June has started off terribly for suspected opiate-related overdoses with 26 in the first 8 days, three of which were fatal. What makes it especially tough is that 18 of these occurred over the first 4 days of the month.
There are some sound theories being floated about as to the cause of this rise, especially when they seem to be not requiring more than 6 mg (3 doses) of Naloxone to reverse. The most sound theory, and the one I subscribe to, is that recently there was a significant bust of 30+ heroin/fentanyl dealers in the Lawrence, Mass., area and it’s possible that one or several were main supply distributors for Manchester. Because of this (and I have said it before) users are purchasing drugs that they are less “familiar” with and the mixture can be different than what they are “used” to which would cause them to overdose.
As I stated earlier, that’s JUST a theory and not one originating with any sort of Law Enforcement background to my knowledge.
There is a positive though. With the 18 suspected opiate-related ODs we had over the weekend, this past Wednesday we set a new record for Safe Station Intakes in a 24 hour period with 15. There have been FAR more people coming in for help than have overdosed which is always a positive sign. The most encouraging aspect of this is that the number of repeat clients is quite a bit lower for the month compared to new clients. This means that more people are talking about the success of this program and are coming in for help.
Christopher Hickey is Director of Emergency Services for the City of Manchester.