New Hampshire Bridge

Fentanyl drives exponential overdoses in New Hampshire

Even though it is a very small state, New Hampshire is 2nd in the country when it comes to opioid-related deaths.

Dr. Lisa Marsch, director of Dartmouth Center for Technology and Behavioral Health, conducted an extensive study to better understand the factors that are driving this overwhelming epidemic.

“The study was done with Dartmouth, Catholic Medical Center and Valley Regional,” said Marsch. “New Hampshire has a disproportionately high rate of fentanyl deaths, with deaths from other opioids coming in second. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than heroin and overdose deaths have almost doubled from 2014 to 2015. The HotSpot study looked at why we have this high rate.”

One reason directly relates to the premise that many people with substance abuse disorders began with prescription opioids.

New Hampshire was exceeding prescribing practices when compared to the national average,” said Marsch. “Doctors were prescribing high-dose, long-acting pain medication. When that became too expensive, or not available, people turned to the streets.”

One detail the study showed was that fentanyl was coming into the state from Massachusetts. Marsch said they can sell fentanyl for a higher price in New Hampshire, and because it’s more potent it is easier to transport and keep hidden.

The study seemed to dispel a theory that people are dying because they are unaware they are using the much-deadlier fentanyl, thinking it is heroin.

Most of the users (84 percent) knew they were using fentanyl, and in fact 25 percent said they sought it out,” said Marsch. “Seventy-five percent said they were resigned to what they could get.”

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To read more about how New Hampshire has become an epicenter for opioid overdoses, please visit Fosters.com.

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