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Heroin and opiate abuse is increasing rapidly in the cities and small towns of Vermont. “It is in every town, every hamlet and every back road in Vermont,” Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling told the gathering. “The dealers that we’re arresting in Chittenden County on an ongoing basis are the same people who are operating in Weybridge, Brandon and (other) little towns.”

Bob Bick, director of mental health and substance abuse services at the Howard Center, said his organization collected information about the ages and gender of those abusing illegal substances. It was found that more than half the clients in treatment for substance abuse are women, the average age is 36 and the first time users were in the 8 to 46 range.

“This problem transcends all stereotypes: race, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status,” he said.

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