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Drug Addiction in New Hampshire


Drugs are illegal drugs such as cocaine and heroin. They are widely available, and street drug addiction in New Hampshire continues to be a problem as it is throughout New England and the rest of the country. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Barometer, 2014, the percentage of people in the state abusing or dependent on illicit drugs was slightly higher the national percentage at 2.9%. Of these, only 16.4% receive treatment for their dependence or addiction. The problem of street drug addiction in New Hampshire is even worse in adolescents, with 11.8% of 11-17 year olds being dependent on illegal drugs, compared to the national figure of 9.2 percent.

A 2011 report, The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society, released by the National Justice Intelligence Center, showed the impact of illicit (street) drugs on society is enormous and costs the country over $193 billion annually through crime, health costs, and loss in productivity. New Futures puts the New Hampshire productivity loss alone at around $176 million in 2012, and the Department of Health and Human Services reports that heroin use in the state is rising to epidemic proportions and often follows from prescription drug abuse.

Schedule I and II Drugs

Addictive drugs are classified by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as schedule I or II/IIN. Schedule I drugs have no medical use that is currently accepted in the U.S., a lack of safety for use under medical supervision, and also a high abuse potential. Drugs in this classification include heroin, marijuana, and “Ecstasy.”

Schedule II/IIN drugs have a high potential to lead to abuse and may lead to physical and psychological dependence and addiction. Examples of Schedule II drugs include narcotics such as methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and codeine. Schedule IIN drugs include methamphetamines, amphetamines, and Ritalin.


Cocaine is a Schedule II drug that is often bought as a powder. It is usually inhaled or “snorted” but can be dissolved in water and then injected. A particular form of cocaine is “crack,” which is usually smoked. The symptoms of cocaine addiction include hearing sounds that are not there, losing touch with reality, and paranoia. Long-term dangers include strokes, heart attacks, respiratory failure, and seizures.


Heroin is a synthesized opioid classified as Schedule I. It is usually found in the form of a powder or a tar-like black substance. Heroin is often mixed (cut) with other drugs or substances such as powdered milk or sugar. A recent trend has been to cut heroin with fentanyl, an opiate painkiller that amplifies heroin’s effects and makes overdose more likely. It is usually injected but may also be snorted or sniffed. Symptoms of heroin addiction include a flushed face, dry mouth, slow breathing, and constricted pupils. Long-term dangers include lung and heart damage, difficulty thinking, and kidney failure.


Methamphetamines are classified as Schedule II. One common form available in New Hampshire is “crystal meth” or “ice,” which is a yellow, brown, opaque white or pink crystalline form that is usually smoked. Another is “speed” (also known as “tina”), which is a powdered form of the drug. A side effect of crystal meth and other forms of methamphetamine use is psychotic, unpredictable, and frequently violent behavior. Hallucinations, such as feeling as if bugs were crawling beneath the skin are known as “meth bugs.” Paranoia and confusion are also common side effects. Long-term dangers include brain damage, loss in memory and thinking skills, weight loss, and severe dental damage.

Developing an Addiction to Street Drugs

Street drug abuse tends to lead to dependence and addiction over time. In the case of heroin there is often a progression from the abuse of prescription opioid painkillers because heroin is often considerably cheaper. Other street drug users begin with illicit drugs in search of a “high” or in response to peer pressure and become addicted as tolerance develops and their use of the drugs increases.

Signs of Street Drug Addiction

One of the most obvious signs of addiction is that obtaining the drug becomes more important than work, money, health, or even close relationships. Even when a marriage is in danger of breaking up, debts are escalating, and there are problems at work or school, an addict will deny there is a problem and continue to try to source enough of the drugs to support their addiction.

As the addiction develops, so does a tolerance to the drugs, which means the addict must take more of the drug to produce the same effect. The tolerance develops because of changes that occur in the way the brain functions as it adapts to the presence of the drug. Another effect of the changes in brain chemistry is that withdrawal symptoms appear when the drug use is stopped or drastically cut. The effects of withdrawal depend on the drug, but usually include powerful cravings, nausea, insomnia or other sleep disturbances, and tremors.

Treatments for Street Drug Addictions

Simply stopping taking drugs is difficult, uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, and so the first treatment offered to street drug addicts is usually medical detox. In this process the illegal drugs are usually gradually withdrawn and prescription medications are given to ease the withdrawal symptoms and suppress the cravings.

In many cases illegal drug abuse is associated with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and a range of mental illnesses and disorders. Sometimes the mental health problem leads to the addiction, while in other cases difficulties produced by the addiction lead to or feed mental health issues. In many cases the two components in a dual diagnosis of mental health disorder and addiction affect each other, this can begin a vicious cycle. These mental health disorders must be treated at the same time as the addiction. Their treatment may involve psychotherapy methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or medications, including disulfiram (Antabuse), naloxone, methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

Addiction to street drugs is difficult to overcome, but with the right treatment and effective recovery and relapse prevention programs in place, a full and long-term recovery can be achieved. A common symptom of addiction is denial that a problem exists, but putting off treatment makes a full recovery more difficult and the risk of overdose remains. Help is available for street drug addiction, and today is the best time to start looking for the best treatment option. Pick up the phone and not only find the strength and support you need, but the strength and support you deserve.