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Nov 2, 2015 6:59 PM

NH funeral home businesses see boom amidst heroin epidemic

MANCHESTER- The heroin epidemic continues to grow. It's reaching new users and is even affecting businesses in a surprising way.

Buddy Phaneuf has been in the funeral home business for decades but has never seen anything compared to the overdoses claiming so many lives.

"Not even close," Phaneuf said. "Not even close, at least not in my lifetime."

Phaneuf said the spike of heroin and opiod related deaths that they've treated started last year. They thought it would tamper off but instead it increased so much that they started keeping statistics on it.

"You go back years ago, you have someone who passed away from a drug overdose. The young person- oh my God- now we've almost become desensitized because it's something occurring on a weekly basis."

Phaneuf Funeral Homes is the largest family-owned funeral home service in New England. At their location in Manchester alone, they've seen 54 overdose deaths in 2015, two just this weekend. Their numbers show that the average age is 32 and 53-percent of those overdoses are females. Many of these people are from what he calls a 'loving family' whose family members were not aware of their drug use. But many are drug abusers without anyone to claim them at the Medical Examiner's Office.

"There are still unclaimed deceased that are there," said Phaeuf. "They either can't find families or their families don't want to be moved at this point- it's very sad."

Costs of funeral homes range from $1,000 to $7,000. With unexpected deaths, Phaneuf says that makes things even more difficult for grieving families. He said he's seen so many heartbreaks that he encourages families to use social media and obituaries to spread awareness of the hard-hitting killer high.

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