Substance Abuse

Family court judges will soon be required to give priority to grandparents in guardianship cases where parents are dealing with substance abuse issues.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill into law last week that’s meant to address the rise in grandparents taking on parental duties in the midst of the state’s heroin and opioid crisis.

The new law takes effect next year, and a public signing ceremony is expected soon.

FILE

A new report shows that the increased use in substance misuse in New Hampshire has cost the state more than $2.3 billion.

That's an uptick of more than half a billion dollars from four years ago, the last time this study was done.

Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Services

Nashua’s Health Department wants you to stop using the word “addict.”

“We need to talk about substance use disorder like the disease that it is,” health educator Aly McKnight told a captive audience of thirty or so in the basement of Nashua Public Library last month.  She pointed to a list of “stigmatizing” words projected onto a screen. “Alcoholic,” “junkie,” even “addiction” should be avoided, it said. 

istock photo

The New Hampshire Insurance Department released the findings of a study Thursday that takes a look at how insurance companies are handling drug and alcohol abuse treatment claims.

The study, which examines the insurers Cigna, Anthem, and Harvard Pilgrim, was intended, in part, to determine if they were complying with federal parity law. In other words, do the companies provide comparable coverage for mental health, substance use disorders, and medical and surgical care?

NHPR Staff

A new bill proposing that grandparents play a bigger role in guardianship cases involving their grandchildren had its first hearing at the State House Tuesday.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

Gov. Chris Sununu helped to announce a new partnership on Wednesday aimed at reducing the stigma of addiction.   

Speak Up New Hampshire is the latest campaign from the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Hampshire. Joined by the Bureau for Drug and Alcohol Services, the Governor’s Commission, and various addiction treatment and prevention organizations, the Partnership is now concentrating on reducing the stigma of addiction in the Granite State.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Following promises made during the campaign, Republicans are taking steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What will replace the health care law, and which provisions will be spared, is still very much a question in Washington. In New Hampshire, that’s causing unease for many in the substance abuse treatment community.

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. 

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. 

Prescription Drug Treatment Info / Flickr/CC

Starting this month, the state’s more than 140,000 Medicaid recipients are eligible for substance abuse disorder benefits.

The expansion went into effect Friday.

The benefit was already available to the 49,000 people who enrolled as part of the state’s Medicaid expansion program launched two years ago.

Lawmakers reauthorized the program earlier this year.

Prescribing Opioids During an Addiction Epidemic

Apr 14, 2016
Charles Williams / Flickr/CC

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.

Todd Huffman / Flickr/CC

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.

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

New Hampshire is set to receive $1.2 million dollars to help community health centers deal with opioid abuse. 

  New Hampshire US Senator Kelly Ayotte is using this week's Republican response to President Obama to highlight the opioid crisis. 

Addressing N.H.'s Addiction Counselor Shortage

Mar 1, 2016
Phoenix House Academy of Dublin / Flickr/CC

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.

now.dartmouth.edu

One of New Hampshire's top experts on the opioid crisis will be on hand for President Obama's State of the Union address. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire will receive a big influx of federal dollars to treat addiction and mental illness.

The state will get up to $30 million a year for five years total. And for example, this year it would mean about an added 25 percent on top of what the state has budgeted for mental health and addiction.

That's a big gain for the state says Steve Norton, the executive director of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Services.  But the devil's in the details: like how the money will be spent and how any new services will be evaluated.

NHPR Staff

  

A panel of lawmakers will meet in Concord as part of a legislative task force formed to address the state's growing heroin abuse crisis.

The finance and appropriations panel of the task force is set to meet Tuesday at the State House.

Getty Images

When discussing New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic, the focus is often on the big numbers — the hundreds of drug deaths, the thousands of pain prescriptions, the weeks it can take to get treatment.

But at the first meeting of a new task force looking at the issue in New Hampshire, those who testified brought those statistics to a personal level.

File Photo / NHPR

 

 Senator Jeanne Shaheen is calling for an additional $600 million in emergency federal funding to tackle opioid and heroin misuse across the country — and she says, as in previous public health crises, the federal government needs to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to this issue.

“We’re really looking at, how can we have a coordinated effort? The federal government did that in fighting Ebola. They’ve done that in other health emergencies,” Shaheen said. “We’re saying that this is a health emergency, and we need to ramp in the same way to fight it on all fronts.”

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

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

With all of the recent posturing at the State House, it might be easy to assume that Gov. Maggie Hassan and Republicans in the Legislature are having trouble finding common ground on how best to tackle substance abuse. But, as lawmakers gear up for a special session devoted to New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic, that’s not necessarily the case.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan is asking lawmakers to return to Concord nearly two months early to begin working on legislation aimed to help those battling drug addiction. 

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.

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Kelly Ayotte that’s meant to address one particularly troubling side effect of the nation’s opioid crisis: growing drug dependence among infants.

The bill requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to review how it deals with “neonatal abstinence syndrome” (or “NAS”). It also calls upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help states improve public health monitoring and data collection around NAS.

Farnum Center

The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services is making changes to its licensing requirements for in-patient drug and alcohol treatment centers in order to address a statewide shortage of beds.

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. 

Sara Plourde / NHPR

  This week officials at Memorial Hospital in North Conway announced they would establish a prenatal care program for opioid-dependent patients – mothers and babies affected by the opioid crisis. This program is set to open in early 2016, and it’s similar to a program that’s underway at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

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.

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.

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