Heroin

This Is How Heroin Hijacks Your Brain

Jan 11, 2016
Greta Rybus for NPR

When Jack O'Connor was 19, he was so desperate to beat his addictions to alcohol and opioids that he took a really rash step. He joined the Marines.

"This will fix me," O'Connor thought as he went to boot camp. "It better fix me or I'm screwed."

After 13 weeks of sobriety and exercise and discipline, O'Connor completed basic training, but he started using again immediately.

"Same thing," he says. "Percocet, like, off the street. Pills."

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.

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Presidential hopefuls and New Hampshire's top elected officials are coming together to talk about drug addiction and how to fight it.

Heroin and opioid abuse has become a top issue for local and national politicians in New Hampshire, where officials estimate roughly 400 people died from overdoses in 2015.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

As a state task force on heroin and opioid misuse wraps up its official work, lawmakers involved say the real work is just beginning.

(Left cousin Sofia Ford, step dad Ron Croce, younger brother Ryan Belanger, cousin Eva Ford, aunt Nena Stracuzzi, mother Lisa Stracuzzi, aunt Francesca Kennedy.)
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

In the coming weeks New Hampshire lawmakers hope to fast-track a number of bills to address the growing number of drug overdose deaths, which is on track to reach more than 400 this year.  As part of our year-long series on the state's opioid crisis called "Dangerous Ends" we look behind the numbers and hear one family’s story of loss.


12.30.15: "Heroin: Cape Cod, USA" & What to Talk About

Dec 30, 2015
Ted Kerwin via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/49bSHq

Does this scenario sound familiar? You’re in an elevator and your boss steps in. You scan your brain for something clever to say and come up with…bupkis. On today’s show we'll get some tips on how to get a good conversation started with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Then, conversations between the deaf and hard of hearing rely on near constant eye contact, which turns walking and talking into an elaborate dance of avoiding obstacles to maintain sightlines. Later in the show, we'll hear about a University with buildings and spaces designed for how deaf people communicate.

Kevin Karns via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/PyK3i

There have been 342 drug deaths in New Hampshire so far this year, and state officials are expecting the total to surpass 400 by the end of 2015.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

 A special task force on heroin and opioid issues okay’ed plans to speed up the review of about 20 different proposals aimed at tackling the drug crisis, culminating nearly three weeks of meetings meant to size up the Legislature’s response before the regular session resumes in January.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As the state’s drug task force plans to wrap up on Tuesday, most of the bills slotted to be fast-tracked next legislative session have more or less been chosen. 

The bills include increasing the penalties for fentanyl, ramping up drug prevention in schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, and creating a 24-hour hotline for those battling addiction.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said without the task force, such proposals would not have been carefully vetted before facing a vote.

Steve Smithe via Flickr

The New Hampshire Medical Society told lawmakers that crafting best practices for prescribing opioids should be left to the medical community.  

James F Clay/FLICKR

A bill that would mandate education on drugs and alcohol in schools is likely to be fast tracked once lawmakers return to Concord in January.

Courtesy the NH House of Representatives

 The idea of expanding drug courts in New Hampshire got an initial stamp of approval from the finance division of the state’s heroin and opioid task force on Tuesday and will now head to the full task force for further approval.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

When they return to Concord next month, New Hampshire lawmakers will have hundreds of bills to sift through to begin the new legislative session.  At a forum in Bedford Tuesday morning, top Republican leaders said the focus this session will be on addressing the state’s opioid problem and whether to renew Medicaid expansion.

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A New Hampshire drug treatment program wants to give people a way to exchange used needles for clean ones, but the plan could require a change to state laws on the possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The Legislature's new drug task force kicks off Tuesday with its first meeting aimed to help better address the state's opioid crisis.

The group has a busy schedule, with nearly 20 people expected to speak over the course of the day. That will include Manchester Chief of Police Nick Willard, and Tym Rourke, who chairs the Governor's commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Approved by a special legislative session, a newly minted task force will spend the next weeks considering several options for tackling the state’s drug problem, which has claimed more than five hundred lives in the last two years. The goal is to craft legislation quickly -- in time for the January return of the legislature.

GUESTS:F

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By all accounts, New Hampshire in the throes of a drug addiction crisis; more than 300 people died from drug overdoses last year, the most in state history.

