Build a public health approach to drug use

Our communities are grappling with the devastating impacts of Vermont's growing opioid crisis, a record-breaking number of overdose deaths, and the abject failure of the decades-long "war on drugs." We need a new approach to this worsening public health crisis – one that centers the dignity and humanity of our loved ones and neighbors expands harm reduction infrastructure, decriminalizes drug use, and fosters meaningful investments in people and communities instead of policing and prisons.

Several bills are currently before the legislature that would enable Vermont to implement a public health approach to substance use – a framework that the U.S. Surgeon General urged communities to adopt in its 2016 Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.

A public health model would ensure that we:

  • Respond to people who use drugs with compassion and support – not handcuffs – by decriminalizing personal drug possession and expanding short- and long-term recovery services.
  • Reduce the prevalence of disease and overdose death by authorizing overdose prevention centers, increasing the availability of sterile injection supplies and disposal boxes, and provisioning drug checking services and overdose reversal medication (naloxone).
  • Re-invest in the essential supports and services that help address the underlying factors driving substance use disorder, including renewed investments in housing, mental health care, employment opportunities, and other community-based resources.

Legislation like H.423, S.119, H.72, and H.222 would save lives and improve the health and safety of our communities.

Sign our petition and join the movement to advance a public health approach to drug use in Vermont.

Vermont needs to advance an evidence-driven, public health approach to substance use. The status quo simply is not working. State leaders can and should do more to save lives and improve the health, safety, and well-being of our communities. I support passing legislation that would expand critical harm reduction infrastructure, decriminalize personal drug possession and use, authorize overdose prevention sites, and advance other evidence-based, life-saving policy reforms.