With a strong economy, a diverse population, and excellent housing options, Nashua is among the best places to live not only in New Hampshire but in the United States.
But beneath the legendary attractions and healthy job market lie a less desirable reality: Nashua has a growing drug problem, with nearly 10% of its citizens (above the age of 12) suffering from substance use disorder.
In this article, we looked into Nashua’s substance use portfolio to shed light on the ins and outs of the city’s opioid epidemic. We also listed some of the best drug rehabs in Nashua, New Hampshire, and accompanying resources to help you or someone you know tackle the issue of drug addiction.
Table of Contents
- Drug and Alcohol Addiction in Nashua, New Hampshire: An Overview
- New Hampshire’s Response to Nashua’s Ever-Increasing Drug Epidemic
- Commonly Abused Drugs in Nashua, New Hampshire
- Overdose Deaths in New Hampshire
- Types of Drug Rehab Treatments Available in Nashua, New Hampshire
- Drug Rehab Centers in Nashua, New Hampshire
- Closing Thoughts
- Additional Resources
New Hampshire—home to the nation’s first wind farm, tax-supported library, and alarm clock—has long struggled with opioid abuse.
In recent years, the state’s opioid overdose cases saw a staggering 200% increase, with deaths ranging from 200 to 400 each year. Nashua, a city in southern New Hampshire with upwards of 90,000 citizens, sits at the forefront of these cases.
According to a report published by the American Medical Response (AMR), Nashua suffered 243 suspected opioid overdoses and 44 suspected opioid deaths in 2022. While it saw a 15% decrease in opioid overdoses from 2021, the number of deaths increased by 37%.
Part of Nashua’s drug abuse problem stemmed from the area’s high rate of opioid drug prescription, specifically high-dose and extended-release opioids. Physicians’ over-reliance on these drugs to treat pain quite literally unleashed an epidemic of addiction not only in Nashua but in New Hampshire as a whole.
Prescription opioids—hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine, among others—are often easier to obtain than street drugs, putting patients at high risk of developing an addiction. Once addicted, their ever-increasing need for opioids leads many to cheaper and more readily available—yet illegal—alternatives.
At first, that alternative was heroin; specifically, South American heroin. It’s decently cheap with purity levels that exceed the national average, making it the go-to drug for those looking to get a quick fix.
In 1998, heroin treatment admissions in Nashua went from 120 to 170. This figure continued to rise until the death rate from heroin overdose tripled from 1999 to 2014, from 4 deaths to 15 deaths per 100,000 population.
When 2015 came around, a cheaper yet more potent drug hit the streets of Nashua: Fentanyl.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, often killing users within minutes of an overdose.
Within a few short years, Fentanyl-adulterated drugs almost entirely negated the efforts made in controlling prescription drugs.
In 2021, New Hampshire saw the rise of non-opioid drugs laced with Fentanyl. Nashua was hit the hardest, with 285 suspected opioid overdoses and 30 suspected overdose deaths: a 38% increase from the 206 opioid-related overdoses and 22 opioid-related deaths in 2020.
Unfortunately, 2023 isn’t looking any better. According to reports, medics responded to 87 overdoses in March—up nearly 80% from February.
Suspected fatal opioid overdoses are trending 29% higher than last year. And even more alarming: one in four suspected overdoses as of March 2023 have been fatal.
The significant increase in deaths all points to synthetic fentanyl, which is now found in nearly every type of illicit drug. Users often overdose because they have no idea that they’re using fentanyl-laced drugs or how potent the adulterant in the product is.
New Hampshire’s authorities isn’t blind to the ever-increasing drug problem in Nashua and most areas of the state. The numbers don’t lie: New Hampshire has the second-highest rate of drug-related overdose deaths in the United States, and Nashua represents more than 30% of these deaths.
With the support of New Hampshire’s governance, Nashua took on a multi-pronged approach to the opioid crisis.
In 2018, the city was listed as one of the nine regional Recovery Hubs in the United States, connecting those affected with mental health treatment and recovery support. It also became a Safe Station city where addicts can freely walk into any city fire station and ask to be connected with recovery services, free of reprisal.
Additionally, the City of Nashua’s Mayor’s Opioid Task Force (MOTF) brought together a group of concerned citizens and community leaders to brainstorm strategies on how to tackle the current issue of substance misuse in the city.
Nashua has taken steps to increase access to naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. Naloxone is not only carried by first responders but also available at pharmacies across the state, purchasable without a prescription.
Commonly Abused Drugs in Nashua, New Hampshire
Nashua is one of the biggest hubs of drug activity within New Hampshire, second only to Manchester, the state’s largest city. Here are the most commonly abused drugs in Nashua:
- Heroin: Highly addictive opioid drug made of morphine.
- Cocaine: CNS (Central Nervous System) stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant, native to South America.
- Fentanyl: Distributed through the illegal market for its heroin-like effects. It’s the highest contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in Nashua.
- Marijuana: Unlike the other states in New England, New Hampshire forbids the recreational use of marijuana. Possession of more than three-quarters of an ounce is considered a misdemeanor and therefore punishable by law.
- Crystal meth: Illegally altered version of prescription methamphetamine, which resembles glass fragments. Abused for its euphoric effects, which can last up to 24 hours.
- Prescription painkillers: Commonly abused prescription drugs include Vicodin (hydrocodone), Percocet (oxycodone), Kadian (morphine), and Opana (oxymorphone).
