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In 2016, New Hampshire - known as "The Granite State", because of its extensive granite formations and quarries—boasted a median household income of a whopping $76,260, nearly 30 percent higher than the national median of $59,039! Given New Hampshire's relative wealth, it would be tempting to think that it had been spared the scourge of drug addiction that has ravaged poorer states, but this isn't the case. Rates of dependence on alcohol in New Hampshire have been among the highest in the country since 2002, especially for ages 18-25 and, in 2008, New Hampshire was among the top ten states for monthly use of illicit drugs. 187 people in New Hampshire died as a direct consequence of drug use in 2008 (compared with 138 from vehicle accidents and 78 from firearms.) Despite being well-off in terms of resources, New Hampshire drug and alcohol abuse continues to rise at an alarming rate.
When we look at the relationship between addiction and economics, we quickly realize that it's quite complicated. Drug and alcohol abuse is a national problem, and no state in the US has been spared. Over 60,000 overdoses occurred nationwide in 2016, with nearly 175 people dying daily. Drug overdoses kill more people annually than suicides, homicides, car accidents and guns. These numbers increase every year.
Poorer people are statistically more likely to struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, but this doesn't necessarily mean that people that are more well-off economically are less likely to become addicted. In fact in some cases, wealthy people can be thrown into poverty as a direct result of addiction. Someone who is solidly middle class can fall into poverty if their addiction leads to poor work performance and job loss. It can also then be harder to get a new job, if someone has been fired from their old one. It's a vicious downward spiral.
Much like the rest of the United States, the scourge of opioid addiction has blown through New Hampshire like an unstoppable blizzard, laying waste to whole communities, and decimating families. In 2018, New Hampshire had 412 drug overdose deaths involving opioids (a rate of 33.1) Opioid addiction is a particularly menacing foe because it's a malady that can sneak up on people, even when they think they're being vigilant.
Prescription painkillers (like Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Percocet) are highly addictive, in large part because they activate the powerful reward centers in the human brain. These drugs trigger the release of endorphins, (your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters) which mask or interrupt your perception of pain and enhance feelings of pleasure and happiness, creating a short-lasting but extremely powerful sense of well-being. It's only human to love the feeling! And, when an opioid starts to wear off, it's in our very human nature to crave the return of that wonderful sense that everything is perfect and as it should be. This is the first step on the path toward addiction, and it can happen even to people who think they're being careful.
The root of the opioid problem stems from doctors over-prescribing these highly addictive drugs when, in many cases, Tylenol, Excedrin or Advil will do. These drugs may seem safe, especially when doctors prescribe them, but just one or two of few these prescription pain pills can get people hooked and send them off on a downward spiral into the throes of full-on dependency. In 2018, New Hampshire providers wrote 46.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people-a shocking statistic.
Unfortunately, prescription painkiller abuse can often send people down far darker paths. Opioids often lead to heroin addiction, (as heroin is cheaper than the pills, and usually far easier to obtain on the street.) The spiral downward doesn't stop there. When certain street drugs like heroin aren't available, drug abusers often then turn to incredibly powerful and dangerous synthetics like fentanyl, which sooner or later result in a body bag. In the United States, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths, responsible for 59% of all opioid-related decedents.
A recent study took a look at the substances most commonly abused by New Hampshire youth, and the numbers are concerning:
3% of New Hampshire youth (ages 12-17) report using pain relievers in a way not directed by a doctor in the past year.
The good news for New Hampshire residents struggling with drug and alcohol addiction is that help is only a few clicks away. The Granite State is awash in resources, whether you just need counseling, a broader more community-based approach, or full-on detox services. All it takes is the courage to take the first, terrifying step. Embrace the pain that got you here. Use it, own it, and move past it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
New Hampshire State Facts
New Hampshire Population: 1,235,735
Law Enforcement Officers in New Hampshire: 2,626
New Hampshire Prison Population: 4,500
New Hampshire Probation Population: 3,665
Violent Crime Rate National Ranking: 47
2004 Federal Drug Seizures in New Hampshire
Cocaine: 2.4 kgs.
Heroin: 0.0 kgs.
Methamphetamine: 0.0 kgs.
Marijuana: 70.6 kgs.
Ecstasy: 2,533 tablets
Methamphetamine Laboratories: 2 (DEA, state, and local)
New Hampshire Drug Situation: Retail quantities of Cocaine remain readily available in the State of New Hampshire. New Hampshire has recently seen an increase in “Crack” cocaine availability. Dominican narcotics traffickers are the principal distributors of cocaine in the state. Heroin is available in street-level quantities in New Hampshire, supplied primarily by Dominican traffickers with bases of operation in the Lowell/Lawrence, MA areas. Marijuana is readily available throughout the state, and it is apparent that marijuana is the predominate drug of choice in the state. The state of New Hampshire has experienced a continued growth in availability of methamphetamine within the state in the past few years, particularly in and around the Seacoast area. It is anticipated that this trend will continue.
