N.H.'s 'Drug Czar' Offers Recommendations to Tackle Opioid Crisis

Jul 21, 2015

New Hampshire’s drug czar has released his initial recommendations on how the state can combat its growing opioid problem.

Credit VIA THE CHESHIRE COUNTY WEBSITE

Jack Wozmak, who was tapped by Gov. Maggie Hassan in February to be Senior Director for Substance Misuse and Behavioral Health, said the state must tackle the issue through education, prevention and treatment.

The 22 recommendations released Tuesday include re-authorizing Medicaid expansion, increasing drug courts and expanding treatment options. He also recommends developing best practices for prescribing opioids and a review of the state's oversight of pain clinics.

The list also includes increasing access to the overdose reversal drug Narcan, which was signed into law last month. 

Last year, 325 people died from drug overdoses -- more than triple the number of traffic deaths.

Wozmak’s position was funded by a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. It expires at the end of the year, but was not funded in the budget proposal recently vetoed by the governor.

Tym Rourke, chair of the Governor's Commission on Drug and Alcohol and other Drug Prevention,  said the recommendations are on target. But, he said, it would be difficult to hold state agencies accountable for meeting the goals if the position remains unfunded. 

"A high-ranking individual in the governor's office is an important step to ensure that the state is maximizing its resources to respond to the drug epidemic and achieve the results that are needed to be achieved," Rourke said Tuesday.

Wozmak plans to announce his recommendations at the Governor and Council breakfast Wednesday morning in Cornish.