tv America Tonight Al Jazeera March 29, 2014 12:00am-12:31am EDT
those are the headlines. i'm richelle carey, "america tonight" with joie chen is up next. get the latest news on our website, aljazeera.com. >> people here don't make enough to get by, but will get rid of their food cards, whatever to get one more. >> why can't i be a normal human being. >> nobody should be burying their child. >> the small state in the middle of a big crisis. heroin, for so long associated with big cities and back allies has infected small-town america.
vermont, with its picture postcard towns is the poster child for an epidemic that is ruining communities, lives, across the country. i'm adam may, and this is an "america tonight" special report, "addicted in vermont." >> we've been through it all, institutions. i really didn't think i would be sitting here today. >> people here don't make enough money to get by, but they'll get rid of their food cards, whatever means date day. >> take money from the children k anything. >> they'll steal from friends and family to get one more. >> heroin is spreading through rural america, striking small up tos like rutland, ver monday. >>
no matter what, 24/7 you plot on how to get the next high. >> vermont ranks number two in the country for people seeking treatment for oppiad addiction. >> serenity house, a halfway home for addicts is tucked away. matthew and ashley were two hard-core heroin addicts going through a recovery. >> how hard is it? >> it destroys you. mentally you are all over the place, it's a roller-coaster. you're happy, sad, miserable. physically everything on your body hurts. you deal with it for the rest of your life, you don't graduate from addiction cured. >> after trouble with the law and a
dozen overdoses, ashley, who is 21, hit rock bottom. mass addiction cost him a career as a computer technician at the department of homeland security. >> it was great having a good career, travelling and spend twice of that in a year period of time and sit what wonder how did i spend that. whp i only made this much. since last year deaths from overdoses doubled. the amount has increased 771% since 2000. almost everyone we spoke to new someone effected by addiction. >> i don't know what to do. the pain and hurt is too much.
i know how i raised him. he went to private school. he had the best of everything, and i don't know how this addiction took over. i don't. i don't know how it took over. >> carol is one. many broken parents of children in the grip of heroin addiction face. >> your second was going to come and talk to us, and he decided not to. >> correct. >> why? >> it's a vicious cycle. it's a game. he'll say and do what you want to hear but not folio through with it. >> he says he's been clean for seven days, do you believe him? >> absolutely not. i know nothing about addicts or drugs. i learn a lot. i wake up thinking thank god my son is alive, i think. i haven't heard from him. i think he's okay. i'd he has not got in trouble
with the law. i want to keep him alive i don't know how to do it any more. >> do you think he considers how this impacted you? i don't think they care, as long as yes get their fix. >> how serious is the heroin problem in vermont right now. >> you can find heroin n every corner. it's in every up to. >> dr deb richter is one of vermont's leading specialists, she says the current invasion can we traced back to the abuse of cheep powerful pain-killers that are too easy to gate. >> it's a problem in rural states, boredom, not sure. i was in primary care. i remember seeing it. i moved here in 1999. in the early 2000, 2001. i saw a bunch of 20-year-olds
come in with oxicontin. it was a turning point. it started with pills, pills crushable and easy to snort. dr richter believes pharmaceutical problems could have done more. >> who did it stem from? >> the company chose not to but a coating around the medication, that would have made it difficult to snort. most kids start by snorting medication. if they put the coating around it it may have stopped this. when they decided or the company decided to put a coating, the cost of the drug went way up. the heroin dealerses moved in. >> with pain killers going for $80 a pill, heroin was a cheaper alternative. dealers saw a market in rutland
recollects and major profit. >> we are near new york, near massachusetts, near connecticut. people can take a couple of hour trip down and score cheep heroin and sell it for more here. >> we didn't know she was using drugs until she was in the cocaine addiction around the age 15 to 16. that's when things got so bad, we had to admit something was wrong, and seek treatment. >> patrick's daughter started using drugs in high school. with treatment, her parents thought she was out of danger. she had pushed her life around and applied to college. >> martin's life shattered when police knocked on his door. it was devastating. i had loss before, but not a loss of mine child. no one should bury their child
or figure out the clothe we'll put them in in a casket. >> martin ace his daughter bods body was dumped in a parking lot after she died from an overdose. the heroin was pure, and mixed with cocaine. >> she died a slow death at the apartment of the people she was in. they san tied the place as she was dying. they knew that she was going. people that were with her never got charged. >> this is the bench that sara sat on when she came down down. >> after sara's death, patrick and his wife decided to start a support group to help families understand and cope. they named the group wit's end. if we save or help one other person live, help another family save their child, her life won't
have been in vain. she was so much more than drugs. >> next, we talk to an unlikely heroin dealer. plus vermont's governor makes this his number one priority. our investigation reveals part of the state's plan to deal with >> there's no such thing as illegal immigration. >> al jazeera america presents... a breakthrough television event borderland a first hand view at the crisis on the border. >> how can i not be affected by it? >> strangers, with different points of view take a closer look at the ongoing conflict alex, a liberal artist from new york and randy, a conservative vet from illinois... >> are you telling me that it's ok to just let them all run into the united states? >> you don't have a right to make judgements about it... >> they re-trace the steps of myra, a woman desparately trying
to reunite with her family. >> to discover, and one of their children perish in the process, i don't know how to deal with that. >> will they come together in the face of tradgedy? >> why her? it's insane. >> experience illegal immigration up close, and personal. >> the only way to find out is to see it yourselves... >> on... borderland only on al jazeera america >> this is the real deal man...
