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342 N.H. Drug Deaths Recorded So Far in 2015, Surpassing Last Year's Total

Kevin Karns via Flickr CC

There have been 342 drug deaths in New Hampshire so far this year, and state officials are expecting the total to surpass 400 by the end of 2015.

There were 326 drug deaths in 2014, and nearly 200 the year before. 

The latest data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner shows that more than half of the drug deaths reported through mid-December have involved fentanyl, either on its own or combined with other drugs. It can sometimes take several months for officials to fully review the toxicology results and other aspects of each death, according to the examiner's office.

Fentanyl can be more powerful than heroin and especially dangerous because it’s hard to detect when mixed in with other drugs.

State officials have to run special chemical tests to determine if a drug sample includes heroin, and it’s nearly impossible for the average person to know if it’s inside the substance they’re using.

A state task force focusing on the drug crisis recently greenlighted a bill that would bring penalties for selling and distributing fentanyl in line with those for heroin.

For a more detailed look at the number of opioid- and opiate-related deaths in recent years, see the graphics below.

Casey McDermott is a senior news editor at New Hampshire Public Radio. Throughout her time as an NHPR reporter and editor, she has worked with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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