Heroin

  New Hampshire's law granting certain immunity to people who report drug overdoses is poised to stay in place for the indefinite future.

A law signed last session would've repealed the immunity law, sometimes known as a "Good Samaritan" law, in 2018. But lawmakers are moving to repeal the repeal, meaning the law will stay on the books.

Senators say the legislation is saving lives as New Hampshire continues to deal with an opioid crisis. Nearly 500 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, a record high for the state.

edueca via flickr creative commons / https://flic.kr/p/6z44Vq

On today's show: 

  • Director Michael Venn, Producer Karlina Lyons and Recovery Advocate Sandi Coyle talk about their new documentary The Heroin EffectThe film premieres Thursday, March 30th at The Music Hall in Portsmouth.
  • "The Golden Age of Black Baseball" - Before Jackie Robinson, there were the Negro Leagues -- home to some of the greatest untold stories in baseball. Listen to this story again at prx.org.
  • Lez Zeppelin. All girls. All Zeppelin. We talked to Steph Paynes, founder and lead guitarist about playing the music of Led Zeppelin. You can see them live on Friday, March 31st at The Flying Monkey. And Saturday, April 1st at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA.
  • 10-Minute Writer's Workshop - Mario Batali

Since Rhode Island health officials reported a cluster of fatal overdoses of fentanyl in spring 2013, the drug has replaced prescription painkillers and heroin as the chief driver of the nation’s opioid crisis.

In New Hampshire, fentanyl has been implicated in at least 789 deaths since 2014, or two of every three fatal overdoses. Here are four reasons why New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic is now a fentanyl crisis.

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The New Hampshire Insurance Department released the findings of a study Thursday that takes a look at how insurance companies are handling drug and alcohol abuse treatment claims.

The study, which examines the insurers Cigna, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim, was intended, in part, to determine if they were complying with federal parity law. In other words, do the companies provide comparable coverage for mental health, substance use disorders, and medical and surgical care?

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Following promises made during the campaign, Republicans are taking steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What will replace the health care law, and which provisions will be spared, is still very much a question in Washington. In New Hampshire, that’s causing unease for many in the substance abuse treatment community.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

One New Hampshire lawmaker wants to add a new charge to the state’s criminal code: Under his proposal, someone who provides another person with a lethal dose of heroin or fentanyl would be charged with manslaughter

Associated Press

 A New Hampshire woman was among 78 people pardoned by President Barack Obama this week.

Amanda Kucharski DeBlauw, of Newmarket, was pardoned on Monday.

According to the White House, she was sentenced to five months in prison in 1999 after being convicted of distribution of heroin.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

  At least 369 people have fatally overdosed in New Hampshire this year, according to an update released Tuesday by the state medical examiner.

But the state says another 78 cases are still under review, so the actual number could be even higher. 

FILE

Federal legislation aimed at helping states struggling with the opioid epidemic is headed to President Obama’s desk. That’s after the U.S. Senate Wednesday passed the proposal 94 to 5.

Manchester Fire Department

Back in May, Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan extended an open invitation to anyone struggling with an addiction: If someone walked into any of the city's 10 fire stations and asked for help, they would get it.

Since then, the number of people who've taken the city up on that offer has far exceeded the chief's expectations.

New Hampshire is joining 40 other states in a lawsuit against the maker of Suboxone, a drug widely promoted to help opioid addicts.

Getty Images

 

New Hampshire's Executive Council has approved $600,000 in contracts to provide substance misuse recovery services

The bulk of the money is going toward Hope for New Hampshire Recovery and Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region. They provide services in the Claremont, Concord, Manchester and Winnipesaukee regions.

Money also is going to help support New Hampshire Hope for Recovery's new recovery community centers in Berlin and Franklin.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Federal authorities say more than 20 individuals have been charged with trafficking or conspiring to traffic heroin in New Hampshire – four are New Hampshire residents.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

 Fentanyl continues to be the main culprit behind deadly overdoses in New Hampshire: It’s been linked to 70 percent of drug deaths so far this year, according to the latest data from the state medical examiner.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

This story has been updated with a response from the Trump campaign.

At his rally in Bedford last week, Donald Trump’s prescription for New Hampshire’s drug crisis — a wall at the southern border as a way to stop the flow of drugs into the country — earned plenty of cheers.

That proposal, and his assessment of the state’s drug issues more generally, went over less well with New Hampshire’s leading drug prevention advocacy organization, New Futures.

Jack Rodolico

It’s no secret drugs like OxyContin and hydromorphone are highly addictive.

