majority,” he said.

Rossman calls in patients who he suspects could be reselling bupe for random pill counts or urine samples. He terminates treatment for about eight patients a year because they break the rules.

“It’s not without conversation, it’s not without discussion, it’s not without attempts to get mutual understanding why this happens,” he said.

Because Rossman’s practice is a so-called “spoke,” part of the state’s new statewide system to treat addiction, a nurse and a social worker work two days a week at his practice. They connect patients to counseling, primary care, transportation and other services, he said.

Treating addicts is not for everyone. It is much more time consuming and complicated than treating other illnesses, he said.

“I hope we’re helping, and that’s why we all kind of try to do our share,” Rossman said.

He said he can name patients who now have jobs as waitresses, contractors and at other local companies.

Ruining it for the rest of us

Patients who are using Suboxone responsibly say people who abuse the system are “ruining it” for those who take their medication responsibly.

Addicts who want to recover from addiction don’t want their lives to revolve around pill counts, urine samples and trips to other states to pick up meds.

But Nolan and Coleman said doctors should require more frequent screenings because so many people abuse the system.

Dr. Deborah Richter sees 65 patients at her spoke office, she said, and between one-third and one-half come in having already been taking street bupe, sometimes for as long as a year.

“I know that it’s pretty rampant out there,” Richter said.

But eventually addicts realize the so-called “street program” is the same daily hustle as chasing pills or heroin, she said. Eventually, your dealer is called in for a pill count and gets busted.

Who’s keeping track?

State officials know there aren’t enough doctors prescribing buprenorphine. They also know about bupe trafficking and have systems in place to curb it.

It is unclear how effective those systems are.

Medicaid recipients who take bupe can receive two weeks of medication at once and can only pick it up at a single pharmacy. These two measures are meant to deter resale of the drug.

In addition, state regulators must specially approve a doctor’s requests to prescribe a patient a dose larger than 16 milligrams, according to the Department of Vermont Health Access.

State officials say they are encouraging more doctors to prescribe buprenorphine because of the long waitlists. They are asking those who already prescribe to accept more patients.

“Like most everything in Vermont, being a small rural state, workforce is a challenge, and this is no different,” said Barbara Cimaglio, deputy commissioner of the health department’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs.

But some doctors say that several sets of semi-overlapping regulations make it complicated for Vermont doctors to prescribe buprenorphine.

Others say doctors who do prescribe don’t get enough training in addiction medicine. At a minimum, a physician must complete eight hours of online training to prescribe buprenorphine.

“It’s not going to turn a physician who’s probably had very little training around addiction … it’s not going to turn them into addictions specialists,” said Bob Bick, director of mental health and substance abuse services at the HowardCenter.

Only seven physicians in Vermont specialize in addiction medicine, according to the Vermont Board of Medical Practice’s online database.

Last year, the state created a “Hub and Spoke” system to streamline its approach to drug addiction treatment. The system links regional centers that specialize in addiction medicine and dispense methadone with primary care physicians who prescribe buprenorphine from their offices.

Spoke doctors, like Rossman, get help from nurses and social workers provided by the state.

But not all buprenorphine-prescribing doctors are spokes. Doctors who prescribe bupe to more than 30 patients must adhere to some medication-assisted treatment regulations but do not get support for staff.

Doctors who are not spokes and fill prescriptions for fewer than 30 patients do not have to follow any regulations.

The hub and spoke system is designed to cut down on abuse and to get patients into all levels of treatment faster, according to Cimaglio.

But nearly everyone agrees that the spokes are the weak link. Doctors prescribe too much bupe, or do not oversee patient care with enough scrutiny, failing to call patients back for pill counts or urine screenings.

“Until physician acceptance of and expansion in medication-assisted therapy becomes more common, there will be challenges meeting the current demand for treatment,” according to a Feb. 4 report to the Legislature about Suboxone.

Physicians who prescribe buprenorphine are not required to put their names on a public list of bupe doctors. Thirty-eight physicians and 11 treatment programs in Vermont are on the website of the federal agency that authorizes doctors to prescribe buprenorphine, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The list, however, includes at least one doctor who has been sanctioned by the state.

In 2006, there were 101 physicians who were licensed to prescribe bupe in Vermont, according to a federal study.

By law, a physician licensed to prescribe buprenorphine can treat as many as 30 patients in the first year. After that a doctor can request to see up to 100, according to federal regulations.