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>> welcome back. vermont is in the midst of a heroin epidemic. the government calls it a problem. those in the trenches say state efforts are failing. >> how long have you been clean? >> 16 months today. >> today is 16 months? >> yes. congratulations. >> thank you. >> what does it feel like? >> it's surreal, i never thought i would say that. >> 25-year-old kimberley jones says she was one of the busiest heroin dealers. it's basically an open-air market.
we witnessed children playing as drivers pull in to make a deal. >> you sold a lot of drugs. >> yes, i used to buy them and sell them. >> in the heart of the ski country, rutland vermont is ground zero. addiction circleses are swamped. >> heroin is such a problem that the governor made it the focus address. >> in every corner of our state heroin and opiate drug addiction threatens us. >> we travel throughout the state of vermont to find out about the governor's plan to deal with the crisis. part of it may be backfiring. we talk to rehab center
directors, and they tell us over the last nine months they have seen the relapse rate at the clinic skye rocket. we have seen an increase in the relapsing. >> do you have a percentage. >> i'd say it's probably 15 to 20% more than it used to be. >> this man runs serenity house, a rehab center in central vermont treating 400 a year. the state used to pay addicts to stay 28 days. last july they cut it in half. 14 days, unless patients get a special waiver. >> what is the i deal number of days that a patient should be in rehab. what is successful. >> if we can get them there another 60, 90 days, the percentage goes up. the longer we can keep them in
some form of formal treatment, the better their chances. >> it's a concern we heard across the state. two hours north, "america tonight" were told that the relapse rate has increased nearly 100%. we asked the commissioner of health why the state shortened rehab. his response surprised us? >> i'm not familiar with that. i can get you that information. >> state officials said the rate climbed 5%. . difference between their figures and the clinics are blamed on methodology. >> shorter stays in rehab means more addicts can be treated. we have the second-highest per cap ita rate of people that need treatment.
the number of people that we are treating increased tenfold and you have to find to be the best stuarts of the dollars -- stewards of the dollars, to be the most effective to a greater number of people. >> is 14 days in rehab enough. >> absolutely not. you need 90 days for people to reset their thermostat. specialist. >> we need to spend more money. we need more treatment centres and long-term rehab facilities. >> in vermont. if you have insurance, at a rehab facilities, two weeks is bizarre. ready. >> kimberley is in recovery and
turned her addiction into advocacy, lobbying lawmakers to increase funding so addicts like her have a fighting chance. >> they don't understand that this is a disease. i don't suffer from moral defirm si. it's like anything else. it's like having caps ever. i suffer a disease, and there's no known cure. people. >> the new plan is to cut back existing treatment and focus on out patient care, giving patients heroin replacement drugs: . >> what we want to create is not one size fits everyone. as we put more capacity on outpatient treatment, or
treatment at the hubs, the less we'll need the intradays. vermont does not have another doctors in prescribe the narcotics and meet the demand. >> there's a bunch of people on waiting lists. there's one waiting list that is 500 to 700. and some have waited two years. >> in the meantime they are forced to use heroin. >> and there's a problem. even though heroin replacement drugs can save lives, they are controversial. the pills replace one addiction with another. >> the fear is that some of the behavioural stuff that goes along with addiction, if you are giving someone a pill, may not get addressed or resolved.
people. >> dr chen admits the challenges are overwhelming. >> i extent 25 years in rutland as a physician, politician, as a school board member. we raised three kids there. it was all around us. i consider myself lucky that it didn't happen to one of my kids. >> it happened to kimberley, introduced to heroin by her mother. >> i knew from growing up that drugs were the way to escape. that's what my mum did, used drugs to get out of reality. >> how did you make the other choice to clean up, when so men people are falling through? >> i wanted to live. and i was at a point where i wasn't going to live much longer.
