While first settled by Scots-Irish families in 1719, the New Hampshire town of Derry wasn’t incorporated until 1827. The town has since become known for its textile industry and farming. Robert Frost Farm is a historical landmark in the area. Derry is also home to the United States’ largest private school, the Pinkerton Academy, which was founded in 1814 and is still open. Despite all this wonderful history, Derry has not been immune to the overdose epidemic taking place throughout the New England region.
Since 1970, Derry has seen a population boom. The 2010 population was 33,109, roughly twice what it was in 1980. The median age is just over 40 years old, and the median income was $76,594 in 2010.
Derry is a 45-minute drive from Boston and near several major highways. The proximity to main routes and Boston is a big reason why Derry has been hit particularly hard during the opioid epidemic. The good news is that government officials have taken decisive action.
The Derry Fire Department is actively engaged in helping the community. They offer CPR and Narcan training. To sign up, simply give them a call. The fire department is also actively engaged with a coalition of local professionals who are concerned about the impact the opioid epidemic is having on the community.
Some of the tasks the fire department is involved in include:
• Addressing the evolving threat
• Working with recovery professionals on overdose and death prevention
• Improving response times to emergency situations like overdoses
• Narcan kit training
• CPR training
Additional self-help resources Derry residents can find through the fire department are:
• NH Statewide Addiction Crisis Hotline
• NH Addiction Hotline Services
• Community Alliance for Teen Safety
• Drug Rehab Services
• South Central Public Health Network
The Overdose Epidemic
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that the overdose epidemic arrived in the 1990s. Since then, it has undergone three waves. In the 1990s, pharmaceutical companies developed more potent opioid prescription medicine. They convinced doctors to start giving them to their patients. The new prescriptions were effective, so they were prescribed in greater numbers. In response to the epidemic over the past several years, federal health agencies have put out new prescription guidelines. The stricter criteria have seemingly led to a decrease in misuse of prescription opioids as shown in the 2018 data.
In 2018, there were 67,367 overdose deaths in the U.S. This represented a 4.1% decrease from 2017. Of the overdose deaths in 2018, 70% involved at least one opioid. While the decrease was worth celebrating, the number of deaths in 2018 was still four times higher than the overdose deaths in 1999.
The 2018 data also showed that there was a:
• 2% decrease in opioid-involved deaths
• 13.5% decrease in prescription opioid-involved deaths
• 4% decrease in heroin-involved deaths
Unfortunately, there was a 10% increase in deaths related to synthetic opioids. This was mostly due to fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever that’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is approved to treat severe pain such as the type some cancer patients experience. For many users, fentanyl has proven deadly because it’s often illicitly mixed with cocaine and/or heroin while the user is none the wiser.
All opioids are chemicals, and all drugs are chemicals, too. When chemicals are consumed illicitly or because they are prescribed, they change the chemistry of the brain. Opioids relieve pain. They deliver a euphoric high or a stress-relieving calm that the brain and central nervous system enjoy. The sense of euphoria is what helps a patient get through their pain as they undergo cancer treatment or heal from an injury.
Overcoming an addiction to any drug is a challenge because the reward system in the brain and central nervous system is altered. The brain begins to crave the chemical. These chemicals are harmful to the body, especially the vital organs. More importantly, because the first high can never be achieved again, a user consumes their substance of choice more frequently and in higher doses. Over time, the addiction gets worse. In the worst-case scenario, the result is severe impairment or death.
The second wave of the overdose epidemic took place in 2010 when the medical field noticed a spike in heroin-related overdoses and accidents. At that time, they did not realize that the population was shifting from prescription opioids to heroin. The third wave of the overdose epidemic started in 2013 when increasing numbers of illegal synthetic opioids found their way into the street marketplace.
New Hampshire and the Epidemic
CDC data showed that there were 412 overdose deaths in New Hampshire in 2018. The rate has remained stable since 2015. The data also showed that there were:
• 386 overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone
• 43 overdose deaths involving a prescription opioid, which was a decline from 2016 when there were 89
• 46.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2018, which was below the national average
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services declared their knowledge of the overdose epidemic and its negative impact on residents and communities. In 2015, the department found that 400 residents died from drug overdoses. That number was 2.5 times more than the overdose number in 2011. At least one opioid was involved in the majority of those overdose cases in 2015.
New Hampshire is one of the states that has taken several steps to identify problem opioids and then take action. For example, the New Hampshire Drug Monitoring Initiative is a strategy used to create awareness and combat drug distribution and misuse. The initiative is used to obtain data from a variety of sources. When the data is crunched, it’s provided to stakeholders on a monthly basis.
