Vermont opioid deaths up 33% to record number in 2021

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — The number of opioid-related overdose deaths in Vermont increased by 33% in 2021 to a record number of 210 fatalities, the Vermont Health Department reported.

The report released this week found that fentanyl was involved in 93% of last year’s opioid deaths while the percentage of deaths that involved heroin dropped from 25% in 2020 to 10% last year. Cocaine was involved in 48% of all opioid-related overdose deaths, according to the report.

The study also found that use of methamphetamine and the drug xylazine, a veterinary sedative, were increasingly contributing to opioid-related fatal overdoses among Vermont residents.

The 2021 figure of 210 was up from 158 in 2020. The report lists opioid fatalities going back to 2010 when there were 37.

Chittenden County had the highest number of opioid-related overdose deaths last year at 38 while Rutland County had the highest rate of opioid deaths per 100,000 residents at 48, according to the report.