New Hampshire appears to have been targeted by drug dealers claims the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and it is due to the high amounts of painkillers that are prescribed to its citizens. The DEA has considered New Hampshire to be an outlier for prescriptions because of the high rate at which its citizens were using legal painkillers, Governor Maggie Hassan reported to almost two hundred medical professionals during a training for prescribing opioid drugs. In fact, according to the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program there were over 100,000 patients prescribed over sixteen million doses (pills) of Schedule Two medications from April to June of 2014. The vast majority of these pills were for morphine, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl at a staggering eighty percent.
Hassan stated that the statewide heroin and fentanyl epidemic grows form the overuse, misuse and abuse of legally prescribed and addictive prescription opioids. During her recent visit to Phoenix House in Dublin, residents told her that many of their addictions grew after they were prescribed large doses of opioids after procedures. Many of these procedures were as simple as routine dental work, but patients were prescribed a full regiments of painkillers. Due to this, drug dealers are beginning to target the area, knowing that as prescription regulations come down there will be lots of addicts seeking an alternative such as heroin.
There have already been 258 deaths in the area from the opioid epidemic and Hassan fears this number will keep growing. She considers this issue to be the most pressing public health and safety challenge that is facing New Hampshire, and calls for sustainable and comprehensive programs to halt new addictions and reverse the current tide. Not only is overdose a danger to all addicts who abuse prescription pain killers or heroin, but the addiction itself can cause other serious medical problems. Dr. William Goodman, the medical director for CMC, states that he has seen the amount of substance abuse cases grow with the opioid epidemic and has great concerns.
He references a recent case of an eighteen year old woman with an extensive three year past with intravenous drug use. She has struggled through multiple detox programs and rehabilitation efforts, yet continued to go back to her abuse. Eventually she ended up in the ER where she was diagnosed with an infection in the inner lining of her heart, something that is common with IV use. This caused heart failure, and the need for heart surgery but this did not stop her from using heroin while in the hospital. She was revived from an overdose with Narcan before her surgery, and was later arrested for possession of drugs. She later died at home after completing a drug rehabilitation program, only seventy two days after her heart surgery.
This case is not the only one. Studies show that between four and twenty six percent of people who are prescribed opiates end up addicted to them, with many of them moving on to abusing heroin when their supply of painkillers runs out. With tons of opiate addicts out there, it appears that no family is safe from the effects of this powerful narcotic.