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New Hampshire Prescription Drug Addiction

New Hampshire Prescription Drug Addiction


What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is the use of medications for non-medical purposes. People in New Hampshire are subject to prescription drug abuse because they perceive prescription drugs are in some way safer to use than illegal drugs are. However, just because prescription drugs are legal, they are not necessarily safe. They can lead to overdose and death, just as abusing illegal drugs can.

New Hampshire prescription drug addiction is a growing and deadly habit. The amount of people dying from prescription drugs in New Hampshire has increased on a yearly basis and is proving a significant public health problem. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to New Hampshire prescription drug addiction, it is important to seek help at a rehabilitation facility. A drug rehabilitation facility is not solely for treating those addicted to illegal drugs, but is also for those in New Hampshire who abuse prescription drugs. Help is available, and in some instances, there are treatments available to reduce the effects of withdrawal from particular prescription medications.


Statistics for New Hampshire Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse

According to New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR), addiction to opioid painkillers is the number one public-health issue in the state. Deaths related to drug overdoses have increased by 40 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to state statistics. A total of 325 people in New Hampshire died from drug abuse in 2014. This means drugs kill more people in the state than traffic accidents.

Prescription painkillers are often considered a precursor addiction to harder illegal or street drugs like heroin, according to Joe Harding, director of the Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services.

“We understand there’s really an interplay that’s happening between prescription drug abuse, where people may no longer be able to access those drugs or afford them, who may then be switching to heroin to feed their habit,” Harding told WMUR, a New Hampshire news station.  

According to a survey from the University of New Hampshire, 25 percent of those in New Hampshire think drug abuse is the most important issue facing the state’s citizens. The National Survey of Drug Use and Health found that 12.3 percent of 18 to 25 year olds have admitted to non-medical use of pain relievers. An estimated 3.2 percent of those ages 26 and older have used pain relievers for non-medical purposes in New Hampshire.

Oxycodone is the second-most common drug of abuse after alcohol for those seeking treatment at New Hampshire drug treatment facilities, according to the New Hampshire Bureau of Drug & Alcohol Services.


Common Drugs of Abuse


  • Opiates

Opiates are drugs that work on the opioid receptors in the brain. Examples of these drugs include codeine, Vicodin (hydrocodone), MS Contin, Kadian, Dilaudid (hydromorphone), Percocet and fentanyl.

  • Signs and Symptoms of Abuse: Symptoms of narcotic abuse include denial of feeling pain, sedation, slowed breathing, small pupils, nausea, constipation, slurred speech and confusion.  
  • Categories of Prescription Drugs: Most opiates are Schedule II drugs, which means they have a high potential for abuse, but do have a medical purpose.  
  • Effects on the Brain: Opiates work on the opioid receptors of the brain, which are the pain-relieving receptors.
  • Health Risks: Opiates can lead to overdose and respiratory arrest (stopping breathing) because they slow a person’s breathing. These effects on a person’s breathing can also lead to increased risk for respiratory infections, such as pneumonia.
  • Treatment Options: A doctor can prescribe medications that help a person recover from opiate abuse. An example is Suboxone, which is a combination of the medicines buprenorphine and naloxone. Methadone is another option for some people, but requires greater levels of monitoring, including bloodwork drawn at a methadone clinic.


  • Sedatives


Sedatives are also known as benzodiazepines. They are medicines commonly used to treat anxiety and sometimes to reduce the effects of seizures. Examples of sedatives include Xanax, Valium and Ativan.

  • Signs and Symptoms of Abuse: Signs a person may be abusing sedatives include anxiety, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, low energy, difficulty sleeping and social isolation.
  • Categories of Prescription Drugs: Sedatives are in the Schedule IV category, meaning they have potential for abuse, but less so than drugs in schedules I, II and III.
  • Effects on the Brain: Sedatives increase the amount of GABA in the brain, this neurotransmitter slows the activity of neurons in the brain. This has the effect of relieving anxiety.  
  • Health Risks: Long-term effects associated with sedative abuse include difficulty thinking, confusion, slurred speech, muscle weakness, poor coordination and poor judgment.  
  • Treatment Options: Tapering plans are often utilized to treat benzodiazepine abuse. By slowly reducing the amount of medication taken, a person can reduce the withdrawal effects
  • Stimulants

Stimulant medications are those doctors prescribe to enhance concentration, improve attention and increase energy. Doctors prescribe stimulants to treat a variety of conditions, including ADHD, narcolepsy and depression. Examples of commonly prescribed stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall.

  • Signs and Symptoms of Abuse: Signs a person is abusing stimulants include seeming overly energetic, unexplained weight loss, hostility, paranoia, rapid or irregular heartbeat and elevated body temperature.  
  • Categories of Prescription Drugs: Stimulants are Schedule IIN drugs and are considered highly addictive and have high potential for misuse.
  • Effects on the Brain: Stimulants affect the brain by increasing the amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine. If a person is not taking the stimulant for medical purposes, this can result in feelings of euphoria and increased blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Health Risks: Stimulants’ effects on the heart and breathing can cause complications that could include cardiac arrest when taken by a person with previous history of heart problems.
  • Treatment Options: Treatment options for stimulants can include a tapering plan, much like the approach used for tapering sedatives.  


If you have fallen into New Hampshire prescription drug addiction, help is available at a rehabilitation facility. Seeking rehabilitation treatment can help you turn your life around. You don’t have to suffer alone. Pick up the phone and speak with and addiction specialist when you are serious about your sobriety.