Heroin use has been on the rise in New Hampshire for nearly a decade now. In the past couple of years, it has become a full-blown crisis. Currently, New Hampshire ranks second out of all of the states when it comes to how many residents are addicted to heroin. Between the years 2013 and 2014 heroin-related deaths increased by nearly 40% in the state of New Hampshire. Things have continued to get worse.

It is suspected that the heroin found in New Hampshire primarily comes from Massachusetts. Most of the heroin trafficking occurs and is transported along Interstate 93 and Route 3.

With the growing heroin problem in New Hampshire, treatment centers have had a hard time keeping up with the number of people that are in need of care.  It is estimated that close to 100,000 residents in the state of New Hampshire are in need of treatment. Out of those 100,000 people, only 4% are able to afford treatment. This is due to the lack of state funding for treatment centers across the state. Despite ranking number one for heroin abuse in the country, New Hampshire spends the second lowest amount of money on funding treatment when compared to other states.

In New Hampshire, it is also believed that the shortage of professionals qualified to work with those struggling with heroin and opioid abuse is contributing to the problem.  In most states, such as New York, there are 15 doctors qualified to assist with addicted related issues for every 100,000 people. New Hampshire only has seven doctors per 100,000 people that are qualified to handle addiction-related issues.

The funding for handling the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire is so low that much of the burden falls on to the hands of the firefighters. Fire departments have set up “safe stations” across the state in order to attempt to fill some of the void created by a lack of state funding. The safe station program allows users to go into one of the participating fire stations and receive the resources that they need to get into treatment. The participating fire stations are open 24 hours a day for intake. The fire departments work in conjunction with a behavioral health treatment center, which sets people suffering from opioid addiction with treatment options. In the first year of the safe station program, 1,650 patients were assisted with getting into treatment that otherwise wouldn’t have been available to them. Despite the success of this program, it is struggling to meet the demands, and expansion is needed statewide to make sure that people can continue to get the help that they need to fight heroin addiction.

The Manchester fire department in New Hampshire responded to 350 overdoses just last year. All firefighters in Manchester, New Hampshire carry Narcan as a part of their emergency equipment due to the volume of overdoses they have been encountering.

To make matters worse, much of the heroin that moves through New Hampshire is cut with fentanyl. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin by weight. When unsuspecting users obtain heroin that is cut with fentanyl, they are at an even greater risk of overdose than they are with heroin alone. The rise of heroin tainted with fentanyl is responsible for nearly half of all opioid overdoses in New Hampshire.

The Great New Hampshire Anti-Heroin organization recognizes the desperate need for accessible and affordable treatment. That is why we are working alongside other organizations to ensure that addicts are able to get the help that they need to move forward in their recovery.