Alcohol Issues Overshadowed By Opioid Crisis In New Hampshire

By Beth Leipholtz 03/27/18

The state has some of the highest rates of alcohol use in youth and young adults in the country. 

Woman drinking alcohol on white background

In some states, it seems, the opioid crisis is overshadowing another long-time substance use problem: alcohol. 

According to WMUR, a New Hampshire news station, alcohol is still the “most serious addiction problem in the state.” 

WMUR states that in a 2014-2015 national study, the state was among those with the highest rates of alcohol use in youth and young adults. 

According to statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS), alcohol use in youth is particularly problematic in the state. 

The statistics show that "29.9% of NH 12-20 year olds report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days by comparison, nationally the number is closer to 33% for 12-18 year olds." 

Also, nearly 14% of the 18-20 year olds say they've driven with someone who was "under the influence of alcohol which is higher than the national average of 11.4%."

Those who work in the field have expressed their concern over the issue.

"We hear a lot about the opioid epidemic right now, but we do have to remember that alcohol kills more than any drug combined, and it is certainly a significant issue in New Hampshire," Kate Frey, vice president of advocacy for New Futures, a nonprofit that advocates better health through policy, told WMUR.

The National Survey on Drug Use And Health examined alcohol consumption in those 12 years of age and older over a 30-day period. New Hampshire was ranked higher than any other state in the country.

"We are often in the top five states when it comes to the highest rates of binge drinking and alcohol misuse," Frey told the news station. 

Despite being overshadowed by the opioid crisis, the state is also taking steps to assure that those with alcohol use disorders receive help.

In 2016, the Safe Station program was started in Manchester, New Hampshire. The program allows anyone seeking help for substance use disorders to walk into a fire station to receive help. 

"This has been an ongoing problem for decades, decades and decades, and how I see it, it's like it's forgotten, but it's probably the No. 1 problem we deal with," Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan told WMUR

According to WMUR, officials say that recovering from alcohol use disorder brings about different challenges than recovering from other substances. "Alcohol is actually a lot more serious of a detox, because it is potentially life-threatening," Eric Spofford, CEO of Granite Recovery Centers, told the station. 

Spofford says that in his field, he sees people from every walk of life seeking help.

"We see alcoholics that are young and old," Spofford said. "We see alcoholics with college degrees and families. They have really successful lives, except for the fact they can't stop drinking themselves to death."

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.