Drug Relapse Rates Doubling At Several Vermont Treatment Centers

By McCarton Ackerman 02/27/14

A new cost-cutting state requirement gives treatment practitioners only two weeks to determine what kind of care a patient receives.


Drug addiction is reaching epidemic proportions in Vermont as relapse rates are soaring  throughout the state. Numerous treatment facilities including Valley Vista and Maple Leaf Farm are reporting that their relapse rates have doubled in some cases. However, many facilities are blaming the state for this problem, citing a new state Health Department rule which requires pre-approval for patients staying longer than 15 days.

Nina Gaby, psychiatric nurse practitioner at Valley Vista, said working with patients for two weeks is an inadequate amount of time to provide quality level care. She cited withdrawal symptoms during detox and the lag period for psychiatric drugs to take effect as making it “more difficult for us to really establish a good diagnostic work-up.” But Barbara Cimaglio, deputy health commissioner for alcohol and drug abuse programs, said the shorter stays were necessary to help manage costs and ultimately move patients from detox to long-term recovery.

Last June, Vermont became the 13th state to enact a Good Samaritan law that protects victims and witnesses of a drug overdose from prosecution for certain crimes, including possession of drugs or paraphernalia and violation of restraining orders or probation. “These bills are important because Vermonters care about those among us who are living with addiction," said Tom Dalton, an advocate for the bill from Howard Center Safe Recovery in Burlington, "and their safety and well-being matter to us all.”

Drug overdose claimed 73 lives throughout Vermont in 2012 and remains the leading cause of injury or death to state residents aged 25-64.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.