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N.H. Overdose Deaths Expected to Decline This Year, But Not By Much

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
While many still refer to the state's current public health crisis as a "heroin epidemic," heroin has largely been replaced by fentanyl — and stronger analogues — as the primary cause of drug deaths.";s:

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is projecting at least 466 people will die from drug overdoses by year’s end — not quite as many as last year’s record of 486, but close.

(Scroll down for more detailed data on New Hampshire overdoses.)

Chief Forensic Investigator Kim Fallon says officials make those projections using a formula that accounts for both confirmed and pending cases, as well as the months left in a given year. The predictions, of course, are subject to change.

So far this year, New Hampshire officials have tallied up nearly 190 overdose deaths, with more than 100 still pending. There are still some additional cases from last year that are not yet reflected in the state’s data, as well.

While many still continue to refer to the state's current crisis as a "heroin epidemic," it's worth noting: Thus far, heroin on its own has not been linked to a single drug death in 2017. Heroin has been found in overdose cases involving other drugs.

Fentanyl, meanwhile, has been linked to about 70 percent of all drug deaths so far this year. The state is also seeing a rise in “fentanyl analogues” — like carfentanil, which is “100 times more potent than fentanyl.”

Officials are also seeing an uptick in recent years of deaths caused by a combination of cocaine and opioids.

In a handful of cases, the state identified deaths caused by “unknown drugs” or “unknown opioids” because they were unable to independently test the blood of the person who overdosed.

More details on the latest in the state’s drug overdose data can be found 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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