Opioids

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.

Heroin
Courtesy of MPD

Officials in Manchester are calling for new efforts and better coordination against heroin abuse.

The city held a “Stop the Circle Rally” Saturday in Veterans Memorial Park.

Mayor Ted Gatsas told the crowd that he and other city officials met with the heads of area hospitals to find ways to work together against drug abuse.

State Announces Training Program for Opioid Prescribers

Aug 27, 2015
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A series of physician-training sessions aimed at reducing the amount of opioids prescribed to patients who may go on to become addicted will kick off in Bedford in November.

Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

  It’s difficult to help anyone who is struggling with a drug addiction problem. But helping a teenager comes with a unique set of obstacles. 

Southeastern New Hampshire Services in Dover offers inpatient substance abuse treatment along the same stretch of County Farm Road as a nursing home and a day care center.

 

New Hampshire politicians were quick to praise a new White House initiative to combat heroin use and trafficking.

Amid a spike in heroin use and deaths across the country, the Obama administration on Monday announced $5 million initiative focused on states along the East Coast.

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Laconia police arrested 20 suspects Thursday following a months-long undercover drug investigation.

Fifteen officers made the arrests early in the morning as part of a massive sweep.

Laconia police Chief Chris Adams says those arrested would be held accountable, but would also be offered treatment options.

He says Laconia simply can’t arrest its way out of the heroin epidemic plaguing the city and the state.

Police say the investigation into the suspects included numerous hours of undercover surveillance and controlled buys compiling evidence.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Presidential candidates usually hit the campaign trail carrying a long list of issues they hope to talk about. But lately, voters in New Hampshire have been forcing an issue of their own into candidates’ stump speeches: the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte is urging the Health and Human Services secretary to work with the state to ease costly requirements for some residential drug treatment centers to obtain a health care facility license.

She said recent reports indicate that stringent licensing requirements could force several centers to cut the number of available beds and reduce their ability to serve people dealing with substance abuse issues.

Ayotte said this is a serious concern in light of state's heroin and prescription drug addiction crisis.

Courtesy Photo

Chris Rocket has been in prison for 19 years. His convictions are for second degree murder and robbery. The crimes, he says, were the result of an alcohol addiction.

His addiction to heroin and prescription drugs?

He got hooked on those while incarcerated at the state prison in Berlin.


Sidebar: The Science on Naltrexone

Aug 5, 2015
www.drug-alcohol.com

  When the Department of Corrections begins offering naltrexone to male inmates sometime this fall, it will put New Hampshire among the more than 20 states that use the drug to treat incarcerated addicts.

New Hampshire, however, will launch the program using the oral version of naltrexone, which studies show faces more barriers to success than the extended-release injections used in other prisons and jails across the country.

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Manchester's police chief is hosting a forum Tuesday night for the public to talk about the city's heroin epidemic.

Chief Nick Willard will be one of seven panel members at the forum at the Radisson Hotel from 5 to 7 p.m.

Manchester police Lt. Brian O’Keefe says drug activity in the city continues to surge at an alarming rate.

“We’re well over I believe 47 deaths since Jan. 1,” he said. “In addition to that, we have responded to probably well over 250 overdose-related calls since Jan. 1. The numbers are staggering in the city.”

Republican Senator Says Drug Czar Must Resign

Jul 27, 2015
Josh Rogers/NHPR

Sen. Andy Sanborn has called for New Hampshire's so-called "drug czar" to resign, two days before a legislative committee will decide whether to extend the official's contract.

Josh Rogers

Jack Wozmak, Gov. Maggie Hassan's pick to spearhead the state's fight against opioid abuse, has been on the job since early February, but this week has amounted to his coming out.  It hasn’t been all – or even mostly -- smooth. 

FLICKR/CREATIVE COMMONS

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

Narcan, also known as naloxone, is an anti-overdose drug.
Paige Sutherland for NHPR

It was a quiet summer night in June when EMTs in Laconia got the call of a possible overdose at a nearby house.

