Progress in war on opioids

We admit to being pleasantly surprised to learn that opioid-related fatalities in the city of Nashua dropped from 45 in 2017 to 33 in 2018.

Officials with American Medical Response attribute the decrease in deaths from heroin, fentanyl and other opioids to at least two factors: increased availability of life-saving Narcan and the Nashua Safe Stations program.

“We think that the widespread distribution of Narcan, or availability of Narcan through public health networks and various pharmacies has made a tremendous impact on the mortality rate because it’s much more widely available now than it ever was before,” AMR Regional Director Chris Stawasz told our reporter.

It is undoubtedly great to see the number of people dying from opioid overdoses drop from year-to-year. However, the number of total overdoses – lethal and non-lethal – grew to 314 in 2018, compared to 302 in 2017.

Having so many people overdose on drugs within Nashua quite obviously strains the city’s human and financial resources. Nevertheless, city officials seem committed to doing their part to help those in need, so we commend them for that.

There are many reasons why someone may get addicted to opioids. Perhaps, a person got a prescription for fentanyl to relieve severe pain from an injury. Though the injury eventually heals, the person may become hooked on the drug.

Other users become addicted simply through experimentation. They may think, “I’ll try it just once to experience the high.” Then, that one time becomes two times, becomes three times, etc.

Though many opioids have a legitimate medical use in humans, the most powerful – carfentanil – was actually developed with the intent of being an elephant tranquilizer.

One need not be a Rhodes Scholar to realize if a drug is strong enough to drop a 12,000-pound elephant, it is probably not intended for human consumption.

The battle against opioid addiction is nowhere near finished, but it seems Nashua can check off the year 2018 as a winning round. We hope this momentum carries into 2019 and beyond.