In the June 2017 report, trends that were found included the following:
• Twenty-seven percent of all overdose drug deaths came from the 30-39 age bracket.
• Cocaine combinations were found in 19 cases; the most common combination was cocaine and fentanyl.
• Fentanyl combinations were also found, but 63 cases only involved fentanyl.
• There was a 32% increase in the administration of EMS Narcan from May to June.
• Lives saved through EMS Narcan was 56% from May to June.
• There was a 12% increase in opioid-related visits to the ER from May to June.
• About 37% of ER visits due to opioids came from the 20-29 age bracket.
• There was a 20% increase in opioid/opiate, methamphetamine and cocaine/crack treatment admissions from May to June.
In April 2001, the National Drug Intelligence Center released the New Hampshire Drug Threat Assessment. The report acknowledged that there was a drug problem occurring in New Hampshire. At this time, the source of the issue was users seeking independent dealers by crossing the border into Massachusetts to obtain drugs, so a hub was built in Manchester. From Manchester, nearby communities were impacted, too. In 1999, there was an increase in the availability of heroin and cocaine. The coastline became a target for maritime drug smuggling. The emergence of gangs was believed to be another source.
There is no shortage of self-help resources available for addicts in Derry. Someone who is experiencing a substance use disorder simply has to profess that they have a problem. Once they recognize this truth, the next step is to contact a rehab center. If you have the luxury of time, you can do some research. Available treatment options include:
• Anonymous meetings
While there are some publicly funded rehab facilities, most are funded by your insurance with the likelihood of some out-of-pocket expenses. For many people battling substance use disorder, time is of the essence. Someone at risk for an overdose, withdrawal symptoms or severe side effects should find a venue that will provide help as soon as possible.
Residential drug rehab programs generally offer the best rates of success for recovery. A typical inpatient treatment plan requires a 30-day stay on-site. At Green Mountain Treatment Center in New Hampshire, we provide a serene, panoramic and secluded place to detox, recover and rehabilitate.
If you have a severe dependency on a substance, an inpatient program is probably the best choice. However, outpatient programs are great for individuals with milder addictions. Before you pick a program, you can seek an evaluation. A trained professional can offer guidance based on their findings, your medical history and other factors such as the presence of a mental health condition.
Before a patient begins any rehab program, they must first go through detoxification. This means that the body and bloodstream must be free of all toxic substances. Every drug has a different detox timeline as well as different withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine requires up to 10 days of detox while meth can take up to three weeks. Withdrawal symptoms may appear as soon as six hours after a person has had their last hit or drink. Typical withdrawal symptoms include:
The intensity of the withdrawal depends on several factors such as the substance of choice and length of addiction. A medical detox program includes a staff that watches over patients around-the-clock. More than anything else, medical detox is a safety measure. In extreme cases, withdrawal can lead to seizures, heart attacks or strokes. Having a trained staff by your side helps manage the worst-case scenario.
Private Inpatient Treatment
At a facility like Green Mountain Treatment Center, you are in a place that offers a therapeutic backdrop and qualified staff. During your stay, you can expect amenities such as:
• Meditation and yoga
• Nutritious chef-prepared meals
• On-site gym
• Transportation as needed
Private centers are designed to make patients feel comfortable. By removing an individual from their environment, they’ll be away from the triggers that caused the addiction in the first place. Individual treatment plans may include:
• Treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
• Cognitive behavioral therapy
• Anger management
• Group therapy
• Individual counseling
• 12-step curriculum
• Depression treatment
• Relapse prevention
The medical and rehab fields have learned from the data and the past. Today, we know that no two cases of substance use disorder are the same. How each patient arrived at addiction is different, even if they run in the same circle. Plus, the chemistry of the body plays a role. Age, health and commitment to recovery determine the smoothness of the rehab process, too.
Why Seek Treatment
The Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Services has done its research. They are aware of the hold that opioids and other chemical substances have on residents. The Bureau also has a list of repercussions addiction has on the individual, family and community.
By seeking treatment, you can prevent:
• Neglect of family members
• Child and elder abuse
• Contracting HIV or hepatitis C
• Health problems such as liver damage and heart problems
Substance use disorder also has a negative impact on the community. When addiction is prevalent, crime tends to go up. If crime goes up, communities are less safe. Communities that are not safe tend to chase away families, so a vacuum is left behind. That vacuum is often filled with more crime, homelessness and unemployment. None of those outcomes are ideal.
By getting over an addiction, you become a productive member of society again. You can also rebuild relationships and enjoy the freedom presented by sobriety.
For more information about getting treatment for substance use disorder, call Green Mountain Treatment Center today.