Saturday, February 6, 2016
Opioid and Heroin Addictions and Deaths a Major Political Issue in New Hampshire
What’s the number 1 political issue in New Hampshire prior to to the February 8 primary elections?
It’s the exploding number of deaths from opioid and heroin overdoses. This year these deaths are on track to exceed 400. In Manchester, the state’s largest city at 110,000, there have been 700 overdose calls and 85 deaths. On Manchester restaurant has called authorities to report 134 customers suffering from overdoses.
Why is New Hampshire the epicenter of narcotic deaths? No one seems to know. New Hampshire is a relatively affluent state with a predominantly white population. Most of the death have occurred in young white men. Does New Hampshire have a high number of dealers? Does the small size of the state make distribution easier? Most people seem to agree the low cost of oxycontin , priced at $90 to $100 per 30 mg pillm may contribute? The increasingly lower price of heroin, coupled with its increased purity and its being cut with the analgesic Fentangl may be a factor.
Most politicians agree the solutions to the growing problem, which has doubled in scope in the last year, resides in better treatment facilities and identifying dealers. Doctors are on the alert and are lessening the number of opioid prescriptions for pain. But the problem is mainly on the streets, not from doctor prescriptions, and from the low costs and high potency of these drugs. And there is now no doubt that opioid use often leads to heroin addiction (Wilson Compton, MD, “Nonmedical Prescription Opioid s and Heroin Use, “ NEJM, January 14, 2016).