MANCHESTER, N.H. – U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH) visited American Medical Response (AMR) on Pine Street on Monday morning to discuss the impact of fentanyl on Manchester with first responders, community leaders and law enforcement officials.
A bill sponsored by Pappas regarding fentanyl analogues was signed by President Biden last week, placing any substance including fentanyl into Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act through September 2021.
Increasingly, drug cartels have been using the synthetic opioid comparable to morphine but 100 times more potent and modifying it to avoid federal regulation under the Controlled Substances Act.
According to Jon Delana, Associate Special Agent in Charge of the New England Field Division for the Drug Enforcement Agency, heroin can no longer be purchased in New Hampshire as it has been supplanted by fentanyl due to ease of manufacturing the latter.
Delana says that drug cartels have used the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage, lacing prescription drugs with fentanyl to create addiction in unsuspecting users.
“No matter what side of the political debate you’re on, there’s no debating the damage these drugs are doing to our community,” he said.
Pappas said he doesn’t believe the problem will recede overnight, but hopes this measure and comparable measures against drug traffickers as well as increased assistance to substance abuse treatment can help provide a holistic response to the re-emerging issue of opioid abuse in New Hampshire.
“Looking at the bigger picture, it’s a matter of supply and demand,” said Pappas. “We have to attack both sides of the equation.”
As the pandemic begins to recede, Manchester Fire Department Emergency Management Services Coordinator Chris Hickey said that several other drugs not seen in recent years such as phencyclidine and lysergic acid diethylamide are becoming more common, with AMR Director of Government Affairs Chris Stawasz adding that AMR is beginning to see some individuals combine methamphetamines and opioids such as fentanyl.
Despite the challenges, Stawasz also added that the opioid crisis in New Hampshire in recent years has helped force stakeholders from various organizations dealing with drug abuse to increase communication, something Delana said is also possible in part to the fact that New Hampshire is a small state.