>> coming up, so what about the next generation? "america tonight" gets exclusive access to a hospital where babies born to adict mothers go through intense, painful withdrawals. real reporting that brings you the world. >> this is a pretty dangerous trip. >> security in beirut is tight. >> more reporters. >> they don't have the resources to take the fight to al shabaab. >> more bureaus, more stories.
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>> jessica calman says the guilt is overwhelming. every time she watches this video of her baby boy. jax was born physically dependent on a heroin replacement drug. >> he detoxed. he had the symptoms. there's no settling him. >> jessica lived her life in rutland, vermont. it's a small town with a secret - the most pregnant heroin addicted women per capital. by age 20 jessica was addicted to heroin and stayed hooked for 10 years. when she found she was pregnant she fixed to a replacement therapy.
her new son's withdrawal from the drug was so bad jessica thought he would die. >> he went quiet, his lips turned blue. >> what did you do? >> i picked him up and kind of shook him and whichingle -- breath. >> did your heart jump out of its chest? scared. >> now a toddler, jax appears to be normal, energetic and engaging child. he had to be weaned off. her younger son is also an serboxan baby. this is the ball by clinic. it -- ball by clinic. it provide treatments to mums and babies. >> she comes, and then she doesn't.
she likes to be rocked and swayed. that's what we do. >> amy is the clinical nurse manager. giving "america tonight" a rare look at what the babies experience. >> this baby is in withdrawal from opiates. >> in just the last two years, the number of drug-affected new doubled. >> drug sickness amplifies itself with physical symptoms. vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain. the babies get stiff. they are rigid. that is uncomfortable. they sweat. >> most babies are here two weeks. some require up to 40 address of hospitalisation. it's tough for the professionals to watch. >>
this doctor oversees treatment. counter to what you think, keeping mothers on a heroin replacement drug during pregnancy and after birth is better than going cold turkey. >> the treatments allow for a level of the opiate in the system so the babies and mums don't go into withdrawal. it's not the same as when you are searching for the opiate on the street and there's a rush and a withdrawal and a withdrawal. >> most babies make it through the program without problems. so far research on serboxal withdrawal has not shown long-term effects. the future of the question. >> are you worried about the long-term health effect on your kids? >> i am. they are healthy now. my worry is about learning things and disability that way.
>> it's on my mind a lot. as i see them grow and develop, it worries he less. from everything i can see date >> they are funny kids. >> yes. >> what raises jessica more is raising her chug in rutland -- children in rutland. >> do you think your kids would have a happy and good life? >> it would be a challenge. it's possible. i don't know if i'm willing to take the risk. i'm an addict. their father was an addict. gene. >> that risk. addiction. >> jessica is off heroin, but needs the replacement drug. relapse. >> what is it like to look at your kids.
do you look at them, hold them and think. i'm glad i got clean. >> yes. i'm so grateful for them. and grateful for the life we have. on days when i'm struggling or feel like giving up, i look at their faces and there's no way. no way. they're my heart. i want nothing but the best for them, for our little family. i'm hoping, yes, everything will be good. >> hoping the next generation doesn't have to pay the price for this one's habit. >> one thing we found in vermont is there are people passionate about solving the epidemic.
every one of the addict that we spoke to say they are keep, but it's a daily clean. i'm adam may. "america tonight" special >> had it not sparked fire, this story would be like that of many other low-intensity conflicts over resources waiting to erupt across this oil, gas and fresh-water rich country. back in 2010, the canadian province of new brunswick granted a texas-based company, southwestern energy, licenses to explore for shale gas - in exchange for investment worth 47 million dollars. if shale gas extraction goes ahead, it will be a boon to new brunswick's struggling economy. the province anticipates it coge