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My Turn: Coming out of the darkness

January 18, 2014
by Harry Chen, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health
Burlington Free Press

Two recent national reports underscore that all three branches of state government are committed to finding solutions. A report from the Trust for America’s Health commends Vermont’s use of all 10 nationally recommended strategies to reduce prescription drug abuse and overdose. A National Safety Council report credits our state as one of only three to meet all of its standards on state leadership and action, prescription drug monitoring, responsible prescribing, and overdose education and prevention.

As we work to address the demand side of the equation, we can’t underestimate the power of prevention. We see hope and progress in the 2013 Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey results that show use of tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs by Vermont youth declined significantly from 2011 — all priorities for our community-based prevention efforts. Investing early in the health of young people clearly yields the best return on investment.

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