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January 14th, 2014
01:43 PM ET

Vermont Governor devotes annual address to state's 'full-blown heroin crisis'

Last week, Vermont's Governor Peter Shumlin, devoted his entire 34-minute State of the State address to the heroin epidemic gripping Vermont.

"In every corner of our state, heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us. It threatens the safety that has always blessed our state. It is a crisis bubbling just beneath the surface that may be invisible to many, but is already highly visible to law enforcement, medical personnel, social service and addiction treatment providers, and too many Vermont families. It requires all of us to take action before the quality of life that we cherish so much is compromised."

State legislators estimate 2 million dollars worth of heroin and other opiates are trafficked into Vermont every week.

Since 2000, Vermont's treatment of opiate addictions is up 770 percent and nearly twice as many people died from heroin overdoses in 2013 as the year before.

What started as an Oxycontin and prescription drug addiction problem in Vermont has now grown into a 'full-blown heroin crisis.'

There's been an over 250 percent increase in people receiving  heroin treatment in Vermont since 2000, with the greatest percentage increase, nearly 40% in just the past year.

Rutland, VT Police Chief James Baker told Seven Days, an independent newspaper in Vermont, "a bag of heroin that sells for $5 in a big city can fetch as much as $30 on the streets of his city."

Shumlin, a Democrat serving his second term, spent last year's state of state address focusing on education. This year, he believes the opiate addiction poses a bigger threat to his state than hurricane Irene.

CNN's Don Lemon talks to Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin 7pm ET on CNN.


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