Nashua in New Hampshire has been included among Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live in the U.S.” list. The city is located in the southern region of the state, and it attracts many tourists annually. Residents of the city are able to brag about the beautiful nature that surrounds it. Nashua offers easy access to mountains, lakes and the ocean.
Since it is a waterfront city, Nashua went through much development during the Industrial Revolution. Nashua was a textile manufacturing city. Today, it has become a part of the New England economic expansion that extends all the way to Boston. Whether it is that economic expansion or just proximity to key drug trafficking routes in the New England region, Nashua is a city that has seen alarming rates of overdose deaths and substance use disorders.
In 2018, there were a reported 67,367 drug overdose deaths across the United States. The number represented a 4% drop from 2017. Opioids continue to be the leading cause of drug overdose deaths. In 2018, there was at least one opioid involved in 70% of the overdose deaths, which is why so much focus has been placed on opioids over the last several years.
The 2018 data broke down this way:
• 2% decrease in opioid-involved deaths
• 13.5% decrease in prescription opioid-involved deaths
• 4% decrease in heroin-involved deaths
Synthetic opioid-involved deaths not including methadone, however, saw an increase of 10%.
All these numbers make sense when put up against the context of the overdose epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new prescription guidelines. Basically, the goal is to get doctors to write fewer opioid prescriptions. Based on the 13.5% decrease in related deaths, the strategy has worked. Unfortunately, it could mean that patients turned to synthetic opioids since they are readily available through illegal means.
An opioid used for medical purposes is a painkiller. A person’s body already produces opioids in small amounts. When a person takes opioids, they bind to the opioid receptors already in the body. The result is a rush of dopamine that is sent from the brain. This sensation helps a person feel better while they are trying to recover from their ailment. In some cases, however, the pleasant feelings lay the foundation for addictive behavior.
In New Hampshire in 2018, there were 412 overdose deaths. Close to 400 of those deaths were attributed to synthetic opioids other than methadone. Deaths involving prescription opioids decreased from 89 in 2016 to 43 in 2018. The drop in this category could very well be due to a reduction in opioid prescriptions. In fact, doctors in the state wrote 46.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2018, which is below the national average and the lowest since 2006 when the data became available.
Three concerns for the CDC, however, are Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)/Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (NOWS), new HIV diagnoses and incidence of hepatitis C (HCV). The latter two are monitored because new cases could pop up due to intravenous drug use. NAS and NOWS have become an increasing concern since 2016 because doctors are finding out that more newborn babies are born and experiencing opioid withdrawal.
While New Hampshire does not track data for NOWS/NAS at this time, it is known that from 2013-2016, 7,700 people in the state were living with hepatitis C. AMFAR also offers some statistics related to HIV. According to their data, 1,260 individuals were living with HIV in New Hampshire, and there were three new cases per 100,000 people in 2018.
Nashua and the Opioid Epidemic
In 2014, the Greater Nashua Community Health Assessment was released. It put together statistics from several sources regarding substance misuse and tobacco. Focus was placed on both youth and adults. Some of the report’s highlights include the following:
• Just over 26% of students in Nashua used marijuana one or more times during the past 30 days.
• Nearly 19% of students in Nashua had misused a prescription medication that was not theirs at least once in their lifetime.
• Just under 7% of students in Nashua had tried some form of cocaine at least once in their lifetime.
• Over 8% of students in Nashua had sniffed a substance in order to get high at least once in their lifetime.
• Almost 9% of adults in Nashua were active binge drinkers.
• Just over 63% of students in Nashua had at least one drink in their lifetime.
• Nearly 22% of students in Nashua had engaged in binge drinking in the last 30 days.
Fortunately, many resources are available to Nashua residents who are seeking help for a substance use disorder. There is the Mayor’s Opioid Task Force, for example. It comprises a group of stakeholders who have a shared interest in helping the community overcome the opioid crisis in Nashua. The vision is to develop sustainable solutions. Some self-help resources are:
• Education and youth services
• Intervention services
• Treatment and referral services
• Residential treatment
• Emergency services
If you live in Nashua and are battling a substance use disorder, you are not alone. More importantly, help is available to you.
On February 7, 2019, New Hampshire Public Radio held Crossroad: The N.H. Opioid Reporting Project for a discussion with a panel. One of their main topics was how the city of Nashua was managing the epidemic. The panel highlighted that Nashua is:
• A “safe station” city that allows a user to freely enter a city fire station and ask for help
• A recovery hub that has set up target services for those searching for recovery assistance
• A border city that offers a unique perspective on the epidemic
New Hampshire Initiatives
The state of New Hampshire has also acknowledged the hit that its residents are taking from the overdose epidemic. It is not just the users who are negatively impacted; communities are impacted, too.
