New Hampshire's Opioid Fentanyl Epidemic Spiraling Out of Control
The state of New Hampshire has been suffering from an opioid problem for some time now with the number of individuals addicted to opioid substances and overdoses at an all-time high. Lawmakers, first responders, and health care officials are trying desperately to come up with a solution before the issue becomes an even bigger problem. New Hampshire is actually ranked number two in the nation for the most opioid-related deaths, just behind West Virginia.
Despite the number two ranking, New Hampshire comes in at the number one spot when considering fentanyl-related deaths per capita. Fentanyl is a type of opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. The drug is the main factor behind the recent increase in overdoses taking place in New Hampshire. Research has shown that from February 2016 to June 2016, the emergency department visits related to opioid use have increased by 70%.
The Drug of Choice
According to drug possession attorneys in NH, Heroin is still an issue in the state but fentanyl has taken over as the drug of choice after coming into the state in early 2015. The drug is easier to transport and cheaper than heroin. The drug is also super potent so it can be distributed in smaller amounts.
Dartmouth College's Center for Technology and Behavioral Health has studied the drug and according to Director Lisa Marsch, people are starting to create fentanyl in their home by using a kitchen blender. Marsch took part in a study with the National Institute on Drug Abuse which showed that from 2010 to 2015, deaths in relation to fentanyl overdoses increased by more than 1,600%.
First responders are seeing an increase in overdose calls and are even starting to keep Narcan on hand in order to treat patients who are overdosing due to opioids. On top of the issue with fentanyl, there is an even worse option available for users, carfentanil. This type of opioid was just recently introduced into the state and is an elephant tranquilizer. This drug is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. According to Marsch, life or death can be defined by just one difference in the size of the dose as compared to a grain of sand.
The use of carfentanil was discovered when emergency responders were finding that a more powerful drug was at play. To treat overdoses, responders were having to use larger amounts of Narcan than they normally would with fentanyl use. Carfentanil can actually be absorbed through the skin so first responders have to be careful in order to avoid contact.
While carfentanil is a new drug being introduced it is not as heavily used as fentanyl. Both are a big issue and health care officials, lawmakers and first responders along with treatment facilities are trying to work together to solve the problem.
Changes have been made within the health care industry in order to stop such prevalent use of opioids. Stricter regulations are in place and must be followed before an individual can even be prescribed an opioid. The Attorney General of the state is also taking action, having filed a suit this month in order to take on a pharmaceutical company that reportedly has been dishonest as to how strong their opioids are and have been majorly pushing their products to doctors in the state.
Overall, the steps being taken by all departments will hopefully help to cut back on the opioid drug use in the state to see a decrease in addiction as well as an overdose in the state.
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