NH's two largest cities averaging 80-90 overdoses per month, data shows

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Sep. 18—New Hampshire's two largest cities are averaging between 80-90 drug overdoses a month.

Nashua remains on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids in a one-year period since the opioid epidemic began in 2015.

Manchester is on pace to record the highest number of suspected opioid-related deaths in a single year since 2017 following a spike of suspected overdoses in July.

According to American Medical Response (AMR), the ambulance service for Manchester and Nashua, there were 84 suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua and Manchester during August, bringing the total for this year to 624.

There have been 98 — 19% — more suspected opioid overdoses so far this year compared to last year over the same time period.

AMR medics responded to 61 suspected opioid overdoses in Manchester and 23 in Nashua during August. Manchester overdoses decreased by 3 from July numbers, while Nashua numbers remained the same.

Preliminary data show there were 11 likely opioid related deaths in August, pending verification from the Office of the N.H. Chief Medical Examiner, AMR officials said. Eight of those deaths occurred in the Queen City, three in Nashua.

Early data show Nashua has experienced 32 suspected opioid related deaths through August. There were 30 suspected opioid related deaths in Nashua during all of 2021.

"AMR medics continue to see and listen to reports from suspected opioid overdose patients who believed they were not specifically using opioids and were surprised that they overdosed on an opioid," said Chris Stawasz, regional director of American Medical Response. "Methamphetamine use, which is not currently tracked and are not included in this report, continues to be seen mixed with opioid use. Meth is a particularly dangerous drug for both users and first responders as it can cause extreme excited delirium and alarmingly unpredictable behavior in users."

The overdose data comes as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is advising the public of an emerging trend of colorful fentanyl available across the United States.

In August, DEA and other law enforcement agencies seized brightly-colored fentanyl and fentanyl pills in 18 states.

Dubbed "rainbow fentanyl" in the media, this trend appears to be a new method used by drug cartels to sell highly addictive and potentially deadly fentanyl made to look like candy to children and young people.

Brightly-colored fentanyl is being seized in multiple forms, including pills, powder, and blocks that resembles sidewalk chalk.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine.

"There is no safe illicit drug," Stawasz said in an email. "Users should bear in mind that it is highly likely there is some quantity of synthetic Fentanyl in virtually any substance that they are using."

Users should not use alone, should have Narcan readily available, and in New Hampshire they can seek addiction treatment to prevent death by accessing the N.H. Doorway program. The N.H. Doorway program can be accessed by calling 2-1-1 at any time of the day or night.