Over the past few months, the evening news throughout the Granite State is overrun with stories of teenagers and young adults using illicit drugs including Heroin. Just last evening, WMUR TV 9 – reported on 3 individuals between the ages of 19 and 21 who are suspected to have overdosed on Heroin in Salem. One of the three is in critical condition.
Police departments throughout New Hampshire are concerned about the recent surge in Heroin use. “A lot of our burglaries and robberies in the past year have been committed by people who are admitted abusers of heroin,” said Concord Lt. Timothy O’Malley. Concord, NH police believe that the increase in heroin use and related crimes is likely due to an increased availability of the drug as well as restrictions that have turned addicts away from prescription drugs.
In Portsmouth, the situation is even more alarming. “We’ve had three heroin overdoses in the last 24 hours,” reports Portsmouth Deputy Chief Corey MacDonald. “Whether we are talking about an especially potent strain of heroin or a more dangerous batch that’s out on the street or if this is just part of the inherent dangers of using an opiate, we’re not sure yet,” MacDonald said.
As a NH criminal defense attorney, we see first hand, the toll illicit drugs takes on individuals, families and on our society. What was once relegated to an underground culture is now pervasive in main stream America. During the past five years, seizures of heroin in the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration have gone up more than 50 percent, from 1,334 lbs. in 2008, to 2,059 lbs. in 2012. Heroin use in America has skyrocketed — up a staggering 75 percent between 2007 and 2011, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Kathie Kane-Willis, who heads the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University in Chicago, says the most rapid growth of Heroin use is occurring among those under age 21. “It’s nationwide, and it’s occurring primarily outside of the central city — in the suburbs, and in rural areas — middle class America, affluent America.”
As a NH DUI attorney, we have seen the effect that drugs have had on DWI arrests. Over the past few years, there has been a marked rise in the number of Driving Under the Influence of Drug (DUID) cases, as opposed to driving under the influence of alcohol. As a result, many NH police departments are requesting DUI blood tests instead of DUI breath tests. And, with recent DWI legislative changes in 2013, any drug, prescription or illicit, can be the basis for a DUI conviction if it impairs your ability to drive.
If you, a friend or loved one are struggling with drug addiction, please get help. Don’t wait to hit bottom or for an arrest to occur. The NH Department of Health and Human Services maintains a listing of drug and alcohol treatment centers throughout NH. And if you have been arrested for DUI or DUID in NH, call us. We are here to help.