Series: New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

Britta Greene / NHPR

New Hampshire health officials decided to prioritize a specific demographic this year when allocating scarce federal funds toward the opioid epidemic: pregnant and newly post-partum women.

The choice reflects stark statistics both in New Hampshire and across the country. 

Courtesy U.S Department of Agriculture

The town of Londonderry is suing pharmaceutical makers for their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis, joining hundreds of other municipalities across the country.

Wikimedia

New Hampshire health officials say a homeless drug user thought to be sharing needles could be behind a significant increase in the number of HIV cases in the state's most populous county.

WMUR-TV reports the Division of Public Health Services is working with the city of Manchester to determine who might have shared needles with the recently diagnosed person.

Between January 2017 and last month 46 people in the area have been diagnosed with HIV, Of those, 11 reported injecting drugs and a majority were living in Hillsborough County.

Daniela Allee / NHPR

Getting rid of old medications is one approach to fighting the opioid crisis.

Now, Walmart pharmacies across New Hampshire will offer a new way for people to dispose of unused or expired medicine.

Casey McDermott / NHPR

Police departments and educators across the state are working together to bring a new drug prevention program to schools.

The Law Enforcement Against Drugs program, or LEAD, has been growing in popularity with more than 100 instructors now in New Hampshire.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Sandwich Police Chief Doug Wyman about why he's been working with the local schools in his community to replace the well-known DARE program with LEAD. 


NHPR Staff

Frisbie Memorial Hospital is closing a recovery center in downtown Rochester.

In a statement, Chief Nursing Officer John Levitow says the decision will eliminate "redundancy of service" and allow the hospital to better target its resources. Rochester is also served by the SOS Recovery Center.

Levitow says the hospital will work to avoid any disruption in care as patients are sent elsewhere for services.

The Frisbie recovery center opened in the fall of 2016 as a partnership between Frisbie and the city to provide 24/7 substance use disorder support and treatment.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A group of recovery centers from all across New Hampshire met with top state officials on Wednesday to plead for more funding, saying the state has placed added demand on their organizations without offering any extra financial support. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Senator Maggie Hassan recently visited the U.S.-Mexico border to meet officials and law enforcement working on the front lines of the illicit drug trade.

 

During her five-day trip, Hassan met with Mexican leaders, too. One of her main focuses was fentanyl, the drug which contributed to 76 percent of overdose deaths in New Hampshire last year.

 

“The Mexican officials agree that their cartels are trafficking a great deal of fentanyl,” Hassan said.

 

Sheryl Rich-Kern / NHPR

Grandparents have always played a meaningful part in their grandchildren’s lives. But in the face of the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire, more are taking on the role of full-time caregivers.  And that means they have to prepare – emotionally and financially – to raise young kids at a time when most of their peers are slowing down.

As part of NHPR's Crossroad series, which examines the impact of substance abuse on the Granite State, NHPR Contributor Sheryl Rich-Kern visited one grand-family in Rochester.

Via LinkedIn

A top advisor to Gov. Chris Sununu has been placed on paid administrative leave and is under review by the attorney general’s office for an unspecified personnel issue.

Marty Boldin — Sununu’s Policy Advisor for Substance Misuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery — will remain on leave until the attorney general’s review is complete, the governor’s Chief of Staff Jayne Millerick said Friday afternoon.

CHARLES WILLIAMS / FLICKR/CC

More than 100 collection locations across the Granite State will participate in National Prescription Drug Takeback Day on Saturday, April 28

 

Lt. Brian Kenney is with the Nashua Police Department which will set up a drive-thru drop-off at the Department of Public Works to accommodate larger volume. The Nashua P.D. also has a year-round drop box at the police station.

 

Todd Bookman/NHPR

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Concord says a massive drug sweep involving 20 different federal, state and local agencies has led to 45 indictments, and the seizure of more than 30 kilograms of fentanyl.

Officials say they tracked a Lawrence, Massachusetts-based drug ring for more than a year, allegedly overseen by two brothers, Sergio and Raulin Martinez. 

AP

New Hampshire saw a 15 percent drop in opioid prescriptions between 2016 and 2017 — the largest drop, in percentage points, of any state in the country — according to a new report from the healthcare research firm IQVIA.

NHPR

Intravenous drug users who share needles run the risk of catching deadly diseases.

Some organizations offer clean needles as well as safe ways to dispose of used ones.

Recently, Nashua's Division of Public Health and Community Services launched the Syringe Services Alliance of Nashua Area, which aims to bring this service to parts of Southern New Hampshire, and officials say it's making an impact.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

At one point last year, it looked like New Hampshire might be turning a corner in its opioid crisis.

State officials predicted overdose deaths could decline, even slightly, in 2017: In August, they forecasted there would be 466 total, down from a record 485 the year before. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire's Congressional delegation says the state isn't getting its fair share of federal funds aimed at stemming the opioid epidemic.

