Oct 2, 2014 5:56 PM
NH among states with highest rate of heroin overdose deaths
By NH1 Staff
CONCORD -- New Hampshire is one of 28 states in the United States with a significant increase in heroin-related deaths between 2010 and 2012, according to a report released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The greatest increase was between 2010 and 2011, when the rate of heroin deaths increased by 45 percent, the largest percentage increase in one year since 1999.
"The public health threat that heroin is posing is not limited to a specific demographic," said NH Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero. "Unfortunately every age group, both genders, and every income level is being affected. The mindset that this is happening only in the big cities has to change, we know from our emergency room surveillance data that this is hitting communities around our state."
A team of state epidemiologists and data analysts, including one from New Hampshire's Division of Public Health Services, authored the CDC report. The report also showed that the increase in heroin-related deaths is paralleling a rise in use. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, heroin use among people ages 12 and older increased by 74 percent between 2009 and 2012.
"This report confirms what we are seeing in our treatment facilities," said Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services Director Joe Harding. "The number of people seeking treatment for heroin addiction has increased by 50 percent over the last ten years, with the largest jump between 2011 and 2012. It is related to the prescription drug abuse problem in that people are becoming dependent on prescription opioid pain relievers and switching to heroin because it is cheaper and often more available."
The CDC report noted that the highest heroin death rate was among non-Hispanic white 25 to 34 year olds and was twice as high for males as it was for females.
The state is working to combat the public health threat through the Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.
The Attorney General's office is pursuing illicit drug sales, and the governor's office is studying making naloxone more widely available, which is a drug that can be administered quickly to prevent death in overdose cases, according to the DHHS.
The bureau is also supporting physician training in medication-assisted treatment that reduces cravings so that treatment programs and counseling have a better chance of success.
For more information about the report, log on to www.cdc.gov. For information on treatment and recovery support for someone who may be using heroin or misusing prescription pain relievers, call 1-800-804-0909.