When they arrived, they were brought to a bedroom with posters on the wall, laundry spread on the floor and a snowboard laid up against a dresser. 

Andres Rodriguez / Flickr / Creative Commons

We continue our discussion on the heroin epidemic in the Granite State with a focus on prevention.  Given the record numbers of drug overdoes deaths in New Hampshire, we’ll ask what steps health providers, educators, law enforcement, and other members of the community are taking to stop drug use before it starts.

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos via Flickr CC

A powerful synthetic opioid manufactured in illicit labs was the main driver of the record 325 drug-related deaths in New Hampshire last year.

Fentanyl is used to manage severe chronic and post-surgical pain. As a pharmaceutical, prescribed in lozenges or transdermal patches, it is 10 to 50 times more potent than morphine.

But, increasingly, a powdered form of the drug that is 200 to 2,000 times more potent is being mixed with heroin or passed off as heroin to unwitting users.

Indie Photos / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire officials call it a public health epidemic: record numbers of Granite Staters are overdosing and dying because of opioid drugs, especially heroin.   We’ll find out how this problem grew so quickly, and the state’s responses to it, including a relatively new prescription drug monitoring program.

GUESTS:

Methadone Clinic In Keene Comes Under Scrutiny

Dec 1, 2014

One of the ways health officials have tried to stem the growing amount of heroin and prescription opioid abuse in New Hampshire is methadone treatment. Methadone is an opioid, but given in the proper dose, it can reduce cravings without getting users high.

Easier Access To Overdose Drug Could Save Lives

Nov 24, 2014
Taber Andrew Bain

A task force appointed by the governor says first responders need quick and easy access to a drug that’s been proven to save lives during a heroin overdose.

There were over 1,200 drug related emergency calls in NH last year. Seventy people died from heroin overdoses.

But the drug task force’s expects higher numbers in 2014, which is why it wants first responders to have easy access to a nasal spray called naloxone. That drug has proven to be effective in saving the lives of people in the throes of an opioid overdose.

Drug and alcohol abuse put a $1.84 billion strain on the New Hampshire economy in 2012, according to a new study. That figure was almost three percent of the state’s GDP in that same year.

A coalition of federal and regional law enforcement officials have designated Rockingham County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.  Rockingham County joins Hillsborough as a so-called “HIDTA” county.

While it may seem like an unwanted distinction, Jay Fallon, Director of the New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, says it will actually bring additional federal funds and coordination between federal, state and local organizations

Courtesy of MPD

Manchester Police say they’ve arrested nine alleged drug dealers and seized more than $90,000 worth of Oxycodone tablets.

The drugs seized over the course of 13 searches on August 27th came by way of New York and Lawrence Massachusetts according to authorities. The individuals arrested were affiliated with what they are calling a “high level” Drug Trafficking Organization. Three of the individuals behind bars were operating at the top of the chain.

Sgt. Brian O’Keefe says the multi-agency investigation began nearly a year ago and is still ongoing.

Steve Smith via Flickr CC

New Hampshire doctors are among the nation’s most prolific prescribers of Oxycontin and other opioids, according to a government report released Tuesday that analyzed the state-by-state use of highly addictive painkillers.

The Executive Council has picked an Alabama company to begin collecting data that will help physicians and pharmacists identify patients who may be abusing prescription medications.

The five-year contract awarded to Health Information Designs is the next step in the state’s effort to set up a prescription drug monitoring program, or PMP. Such programs are aimed at “doctor shopping,” in which patients visit multiple physicians for prescriptions that are then filled at different pharmacies.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan will join most of the other New England governors at a conference to map out a regional response to the growing problem of opiate drug abuse.

Hassan will attend Tuesday's meeting at Brandeis University in Waltham hosted by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Only Maine Gov. Paul LePage is not expected to attend.

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