According to the New Hampshire Drug Monitoring Initiative, the total overdose death data in New Hampshire up until May 2023 is as follows:
Types of Drug Rehab Treatments Available in Nashua, New Hampshire
Nashua’s rehab centers offer a variety of treatments for substance addiction, including:
In light of the ever-increasing opioid epidemic, Nashua’s public health officials have increased investments in detoxification services.
Detox is often the first step of drug recovery. Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous, leading to severe withdrawal symptoms like increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, seizures, delirium, and other complications.
Medical drug detox centers like Oasis Recovery alleviate these symptoms by gradually reducing the presence of drugs in the system. Physicians would prescribe medications with similar effects for easier withdrawal, then progressively taper them off said medication.
Depending on the length and severity of the addiction, this process can take anywhere between three to 14 days.
Rehab programs typically fall into two categories: inpatient and outpatient.
Inpatient programs, also known as residential treatment programs, are designed to treat severe substance use disorders and addictions. They require patients to admit themselves into a controlled facility where they receive 24-hour medical and emotional support.
Some inpatient treatment centers are hospital-like in nature, with shared bedrooms and scheduled check-ins. Others are modeled like a home, spa, or luxury hotel, with swimming pools, gardens, and specialized amenities. Both provide 24-hour care, regardless of the type.
Outpatient programs are less restrictive than inpatient programs. They’re best suited for those with financial, familial, or personal responsibilities, as they allow patients to attend treatment without missing school or work.
This type of program falls into two levels of care: partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs), also known as Day Programs, are comprehensive outpatient programs that require five to six hours of treatment per day, for three to six days a week. These programs are dedicated to those with serious substance use disorders but unwilling to stay in an inpatient facility 24/7.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) are less demanding than PHPs, with treatments lasting between two to three hours for three to five days a week. IOPs allow more flexibility for work, school, and personal matters, and give clients the opportunity to readjust to the world with support.
PHPs and IOPs focus on psychoeducation, relapse prevention, and individual/group therapy. They can last between three to six months but can extend to several years for serious cases.
Transitioning from an immersive care environment into an unstructured home environment can be jarring, especially if the client doesn’t come from an understanding home. This is where sober homes like GateHouse Treatment and Process Recovery Center come into play: they act as a bridge between inpatient care and normal life.
Sober living homes, also known as halfway homes or halfway houses, are facilities that provide living conditions for people leaving inpatient rehab programs. These homes aren’t as restrictive as inpatient facilities, allowing clients to come and go as they wish so long as they follow the curfew and attend scheduled counseling.
Individual counseling involves one-on-one counseling between the client and trained therapist, whereas group counseling involves four or more participants and one to two group therapists.
Individual counseling helps clients work through their private thoughts, emotions, and concerns. It focuses on teaching those in recovery the skills needed to navigate life without substances and includes various forms of therapy, like contingency management, motivational interviewing, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Group counseling satisfies a person’s desire to be heard and comforted by a group of people. Under a therapist’s guidance, group counseling can teach clients new social skills and foster healthy attachments.
Though it isn’t as effective as individual counseling in the treatment of substance misuse, it can be beneficial to those with co-occurring mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and personality disorder.
Drug Rehab Centers in Nashua, New Hampshire
Chosen for their effective treatment approach, available services, and qualifications, here are some of the best drug rehab centers in Nashua, New Hampshire:
- GateHouse Treatment: Inpatient and outpatient recovery center located in a residential neighborhood of Dunstable Road. It uses scientifically proven, evidence-based therapy to treat drug and alcohol addiction, like dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioral therapy, and 12-step immersion.
- Oasis Recovery: Holistic treatment center located on Amherst Street. It specializes in individual and group therapy, along with medically-assisted detox using Suboxone. Along with evidence-based therapies, Oasis Recovery helps clients work through behavioral issues using yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and hypnosis.
- Process Recovery Center: One of the most well-known rehab facilities in New Hampshire, specializing in IOPs and PHPs. It offers dual diagnosis, animal-assisted therapy, medical detox, and in-depth therapy to address the underlying causes of addiction.
- Better Life Partners: Offers integrated medical and behavioral healthcare services for those suffering from addiction. It treats opioid use disorders through medically-assisted detox and supportive counseling (virtual and in-person).
- Balance Recovery Center: Outpatient recovery center specializing in medically-assisted detox, individual, group, and family counseling, and dual-diagnosis treatment.
New Hampshire ranks third in the United States in drug deaths per capita, according to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Nashua, the second-most populous city of New Hampshire, has seen an influx of overdose reports and deaths in the past several years, made worse by the ever-growing market of cheap and easily-accessible Fentanyl.
In 2022, Nashua recorded approximately 243 suspected opioid overdoses and 44 suspected opioid deaths, a 38% increase from 2021. This figure is only expected to rise as more and more illegal substances are smuggled into the city.
If you or a loved one suffers from drug addiction, help is available. Most of Nashua’s rehab facilities are either free or accept insurance, so costs shouldn’t be a concern. You’ll also find plenty of state-funded rehab, non-profit rehab, and faith-based rehab for those unable to pay for treatment out-of-pocket.
- SAMHSA National Helpline: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline
- New Hampshire Substance Abuse Hotline: https://nationalrehabhotline.org/new-hampshire/
- Drug Overdose Reports in Nashua: https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/programs-services/health-care/substance-misuse-data-page