Heroin

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
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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.

When Eddie Sawyer called his former partner Eileen Shea and told her he was on a waitlist to get into the Friendship House, northern New Hampshire’s only residential treatment facility, she offered to take him to the hospital to try to detox off heroin while he waited for a bed. But Shea knew there was no guarantee the hospital would admit Sawyer.

New Hampshire Senate
Allegra Boverman / NHPR

The state Senate is taking up a bill that would give roughly $3 million in additional funding to various substance abuse and addiction related programs.

The upper chamber is poised to vote on a bill including the money Thursday. 

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Designed to reduce the spread of disease by distributing clean needles to drug users, needle exchange programs can also provide outreach and referral for treatment.  Now, a bill in the legislature would allow these centers in New Hampshire. And while there's general support, concerns include whether to decriminalize trace amounts of heroin.

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We're checking in on the state's response to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Dirty Bunny via Flickr/CreativeCommons

 

New Hampshire would join the rest of the New England in making it easier for addicts to exchange dirty needles for clean ones under a bill being heard by a House committee.

Under current law, hypodermic needles and syringes can only be dispensed by pharmacists, and possessing a used syringe with heroin residue on it is a felony.

At least five men and five women have died of drug overdoses in New Hampshire so far in 2016, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The actual number of drug deaths this year could be higher, as an additional 86 possible overdose cases are still awaiting toxicology. It can take several months for the state to fully review a suspected overdose to confirm the cause of death.

Jack Rodolico

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s investigation into marketing practices by large pharmaceutical companies hit a roadblock this week. The Attorney General wants to know if those companies have been deceptively marketing opioids - drugs that have been diverted in mass quantities to fuel addictions and overdoses. But a court order now slows down that process.

Addressing N.H.'s Addiction Counselor Shortage

Mar 1, 2016
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As overdose deaths skyrocket,  there's been a statewide call for more access to drug treatment, and more funding for it.  But treatment centers are scrambling to find and keep enough trained staff to meet the demand.  Chronic issues, such as low pay and bureaucracy add to the burden of helping a patient through recovery.

At least three people have died from drug overdoses so far this year in New Hampshire, but the state medical examiner's office is awaiting toxicology results on another 60 cases that have come into its lab this year.

According to the most recent data, at least 420 people died from drug overdoses in 2015 — that figure is more than double what it was two years ago.

A new Massachusetts law criminalizing the trafficking of fentanyl is taking effect.

The law creates the crime of trafficking in fentanyl for amounts greater than 10 grams with punishment of up to 20 years in state prison. 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid estimated to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Jack Rodolico

The New Hampshire Insurance Department is trying to figure out if the state's largest insurance companies are covering opioid treatment the way the law requires.

The preliminary findings of the department's ongoing investigation are inconclusive.

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A federal bill that provides money for addiction treatment and drug prevention has passed its first hurdle. Senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen co-sponsored the legislation. 

The bill calls for additional dollars for a number of areas including treatment for people battling addiction while in prison, drug prevention efforts in schools, and expanding access to the overdose reversal drug Narcan.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed the measure by a unanimous vote. But how much of the bill’s $70 million would go to New Hampshire is unknown.

As state officials feared, drug overdose deaths rose significantly in New Hampshire last year, to well over 400 cases.

The latest data from the state's medical examiner show that 414 people suffered fatal overdoses in 2015, up from 326 in 2014 and 192 the year before.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday passed three bills aimed at combating the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

The measures include the creation of a state drug court program, improvements to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, the addition of more than $2 million to help police combat the drug epidemic, and money to buy 27 additional state police cruisers. 

Courtesy of the U.S. Senate

Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard joined New Hampshire's two U.S. Senators in Washington Wednesday to testify on a bill aimed at combating the heroin epidemic.

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The first addiction recovery center in Manchester is one step closer to opening. That's after the city’s planning board has approved a permit request to turn the former Hoitt Furniture Building into a 24/7 one-stop treatment facility.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Just two weeks into the new legislative session, Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into law two bills aimed at tackling the state’s opioid epidemic.

The fast tracked bills came out of the state’s legislative drug task force that was crafted during last year’s special session. In 2015 more than 400 people died of a drug overdose.

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The 72-acre, sprawling campus of Lakeview NeuroRehabilitation Center - with about a dozen buildings overlooking lakes and mountains - has always been used as a place to treat people with brain injuries or developmental disabilities. But there has always been controversy too.

    

In 1992 the FBI raided the site when they suspected the original owners of fraud. And then last year, after the Disability Rights Center put out a scathing report on Lakeview’s practices, the state shut it down. The place was notorious for poor care. But Eric Spofford hopes to change all that.

State Drug Czar Will Resign

Jan 15, 2016
Josh Rogers/NHPR

Jack Wozmak says with the legislature presently focused on the opioid crisis, now is a good time for him to step down as the state's so-called "drug czar." (Click here to read his resignation letter.) 

Stephanie Keeney via flickr Creative Commons / https://flic.kr/p/8zRcu7

Gluten-free? Olive or coconut oil for cooking? Mediterranean or paleo? If nutrition is a science, why does the research vary so wildly, and why all the zany correlations between who we are and what we eat? On today’s show, faith, party affiliation and other fictions from food science.

Also today, truth in advertising? Think again. From TV ads, to menus and billboards, we all know food photography looks too good to be edible- today we'll hear the truth behind those perfectly crisped turkeys, immaculately sculpted ice cream cones, and more.  

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Legislative leaders on both sides are cheering the Senate’s passage of three bills meant to address the state’s heroin and opioid crisis.

 Less than a week after the legislative session opened, a trio of bills meant to address the state’s heroin crisis is heading for vote before the state Senate this Thursday.

The bills were vetted as part of a special task force that convened at the end of last year to focus specifically on issues related to the state's heroin and opioid crisis.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

In Manchester this past year, more than 540 dirty syringes have been found. But as heroin use increases across the state, used needles are also showing up in cities like Nashua, Dover and Laconia.

As part of our series, Dangerous Ends, we look at one bill seeking to legalize needle exchange programs in New Hampshire – a proposal that has been controversial in the state.

New Hampshire saw at least 385 drug deaths in 2015, according to the latest tally from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner — but the actual total could be even higher, as some 45 cases are still pending toxicology.

Citing concern about illegal drug use, the Berlin school board will be making the anti-overdose drug Narcan available in its schools.

Almost six percent of Berlin high school students admitted trying heroin at least once, according to a 2013 student survey prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says Corinne Cascadden, the superintendent of the Berlin schools.

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