CONCORD — The New Hampshire Drug Monitoring Initiative, a project of Information and Analysis Center of the Department of Safety, yesterday issued its report on opiate use, treatment and overdoses for January and February 2015, offering a statistical profile of what many are calling an epidemic.
During the first two months of 2015 heroin use accounted for 73 visits to emergency departments, nearly one quarter of the number of visits the year before and significantly more than in the same months in the three prior years. The authors of the report note that the numbers mirror the trend of the two earlier years, which began with fewer visits then posted a spike in the summer months followed by a steeper rise in the fourth quarter.
The two most populous counties — Hillsborough and Rockingham — recorded the most heroin use visits to emergency departments in the past three months, 41 and 35 respectively, followed by Belknap County with 11. During the same period admissions to treatment programs for heroin and prescription opiate use were 201 in Hillsborough County, 64 in Strafford County, 55 in Rockingham County, 44 in Grafton County and 32 in Belknap County.
Narcan was administered to 276 persons in December, 207 persons in January an 209 persons in February, tracking the decline in emergency department visits and treatment admissions from their peak in the last months of 2014. In Belknap County 34 persons were treated with Narcan in the three-month period. Laconia ranked among the top ten municipalities for the number of Narcan administrations in 2011 and 2012 and ranks in sixth place so far in 2015. During the same period, Laconia placed second in 2011 and 2012 and third in 2013 among municipalities ranked by the number of Narcan administrations per 1,000 residents.
The number of deaths from drug overdoses has risen from 177 in 2010 to 300 in 2014 and jumped 55 percent, from 193 to 300 from 2013 to 2014. Deaths related to heroin have risen from 19 in 2010 to 96 in 2014 and rose 152 percent — from 38 to 96 — between 2012 and 2014. Deaths from fentanyl, a synthetic opiate 15 to 20 times more potent than heroin, rose from the teens between 2010 and 2013 to 128 in 2014, an increase of 611 percent.
There were 14 deaths from overdoses in Belknap County in 2014, ten of them in Laconia, where two people died from overdoses in the first two months of 2015.
Little more than half those visiting emergency departments for heroin use in the first three months of this year were aged 20 to 29 while those aged 30 to 39 represented a quarter of the total and nearly three-quarters were men. Of the 300 who died from overdoses in 2014, 68 were aged 20 to 29, 60 aged 30 to 39, 48 aged 40 to 49 and 62 aged 50 to 59 while 58 percent were men.
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