MANCHESTER, NH – U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, participated in a ride along Thursday evening with Manchester Police, and she got a first-hand look at the everyday fallout from the state’s opioid crisis.
A short time later Hassan responded with police to an accident call at Orange and Beech streets where a person was reportedly trapped in the wreckage of a multi-car crash. Upon arrival Hassan witnessed fire crews extricate a man from an orange car which was headed south on Beech Street. The driver and passenger of the Jeep were bloodied and were refusing treatment when the driver of the Jeep (which had been traveling west on Orange and went through a stop sign) started showing signs of an opioid overdose and became unconscious. He began foaming at the mouth as rescuers attempted to revive him. The man was rushed to Catholic Medical Center, condition unknown at press time. The passenger of the Jeep, who originally refused treatment, was also transported for medical care.
New Hampshire ranks third in the nation for opioid death rates, behind West Virginia and Ohio.
Hassan and the entire NH Congressional delegation are asking that money be distributed in a way that reflects the ratio of overdose mortality rates rather than equal distribution among all eligible states.
Earlier in March Hassan entered into the Congressional record an issue of Time magazine. The issue, called “The Opioid Diaries,” was dedicated to stories and photographs from around the U.S. depicting the fallout from the opioid crisis.
During the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing, Hassan noted that as an epidemic, there is no quick fix for what we’re facing. She has said that federal dollars need to flow to the “front lines” for prevention, recovery and treatment.
Hassan is a co-sponsor of CARA 2.0, a comprehensive bill that will expand the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016. You can read the bill text here.
During an interview with Time Magazine Assisting Managing Editor Ben Goldberger (see interview below), Hassan said the federal government “has to learn how to respond in real time to real events,” and right now we’re not doing a good job of it.
“Our country is sick with this epidemic. We can’t do the things we need to do to be a strong and free people. We cannot grab onto the opportunity that the 21st century digital economy presents to us if we an’t be healthy, both in terms of our overall spirit as a country, but also the harsh reality is we can’t develop the kind of workforce we need if so many people are struggling with addiction,” Hassan said.
She talked about how legal opioid prescriptions led to widespread abuse due to over prescribing, compounded by the profit motive of opioid manufacturers, and street dealers and cartels, who began to exploit the drug, creating a “perfect storm” of a national health crisis.
“I believe strategies to address the opioid epidemic need to be thoughtful, they need to be longsighted and multifaceted. Because while we talk about this as a crisis, we now have a generation’s worth of work to do before we begin to truly turn ourselves around from the impact of this health epidemic,” she said during the committee hearing. “It isn’t something we can fix overnight.”
Photojournalist Jeffrey Hastings contributed to this report.