Cocaine in New Hampshire: Cocaine HCL and crack cocaine are readily available at the retail level; kilogram quantities of the drug are encountered with less frequency. In recent years, the Seacoast Region has experienced a significant increase in availability, due in part to its proximity to source areas in Massachusetts, specifically, the Lowell and Lawrence areas. Dominican narcotics traffickers dominate the distribution of cocaine HCL in the state and are supplied by associates in New York and Lowell/Lawrence, MA; however cocaine is brought into the region from Florida and the Mexican border. Cocaine availability and prices have remained constant; however an increase in the availability of “crack” cocaine continues to be reported.
Heroin in New Hampshire: High-purity heroin remains readily available at the retail level; its use is widespread. Heroin sources of supply are located in Lowell, Lawrence and Lynn, MA. The drug’s ultimate source center is New York. Dominican traffickers are the primary distributors of high-quality heroin in New Hampshire. The state continues to experience increases in heroin availability, particularly along the Seacoast, southeast region and western part of the state. Heroin prices on the retail level have remained stable.
Methamphetamine in New Hampshire: The State of New Hampshire has experienced a continued growth in availability of Methamphetamine in the past few years, particularly in and around the Seacoast area. Methamphetamine is available throughout the state. The availability of “ice” has increased. Methamphetamine, which is produced in Mexico, is primarily transported into the state via express mail packages , by common carrier and privately owned vehicles from the West Coast of the United States. Methamphetamine prices have remained stable.
Club Drugs in New Hampshire: MDMA is widely available and is frequently sold to teenagers and young adults at nightclubs, rave parties and on college campuses. MDMA in powder form has also been encountered in the state. The majority of the MDMA available in the Seacoast region originates in New York, NY and is transported into the region via private vehicle for distribution. Canada has also served as a transshipment point for MDMA destined for New Hampshire.
Marijuana in New Hampshire: Marijuana is readily available throughout New Hampshire. Marijuana is the predominant drug of choice in the state. Most of the marijuana available in the region is transported from the southwestern U.S. and originates in Mexico with local Caucasian violators traveling weekly or bi-monthly to Arizona and Southern California to obtain 200-300 pound quantities of the drug. The marijuana is usually transported into the state via land vehicle. Marijuana is also being shipped in relatively small quantities (20-50 lb. packages) into the state utilizing U. S. and other mail services.
Cannabis is also cultivated within New Hampshire, though not as readily in recent years. Because of the rural nature of the state, particularly the northern two thirds, the potential growing areas are limitless and most of the outdoor growers have reduced the size of their plots and increased the variety and scope of their concealment efforts. THC content in excess of 22% has been seen in the state.
High grade hydroponic marijuana from Canada is increasingly available in New Hampshire and is smuggled into the state transiting through its shared border with Canada. A variety of smuggling methods have been encountered; to include, concealment in couriers’ backpacks and hockey-type travel bags; helicopter air drops wherein the marijuana wrapped in plastic bags is dropped to individuals waiting on land, as well as the continued use of snowmobiles during the winter months.This high potency Canadian-grown marijuana’s THC content can range from 15 percent to as much as 25 percent.
New Hampshire Marijuana Legislation: In March 2001, The New Hampshire House of Representatives, by a vote of 223 to 101, rejected a bill that would have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
Other Drugs in New Hampshire: Much of the diversion problem in the State of New Hampshire involves fraudulent prescriptions, dated & duped doctors, mail order pharmaceuticals, illegal & over dispensing, doctor shopping, chemically impaired practitioners, etc. Oxycontin continues to be a pharmaceutical drug of abuse in the state.
DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams: This cooperative program with state and local law enforcement counterparts was conceived in 1995 in response to the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crime in towns and cities across the nation. There have been 409 deployments completed resulting in 16,763 arrests of violent drug criminals as of February 2004. There has been one MET deployment in the State of New Hampshire since the inception of the program, in Hampton.
DEA Regional Enforcement Teams: This program was designed to augment existing DEA division resources by targeting drug organizations operating in the United States where there is a lack of sufficient local drug law enforcement. This Program was conceived in 1999 in response to the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations that have established networks of cells to conduct drug trafficking operations in smaller, non-traditional trafficking locations in the United States. Nationwide, there have been 22 deployments completed resulting in 608 arrests of drug trafficking criminals as of February 2004. There have been no RET deployments in the State of New Hampshire.