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Heroin Addiction: Potential Solutions to be Explored at Vermont Law Symposium

February 19, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE —
CONTACT: Peter Glenshaw, Director of Communications, Vermont Law School
Office: 802-831-1318, cell: 603-738-8487, home: 603-795-4764, pglenshaw@vermontlaw.edu

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt., Feb. 19, 2014—Heroin addiction is making headlines in Vermont and across the nation, from an Oscar-winning actor’s recent death after an apparent overdose to the Boston Globe’s reports of the drug’s “deadly foothold in Vermont” and a string of apparent heroin overdoses resulting in death in Massachusetts. It’s time for new approaches to the opiate problem, say members of the Vermont Law Criminal Law Society, who have invited a team of experts to weigh in on the subject during a panel discussion on Feb. 24.

“This event is about new ideas from new sources,” said Vermont Law JD candidate George Selby ’14, one of the panel organizers. “We need to fundamentally change the way we treat addicts and the opiates they fall victim to.”

Panelists will include addiction and pain specialists, a narcotics investigator, and an advocate for revolutionizing drug policy. They will discuss whether drug courts, replacement therapy, and support groups are enough, and tackle a controversial question: Should doctors be allowed to prescribe heroin to treat heroin addiction?

One of the featured speakers, Arnold Trebach, JD, PhD, professor emeritus of public affairs at American University and founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, the precursor to the Drug Policy Alliance, plans to call for action in Vermont.

“I am asking Governor Shumlin to take the lead in a vitally needed revolution in American drug treatment practices,” said Trebach, author of “The Heroin Solution” and “The Great Drug War.”

“Start out by recognizing that the chaos in the local addiction scene is taking place within the current criminal prohibition system,” he said. “Then lay out plans to bring addicts out of the streets and into medical treatment, which must include heroin and other narcotics in oral and injectable form.”

Trebach will be joined by Lt. Matthew Birmingham of the Vermont State Police, Narcotics Investigation Unit; Dr. Benjamin R. Nordstrom, director of addiction services and director of the Fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; and Dr. Gilbert J. Fanciullo, pain specialist and professor of anesthesiology at Dartmouth Medical School and director of pain medicine at DHMC.

Dr. Fanciullo will discuss his protocol for the safe use of opioids, drugs that resemble morphine or other opiates in their pharmacological effects, by patients suffering from chronic pain.

“It may be that as doctors become more restrictive about to whom they will prescribe opioids, patients suffering from the disease addiction are turning to heroin,” Fanciullo said. “Opioids are a blessing for persons with severe pain, but they are dangerous drugs and must be used with caution.”

The panel, “Vermont’s Heroin Addicts—Handcuffs or Hospitals,” will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, in the Chase Community Center at Vermont Law School. The event is free and open to the public and press. Attendees are eligible for two Vermont Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit hours. For more information about the panel, email George Selby at georgeselby@vermontlaw.edu or visit the event’s Facebook page.

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Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, has the top-ranked environmental law program and one of the top-ranked clinical training programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; two Master’s Degrees (Master of Environmental Law and Policy, and Master of Energy Regulation and Law), and three post-JD degrees—LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, and LLM in Environmental Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, the South Royalton Legal Clinic, and the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. For more information, visit www.vermontlaw.edu, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

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