Opioids

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The Senate is scheduled to take up a bill next week that would send $1 billion to states battling the opioid addiction crisis.

The federal dollars would be divvied up among states based on per-capita drug overdoses. By that measure, New Hampshire ranks third nationally.

The funding would help strengthen the state's growing but still inadequate network of services, including prevention, early detox, long-term housing and mental health treatment, says Tym Rourke, Chair of the Governor's Commission on Substance Abuse.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: December 2, 2016

Dec 1, 2016

A four-way fight for House Speaker requires two rounds of voting. Republicans look to tighten voting laws. And lawmakers in the U.S. House pass a bill setting aside $1 billion for states battling the heroin and opioid addiction crisis.

 


  In the past year, the number of narcotic painkillers prescribed in New Hampshire decreased by more than 13 percent, while cases of suspected “doctor shopping” by patients dropped by nearly two-thirds.

The new data, presented to Gov. Maggie Hassan and legislative leaders earlier this month, suggest that two years after it was launched, the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program is working as designed.

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.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

The Attorney General's office wants to hire another medical examiner to help deal with the spike in drug-related deaths.

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

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The opioid crisis was a big issue in New Hampshire in 2016 – both on the campaign trail and in the State House. Nearly 433 people died of a drug overdose last year; this year, that number is expected to surpass 500. But what will the shift in political control both nationally and at the state level mean for policy approaches to tackling this issue?

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.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

When it comes to fighting the drug crisis, Chris Sununu has said, broadly, that he wants to promote “aggressive” drug prevention education programs and to expand treatment availability for people struggling with addiction.

But this week Sununu called for more aggressive penalties and enforcement when it comes to drug trafficking.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Governor Maggie Hassan signed an executive order Wednesday calling for the creation of the state’s first ever committee designed to analyze drug overdose deaths. 

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.

Appleswitch via Flickr Creative Commons

Three months ago, the Legislature signed off on a bill to expand an anti-drug law enforcement program known as Granite Hammer.

On Wednesday, state officials announced plans to distribute more than a million dollars in grant money to municipalities across New Hampshire. 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The effort to end the state’s opioid crisis involves many players: lawmakers, treatment and recovery providers, police and a often overlooked piece…the state’s crime lab.

With drug overdose deaths  rising, the state’s crime lab analysts have their hands full.

Roughly 3,500 drug cases wait to be analyzed at the State Police Crime lab in Concord. Some date as far back as last year.

Jack Seeds via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/f1e2y9

America's opioid crisis has local, state and federal officials scrambling - which is why the DEA decided to ban Kratom, an Asian  plant with an opioid-like effect, as a schedule one drug. But some researchers and users say it could help addicts get kick addictive drugs. Today, crackdown on Kratom - the drug you hadn't heard of until last week.

Plus, walk into a pre-school or elementary school today and you won't find peanut butter, but you'll likely see a few sets of twins ...we'll look at twinning patterns throughout human history, and why the proportion of twins in the population continues to ebb and flow.

New Hampshire’s gubernatorial primary is just a few days away, and the top issue for many voters is how to solve the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

A bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster would launch pilot programs in five states to reduce the use of opioid medications and increase the use of alternative treatments.

New Hampshire is one of nearly a dozen states getting a one million dollar federal grant to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction.

 New Hampshire currently has the fewest number of physicians in New England who are certified to prescribe Suboxone, a drug used to reduce opioid cravings and ease withdrawals.

Sara Plourde for NHPR

More than 400 people died last year from drug overdoses in New Hampshire and that number is expected to surpass 500 this year.  But as our numbers increase, in many parts of Europe drug overdose deaths are declining.

During a three week fellowship in Germany earlier this summer, NHPR reporter Paige Sutherland decided to dig into Germany’s drug policies—to see what’s different, what’s worked and what New Hampshire might learn as it continues to tackle an opioid crisis.

In a series called “Through the Looking Glass,” every morning this week you’ll hear stories about Germany’s policies, from rooms where addicts can legally use to needle machines in prisons.   

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Advocates, first responders, and local and federal lawmakers say the state has made great strides in combating an opioid crisis, but much more still needs to be done.  At two press conferences in Concord Tuesday, the focus was on efforts at the state and federal levels both past and future.

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.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu continues to draw fire from his rivals. During a debate on WGIR radio Wednesday morning, Republican Frank Edelblut said Sununu's Executive Council vote to fund Planned Parenthood was not conservative. Sununu defended his vote.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A substance abuse treatment facility in Franklin, Farnum North, has added 42 more inpatient beds. And with help from donations, the center can now start treating patients who lack insurance. 

via UFL.edu

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program finally got off the ground in April, with the opening of the state’s first cannabis treatment center. Three of the four state-licensed dispensaries are now operating, and more than 1,100 people with serious illnesses are approved to use the drug.

But many, if not most, of the New Hampshire residents who could potentially benefit from medical marijuana won’t be able to legally obtain it.

Hassan, Baker Tout Opioid 'Road Map' For States

Jul 18, 2016
NGA webstream

  Governor Maggie Hassan has joined with governors across the country in a new effort to confront the opioid crisis. 

Heroin
Courtesy of MPD

  US Senator Kelly Ayotte says a bill in Congress to address opioid abuse could provide a big boost to treatment and prevention efforts in New Hampshire. 

Dodgerton Skillhause / Morguefile

Executive Councilors approved two contracts Wednesday that provide the state with more funding to address the opioid crisis.

About $3 million dollars will go into medical training, medication-assisted treatment, and information about substance use disorder.

Councilor Chris Pappas says he thinks these contracts will have an immediate impact in the state’s ability to handle the drug crisis.

“Make sure we get people the treatment they need; make sure that medications are available for people so they can get well and get over their substance use disorder,” he said.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into law a bill to put state dollars into new and existing drug court programs across New Hampshire.

But for the past four years, Belknap County has been running its own drug court program without any financial help from the county, state or federal government.

They call it recovery court and it’s under the direction of a judge who has placed compassion at the heart of the program.

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill, which had previously passed the House, will now be sent to President Obama. He has indicated that he will sign it, despite concerns that it doesn't provide enough funding.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Most communities across New Hampshire have been touched by the opioid crisis that’s taken the lives of more than 400 Granite Staters last year, a majority from heroin and fentanyl.

But one place in the Lakes Region stands out not for its significantly high overdose numbers but rather how its community is responding.

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