Shaheen Says Feds Must Take Opioid Problem Far More Seriously

Jan 9, 2016

Sen. Shaheen met for about an hour with the group.
Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

On Friday Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the federal government should take the problem with heroin and opioids as seriously as its concern over Ebola.

She made the comments during a meeting with about two dozen health and social workers, educators and police at the Berlin High School.

She said while the budget Congress approved last month has more money to deal with drug problems it is not enough.

“My view is this should be a national emergency and we ought to treat it as such. We did that for Ebola and we only had one person in the United States die of Ebola while we are losing, as you know, a person a day in New Hampshire from heroin and opioids," she said.

Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

Kristy Letendre, an official with the Tri-County Community Action Program, agreed.

“When I started with CAP 12 years ago, it was mainly alcohol and now our alcoholics are few and far between. It is a different population. They require more. Their detox is extreme and we need more resources in the North Country to accommodate this.”

Lt. Barney Valliere of the Berlin police department said one hopeful thing is that for the first time in his career he’s different groups – such as those at the meeting - are working together on the problem.

Credit Chris Jensen for NHPR

"Many years ago we found out we can't arrest our way out of this problem. It is just not a police problem. It is a social problem," he said.