Information for health professionals regarding alcohol and other drugs.
Alcohol Use in Vermont
National data shows that more Vermonters (ages 12 and up) are drinking alcohol compared to the country overall and the number of Vermonters binge drinking is also higher than in the country overall.
National data also shows that more Vermont youth and young adults are drinking alcohol compared to the country overall. People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at 21.
Visit the Alcohol Use in Vermont page for more information.
Heroin and other Drug Use in Vermont
The percentage of Vermonters reporting prescription pain reliever misuse is going down significantly in Vermont. The decrease is particularly dramatic for Vermonters 18 to 25 years old.
While past year heroin use prevalence remains under 1% for the population 12 and older (as it does for all states), Vermonters in the 18-25 year-old age group have among the highest use rates in the country. A report from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration found that in any given year almost 80% of new heroin users in America had misused prescription pain relievers.
The general pattern for Vermont is a lot like the national trend: prescription drug misuse has slowly gone down, access to treatment for those dependent on opioids has widened, and there has been an increase in disease and death associated with heroin use.
Visit the Heroin and Other Drug Use in Vermont page for more information.
Cannabis use in Vermont
National data shows that more Vermonters (ages 12 and up) are using cannabis compared to the country overall. The number of Vermonters who try cannabis for the first time between the ages of 12 and 17 is also higher in our state than in the country overall.
Early and continuous use of cannabis significantly increases the risk of not completing high school, not enrolling in or completing college, low educational achievement, lower income, unemployment and welfare dependence as an adult, premature workforce retirement due to disability, and reduction in IQ in middle adulthood.
It is important to look at the reasons why more Vermonters on average are using cannabis and beginning cannabis use earlier than most other states. The Health Department is monitoring how our efforts are making a positive difference with cannabis use, especially among young people in Vermont.
Visit the Marijuana Use in Vermont page for more information.
Opioid Prescribing Rule
- Rule Governing the Prescribing of Opioids for Pain
- Opioid Prescribing Rule - What You Need to Know
- Rules for Prescribing Opioids for Pain & Vermont Prescription Monitoring System - Frequently Asked Questions: For Prescribers
- May 17, 2017 Webinar (link is external) & Handout
Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS)
The Vermont Prescription Monitoring System (VPMS) is a database of controlled substance prescriptions dispensed by Vermont licensed pharmacies that helps prescribers and pharmacists make better evidence-based clinical decisions and limit diversion. The system is used by registered prescribers and pharmacists to review prescriptions received by individuals to avoid contraindicated prescription combinations or overlapping prescriptions of similar drugs. It may also identify potential misuse of prescriptions and provide an opportunity to discussion of substance abuse screening, referral, and treatment options.
Governor's Opioid Coordination Council
Governor Scott created the position of Director of Drug Prevention Policy and the Vermont Opioid Coordination Council in his second Executive Order (#02-17, updated in #09-17) (link is external)on January 5, 2017. In the executive order, Governor Scott charged the Council “to lead and strengthen Vermont’s response to the opiate crisis by ensuring full interagency and intra-agency coordination between state and local governments in the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery and law enforcement activities.”
Narcan/Naloxone Overdose Rescue
To save lives, the Health Department gives out a medication called nasal naloxone hydrochloride – known by the trade name Narcan® – that can easily reverse an overdose. When sprayed into the nose of a person who has overdosed, the medication blocks the opioids and restores normal breathing. To work, it must be administered as quickly as possible after an overdose. Narcan® is safe and easy to use.
Vermont Law (18 VSA ß 4240 (c)) allows health care professionals acting in good faith to prescribe, dispense and distribute an opioid antagonist to a person who is at risk of overdose – or to a family member, friend or other person in a position to help – so long as the recipient of the opioid antagonist has completed a prevention and treatment training program approved by the Vermont Department of Health. Unless acting recklessly, with gross negligence or intentional misconduct, a health professional who prescribes, dispenses or distributes an opioid antagoinist under this section shall be immune from civil or criminal liability, regardless of whether the opioid antagonist was administered by or to the person for whom it was provided.
Morphine Milligram Equivalent Calculators
*DISCLAIMER: The links to morphine milligram equivalent calculators are placed here for the convenience of prescribers, dispensers, and patients. The State of Vermont did not design and does not maintain these calculators nor make any representation as to their accuracy. Relevant rules do not require the use of these, or any other, calculator. It is the responsibility of the prescriber to confirm calculations and to adhere to the limits imposed by any relevant rule or law and to exercise clinical judgement consistent with the standard of care.
Reduction and Discontinuation
- HHS Guide for Clinicians on the Appropriate Dosage Reduction or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Analgesics
- SAMHSA Decisions in Recovery: Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (link is external)
- University of Vermont College of Medicine Office of Primary care & Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Program Opioid Prescription Management Toolkit for Chronic Pain Sustainable Solutions for Vermont
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention - Implementing the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (link is external)
Find data briefs, reports and other publications on alcohol and drug use topics, including heroin and opioids, marijuana and overall substance use in Vermont on the Data & Reports page.
For access to more Health Department data and reports, including the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the College Health Survey and School Health Profiles visit Health Statistics & Vital Records Population Health Surveys & Data.
- Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) 101 - An introduction to Medication Assisted Treatment (September 2021)
For upcoming training opportunities and continuing education resources on alcohol and drug prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery for health professionals. visit our Workforce Development page.
Selected, evidence-based measures reflect current priorities based on current and emerging issues related to substance use in Vermont. These measures align with strategic plans, are informed by current data and are used to monitor performance. While we strive for continuous improvement, many of the measures reflect long term goals that involve multiple systems and providers – and these take time and coordinated efforts to change.
Alcohol & Other Drug Use Performance Dashboard
The Healthy Vermonters 2020 Performance Scorecard is the Health Department’s online performance management system made up of scorecards. These are interactive report cards for assessing how well Vermont is doing in relation to desired results. The scorecards reflect public health priorities identified in Vermont’s strategic plans.
Opioids Performance Dashboard
Addiction to opioids is a public health issue that requires a public health approach. The Departments of Health and Public Safety collaborate with community providers for a coordinated, systemic response to the complex issues of opiate and other addictions in Vermont. The opioids performance scorecard measures progress toward our desired results.
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs - Vermont County Profiles
The misuse of alcohol, tobacco, prescription and illicit drugs affect the health of thousands of Vermonters. View Vermont county profiles relating to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug.