(Host) Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper says the state needs to take a new look at efforts to reduce both legal and illegal drug abuse in Vermont.
Speaking Thursday night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Sleeper said he supports efforts to mandate treatment programs for people convicted of drug abuse. And he’s willing to consider other approaches to help reduce the number of first-time offenders who are sent to prison:
(Sleeper) “I think it’s appropriate for us to look at any possible remedy. I think we can all agree that if we have a growing problem with substance abuse, that everything should be on the table. What I’m not hearing from some of these other options is, how do we implement it? We’re talking about policies that aren’t working but what are we going to replace them with? And how does that mechanism work?”
(Host) Sleeper thinks there needs to be a greater effort to deal with the abuse of legal drugs in the state. The commissioner notes that virtually all of Vermont’s drug overdoses last year were the result of the abuse of prescription drugs:
(Sleeper) “The vast majority of the drugs – I believe only four or five of the 82 – were technically illicit substances. The rest were all pharmaceutically diverted, so-called legal drugs. We have a problem with legal medications being illegally diverted and being abused by a broad spectrum of Vermonters in nearly every community and nearly every age.”
(Host) Sleeper says he continues to believe that the most effective approach in reducing drug abuse is to coordinate education, prevention and law enforcement programs.