A federal study in 2006 used Vermont as a case study and provided detailed charts about the number of patients receiving buprenorphine. Bupe diversion was occurring, the study found, if infrequently.

State officials at the time said much of that activity was the same kind of “self-medication” that occurs today.

In 2005, Vermont led the nation in consumption of Suboxone and Subutex tablets, with 584 grams per 100,000 people. The national average was 57 grams, the study said. Those numbers were deemed reasonable based on the number of patients.

DDU Investigations

Doctor shopping

Oxycodone is the most frequently trafficked prescription drug, state police say. Buprenorphine for the past two years has ranked third, accounting for 11 percent of all diversion cases in 2013.

The Vermont Prescription Monitoring Program, established in 2006, is designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse.

The program requires pharmacists to log all the prescriptions they fill. As of last year, physicians were also required to enroll.

The system mails a quarterly letter to providers with patients who cross a “threshold” for too many prescriptions and pharmacies.

The Vermont Department of Health this year is proposing improvements, including flagging patients who receive opiates from two or more doctors and merging death records with the prescription database, to see if addicts are filling prescriptions from deceased individuals.

In response to growing concerns about diversion, state police in 2010 created a Drug Diversion Unit managed by one trooper. It has since expanded to three officers and last year worked 236 cases, up from 163 the year before.

Doctor shopping is the most common type of case, according to Lt. Kraig LaPorte, who heads the unit. Diversion makes up another quarter of the cases, he said.

“White-collar, blue-collar, doesn’t matter what collar they’re wearing. It seems to have touched many, many different people,” LaPorte said.

State police have investigated a nursing student, a computer tech who works in a Price Chopper pharmacy and a South Burlington doctor who made up a fictitious patient in order to prescribe meds for herself, LaPorte said.

One roadblock to police investigations of diversion cases is the fact that police cannot access the prescription monitoring database, LaPorte said.

Physicians and pharmacists who notice abnormalities in the system are forbidden from calling police except under very specific circumstances. And the database’s seven-day lag time makes it hard to track potential diversion quickly, LaPorte said.

The Legislature steps in

Legislators over the past month have been taking testimony about bupe diversion and Tuesday began crafting legislation intended to curb it.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has heard from physicians, treatment centers, prison officials, pharmaceutical reps and others.

“The amount of Suboxone that’s being diverted makes me wonder if we should just ban the stuff,” Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said Tuesday.

Last month a probation officer told lawmakers that people get 16 milligrams and sell eight. They inject it or mix it with benzodiazepine to get high.

Tuesday, the committee asked its attorney to draft an amendment about buprenorphine diversion to add to a bill they are considering related to opiates.

The new legislation will require more doctors to provide counseling services to buprenorphine patients. It would also lower the threshold for medication-assisted therapy regulations. Doctors with as few as 10 patients taking bupe would be subject to the state rules.

The committee wants to require out-of-state doctors who accept Vermont Medicaid to log their prescriptions in the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System. Lawmakers say they also want to encourage the pharmaceutical company to create more tamper-resistant packaging.

But Madeleine Mongan, vice president of the Vermont Medical Society, cautioned the committee Tuesday against creating “administrative burden for not much benefit.”

Others echoed her concern.

“The challenge is we also don’t want to create disincentives for physicians to treat this population because we’re also trying to create access,” Cimaglio told lawmakers.

Addicted to bupe instead of heroin

Beyond the debate on how to stop Suboxone diversion, doctors and even addicts themselves disagree on the merits of buprenorphine.

Some doctors and treatment programs aim to wean addicts off substances completely. Others say their patients will stay on small maintenance doses of buprenorphine forever.

“It kind of sucks that I have to rely on Suboxone because it kind of feels like I’m substituting one drug for another drug,” said Nolan, the 22-year-old recovering addict in Burlington.

Nolan says he is his own worst enemy, and he believes his addiction will never go away. He spends time at the Turning Point Center of Chittenden County, where addicts help each other.

Sometimes he goes to the Act One detox center on Pearl Street in Burlington to see other addicts in detox.

“I go to see pain and agony on people’s faces and remind myself I don’t want to feel like them,” Nolan said.

Coleman, the 34-year-old mother of two toddlers, says, “I’m addicted to this instead of heroin, basically.”

Coleman sometimes tries going 24 hours without taking her pill, she said, and she can. But something in the back of her head nags.

“Take it, take it, take it, take it.”

Medicaid Spending chart

Follow Laura on Twitter @laurakrantz

Laura KrantzLaura Krantz

Comments

  1. Jeff Laughlin :

    Who cares? GIVE it away if it will reduce crime.