The real question is this: do drug companies downplay how addictive they are while marketing the medicine to doctors?

New Hampshire’s Attorney General Joe Foster suspects false marketing of legal pills has led to abuse of illicit drugs like heroin. That’s why he subpoenaed the nation’s largest manufacturers of prescription painkillers.

  The latest numbers from the New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner show that at least 161 people have fatally overdosed so far in 2016.

Officials are anticipating that those numbers will continue to rise in the months ahead, and the state is projecting at least 494 overdose deaths by the end of the year. 

C. Zars / NHPR

The medication “Vivitrol” is gaining traction as a tool in the fight against drug addiction. It’s a once-a-month injection that was approved as a treatment for opioid and alcohol users in 2010. A psychiatric hospital in Hampstead now prescribes the medication, and patients seem to show signs of improvement.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

In Nashua on Wednesday, Republican Ted Gatsas announced his plan to fight opiate addiction across the state. In front of city hall, Gatsas told a small gathering of reporters the heroin crisis needs leadership, saying, "My first act as Governor would be to declare this fentanyl heroin epidemic is a public health emergency." 

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

   

All six New England governors say fighting the social stigma associated with addiction is key to battling the opioid crisis raging across the region, claiming thousands of lives.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker participated at the Harvard Medical School forum Tuesday with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Carol Robidoux

  A Nashua man is the latest New Hampshire resident to be held criminally liable for the overdose death of another person as part of an aggressive effort by the attorney general's office to hold drug dealers responsible for what they sell.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kevin Manchester is facing a 'death resulting' charge in the January overdose death of Michelle MacLeod. The charge carries up to a life sentence, just like murder. 

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Lawmakers in Congress appear to be finding some common ground when it comes to dealing with the heroin and opioid addiction crisis.

But how much money will actually be put toward funding treatment and prevention programs remains a sticking point.

 New Hampshire residents struggling with heroin addiction and other substance use disorders will soon be able to call a state hotline for help.

Gov. Maggie Hassan announced the hotline Tuesday at the opening of a summit on substance abuse. She says the 24-hour crisis hotline will start up later this week. The number has not been provided yet.

More than 800 people from health care, law enforcement, education and other fields are attending the conference in Manchester devoted to the state's rising drug crisis. More than 400 people died of drug overdoses last year.

Getty Images

 

Hundreds of New Hampshire professionals from health care, law enforcement, education and other fields are gathering in Manchester for the Governor's Summit on Substance Misuse.

Tuesday's daylong conference is aimed at encouraging participants to reach beyond their professions and learn from their peers in other areas to address a growing crisis of heroin addiction and other substance use disorders in the state.

www.massfiretrucks.com

 

New Hampshire's biggest city is opening its firehouse doors to drug addicts in a program that allows them to seek treatment in an effort to avert overdoses.

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas announced the program Wednesday and said he hopes it can be a model for other cities on the front lines of the state's opioid crisis. Dubbed Safe Station, the program will allow addicts to visit any of 10 firehouses that are open around-the-clock. Addicts will then be put in touch with experts who can help them with treatment options.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Manchester accounted for nearly a quarter of the fatal drug overdoses reported across New Hampshire last year, according to newly released data from the medical examiner’s office.

The state's largest city saw 106 overdoses last year, out of a statewide total of 433.

Prescribing Opioids During an Addiction Epidemic

Apr 14, 2016
Charles Williams / Flickr/CC

State lawmakers, doctors, and others in the medical profession have been hammering out new guidelines for prescribing these drugs to tackle the issue of over-use and alleviate the addiction crisis. We'll get the latest on this discussion and also find out how New Hampshire's approach compares with other states.

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  One of Boston's top hospitals is seeing an increasing number of drug abusers shoot up on its property, a tactic experts say opioid addicts hope will save them from lethal overdoses. 

 

School officials are defending their decision not to notify parents and students after the dean of students at a New Hampshire public high school was arrested at the school and charged with heroin possession in February.

The Concord Monitor reports that 36-year-old Rekha Luther of Manchester was arrested at Pembroke Academy on Feb. 17 and charged with four felony counts of possession drugs, including heroin and steroids.

The newspaper reports that she and her lawyer did not return calls seeking comment.

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The battle lines on the fight over the future of New Hampshire’s Medicaid expansion are well-defined as the issue comes up for a vote in the state Senate tomorrow.

On Wednesday’s episode of The Exchange, State Sens. Jeb Bradley and Andy Sanborn — a vocal proponent and opponent of the expansion, respectively — sparred over a number of elements of the program, including its effects on the state's drug crisis.

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