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Record number of opioid overdoses set in September for Manchester

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 26. 2017 9:13PM

MANCHESTER — The city on Tuesday set a monthly record for the number of reported opioid-related overdoses, and September already is the highest month this year for suspected deaths from such overdoses.

A man in his 40s from Wilson Street who died Tuesday was the 10th suspected death in September. That came after three people died from overdoses on the same day, this past Sunday.

“I’d say it was very unusual,” Fire Chief Dan Goonan said Tuesday.

The 10 deaths so far this month “is the highest month of suspected fatalities in over a year,” said Christopher Hickey, Manchester’s emergency medical services officer. February 2016 saw the highest number of deaths with 14.

By Tuesday afternoon, the city broke the monthly record of 102 opioid-related overdoes set in September 2015. The department began tracking such numbers in 2014.

Goonan said it’s difficult to know exactly what is sparking the uptick.

“Not sure if there is something to do with the volume (of drugs) coming in or the cut (mixture of chemicals),” Goonan said. “This is probably going to be our biggest month as well for Safe Station requests.”

That program, started last year, allows addicts to head to a city fire station for help without fear of being arrested.

Stephanie Bergeron, executive director of Serenity Place, which treats adults with substance abuse disorders, said the issue isn’t related to a specific drug.

“Most individuals coming through us are not just using one substance,” Bergeron said.

Some people are using fentanyl, methamphetamines, crack and spice or a combination, she said.

“The amount of product available on the street, no matter what you want, is so readily available,” Bergeron said.

In the past year, “we’ve probably doubled our client intake” and “almost doubled our staff,” Bergeron said. The treatment facility handles about 300 people a month.

“There’s an awful lot of people not just using fentanyl or heroin,” Goonan said. “We know the volume coming in the city of opioids and drugs in general; meth is huge, and the customer base is really massive and we’re kind of all hands on deck to figure out some solution to curb it.”

Health Public Safety Heroin Manchester

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