 

The 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law under President Obama, will bring $485 million to the national opioid fight this year. New Hampshire is getting about $3 million of that.

Congresswoman Annie Kuster said she's disappointed at the amount and that the distribution method should take into account the state's rate of overdose deaths.

 

Jessica Hunt / NHPR

Jeffrey Meyers, Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, says his agency is beefing up oversight of substance use disorder treatment centers that have been struggling to stay afloat or that have closed altogether after financial struggles – a situation the state can ill afford in the midst of the opioid crisis.  

Speaking on The Exchange, Meyers said the state is auditing these organizations regularly.

Robert Garrova for NHPR

The UNH School of Law held a panel Wednesday on the opioid crisis and New Hampshire's court system. Professor Lucy Hodder led the discussion, which was attended by law students, attorneys practicing in New Hampshire, law enforcement and several health care professionals.

 

"The courts, like the police, often see before anyone else the impact of addiction on families and communities because they see people at their neediest," Hodder said.

 

AP

Keene is the latest in a string of New Hampshire cities to sue pharmaceutical giants over their alleged role fueling the opioid crisis. Nashua and Manchester have filed similar lawsuits, as have hundreds of communities across the country.

Robert Garrova for NHPR

Congresswoman Annie Kuster met in Concord Monday with more than a dozen state and local leaders to discuss how to best use funding aimed at the opioid epidemic.

 

Kuster led a listening session where doctors, law enforcement and mental health experts offered expertise on how to battle addiction in the state.

 

One major theme was that, while the promise of billions of dollars in funding is welcome, New Hampshire needs to do more to make sure there's a trained workforce on the front lines.

 

via UFL.edu

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program more than doubled in size last year, and many see it as an alternative to using opioids for pain management.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Pediatrician Julie Kim wrote an article for the Huffington Post about how she sometimes prefers to recommend medical marijuana to her patients. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with her about how medical marijuana has helped her with concerns over prescribing opioids to certain patients.

Jason Moon for NHPR

An addiction recovery center in Rochester celebrated a major expansion Thursday.

SOS Recovery started on the Seacoast just over 18 months ago in response to the worsening opioid crisis in the region. Since then, the peer recovery center says it’s had over 2,000 visits from people seeking help.

SOS Recovery Director John Burns says the demand was overwhelming their old space which was just about 500 square feet.

On Thursday, the center celebrated an expansion to 2,000 square feet, which is being offered by First Church Congregational at a steep discount.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

The New Hampshire House of Representatives dealt a blow Thursday to one of Governor Chris Sununu’s key priorities on the opioid front, the Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative.

The effort aims to link the private sector to the drug crisis by helping businesses better attract and retain people in recovery.

It was significant news when Hope for New Hampshire announced in February it was closing four of its five recovery centers around the state. Hope was one of the biggest operators of these facilities, which are widely recognized as a critical support for people in recovery.

Since then, after a scramble to secure more public funds and a big effort in some communities to keep services running, just one of those original four locations remains closed for good. That’s in Concord.

Credit mikecogh via Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Chris Sununu has vetoed a bill relating to prison sentences for those struggling with substance abuse.

In New Hampshire, if a prisoner is out on parole but has that parole revoked, he or she must be recommitted for at least 90 days. The parole board has some flexibility in handing down those sentences, though.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Rhode Island has become the first state to sign on to a new drug recovery initiative that Governor Chris Sununu is promoting on the national scale.

Should N.H. Consider Safe Injection Sites?

Mar 27, 2018
Wikimedia

With New Hampshire struggling in the midst of an opioid crisis, we look at a controversial idea - creating safe places for addicts to inject drugs without fear of infected needles and with access to overdose medication. Several cities in the U.S. and Canada are considering this form of what's called "harm reduction" as a way to address rising overdose rates as well as the public health crisis.  But it is a controversial idea, seen by others as indulging and encouraging addiction.  

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 23, 2018

Mar 23, 2018

In a visit to Manchester this week, President Trump discusses efforts to combat the opioid crisis and floats the idea of the death penalty for drug traffickers.  With the deadline for bills in the legislature to "crossover" from one chamber to the other, we look at which bills struggled, which sailed through, and what is still up for debate.  Plus,  a last-minute attempt to change the Granite State’s gun laws.

Paige Sutherland / NHPR

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is cheering a significant increase in federal funds for fighting the opioid epidemic included in the federal spending deal released Wednesday. The draft bill contains an additional $3 billion over 2017 funding levels to fight opioid and mental health crises nationally.

“These federal dollars will deliver the material assistance that is desperately needed for prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement and first responders,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen in a statement Thursday.  

NHPR File Photo

Those pushing for more money to fight the opioid epidemic in the state are cheering a $333,000 federal grant announced this week that's targeted at some of the first points of contact for those struggling with the drugs. 

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