  2. Dave Bellini :

    “Some doctors and treatment programs aim to wean addicts off substances completely. ”
    .
    I’m glad there are some sane providers and programs. Bupe, methadone, heroin or oxycontin…… it’s all the same garbage and treatment should be aimed at getting people off ALL this crap. The FDA should ban oxycontin, it’s harmed more people than it’s helped. Next to tobacco, it’s just about the stupidest thing one can ingest.

  3. “As early as 2002, FDA officials knew that the drug was addictive and there was a risk that bupe could be trafficked, according to a report from that agency. Patients began selling the drug illegally in Vermont a few years later”

    No kidding.

    “The amount of Suboxone that’s being diverted makes me wonder if we should just ban the stuff,” Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said Tuesday.

    That’ll fix it. Ban heroin, too. Oh, you already did that. How’s that working for you?

  4. John McClaughry :

    This is a brilliant article that ought to win Ms. Krantz an award. Thank you, VTDigger.
    My first reaction is the same as Jeff’s – why not just give it away, at least to users who are in some kind of supportive social matrix, like NA? If giving away 16mg of bupe stops people from shooting 20 bags of Heroin a day (!!!) it looks like a worthwhile investment.

    • Bonnie Hotchkiss :

      Extremely well written article with every aspect of the drug and the issues that have been known for years but never put before anyone that would or could make a difference. There may not be a simple solution but i would agree that it can be better monitored by providers and they should be held accountable for prescribing to those that are abusing and selling it. I also believe Senate Sears is due for retirement.

      • Deb Chadwick :

        I agree that this was a well researched and informative article. I find it interesting that Gov. Shumlin is NOW on his soap box and gaining personal national recognition for throwing millions at this out of control problem which has been increasing since 2002. It is not going away so what is the solution then? Use Gov. Shumlin’s project monies to HIRE enough qualified people (who are on the “front line”) for effective case management where treatment plans and services are developed/monitored. This allows people with addictions to be supported and responsible for their own healthy recovery; develop a more efficient system to monitor provider drug distribution and their accountability; increase mentoring, early intervention and family education as the breakdown of these is usually when the addiction first starts; stricter fines for illegal distribution; allow treatment medicines that help with drug addictions to be available IN VT instead of using Medicaid (our taxes) to transport them to other states to get the treatment they need, which doesn’t make ANY SENSE. As a retired SOV human services employee, these proven effective solutions are the first budget cuts and WE ALL suffer from the trickle down effect…Implementing these solutions would increase Vermont’s employment, strengthen our community and does not require a military presence to do so….

  5. Jonathan Willson :

    Dick Sears….what good would banning this do? How do you possibly come to that conclusion when the market for this drug comes overwhelmingly from addicts who can’t find treatment?

    How have you not gotten the message that prohibition isn’t effective? Dear Lord.

  6. Frank Chance :

    Roxane Laboratories UK is the manufacturer of Suboxone. They come up with a new scheme to keep the doctors prescribing their products rather than the generic buprenophrine. First it was the Suboxone tablet contains naloxone which is supposed to prevent diversion due to the fact that naloxone will prevent any effect if it is injected. This is not true nor has this prevented any diversion. When the wait for the patent to expire allowing the generic manufacture of Suboxone. Roxane Labs now says that the tablets are unsafe and children could be harmed or die from taking it, it was formulated into the strips to make it more difficult for children to access and for addicts to abuse. I do not see the logic of these claims. Addicts can still find ways to abuse the strips and children could get into the packaging just as well if they want to. But I do see that it will have a positive effect for the patent holder. No generic Suboxone available still. And the patient and/or the state pays the outrageous price of this medicine.

    • Pat McGarry :

      Golly Frank,

      A pharma company spent millions of dollars developing a product, and wants to make a profit from its intellectual property? OMG, it’s capitalism.

    • Shauna Shepard :

      There now is a generic bup. A couple different companies have made it. But even the generic is still much more expensive than a dose of methadone. I believe the cost of generic is somewhere around $6 to $7 for each 8 mg pill. I feel that methadone doesn’t help addicts the way that bup does. People still get very high when they take methadone. But makes you feel normal without the cravings that drives addicts to relapse over and over. Bup have a blocker in it although it doesn’t work as it was said to have according to their pharmaceutical company. Either way we should be doing all we can to help addicts there moment they say they are ready. It’s seems as though we are headed towards that. Instead reality addicts and drug and alcohol abuse will always be some sort of problem. Depending on what is easily available that will be there drug that has their most addicts.

