Drug and Alcohol Abuse Trends in Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester, New Hampshire has a population of roughly 111,196 and is the most populous city in the northern New England area. Manchester is at the forefront of the opioid epidemic in the state, which has city first responders and health care administrators desperate for adequate treatment and prevention funding. In 2017, Manchester’s Hillsborough County had the highest suspected drug use resulting in overdose deaths per capita out of all of New Hampshire at 1.66 deaths per 10,000 population.
Drug Trafficking in and Around Manchester
Manchester has a long history of drug trafficking and smuggling within city limits, and many officials attribute this to the close proximity to Massachusetts and the Bay Stater cities of Lawrence and Lowell. Drug dealers view New Hampshire as a relatively safe place to distribute narcotics, with less competition and higher profit margins than in their home state. According to the DEA and regional law enforcement, the majority of opioids that are distributed throughout Manchester, both illicit and prescription, are coming in from Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Additionally, dealers from as far as New York are beginning to dispense heroin and crack cocaine within the city. The DEA says that these drugs come predominantly from Mexico. Narcotics are driven up through the Southwestern border and across the interstate highway system by mules that are then deposited in large cities like New York City. From New York, the drugs make their way to the North Shore of Massachusetts, where cities like Lawrence act as another hub for drug distribution. According to Manchester police, drugs can also be traded for guns that can either be used by gangs or resold in New York or Massachusetts for three or four times the New Hampshire price.
In response to the high trafficking rates within the area, New Hampshire officials implemented objectives such as Operation Granite Hammer; a program that puts more narcotic police officers on city streets to increase investigation time and conduct quick arrests. Instead of taking months to collect evidence and issue warrants, federal agents and city and state police are able to act on tips learned at morning briefings, and go out to investigate suspects and arrest them as quickly as possible. In 2017, Operation Granite Hammer led to over 400 drug-related indictments and arrests.
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The Opioid Epidemic in Manchester
New Hampshire ranks as one of the top states in the nation for the number of opioid-related deaths relative to its population, second only to West Virginia. Manchester is considered to be the focal point of the opioid epidemic within the state, which is mainly due to the city’s proximity to Lawrence – the center of the opioid distribution and trafficking network throughout New England. The retail price of heroin in New Hampshire is about twice what it costs to buy in Lawrence, so more dealers are traveling the 30 miles north to Manchester to sell their supplies.
In addition to the abundance of opioids from outside distributors, New Hampshire doctors have long prescribed high rates of opioid pain medications. When the state cracked down on “pill mills” and restricted the amount of pain relievers doctors could prescribe, Manchester residents were primed to seek out illegal street drugs to supplement their opiate addictions.
This is kind of the perfect storm. We have highly available, highly potent opioids in New Hampshire, and highly limited resources to reduce their risk.
The city of Manchester accounts for 25% of the Naloxone administration as well as 25% of the suspected opioid-related deaths for the state of New Hampshire, while only accounting for about 8% of the state’s population. Despite the increasing overdose rates, Manchester is severely lacking in addiction treatment and rehabilitation resources. However, with the help of state funding, local officials are making strides towards improving drug abuse education and prevention programs.
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The Prevalence of Fentanyl in Manchester
New Hampshire ranks first in the nation for fentanyl-related deaths relative to the population per capita. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is between 50 and 100 times stronger than heroin. The drug has essentially replaced heroin across New England, and because fentanyl is so potent, the risk of overdose is high. Correlatively, New Hampshire’s emergency department visits due to opioid abuse have increased by about 70% since the year 2016.
The drug is thought to have been originally produced in China and Mexico, and then moved along trafficking routes in Massachusetts to New Hampshire. In addition to the fact that it is less expensive than heroin, fentanyl is so popular because it’s easier and cheaper to transport than other drugs. The substance is so potent that it can be distributed in smaller quantities. As the demand for fentanyl has increased, New Hampshire residents have also begun producing the drug in their homes using standard kitchen blenders and diluted prescription fentanyl patches.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Manchester had the highest rates of incidents where Narcan was administered out of all the cities in New Hampshire in 2017. Manchester first responders have had to use increasingly larger quantities of Narcan to treat the fentanyl overdoses they are called to help manage on a daily basis. In response to the disturbing statistics, the Manchester Fire Department started a Safe Station program in which all 10 of the department’s stations are open 24 hours a day to provide treatment access to city residents struggling with addiction.
Recovery and Rehabilitation
If you’re someone that’s struggling with addiction in the Manchester area, the most important thing to remember is that you or your loved one deserves the best treatment available. Rather than limiting your options to what’s closest to home, traveling for rehab allows you to be far more selective and receive the specialized, high-quality treatment that you truly need. Despite the fact that Manchester does not have many resources available, there are thousands of rehabilitation centers across the nation that are dedicated to helping those with addictions in need. To learn more about your options, contact a dedicated treatment provider today.