|English: Front view of the Vermont State House (taken Sept. 23, 2004) © 2004 Matthew Trump Category:Images of the Vermont State House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The New Year brings State of the State addresses…
The New Year is here and the news is flush with Governors delivering their yearly State of the State address. At the same time state legislators are authoring bills to be presented for consideration before the legislative bodies. Business as usual. But this year is slightly different. A number of bills offered in the close of 2013 and so far this year are trying to deal with the heroin epidemic. Here are just a few sample articles to consider:
One governor though took his concerns about the heroin epidemic a step further. As reported by the Boston Globe Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin used his entire State of the State address to implore his citizens to get involved in fighting the heroin epidemic.
Shumlin’s speech was a reminder of how drugs are an all-American problem. According to federal data, heroin use cuts across race, educational attainment, and employment status. Echoing the cries of urban African-American and Latino activists, Shumlin declared, “Today, our state government spends more to imprison Vermonters than we do to support our colleges and universities.” Shumlin wants Vermont to expand drug treatment, mental health services, and intervention programs for users, while imposing tougher punishments for high-volume dealers. The governor’s bold speech should resonate not only with the Vermont legislature, but with leaders of other rural states and communities just waking up to the drug crisis.
Governor Shumlin wants everyone to view The Hungry Heart
As we watched excerpts of Governor Shumlin’s address he spoke of a film and we became curious about the film he referred to The Hungry Heart. The film is a documentary by Bess O’Brien. She provides what is called an intimate look into the life of the Vermont pediatrician, Dr. Fred Holmes, as he works with patients struggling with the addiction to opioids. Here is the movie trailer.
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.
The Hungry Heart can be a valuable resource wherever you live
If you live in a community that is dealing with the heroin epidemic, then again maybe it is time to start the conversation. You can buy the film, both for your own private use and also as an educational package. And it is important to remember that you can become actively involved. Here are a few suggestions from their website:
- Express your concerns to your local legislators and ask them to take action.
- Connect with Friends of Recovery Vermont.
- Recognize moments when the legislature or policy makers in your state are seeking input and take responsibility for making a difference – governing bodies value input from citizen advocates and everyone thinks someone else will step up.