  7. Corey Parent :

    I think it is a well written article. I think it’s important that articles like this are being written. It’s important to inform people on the subject and allow for a fruitful discussion. I grew up and now live in St. Albans and I have way too many friends, teammates, and classmates who were impacted by this. We need to do the best we can to continue to solve this problem.

  8. Jim Candon :

    Suboxone is a Schedule III narcotic painkiller. Add this to the myriad of narcotic painkillers all ready being diverted in Vt. All attention is going to treatment costing taxpayers millions of dollars. And still there is virtually NO over site to the distribution of dangerous LEGAL drugs in Vt in the first place.
    These drugs come out of Vermont pharmacies and doctors offices. Diversion galore!

  9. Walter White :

    This is not new, nor a surprise. My former downstairs neighbor was (is? I don’t know) given double the dose she required and would sell half to make extra money. Her kid was born addicted to it.
    There is a documentary about how addicts will take bupes and Valium or Xanax to get high. I wish the state would stop lying to themselves, because substitution of one drug for another does not work.
    There is a rehab run by monks in China-no pills, no medication. Herbal remedies. They have a higher level of success than any of our rehabs. Because the patients need to feel withdrawal. I was an addict. I detoxed on a Greyhound bus across the country. It sucked, but the pain I went through, I would never want to go through again.
    The needle exchanges in California hand out do it yourself instructions for detox. The strongest thing it recommends is Advil.

  10. Located to central Europe, and being a pharmacist enrolled in ‘Substitution’ as it is called here, it is very interesting reading that article and all the comments.
    I still believe in Drug therapy and its benefits, but I also feel that the pharmacist must be there to protect and its also the law which must be there to protect people.
    I don’t like these comments on just ‘legalizing’ these drugs. Many people are stupid or weak (I don’t exclude myself) and there must be protection. Banning something is also a kind of protection.
    I must also add, that in daily business we have many case examples, of successful Suboxone supply. These people are friendly, socialized, going to work, paying taxes. Me and my colleagues take part, we exchange. One woman became my citrus fruit supplier.
    On the whole, nevertheless, I agree with the last comment, which is beautifully written. And, again, nevertheless, we must all see, that it is not the drug who is responsible, its the character and his social surrounding, including the prescribing person, the law, the neighbourhood.
    In our pharmacy team we finally suggested the following. Health insurance funds one attempt to get clean within 6 months to 12 months to 18 months. If the patient fails, he could still receive the drug, but not funded by society.
    I accept, but totally disagree theses ideas of ‘legalization’. It is just as dangerous and ineffective as banning. I believe it is all about discipline, motivation, as well as verity. The author of the last comment is right.

  11. Stan Hopson :

    VtDigger continues to set the bar for in-depth reporting on issues Vermonters care about.

    Dick Sears needs to retire, he clearly can’t grasp reality.

  12. If anyone is scratching their head wondering where all the drugs come from, check out the links below – the canada free press link is modern day Obama –

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2012/11/11/cia-created-afghan-heroin-trade/

    http://rationalrevolution.net/war/cia_drug_connection_under_reagan.htm

    http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/12707

    • Paul Lorenzini :

      Very good articles Ray, thanks.

      I just wonder which big pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies are producing and distributing all these drugs for profit. Huge profit! We have a sick society and the cure that the establishment comes up with is usually worse then the disease. Doctors are far to quick to prescribe pain medicine and that is what seems to lead to these problems. Maybe the hospitals and doctors offices are the gateway drug that lead to many of these peoples addictions.

      The Canadian article talking about our troops guarding poppy fields is extremely disconcerting. No wonder so many of our troops get depressed. They are supposed to protect America and they are guarding these heroin factories which are destroying Americans. That would be very confusing for anyone that has any moral sense at all, and is a great way for the government to induce madness in our veterans.

  13. Susi Taylor :

    Thank you for publishing this article. It is jsut wrong that when an addict is ready for treatment they are told” sorry, we have no resources available- you have to wait” . Addiction costs our communities way too much- both in dollars and pain. I recently saw the movie “Hungry Heart” about Vermonters and recommend everyone see it -http://thehungryheartmovie.org/.

  14. Wendy Wilton :

    This should be required reading for all Vermonters. Thanks VT Digger and to Laura Krantz for writing this great article.

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