But while there’s the human toll, there’s also an impact on businesses and the state’s overall economy.

To talk more about that, Jeff Feingold, editor of the New Hampshire Business Review, joined NHPR's Morning Edition to talk about NHBR's reporting on the issue.

Brady Carlson / NHPR

U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte says the newly-passed defense spending bill includes provisions to help New Hampshire fight heroin and opioid abuse.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Republican lawmakers will propose a special task force to review solutions to the state’s opioid crisis when the Legislature returns for a special session next week. 

Casey McDermott, NHPR

 When Tim Pifer started out two decades ago as a drug chemist with the state, it didn’t take long at all to process the drug samples dropped off by law enforcement.

“There literally was a time when we’d take the drugs in, and we’d tell the officers to go downstairs and have a coffee, and we’d give you the drugs back,” Pifer recalled Friday.

Not so anymore.

Brian Wallstin/NHPR

For years, Chris Clough prescribed more pain medication than almost anyone else in New Hampshire.

Along the way, state regulators say, he broke nearly every rule in the book.

JK Kalef via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4KfBSC

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte is introducing legislation to improve treatment programs for pregnant women and mothers who have a substance use disorder, including a pilot program that allows funds to help women in non-residential settings.

Ayotte, a Republican, was introducing the Senate version of the Improving Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women Act on Tuesday. A similar bill was recently introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat from New Mexico.

Chris Jensen/NHPR

Here's an issue with bipartisan consensus: Both parties agree the opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing challenges facing New Hampshire. But Democrats and Republicans in the State House are not quite yet reading from the same script on how to tackle this problem.

Christie, Kuster Join Concord's Rally For Recovery

Sep 27, 2015
Brady Carlson / NHPR

  In recent weeks Manchester and Nashua have held rallies to highlight New Hampshire's heroin crisis. On Saturday, it was Concord's turn, and among those on hand for the "We Believe In Recovery Rally" was Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie. 

"I'm preaching to the converted," the New Jersey governor told the crowd at Concord's White Park of his call for more attention to the issue. Christie said he would be an advocate for families dealing with addiction if elected president, and touted a New Jersey law that expanded drug court programs. 

Portsmouth Police Department

  Police in Portsmouth have created a public service announcement video they hope will help the community fight heroin abuse.

The video, called "It's Time, Let's Talk," is aimed at breaking the stigma that comes with substance abuse and urging people to ask for help.

You can watch the video here.

Officials say it highlights that combating substance abuse is a complex medical issue and not simply a criminal matter, and that fighting it will take a collected effort.

Manchester Looks For Business Help In Heroin Fight

Sep 21, 2015
Heroin
Courtesy of MPD

  Manchester officials will take part in a forum this week aimed at encouraging businesses to help in the fight against heroin abuse.

The city’s public health director, Tim Soucy, will moderate a panel discussion Wednesday morning. He says a coordinated approach to addressing heroin use in the city has to include local business owners and workers.

States would receive four dollars in federal money for every dollar they invest in substance abuse prevention and treatment under a plan announced today by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The plan, outlined in a conference call with reporters, would direct $10 billion in new federal funds to drug and alcohol addiction programs over 10 years.

PunchingJudy via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/3WYLgF

 Lawmakers and Governor Maggie Hassan supported legislation this year to make Narcan more accessible so it can be used to save the lives of people experiencing an opiate overdose. Narcan has often been referred to as the Epipen of heroin, but David Brooks says that comparison doesn’t hold up in some key ways. Brooks is a reporter for The Concord Monitor and blogs at Granitegeek.org. He spoke with NHPR's Peter Biello.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

Since appointed by Governor Hassan to lead the fight against an epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse, Wozmak has faced some political pushback and a budget impasse. We’ll talk with him about that and hear his plan for marshaling the state’s resources to tackle drug abuse and overdose deaths.

GUEST:

  • Jack Wozmak – New Hampshire’s senior director of Substance Misuse and Behavioral Health for the Governor’s Office, also known as the state’s ‘drug czar.’
     

Brady Carlson / NHPR

New Hampshire officials say they want to work more closely with the medical community to stop the growth in heroin abuse.

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