Opioid epidemic


Creative Commons

President Trump Speaks at Manchester, NH as he presses for the death penalty to be the solution for ending the opioid epidemic. New Hampshire has been a central hub for fentanyl and heroin which is causing countless overdoses/deaths. “According to a recent Dartmouth study, the sanctuary city of Lawrence, Massachusetts is one of the primary sources of fentanyl in six New Hampshire counties,” stated Trump.

New Hampshire is the second leading state in drug overdoses per capita in the U.S. with around 500 deaths per year.

The opioid epidemic has spread throughout the United States leading to more than 50,000 deaths. On March 19, President Trump visited, in his words, “[the] Drug-infested den [of],” New Hampshire, to address the opioid problem that has been plaguing the state over the last decade. With death from fentanyl overdoses increasing 1,629% from 2010 to 2015, the issue has become increasingly significant in the Granite State.

Opioids are said to have originated from Mexico and China, since it is cheaper to export than any other drug. This is seemingly the main reason why the problem of drug overdoses has increased throughout the years. The business is most damaging in New Hampshire due to its close location to Massachusetts where the drugs are imported from the major countries of China and Mexico.  “…fentanyl manufactured in China – available for purchase online or imported into the US via established trafficking routes – contributes to the epidemic currently facing the country…,” says Matthew Hall, a writer for The Guardian. These drugs being so easily brought into the U.S. have caused the illegal drug traffickers to kill millions of people. “Drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States in 2016, according to initial estimates from the C.D.C., and have become the leading cause of death for Americans under 50”, says the New York Times.

There are many different ways to resolve this issue. Trump’s proposed solution is to constitute the death penalty on the traffickers rather than sending them to jail for 30 days and releasing them. This solution will aim to prevent the spread of drugs through the U.S. and decrease the number of overdoses each year. The access to these drugs would be much more difficult. Even our students here at Hollis Brookline have thought on the resolution.  “I think the way to address this issue is to raise awareness about it because of the ways that dealers can lace drugs unbeknownst to the buyer,” says Elizabeth Atkinson ‘19. The number of deaths keeps rising, making this a destructive epidemic.

In Pembroke, New Hampshire, 34 year-old Patrick Griffin overdosed four times in six hours last year. He was found by his father and sister on the floor after having overdosed on Fentanyl, a sedative and narcotic, and just two hours later, he shot up again and overdosed for a second time that day. He lost consciousness, and one hour after that he shot up again. Patrick was angry with his parents because they told him to leave the house and get help. Just three and a half hours after this, Griffin overdosed for a fourth time in just six hours at his mom’s house to prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Later that evening, Patrick was admitted to his local hospital.

Two months later, Griffin was arrested for possession and intent of distribution of Xanax while he was at a Burger King. While in jail, he experienced the intensely dreaded withdrawal symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fever, runny nose, diarrhea, and sleep deprivation. Patrick dropped to 133 pounds during his seven weeks in jail and a few months later, in October, was released to the world after completing his Inpatient Treatment Program. He was able to regain his life back and has remained drug-free. Patrick’s parents were anxious to see if he would relapse, yet Patrick has remained drug-free and is attempting to make a life for himself.

Our own school resource officer, Rick Bergeron, has dealt with situations regarding drug overdoses as an officer, and has ideas on how to fix this issue. “We as a society are going to have to attack this problem from many sides and angles: education for prevention, rehabilitation and support for those recovering, and enforcement of drug laws,” said Bergeron.  Students in our school are taught by the health teacher, from the start, that drugs are a gateway to death and should never be considered. Hollis Brookline’s wellness teacher, Maria St. Pierre, states that she “took more time in the past two years teaching opioids to students than ever before.”  Along with Officer Bergeron, the Hollis Brookline community is striving to educate to the best of their abilities and stop the epidemic from expanding to young generations.

The opioid crisis comes as close to our hokems as it gets. Nashua had about 1,000 overdoses within the last three years and 100 people died from them. Manchester had over 2,500 overdoses within the last three years as well, and over 250 of them were deaths. Even though New Hampshire is a small state, it had a large amount of danger right outside your door.

There are also a variety of methods that special services have tried in order to prevent the increase in the use of opioids. Today, the Health and Human Services(HHS) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) are doing the following: improving access to treatment, promoting drug reversing drugs, giving support for cutting-edge research on pain and education, as well as investing in better practices for pain management. “As an outsider looking in, I’d say that the state should try to look into these organizations that are distributing the drug, and act from there,” said Brock Radford ‘18 on how we as a country can resolve this problem.

Even though New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in the U.S., it is arguably the most problematic when it comes to drugs. The copious amounts of deaths from overdoses in this state are a problem that is on its way to being fixed, but there are a lot of steps to get through first, and providing students and people of all ages with information is the first one.