Good and Bad News on the Heroin Front

Here is some of the data that firefighters and police officers are seeing in Concord when it comes to opioid issues.

Good and Bad News on the Heroin Front

The numbers have been staggering and both local and state officials are in crisis mode when it comes to the heroin epidemic in New Hampshire.

The jump started a couple of years ago when officials began noticing in 2013 that the opioid issue in the Granite State had become an urgent public health problem. Deaths in 2013 doubled in the state – from 37 specifically designated to be overdoses in 2012 – to 63 connected to heroin and another 30 to 40 to a mix of drugs and other issues.

At the same time, Concord Police were seeing a major uptick in heroin related arrests as well as deaths.

The next year, the number in Concord tripled to 13 deaths.

Earlier this month, NHPR pegged the number of deaths due to drugs, so far in 2015, at 342, according to state officials, with 260 of those being heroin and fentanyl.

In Concord, there’s both good news and bad news.

First, the good news. According to Lt. Timothy O’Malley, the commander of the criminal investigations unit for the Concord Police Department, fatal overdose have dropped by about 43 percent.

O’Malley noted that Detective Wade Brown has been keeping track of the data for the department and found that, so far, there have been eight overdoses connected to opiates, down from 14 in 2014 (the numbers for 2014, first reported as 13 by Patch earlier this year, were revised up, according to O’Malley, after Brown started compiling the data).

Police recorded 67 non-fatal overdose reports that resulted in a charge or arrest so far this year. More data will be available later this year.

Now, for the bad news. Fire Chief Dan Andrus met with Concord’s Public Safety Committee earlier this month and reported calls for service ending in September of this year is up significantly in every category during the past few years.

Overdose/intentional misuse of medication rose a staggering 470 percent from the same period in 2012. Alcohol abuse and Narcan administrations are also up.

Andrus noted that the department was working with police and other government and community organizations in order to take “a collaborative approach to the complex issue of drug addiction.”