The number of opioid-related overdoses first responders treated in Nashua rose sharply in March, up nearly 80 percent over the previous month, according to stats compiled by American Medical Resources (AMR). It is yet another sign the state’s opioid crisis continues in its two largest cities.
Chris Stawasz, the Northeast Regional Director of Government Affairs at AMR, said medics responded to 87 suspected opioid overdoses in March; 62 in Manchester – up 13 percent from February and 25 in Nashua – up 79 percent from February.
While the total number of opioid-related overdoses for the year in both cities is trending lower than last year’s record-setting high, 2023’s death count continues to rise. Last month, there were 10 suspected opioid deaths in Nashua and Manchester, with three in Manchester and seven in Nashua.
Nashua is getting hit particularly hard this year, according to Stawasz. Suspected fatal opioid overdoses in Nashua are trending 29 percent higher than last year. Even more alarming: one in four suspected opioid overdoses (27 percent) in Nashua this year have been fatal.
AMR medics have responded to 224 suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua and Manchester through the end of Marc,h with 35 resulting in suspected opioid OD deaths; 21 in Manchester and 14 in Nashua.
Jay Ruais, who’s running for mayor of Manchester and has had his own struggles with addiction, points a finger at Mayor Joyce Craig’s management during the ongoing crisis.
“Our city needs to alter our approach to this crisis, the current trajectory is clearly unsustainable. We must grow our police department and fully empower them to go after drug dealers while building better systems for vulnerable individuals at critical intervening moments in our hospitals, jails, and schools.
“As Mayor, I will work to ensure we are coordinating with all those fighting to improve our community and save lives,” Ruais said.
Why are such a high percentage of overdoses becoming deaths? Stawasz believes fentanyl is the culprit.
“The significant increase in deaths is attributed to very potent synthetic fentanyl,l which is now found in all types of illicit substances,” Stawasz said. “People who are using illicit substances can have no idea that what they are using contains synthetic fentanyl – or how potent the synthetic fentanyl in the product is. Synthetic fentanyl can be lethal the first time you use it, knowingly or unknowingly.”
In all, there were 62 suspected opioid overdoses in Manchester during March, bringing the year-to-date first-quarter total to 173. The total number of suspected opioid overdoses in Manchester is currently trending the same as last year on an annual basis, with 12 percent of all suspected opioid overdoses responded to by first responders in Manchester this year having been fatal.
There were 25 suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua during Marc,h bringing the year-to-date first-quarter total to 51. The total annual number of suspected opioid overdoses in Nashua is currently trending 15 percent lower than last year on an annual basis, Stawasz said.