All hands needed

Despite the genuine efforts of multiple groups across the community, including law enforcement, health care, religious and nonprofit leaders, the opioid epidemic continues in New Hampshire.

“Let’s face it – it’s an ongoing problem. It’s something that’s not going to slow down anytime soon,” Nashua Police Lt. Robert Page told our reporter on Monday.

In fact, data provided by American Medical Response indicate that heroin, fentanyl and other opioids killed three times as many people in Nashua during the month of August as compared to August 2018.

Nashua police are hoping to make a positive impact against the opioid crisis by expanding training for officers. They are teaching those who normally work in the Traffic Enforcement Unit to help with the drug problem.

“We still have the traffic unit here and they’re tasked with enforcing all the problem areas for traffic and stuff, but we more or less wanted to expand the scope of what they look at,” Lt. Brian Kenney, a member of the department’s Professions Standard Bureau, said to our reporter.

“It doesn’t take away from their original duties,” Page added. “There are still going to be officers taking those traffic complaints, responding to those specific locations, because the problems they are having at those lights, intersections and streets, and still conducting motor vehicle enforcement at those locations.”

The opioid epidemic is certainly not being ignored by federal officials. Just last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced plans to send nearly $27 million more to New Hampshire to battle the crisis.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the short term, opioids can relieve pain and make people feel relaxed and happy. However, opioids can also have harmful effects, including:

• Drowsiness

• Confusion

• Nausea

• Constipation

• Euphoria

• Slowed breathing

• Hypoxia, which can result in brain damage or death.

Considering the challenges, we support the efforts by Nashua police to devote more resources to the opioid battle. Those who illegally possess and traffic these dangerous drugs must be accountable for their actions.