Hassan visits Grafton County to discuss opioid addiction prevention

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 7:54 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:45 PM EST
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NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. (WCAX) - It’s widely known that fentanyl remains one of the leading causes of overdose deaths across the country, but what’s lesser known is that many of those drugs are being sold online.

“Anything that you want to know about can be found out on your mobile device through a web browser, through social media platforms,” said Grafton County Sheriff’s Dept. Det. Sgt. Justin Combs.

And that includes people who are looking for legal pills, which the experts say, more and more are being laced with fentanyl. The computer forensic lab in Grafton County tracks the drugs through the technology used to acquire them.

“Through those extractions, we can prove through use of file knowledge or web browsers, things like that, the source,” Combs said.

Senator Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, met with law enforcement Thursday for an update on the opioid crisis from those on the front lines. “This is a multi-pronged problem. It is going to take all of us working together in a lot of different ways,” Sen. Hassan said. That approach, she says, includes getting help to people who want to get clean. “We have passed some laws that will make it easier for doctors and nurses to prescribe medication-assisted treatment for people who have substance use disorder. That is a really important step forward so people want to get into recovery can get into recovery and sustain that recovery.”

“The best word I can think of is horrific for what that stuff does to people,” said Grafton County Sheriff Jeff Stiegler. But the sheriff says there’s another crucial piece of the puzzle that is needed in the fight -- that’s finding more people who want to work in labs like this. “How do we find the caliber of people that we need that are educated and have the competencies to jump right into this?”

Meanwhile, Governor Chris Sununu Thursday announced a new statewide PSA effort called “No Safe Experience” which will alert the public to counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl circulating across the region.