March 31, 2014

“The New Face of Heroin” – Rolling Stone comes to Vermont

Posted in Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 1:33 pm by Lund

There is much discussion this morning about an article in Rolling Stone magazine focusing on heroin use in Vermont.  It’s an eight page spread delving deep into the story of a female addict, now in recovery, as she speaks about her descent from a fully functional, independent life using her considerable talent working with horses, to the craven, hollow existence of an addict sleeping in the back of her car.  The article features interviews with Peter Shumlin, T.J. Donovan, Bob Bick from the Howard Center, and Matthew Birmingham of the Vermont Drug Task Force.  While not offering much in terms of how the problem of heroin and opiate addiction can be solved, the article is well written, relevant and heart wrenching.   It ends with the positive notes in the life of the young woman featured, who is now living at Lund, awaiting the birth of her baby in July.  “I just want to give this baby a home.  My goal is to be a normal, boring person,”  she says.

But the discussion happening is not really about the problem of addiction in Vermont and what the solutions might be, or commenting on the bravery of this young woman as she struggles hard with her disease.  People are almost exclusively talking about the use of the image below on the second page of the article.

Rolling Stone April 2014

Comments on Facebook have called the picture offensive, distasteful, misleading and “an insult to the hard working sugar makers in Vermont”.  Two local TV news stations are running pieces on the picture and the reactions it is provoking.  Their facebook newsfeeds are alive with outrage and argument.  Sadly, it seems that the words of the article and the problems of heroin addiction in Vermont are being largely ignored.

There are so many things in Vermont to be proud of and the tradition of maple syrup production is one of them but people in Vermont reading this article should be proud of the work that Lund is doing as well.   136 women in the community and 80 women and their 93 children  at our residential treatment center benefited last year from integrated family-centered treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues.  Lund has been serving Vermont’s most vulnerable children and families since 1890.  That is a tradition to be proud of as well.  Let the discussion be about more than this image.



  1. Lianne Burleson said,

    Lund may do wonderful things for young single Mothers. However, this in no way, shape, or form gives RS Mag the right to “TARNISH” Vermont’s proud history of Maple Sugaring. VT is not the STATE OF Lund. It is a State filled with ethical, hardworking, creative and honest people who will all feel a slap in the face due to this publication.

    • Lund said,

      Thanks for your comment Lianne. You are indeed right that there is much more to Vermont than Lund and much more than the problems than the state is currently struggling with. This image is indeed controversial but at least it is getting people talking and thinking about what we can do to help solve the problems with opiates and celebrate Vermont for all the wonderful things for which is it known.

      • Kathy King said,

        I am not sure you still get it. There is no excuses, controversy gets people awake? We are sugar makers – we are growing our business – many folks are short sighted and will identify Maple syrup with this National image. This is a problem in North and South Dakota, Oregon, Washington, many rural environments – Would a sustainable industry be identified as a root cause in all those States just to get peoples attention and get them talking? They are not gonna talk about the Heroin problem in Vermont – They will talk about the image. This is massive slander – RollingStone is very irresponsible in this case and I am a big fan of the Magazine. There is no way to go back and take that photo out. Super poor taste for which you offer no apology for dragging in a legitimate industry into this problem.

      • Lund said,

        Thanks for your comment Kathy. I very much hope that the sugaring industry is not adversely affected by this image and that people can look beyond it to discuss the real issue at hand. You are right that problems with substance abuse is widespread across the whole country not just in Vermont.

    • evelynhill27 said,

      Exactly how I feel. Yes Vermont has a problem that needs to be addressed, but so does every state. It is not right to align the one thing Vermonters are proud of with the worst thing happening to the state. The hardworking maple sugar workers are also not probably the ones who are using, so this looks bad on our best trade.

      The other thing is how are you supposed to fix heroin addiction? Unless you want to raise the money to eliminate every organized crime selling, it’s going to be extremely difficult.

      • Lund said,

        Thanks for your comment. At Lund we really believe in the three pronged approach of prevention, prosecution, and treatment. We treated over 200 women last year for substance abuse and continue this work daily with those struggling with the disease of substance abuse. It is hard life long work for these women and we’re so proud to support them as they take on this challenge. It is not a fix for the whole problem of course but we’re happy partner with other agencies addressing the other parts of the approach.

  2. Thommy said,

    I think it’s a very well done and clever image. Often times, Vermont is looked to as the maple state; our 25 cent coin features a sugar mapling scene. Therefore, I think it’s a very powerful association and brings a lot of well needed light to the subject. I really doubt, however, that consumers are going to think heroin is packaged into Vermont’s maple syrup… So, I think people should stop whining.

    • Lund said,

      Thanks for your comment Thommy. We agree that light really needs to be shone on this subject to continue the conversation about how we can help to combat this problem.

  3. Nic said,

    I agree with Thommy, the way I see it is that it is also spreading much needed awareness that people struggling with opiate issues are not just the homeless man sleeping under a bridge that might walk by and not even think twice about, but it is also effecting other people in the community, police officers, fire fighters, teachers and yes I’m 100% positive that also some sugar makers as well. A woman made the ridiculous comment that “no sugar maker uses heroin, because they are too busy”. That comment alone shows the ignorance in understanding this issue that is a complete epidemic across our whole country.

  4. Myron Stoatpamphlet said,

    Maybe this will be a wake-up call to remind people that VT is awash with Heroin… and the state and prosecutors are doing NOTHING about it. We get what we deserve… and if we don’t deal with criminals who use and peddle this stuff, we deserve this image. Vermont earned this, fair and square.

    • Lund said,

      Thanks for your comment Myron. We are pleased to see that Shumlin’s state of the state address was the start of people talking about this subject so that we can all figure out what more we need to do to alleviate this problem. We agree with the three pronged approach of prevention, treatment and prosecution.

    • Peter W. Ruby said,

      Earned- what is that all about?

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