2 weekend overdoses underscore rising heroin crisis in the Queen City

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MANCHESTER, NH – The Manchester Police Department has seen an increase in drug overdoses since January 2015. The upward trend of overdose related calls is not unique to Manchester. Heroin (opiate) related overdoses have risen in most communities across the United States and it appears that the Queen City is facing the same epidemic.

Police report two more deaths that appear to be drug-related occurred over the weekend.

David Kendrick, 49, of 126 Lowell St., was found dead in a bathroom on the fourth floor of 77 Market St. on April 18. Police found drug paraphernalia at the scene and suspect the death to be a likely drug overdose.

Dylan Sheppard, 22, of 213 Woodbury St., Apt. 1,  was found dead about 2:30 a.m. April 19 at 16 Payson St. In that incident, a second man, whose name was not released by police, was found unresponsive and suffering from a drug overdose. He was treated at a local hospital where he told police that he and Sheppard had used heroin together.

Although the weekend casualties cannot yet conclusively be attributed to drug overdoses until autopsy and toxicology reports are completed, the issues surrounding heroin and its grasp on so many people is a common tale amongst families of those struggling with an addicted loved one.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amount of prescribed painkillers sold in the United States has quadrupled since 1999. This is a relevant fact because most prescribed painkillers are opiate based. Heroin, also an opiate, is the rational and inexpensive solution to an addicts desire to maintain a level of intoxication.

Heroin is cheap and abundant. The street value for a bag of heroin (typically .2 grams) is typically $20. This is far cheaper than the $1 per milligram Oxycontin pill. Plus, the makers of Oxycontin (Purdue Pharma) have changed the molecular structure to make it far more difficult to abuse the prescribed pill. The federal government approved the alleged abuse deterrent formula in 2010 and for better or for worse, heroin addiction seems to be on the rise. Again, heroin is far cheaper than Oxycontin and also more readily available on the street, even in Manchester.

Manchester Police seized almost 600 grams of heroin in 2014. Since January 1, 2015, members of the Special Enforcement Division stated they have seized approximately 950 grams of heroin. The volume of seized heroin paints a clear picture of the availability of this drug. The Special Enforcement Division works collectively with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to keep the heroin epidemic in check.

However, the heroin crisis is still having an adverse effect in our community, especially for the family members of the addicted men and women. Unfortunately, heroin abuse has no borders and actually effects people of all race, color, creed and age. Manchester Police have reported approximately 24 possible drug overdose-related deaths since January 1, 2015.

We have also responded to 163 overdose calls for service, which places a strain on emergency services, 88 percent of the overdose calls for service are related to Heroin and/or Fentanyl, which is also an opiate analgesic. Many of the overdose calls for service could have had a fatal outcome if not for the drug Narcan (Naloxone), an opiate antagonist, which reverses the effects of the opiate.

Overall, Manchester is facing the same heroin epidemic as many other communities in the United States. The higher than average fatality rate amongst drug users is certainly an alarming trend and one we hope to reverse as soon as possible.

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About Carol Robidoux 6304 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!