Over the past four decades the U.S. has spent an estimated $1 trillion on the drug war, putting billions of dollars into law enforcement and interdiction efforts that have little or no effect on reducing the number of drug users or abusers in this country. All while addicts seeking treatment are made to wait weeks or months to get help.
Vermont is getting national attention since Gov. Peter Shumlin declared a “full-blown heroin crisis” in January. It’s a familiar claim, one that has been echoed by politicians since President Nixon launched the war on drugs four decades ago. But Vermont’s governor says he has a new approach: focus more on treatment rather than law enforcement.
The recent spike in heroin use in Vermont and nationwide lends new urgency to the effort. Fatal heroin overdoses are up nearly 50% since 2006. Demand for opiate treatment in the Green Mountain state alone has spiked nearly 800 percent since 2000.
In this Fusion Investigates special 4-part series, “The Drug Warriors,” we travel to Rutland, Vermont to see warriors on different frontlines: a family fighting drug addiction in their home and law enforcement battling on the ground.
Watch above “Drug Warriors, Part 1: A Family’s Battle With a Heroin Epidemic” and check back for the rest of the episodes in this series.
Credits: Executive Producer: Rayner Ramirez,
Correspondent: Dan Lieberman,
Photography: Rayner Ramirez,
Editor: Javier Castro and Walter Collins