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New Hampshire in the grips of heroin ‘epidemic’
Question of the Day
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Some states, including New Hampshire, are reporting a rise in heroin use as many addicts shift from more costly and harder-to-get prescription opiates to this cheaper alternative. A look at what’s happening in New Hampshire:
The state has seen the number of deaths from heroin overdose go from zero in 1993 to 67 deaths last year. New Hampshire State Police say 13 percent of all traffic stops and arrests that led to blood or urine tests involved heroin. “It is clear from forensics data and recent spikes on overdoses and deaths that we are in the midst of an epidemic of heroin use, and law enforcement alone simply cannot solve this complex issue,” State Police Col. Robert Quinn said.
The upward trend among heroin overdose deaths in New Hampshire saw the deadly total nearly double in the latest two-year period. The state recorded 16 deaths in 2008; 22 in 2009; 13 in 2010; 44 in 2011; 38 in 2012; and 67 in 2013, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office. With the rise in heroin deaths so, too, are crimes related to drug use increasing: burglaries, robberies and assaults. The number of people admitted to state-funded treatment programs for heroin addiction has jumped 90 percent in the last decade, with the greatest increase between 2012 and 2013, when 1,540 people were treated for heroin addiction.
Drug courts for addicted adult offenders operate in two of the state’s 10 counties - Grafton and Strafford - but officials say the courts are expensive to run. Circuit Court Judge Edward Gordon puts the cost at up to $12,000 a person with a program of about 115 offenders who are tested multiple times a week and who attend support sessions daily.
The New Hampshire Legislature is considering a bill that would form a committee to study whether providing immunity from criminal prosecution to any person who in good faith seeks medical help for an emergency drug or alcohol overdose would reduce fatal overdoses.
Some members of a state panel on drug abuse say more funding is needed for treatment and inmate re-entry programs to curb addiction.
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