Taylor Dobbs

Taylor is VPR's digital reporter. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Vermont officials announced new measures Thursday to expand the availability of a drug that can counteract the effects of an opiate overdose. The drug can now be sold by any Vermont pharmacy without a prescription.

The drug is naloxone, which is often sold under the brand name Narcan, and it's already saving lives in Vermont. Health Commissioner Harry Chen said his department is distributing more and more doses.

“The health department now gives out about 700 doses per month throughout 12 distribution sites,” said Chen.

In Vermont, opiate addiction is the high-profile focus of Gov. Peter Shumlin's latest set of policy initiatives. But the state's addiction problem has led to another dangerous issue:

Vermont's loose gun laws and a high demand for drugs make a lucrative market for drug dealers who accept guns in return for the drugs they sell.