Drug and Alcohol Abuse Trends in Nashua, New Hampshire
Nashua, New Hampshire is situated along the Merrimack River in the southern portion of Hillsborough County. The New England community is home to an estimated 88,341 people, making it the second largest city in the state. Over the past decade, Nashua has been severely impacted by the opioid epidemic that has spread across the United States. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nashua had the second highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths by town in all of New Hampshire during the year 2018.
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The Opioid and Fentanyl Crisis in Nashua
In Nashua, opioid overdoses more than doubled from the first part of 2015 to the first part of 2016, and fatal opioid overdoses during that same time increased by 70%. New Hampshire ranks second in overdose rates across the country, behind only West Virginia. However, when compared in terms of synthetic opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, New Hampshire has twice the amount of overdose deaths than West Virginia.
The prevalence of fentanyl is a factor that makes the opioid crisis in New Hampshire different and deadlier than that of other cities in the nation. Fentanyl is a potent illicit drug that is 100 times stronger than morphine, making the risk of overdose much higher than other opiates. It is not uncommon for people to use fentanyl at the same time as heroin, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine, as these substances are often laced with the drug. Local officials speculate that the majority of the synthetic opioids found in the state are manufactured by Mexican and Chinese cartels that are then transported up to the northeastern United States by drug mules via the 95 interstate system. Much of New Hampshire’s heroin and fentanyl is mixed and packaged in northern Massachusetts cities such as Lowell and Lawrence. Nashua law enforcement experts say that while many drug users are unaware of the fact that they are buying fentanyl, some are actively seeking out the drug for a more powerful high.
I frequently hear from our front line professionals about the course of the [opioid] epidemic in our city – the dangerous drugs being peddled on our streets and in our alleyways, the large numbers of criminals being arrested for drug trafficking here, the many Nashuans from every neighborhood and every walk of life who are struggling with the grip of addiction.
New Hampshire has the second lowest rate of spending on substance abuse treatment and prevention, which has significantly contributed to the state’s growing opioid problem. Despite the lack of funding, Nashua emergency response officials have banned together to create a new recovery program called “Safe Station,” which allows anyone seeking substance abuse help to walk into Nashua fire stations and get connected with recovery programs. Additionally, the Nashua Division of Public Health’s Community Services have worked to reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C by providing harm reductions services through the Syringe Services Alliance of the Nashua Area.
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The majority of people that suffer from addiction in America began abusing alcohol or drugs as teenagers. Nationally, there were over 2.8 million new users of illicit drugs in 2017, or about 7,900 new users per day, and over half of these users were under the age of 18. Similar to the rest of the country, Nashua is struggling with teen and youth substance abuse.
When the Greater Nashua Public Health Network interviewed high school students about access to substances, 45.6% of students surveyed thought it would be “very easy” for them to get marijuana and 29.9% of students thought it would be “very easy” for them to get a prescription opioid drug without a doctor’s prescription if they wanted to. Additionally, 17.3% of Nashua high school students reported binge drinking, 2.4% reported using heroin at least once in their life, and 18.6% reported misusing prescription drugs at least once in their lifetime. Students that have used some form of cocaine, including powder, crack, or freebase, one or more times during their life is higher in Nashua than that of the state average. Students who were offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property by someone during the past 12 months is also higher than the state rate, at 21% compared to 18.7%.
In response to these staggering statistics, Nashua school board officials are making drug abuse prevention and education a priority. One of their main goals is to increase knowledge of resources and preventative family supports within early childcare providers and primary schools through the use of an educational campaign. This movement, called the Nashua Prevention Coalition, targets underage drinking and youth prescription drug misuse.
Nashua Substance Abuse Statistics
There were a total 521 deadly opioid-related overdoses in Nashua in 2016 alone.
The Greater Nashua area experienced a 243% increase in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in newborns from the years 2012 to 2016.
Almost half, 48.2%, of all Nashua residents who reported alcohol use also reported binge drinking.
Finding Recovery Treatment
If you’re someone that is struggling with addiction in the Nashua area, know that you’re not alone and that there are options available to you. New Hampshire is home to hundreds of substance abuse treatment service centers, and there are thousands more throughout the nation. Rehab facilities provide extensive recovery programs for alcohol and drug addictions that include individual counseling, detoxification, and relapse prevention services. Contact a dedicated treatment provider to learn more about your options today.