New Hampshire's struggles with a heroin and opioid epidemic have gained national attention as presidential candidates swinging through the early primary state have been confronted with personal tales about the drug's impact.
But the extent of the epidemic -- how it has overwhelmed the state's cities, hospitals and fire departments -- is still hard to fathom. Consider this: By the end of November, the Manchester Fire Department had responded to 683 suspected overdose calls during the year, or more than two a day. According to fire department data, the city had also witnessed 81 overdose-related deaths, the youngest being 18 years old, and the oldest being 68. (Manchester has a population of about 110,000.)
The latest example of the epidemic's severity came in a town hall Hillary Clinton held Tuesday in Salem, New Hampshire, where the Democratic front-runner was asked about the role the government should play in helping the afflicted.
"I’ve had two town halls right here in New Hampshire ... where the only subject was substance abuse," she said. "And I have had some of the most emotional discussions with family members, with recovering addicts, with people who finally got the help they needed.”
And then, Clinton asked for a show of hands from those who have witnessed or been affected by a mental health problem or substance abuse. That prompted this:
In May, when Clinton first began touring New Hampshire and Iowa, she was stunned at the volume and intensity of questions about the opiate crisis, so she asked her staff to begin drafting policy solutions. That plan was unveiled in September.
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