Drug and Alcohol Abuse in New Hampshire
Statistics and Laws
New Hampshire is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful states in America, with snow-capped mountains, sparkling lakes, and miles of breathtaking coastline. Its natural beauty, however, belies the significant substance use problem it grapples with. Despite being one of the smallest states, New Hampshire ranks only second in the U.S.A in drug deaths per capita.
New Hampshire Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol abuse presents a significant concern in New Hampshire. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) ranked New Hampshire as the state with the highest overall alcohol consumption rate (per 1000,000 people over age 14) out of all U.S. states. According to the Prevention Status Reports, excessive drinking causes 341 deaths and the loss of 8,789 potential years of life in New Hampshire each year. In one year, excess alcohol use cost the state of New Hampshire $852.3 million, caused by increased healthcare costs, lost workplace productivity, and alcohol-induced crime. 18.7% of New Hampshire adults and 23.8% of New Hampshire high school students reported binge drinking - a particularly dangerous form of alcohol consumption.
In a single year, 1,638 people admitted to alcohol rehab facilities in New Hampshire - and that’s a mere fraction of the amount of people actually suffering from alcohol abuse.
New Hampshire Drug Addiction
In addition to its alcohol abuse problem, New Hampshire holds the dubious distinction of possessing the second-highest rate of illegal drug use in the country. There are a variety of factors that have contributed to this reality:
- New Hampshire is made up of mainly small, rural towns with insular communities, and the limited economic and educational opportunities often lead to depression and mental health conditions.
- New Hampshire has one of the lowest spending rates in the nation on substance abuse relief and recovery programs - causing a severe deficit of necessary New Hampshire drug and alcohol rehabs and resources.
- New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of opioid prescriptions written out each year - specifically for high dosage, extended-release opiates - directly leading to opioid dependence and addiction in many New Hampshire residents.
- New Hampshire is very close to Massachusetts, the heart of operations for all opioid trafficking organizations serving the greater New England region.
According to the Center for National Health Statistics, overdose deaths in New Hampshire increased by 26% between March of 2021 and 2022. As of June, there were 230 confirmed overdose deaths in the Granite State, and fentanyl was involved in 125 of them.
Although the uncontrolled prescription drug crisis prompted efforts to crack down on and reduce the large number of medical prescriptions, hard drugs hit the streets of New Hampshire soon after and eliminated any progress that may have been made. Most recently, fentanyl has caused an untold number of (oft-fatal) overdoses, as New Hampshire emergency responders scramble to deal with the crisis that has exploded in their backyard overnight. The dishonorable practice of cutting low-potency drugs with fentanyl - to increase supplies and higher profit margins - has contributed greatly to this alarming spike in overdoses among unsuspecting drug users. Substance use costs the state of New Hampshire $2 billion annually in lost work productivity, healthcare costs, and public safety/criminal justice expenses.
The most commonly abused drugs in New Hampshire are:
- Prescription Drugs
New Hampshire Overdose Rates
In line with its distressing substance abuse statistics, New Hampshire suffers from exceedingly high overdose rates when compared to the national average. It has the second-highest opioid-related fatal overdose rate per capita in the U.S. - trailing only West Virginia - and the highest fentanyl-related death rate per capita in America. Opioid overdoses kill an average of one or more people every day in the Granite State. That translates into 481 overdose deaths every year- approximately 30.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. Reports show that the New Hampshire county with the highest overdose death rate is Strafford County, with Hillsboro and Merrimack Counties sharing second place.
Despite these disturbing numbers, not nearly enough people in New Hampshire are receiving the drug and alcohol addiction treatment they so desperately need. The significant lack of state funding and available addiction resources and rehabs has only made this problem worse.
Avenues’ two drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation programs in Concord and Dublin, New Hampshire work tirelessly each day to combat this epidemic and provide the highest standard of treatment to the clients entrusted in our care. If you need help tackling addiction in New Hampshire, we’re here for you.
Drug and Alcohol Laws in New Hampshire
In New Hampshire, drugs and alcohol - also known as “Controlled Dangerous Substances” - are classified into 5 categories, or “Schedules”, based on the strength, addiction liability, and known medical use of each substance. The penalty for any drug/ alcohol violation is dependent on the schedule of the substance involved.
- Schedules I, II, III, and IV controlled substances -
- First Offense: Up to 7 years of jail time and/ or up to $25,000 in fines
- Second/ Subsequent Offenses: Up to 15 years in prison and/or up to $50,000 in fines
- Schedule V
- First Offense: Up to 3 years of jail time and/or up to $15,000 in fines
- Second Offense: Up to 7 years of jail time and/or up to $25,000 in fines
Manufacture/ Sale/ Possession with Intent to Distribute
When it comes to sale/possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, New Hampshire categorizes offenses as either a misdemeanor or felony - according to the specific substance and amount. Possible penalties for the manufacture/sale/possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute include:
- Imprisonment - ranging from 3 years to life imprisonment
- Fines - ranging from $1,000 to $500,000
- Probation - ranging from 1 to 5 years
Additionally, since its unparalleled spike in prescription drug addiction and overdose cases, New Hampshire has instituted some statewide policies that prevent the over-prescription, and possible diversion and abuse, of prescription drugs. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has set forth guidelines for all medical professionals and pharmacists writing and filling prescriptions.
New Hampshire law now requires that any pharmacist dispensing medication submit an official query as well as specific information about every prescription given for a Schedule II, III, or IV substance into a government database. The information must be submitted no more than 24 hours after the release of the prescription (or 7 days after a veterinarian prescription.) This enables the state government to track and account for every prescription medication that is released in the state of New Hampshire.