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As goes Manchester: Safe Station a success so far

November 09. 2016 12:23AM

The deadly tide of drug overdoses may finally be peaking in Manchester.

Union Leader reporter Paul Feely writes that the city’s Safe Station program welcomed its 700th visitor after just six months in operation.

Manchester EMS officer Christopher Hickey asked Mayor Ted Gatsas to open Central Fire Station as a safe haven to addicts with nowhere else to go. Earlier this year, Gatsas expanded the program to 10 fire stations around the city. Its rapid success is attracting attention around the state and the country.

Addicts looking to go straight can walk in, any time of day, and get help. They have to surrender any drugs or drug paraphernalia, but won’t face charges. The program is starting to show results.

The success of the Safe Station program is making a dent in the death toll in Manchester. Eighty-one people have died from drug overdoses in Manchester so far this year, on pace for about 10 fewer fatalities than last year. But statewide, New Hampshire is on pace to have its deadliest year yet.

Safe Station won’t end the opioid crisis. It only helps addicts willing to seek out help. Far too many people continue to risk taking a deadly mix of heroin and fentanyl.

Manchester emergency crews had responded to 668 overdoses as of this week, and 483 were given Narcan. Making that opiate antidote more readily available has also saved lives. There is no single solution to such a widespread and devastating problem. The Safe Station program is helping.


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