The NH Drug Monitoring Initiative (DMI) was set up to deliver awareness and combat drug distribution as well as misuse. One of its tasks is to publish reports on their findings so that stakeholders can take a look at the information and trends. In addition to raising awareness of the drug problem, the state of New Hampshire has worked directly to help those dealing with a substance use disorder. In fact, New Hampshire has:
• Allowed the exchange of syringes since 2019
• Overseen a Good Samaritan Law since 2018 protecting those who report overdoses
• Offered state Medicaid to cover methadone treatment since 2017
New Hampshire Youth and Substance Misuse
The New Hampshire Center for Excellence released the NH’s Strategy for Reducing the Misuse of Alcohol and Other Drugs and Promoting Recovery 2013–2017 in the form of a briefing. The focus was placed on youth.
In the report, it was published that young adults in New Hampshire between the ages of 18 and 25 have some of the highest rates of alcohol and drug misuse against the national average. Some statistics from the report include:
• 73.2% current alcohol use compared to the national average of 61%
• 49.3% current binge drinking compared to the national average of 40.2%
• 46.1% current smoking compared to the national average of 33.9%
• 27% current marijuana use compared to the national average of 18.8%
The brief also addressed why the higher-than-average rates of alcohol and drug misuse matter. It is very easy to state that younger people are going to get themselves into troublesome situations. Since the rates were so high, however, it should be cause for concern. If the young generation is not stable, then the future is not going to be very stable, either. Young adults are eventually going to become the workforce. This means that society needs them to be productive.
It is noted that one’s environment plays a role. Young adults on college campuses, for example, tend to use substances in greater numbers than those living off-campus or at home with their parents. Community members, especially stakeholders such as business owners, are also encouraged to get involved in prevention efforts. Plus, families need to be supportive. If there is a young adult in the family who is experiencing a substance use disorder, family members are encouraged to connect them with the help they need to live a life free of alcohol and drugs.
When a user is faced with detox and the symptoms of withdrawal, it is well-known that many give up and go back to their substance of choice. Withdrawal for some is very intense. That intensity is difficult to get past in some cases. That is why a user is encouraged to enter a program such as those offered at Green Mountain Treatment Center in New Hampshire. With professional assistance, it is very possible to get clean and stay clean over the long term.
What Help Is Available?
In addition to a plethora of self-help resources, residents of Nashua have access to both outpatient and inpatient drug rehabilitation programs. At Green Mountain Treatment Center, the focus is on helping clients achieve enduring recovery. Achieving this goal requires a person to not only stop using their substance of choice but also address the root causes of their addiction. Green Mountain does this through individual treatment plans that may include:
• Cognitive behavioral therapy
• Experiential therapy
• Anger management therapy
• Treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
• 12-step curriculum
Before you enter our program, you are assessed by a professional. Rehab treatment no longer takes a one-size-fits-all approach. Plans are personalized to each patient even if two are recovering from misusing the same substance. Everyone gets to their addiction a little differently from the next person. So, in order to achieve a greater chance of success, each patient is treated as an individual.
After your assessment, if you need to detox first, you will begin there. Medical detox at Green Mountain Treatment Center provides 24/7 monitoring by a staff comprising licensed medical professionals trained specifically in addiction medicine. This ensures that you detox safely and emerge ready to tackle your addiction.
Once detox is complete, you may be assigned a counseling session, a group therapy session and a relapse prevention class. The team at Green Mountain Treatment Center aims to help each patient build a foundation that is going to lead to lifelong recovery. This requires evidence-based treatments that have been shown to help those dealing with a substance use disorder.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, for example, helps an individual identify emotional triggers and negative behaviors that contribute to addiction. Once these triggers are identified, a person can begin to address them in healthy ways rather than turning to drugs to help them cope.
The adult-oriented, gender-separate programming at Green Mountain Treatment Center is also offered in a serene setting that provides a therapeutic backdrop for recovery. This setting is ideal for holistic therapies that include yoga, meditation and exercise, which have all been shown to aid in substance use recovery efforts.
If you or a loved one in Nashua is dealing with a substance use problem, don’t wait to get the help you need. Professionals are ready to assist you in your recovery journey.