Opioids

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.

Ollie Atkins / Richard Nixon Presidential Library

When politicians talk about drug abuse, ‘tough on crime’ is a phrase that seems to be going out of style as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the "War on Drugs" didn’t solve the problem.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Today lawmakers approved a 1.5 million dollar statewide drug enforcement program known as Granite Hammer.

After a lengthy procedural debate in the House over whether to proceed with the special session, members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. The legislation, based on a Manchester Police Department initiative, would create a grant program to fund drug enforcement efforts at county and local police departments.

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.

What it Takes to Overcome Addiction in N.H.

Jun 6, 2016
BFD Lt / flickr/cc

We kick off the Morning Edition series, Hope on the Front Lines, examining the many efforts around the state helping people overcome addiction.  We'll look at the array of approaches available in the state including new medicines that curb drug cravings as well as others that revive overdose victims.  Recovery coaches, counselors and doctors are also involved on the the long road to full recovery. 


Hope on the Front Lines was a week-long series focusing on the people and organizations working to make a difference on the front lines of New Hampshire's opioid crisis. Produced by NHPR's Morning Edition team, host Rick Ganley and producer Michael Brindley traveled the state to meet people on the ground level of a growing epidemic, doing what they can to help in their communities.  

Six police departments in New Hampshire and Maine plan to open their police stations to drug addicts seeking treatment.

Under the Community Access to Recovery program, those suffering from drug addiction may come to the police departments and be referred to treatment.

Police departments in Portsmouth, Dover and Newmarket, New Hampshire, and Eliot, York and Kittery, Maine, are participating.

They plan to announce the program on Wednesday.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

This week lawmakers will have their final say on dozens of bills still left over from this year's legislative session. Wednesday is the last chance any bills have of making it to the Governor’s desk this year.

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. 

NHPR Staff

New Hampshire will spend $100,000 to hire a law firm to investigate whether drug makers have marketed opioids in a deceptive fashion. New Hampshire's Executive Council voted unanimously to allow the Attorney General's office to hire the Washington law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll.

Getty Images

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.

When it comes to understanding heroin and opioid deaths, data matters. But across the country, medical examiners and coroners vary widely in just how much information they provide on death certificates.

Courtney Griffin was addicted to heroin and ready to get help. She packed up her things, and her mom drove her to a residential treatment facility about an hour from their home in New Hampshire. There was a bed waiting for her.

Michael Burghardt couldn't sleep. His legs were shaking, his bones ached and he couldn't stop throwing up.

Burghardt was in the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, N.H. This was his 11th stay at the jail in the last 12 years. There had been charges for driving without a license, and arguments where the police were called. This time, Burghardt was in after an arrest for transporting drugs in a motor vehicle.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

This is the first week inmates about to be released from prison in New Hampshire can receive the substance abuse medication Vivitrol.

The program is designed to reduce re-offenses and drug overdoses after release.

DOC deputy commissioner Helen Hanks says the prison will give inmates a single dose of Vivitrol seven days before they return to the community. Then, Hanks says, “We connect them with a primary care provider so that we continue that continuity of care model to help them have the best success they can.”

 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.

Welcome to opioid week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

That’s what House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has dubbed it. Members of Congress received word late last week, as they wrapped up their brief recess, that opiate-related legislation will go to the House floor this week. Details are still emerging; but this week promises to be a major step for the work of New England lawmakers on the issue.

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.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The first addiction recovery center in New Hampshire's capital city is already helping patients after opening its doors Monday morning.  Hope for New Hampshire Recovery offers peer-to-peer support for people battling  addiction.

Jeff Pearson became addicted to heroin more than 30 years ago. Along the way, he racked up 80 drug-related offenses, went to prison five times and made dozens of rehab attempts, including several years standing in line for his daily dose of methadone.

In January, Pearson received a prescription for Suboxone, a medication that suppresses the symptoms of withdrawal. Four months later, he’s still surprised he’s not foraging for drugs every day, like he did for so many years.

What We Know - And Don't Know - About Suboxone

May 4, 2016

Talk to people on the front lines of New Hampshire’s opioid crisis, and most of them will agree that addiction is a chronic disease. Yet there is still resistance to using medication to treat it.

Tym Rourke, who chairs the New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention and Treatment, says that some substance-abuse programs refuse to use methadone or Suboxone.

Flickr

After much debate, the New Hampshire Senate Thursday voted to keep the state’s so-called drug forfeiture fund alive.

Under current law money or assets seized in a criminal drug bust are put into a special fund used to combat future drug crimes. 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

CVS Health is the latest pharmacy chain to offer the overdose reversal drug naloxone, known commonly as Narcan, at its stores in New Hampshire. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate today will once again tackle a handful of bills geared at the state’s opioid crisis. Many of the proposals being related to illegal drug use.

A 26-year-old Portsmouth woman was sentenced to serve between eight and 20 years in prison for selling the fatal dose of drugs that caused a Maine man to overdose in 2015.

NH1.com reports Amanda Burgess was sentenced Tuesday after reaching an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to charges of supplying fentanyl with death resulting.

Prosecutors say Burgess sold a $40 dose of the synthetic opiate to 27-year-old Joseph Cahill, who was found dead on June 15, 2015. Burgess, a known heroin dealer, fled New Hampshire after the York, Maine man died.

s_falkow via Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Attorney Emily Gray Rice and New Hampshire’s Attorney General, Joe Foster, will work together to prosecute drug overdoses as crime scenes. The goal is to charge drug dealers with homicide, when an overdose death can be linked to a drug sale. 

The collaboration will expand resources for state prosecutors and allow New Hampshire drug dealers to be charged under federal law, which has tougher penalties for drug crimes.

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.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Last year saw more drug overdose deaths than ever before in New Hampshire.

So far in 2016, the state’s confirmed at least 48 deaths, with another 89 potential cases on top of that — officials are waiting for more toxicology reports to add those into the total.

The death toll, however, only tells part of the story of the opioid crisis in New Hampshire.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House killed a bill Wednesday to fund a program designed to teach substance abuse prevention in high schools.

HOPE, which stands for Heroin and Opiate Prevention Education, is run by Plymouth State University and offers peer to peer prevention. But not every school in the state participates.

Under the measure, roughly $51,000 would be available to public and charter high schools in the state who want to join the program.

Pages