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Shaheen discusses the fentanyl crisis with a roundtable of local experts

Jeanne Shaheen on July 22, 2022. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, NH – On Friday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined community leaders in New Hampshire to discuss new developments on the threat of fentanyl as well as how what is needed to address the threat of fentanyl as well as to combat the use of other illegal drugs. in the granitic state.

Hosted by Makin’ It Happen, an organization committed to promoting the overall well-being of youth and families with a focus on alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention efforts, a recurring theme is the rise of fentanyl as the current driver of opioid addiction in New Hampshire.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine prescribed to cancer patients, but also manufactured illegally by drug cartels who import the ingredients and then manufacture the drug in the United States.

Chris Stawasz on July 22, 2022. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

Chris Stawasz, Northeast regional director of government affairs for American Medical Response, says opioid-related deaths are increasing in part because many opioid users are taking drugs alone. In turn, no one is there to deliver a dose of lifesaving Narcan to the overdosed opioid user.

Stawasz and DEA Associate Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division Jon DeLena also noted that many people are now overdosing on fentanyl without even knowing that fentanyl was among the drugs they were on. were taking like marijuana, cocaine or heroin. They added that a few grains of the drug can be a lethal dose under certain circumstances.

They added that these drugs are now almost exclusively obtained through social media sites and e-commerce platforms by those who do not realize that genuine prescription drugs cannot be purchased legally through these channels.

DeLena added that including fentanyl in these other drugs is a key tactic of Mexican drug cartels in hopes that fentanyl addiction will turn occasional addicts into daily addicts, even if it kills them.

“(The cartels) deliberately put fentanyl in these drugs to try to create an opioid addiction, which is what they want,” DeLena said. “They want you back every day and every day and if they kill you along the way, they’re okay with that because their business model is just to keep bringing in new customers.”

Another issue impacting the rise in opioid deaths in New Hampshire is mental health in crisis situations, with roundtable members stressing the importance of outreach efforts that can prevent potential overdoses from of those who use drugs because of depression.

Shaheen noted that government funding legislation for fiscal year 2022 included $572.5 million to help communities and first responders respond to substance use crises, including opioid abuse and trafficking. drug.

She added that the recently passed bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which was passed after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas; also provided more funds for Byrne Grants that can help local governments address opioid abuse.

“The substance use disorder crisis that gripped our communities years ago is different from what we see today. As this epidemic has evolved, so must our response. This is precisely why the Drug Free Community program, through the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is such an important tool for prevention coalitions on the front lines. The prevalence of fentanyl, combined with the use of other drugs and the exacerbated impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, has only worsened the substance use disorder crisis in our state. We need to inform our response to ensure we approach it from all sides – access to treatment for those struggling, investments in prevention and increased resources to prioritize interdiction to prevent illicit drugs from s ‘seep into our communities,’” Shaheen said. “I appreciate the insight of all of today’s participants who have brought important perspectives that will help us address the full scope of this epidemic, and I look forward to sharing their experiences with lawmakers in Washington. .”