PORTSMOUTH, NH – New Hampshire “drug czar” David Mara said this week while the number of fatal drug overdoses in the region has decreased, the number of non-fatal overdoses is up. According to Seacoast Online, Mara and Kennebunk, Maine, Police Chief Robert MacKenzie spoke to a crowd of law enforcement veterans on Thursday to discuss the opioid crisis.
Mara, who served as Portsmouth police chief before the drug czar appointment, said there were 476 overdose deaths in New Hampshire last year and for the first time in recent years, that number is expected to decline. He said the opioid-antidote drug naloxone has reversed the upward trend of fatalities, but the number of overdoses continues to grow with the number of overdose-related emergency room visits. Mara said use of crystal meth is also increasing in New Hampshire.
In 2014, Mara said, “almost overnight we were seeing nothing but heroin.” By 2015, he said, “it was almost all fentanyl.”
Mara closed by urging Rotarians to send children the message that it’s “not safe to take pills,” to listen to children and ask them questions. “Do it constantly,” he advised. “It’s not a one-and-done.”
According to Mara, New Hampshire is poised to receive $3.1 million in federal funding to battle drug abuse. New Hampshire currently has the third-highest number of drug deaths out of all 50 states.