The Challenge of Opioid Addiction

Opioids – such as prescription painkillers and heroin – are powerful drugs and powerfully addictive. Opioids slow breathing and heartbeat, and act on the brain to relieve pain and increase feelings of pleasure. Addiction to opioid drugs is a serious public health problem, with potentially devastating consequences – both for people who have opioid use disorder and for our communities. 

Why do we call opioid addiction a health crisis? 

The use of heroin and misuse of other opioids and prescription medications is a major public health challenge in Vermont and nationwide. Nearly 92,000 persons in the U.S. died from drug-involved overdose in 2020. Substance use disorders – including opioid use disorders – have far-reaching, and all too often tragic, impacts on our families and communities, and increase pressure on our health care, child protection, and criminal justice systems. 

How can we prevent opioid misuse and overdose? 

  • Learn how to reduce and prevent addiction and overdose of prescription opioids at RxAware.
  • Learn how to prevent and reverse an opioid overdose at KnowOD
  • Learn how to properly store and dispose of unused opioid medication at Do Your Part

How can we treat opioid use disorder? 

What is being done at a statewide level? 

  • Learn about statewide efforts to address and reduce the harms of opioid use disorder. 

What information is available about opioid use in Vermont? 

Opioid data and reports

Public health surveys and data

National Survey on Drug Use and Health