The rate of overdose deaths from the opioid epidemic continues to climb in Manchester and Nashua, with both cities approaching record deaths this year. And Republicans are pointing a finger at President Joe Biden’s border crisis.
According to Chris Stawasz with American Medical Response, first responders were called to 86 suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua and Manchester during July 2022, bringing this year’s total to 539. That is 99 more incidents than the same period last year, a 23 percent increase.
Nashua is on track to have the highest number of opioid deaths in a year since the start of the pandemic. Manchester is looking to break the record it set in 2017.
“Preliminary data shows Nashua has experienced 29 suspected opioid-related deaths through July. There were 30 suspected opioid-related deaths in Nashua during all of 2021. Nashua remains on pace to have the highest number of suspected deaths from opioids in one year since the opioid epidemic began in 2015. Manchester is still on pace to have the highest number of suspected opioid-related deaths in a one-year period since 2017,” Stawasz said.
There were 10 likely opioid-related deaths in July, eight in Manchester, and two in Nashua. Their causes are still pending verification from the Office of the New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner.
Republicans note the surge in unlawful border crossings since Biden took office and the flood of fentanyl across the southern border.
So far this year, United States Customs and Border Patrol has seized about 133,000 pounds of methamphetamine at the border, compared to more than 8,000 pounds of fentanyl, and 50,000 pounds of cocaine.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Samantha Bullock says voters should hold elected Democrats like Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas to account.
“Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster have buried their heads in the sand to avoid addressing Democrats’ southern border crisis that’s allowing deadly drugs to destroy New Hampshire communities.”
A spokesperson for the House Republican Conference reiterated that point to the Washington Examiner.
“Joe Biden’s open-border policies have plunged our southern border into absolute chaos. It is a fact that Biden’s fentanyl crisis is directly a result of his border crisis, as the illegal drugs pour in over the wide open southern border,” the spokesperson said.
In New Hampshire’s two largest cities, Stawasz says first responders are dealing with people overdosing after they use drugs that they did not believe were opioids.
“AMR medics continue to see and listen to reports from suspected opioid OD patients who believed they were not specifically using opioids and were surprised that they overdosed on an opioid,” Stawasz said.
Stawasz told Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen during a July roundtable that dealers are putting potentially deadly doses of fentanyl into other drugs and selling them to unsuspecting users.
“I personally have experienced several occasions on a call when someone we’ve woken up from an opioid overdose will insist, ‘I was not using an opioid, I’m not an opioid user. I smoke marijuana. But I bought it from a different person.’ I think that’s contributing to an increased number of deaths,” Stawasz said.
July also saw an increase in the number of patients treated who reported or were suspected of consuming methamphetamine. Methamphetamine use numbers are not currently tracked and are not included in this report. Meth is a particularly dangerous drug for both users and first responders as it can cause extremely excited delirium and alarmingly unpredictable behavior in users.
Methamphetamine is seen by federal law enforcement as a growing problem in New Hampshire. It is coming into the United States in the same way as fentanyl, largely from Mexican cartels who smuggle the drugs over the border.