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DHHS Issues Brief: Heroin Use in NH Reaching Epidemic Proportions
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Publish Date:
February 26, 2014

Concord – In its latest Issue Brief, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services (BDAS) releases findings about heroin use in the State. According to the Brief: Heroin in New Hampshire: A Dangerous Resurgence, use of the highly addictive drug is reaching epidemic proportions in New Hampshire and across the country. The increase may be due in part to individuals who have become addicted to prescription opioid pain medication switching to heroin.

"We believe there are several factors that may contribute to the use of heroin," said BDAS Director Joe Harding. "Some Individuals become addicted to prescription pain medication after having been prescribed these medications to manage pain. Some individuals who have misused prescription drugs may turn to heroin because it is cheaper and more easily accessible. Regardless of the reason, Heroin is a dangerous and highly addictive drug, and because it is a street drug it might have added harmful contaminated ingredients that make it even more dangerous and lethal, as witnessed by the recent rash of heroin related overdose deaths here in New Hampshire and across the country."

The New Hampshire Attorney General and Commissioners from the Departments of Safety, Corrections and Health & Human Services recently met with Police Chiefs from around the state and leaders from the State Police to discuss the impact heroin and opioid prescription drugs are having on the state and local communities. Law enforcement personnel described heroin and the misuse of opioid prescription drugs as driving up crime rates, creating one of the most significant public safety issues facing their communities and putting an unprecedented burden on their limited resources. "It is clear from forensics data and recent spikes in overdoses and deaths that we are in the midst of an epidemic of heroin use," stated NH State Police Colonel Robert Quinn. "Law enforcement alone simply cannot solve this complex issue."

"The good news is that there are treatments, and the treatments work," said Dr. Ben Nordstrom, Director of Addiction Services at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. "Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are all FDA-approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorders. In addition, peer support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and Smart Recovery can prove invaluable to people recovering from addictions."

New changes in healthcare insurance that have or will soon require coverage for substance use and mental health disorders in both the public and private sectors, as well as legislation pending in New Hampshire, that would make healthcare benefits supported by Federal Resources available to lower income individuals, could make addiction services more readily available across the healthcare system in New Hampshire.

The brief provides strategies and resources for communities, professionals, and the public to learn more about heroin abuse in New Hampshire and what they can do. To read Heroin in New Hampshire: A Dangerous Resurgence visit,, and

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