The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs has become a leading cause of harm among New Hampshire adults, resulting in more deaths each year than those caused by car crashes.
The rise in prescription drug abuse has been linked to the accessibility of powerful medications, either through prescriptions or theft, the misperception that prescribed medication is less risky than illegal drugs, and a lack of knowledge about how powerful, addictive, and deadly prescriptions, particularly pain medications, can be.
New Hampshire has not been immune to the prescription opioid epidemic - according to the 2009-2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the rate of New Hampshire's young adults (ages 18 to 25) who reported non-medical use of pain relievers was the highest of all states, with 14.9% reporting abuse in the past year.
The rates of prescriptions written for the residents of New Hampshire were lower in the 2010-2011 NSDUH, but access to medications was still connected to youth and young adult prescription drug abuse.
With wide access and availability to powerful prescription medication, either from valid injuries or conditions or from illicit access (e.g., through theft or doctor-shopping), people in New Hampshire are becoming addicted and involved in crime to feed their addictions.
In New Hampshire, between 2008 and 2010, the percentage of individuals entering state-funded substance abuse treatment for Oxycodone increased by over 60%, from 11.6% of patients in 2008 to 18.7% of patients in 2010, while admissions for alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin either decreased or stayed the same.
In 2010, Oxycodone also became the second most prevalent drug of abuse after alcohol among those entering state-funded substance abuse treatments. In 2011, drug-related deaths peaked at 200, more than ever before and four times as many deaths as in 2000, with 80% of drug deaths involving prescription medication, primarily opioid pain relievers.
Between 2012 and 2013, although prescription drug-related deaths dropped from 88 to 72, heroin related deaths more than doubled, from 37 in 2012 to 70 in 2014.
In 2017, New Hampshire providers wrote 52.8 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons, compared to the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions (per the CDC). This was the lowest rate in the state since data became available in 2006. The age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions decreased to 4.8 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2017.
In 2015, more than 400 people in New Hampshire died as a result of drug overdose, 2 - times more overdoses than in 2011. The majority of those overdoses were related to opioids.
New Hampshire is among the top five states with the highest rate of opioid-involved deaths. In 2017, there were 424 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in New Hampshire — an age-adjusted rate of 34.0 deaths per 100,000 persons. This was more than twice the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.
A significant increase was seen in cases involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (mainly Fentanyl) with a rise from 30 deaths in 2013 to 374 deaths in 2017. Overdose deaths involving heroin declined from 98 deaths in 2014 to 28 deaths in 2017 and those involving prescription opioids also decreased from 103 deaths to 62 deaths during the same period.
Less widely known and discussed has been the impact of opioid abuse and dependence during pregnancy. The New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services' Maternal and Child Health Section has been monitoring and developing responses to a significant rise in the rates of babies born in New Hampshire hospitals being diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).
Just after birth, these babies exhibit symptoms of irritability, feeding difficulty, respiratory problems, and seizures and require intensive and costly care for several weeks after birth. The average hospital stay for a NAS baby is 16 days, compared to three days for all other births.
In 2015, there was an estimated 270 babies diagnosed with NAS/NOWS - 24.4 cases of NAS/NOWS per 1,000 hospital births in the U.S.
The repercussions of the opioid epidemic crisis are many, including overdose deaths, self-neglect and neglect of loved ones, child and elder abuse, newborns experiencing withdrawal, unemployment, and homelessness.
They also include health effects such as HIV, Hepatitis C, liver damage, and heart problems. The opioid addiction crisis in New Hampshire crosses socioeconomic levels and has affected the life of every resident.
Of the new HIV cases in 2016, 42 occurred in New Hampshire. Many of these cases were attributable to opioid abuse and prescription opioid abuse. In the year 2015, an estimated 1,236 persons were living with a diagnosed HIV infection in New Hampshire — a rate of 107 cases per 100,000 persons.
In New Hampshire, there are an estimated 23,300 persons living with Hepatitis C (2013-2016 annual average), a rate of 1,030 cases per 100,000 persons. A hefty amount of these cases were attributable to opioid and prescription opioid abuse.
Fortunately, there are numerous centers of treatment and rehab available in New Hampshire. There are many types of treatment centers such as long term addiction treatment facilities, short term drug abuse treatment, outpatient detoxification programs, outpatient substance abuse treatment services, inpatient drug abuse treatment and others.
There is a wide range of drug and alcohol rehab facilities available. They include individual psychotherapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couple/family therapy, trauma therapy, trauma-related counseling, cognitive/behavior therapy and others, to name a few. If you need rehab in New Hampshire, all you need to do is place a call to any of the available rehab centers.
If you are addicted to alcohol or drugs, it is imperative that you look for professional help as soon as you possibly can. However, you might not know where to start or the options that are open to you. Similarly, you may have little to no idea about the differences between the different treatment facilities and the programs they have in store for their patients.
Do you need help finding the right drug or alcohol rehab facility in your area?
Fill out the form below or call 1-866-726-3478 to get the help you need.