Series: New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

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The state health department is hosting a public meeting in Concord a week from today for input on how to allocate a big increase in federal funds toward the opioid crisis. 

The money is coming to the state as part of the most recent Congressional budget deal.

Local officials now have less than a month to decide how it will be spent.

Members of the public can submit feedback by email through July 27. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: July 13, 2018

Jul 13, 2018

The N.H. Supreme Court decides that the voting bill defining residency/domicile, HB1264, is constitutional. Candidates for New Hampshire's First congressional district hold their first debate, amid new allegations about State Senator Andy Sanborn. State lawmakers return to Concord to figure out how tax-free New Hampshire can fend off an internet sales tax.  And Attorney General Jeff Sessions visits N.H. to discuss the opioid crisis.

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Speaking at the U.S. District Court in Concord on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a surge in federal enforcement efforts around synthetic opioids. 

AP

The Executive Council green-lighted additional state funds for drug recovery centers Wednesday.

In February, one of the state's largest operators of such facilities, Hope for New Hampshire Recovery announced it needed to roll-back its services across the state to stabilize its balance sheet. That included closing centers in Claremont and Concord.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is coming to New Hampshire to speak about the opioid and fentanyl crisis.

Sessions will deliver his remarks Thursday afternoon at the federal building in Concord.

Governor Chris Sununu’s office is pushing forward with his Recovery Friendly Workforce initiative despite roadblocks in the state legislature this spring.

The goal of the initiative is to get the private sector more involved in preventing addiction and supporting workers struggling with drug and alcohol abuse.

State health officials have released two more audits of local addiction treatment providers as part of an ongoing review of all such organizations receiving state funds. 

The audits highlight concerns with the organizations’ financial and human resource operations, particularly around proper record-keeping.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

One year after New Hampshire moved to expand access to acupuncture for those struggling with addiction and mental health, the new law has yet to be rolled out.

The legislation allows licensed recovery coaches, peer counselors and health care professionals to offer a specific type of acupuncture, what’s known as acu-detox or ear acupuncture, after going through a standard training.

CREDIT SARA PLOURDE / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu’s advisor on addiction and behavioral health, David Mara, visited with physicians and chiropractors at a Dartmouth-Hitchcock facility in Lebanon Tuesday.

They met to discuss chiropractic care as an alternative to opioids for management of back pain, a common condition.

A recent study found New Hampshire patients who were treated by chiropractors for non-cancer-related back pain were significantly less likely to fill a prescription for an opioid-based medication.

NHPR Staff

State officials have less than two months to detail their plans to spend a major increase in federal opioid dollars.

This is the money Congress made available through the budget deal in March. It's a major boost for New Hampshire -  up to nearly $23 million from just $3 million last year.

NHPR Photo

A much-awaited vote on public funds for addiction recovery efforts in Claremont and Concord was tabled at the Executive Council meeting Wednesday.

Health Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers said it’s for the sake of transparency around Harbor Homes, the organization that will facilitate those funds. 

University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy

Opioid overdose rates are rising rapidly in rural counties, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy.

Rates remain higher overall in urban areas, but have jumped more quickly outside of city centers, researchers found. They looked at two decades of death data collected by the Centers for Disease Control. 

AP

New Hampshire will soon see a more than seven-fold increase in federal funds aimed at combatting the opioid crisis, up from about $3 million to $23 million for the fiscal year ending September 30.

Overdose deaths in New Hampshire ticked up slightly last year, the vast majority opioid-related, according to new data from the state's medical examiner.

A total of 487 people died from drug use in 2017, up from 485 in 2016.

The uptick is small relative to several years of rapid growth, but still reflects the state's highest figure in well over a decade. 

Per-capita overdose deaths in New Hampshire are among the highest in the nation.

Savannah Maher/NHPR

Representatives from six state-supported addiction treatment centers gathered at the Statehouse today to rally against decreased Medicaid reimbursement rates. The change, brought on by a switch in the way Medicaid recipients are insured, will take effect next year.

Providers say it will force them to cut services and eliminate inpatient beds instead of expanding to address New Hampshire's opioid epidemic. 

Eric Molina via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4wWBoY

The Department of Health and Human Services is cancelling a funding opportunity for needle exchange programs because the grants would appear to violate state law.

Needle exchanges were legalized in the state last summer, but the new statute said groups that provide clean syringes to injection drug users must be “self-funded” to operate in New Hampshire.

A new study from the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy finds that the number of children removed from parents has increased by 50 percent from 2012 to 2016.

Cases that included a substance use allegation doubled in that time period, from 30 percent to 60 percent.

Kristin Smith is the family demographer at the Carsey School. That removal from parental care can be stressful for children, and those whose parents use substances face challenges. 

NHPR File Photo

The opioid crisis has forced physicians to rethink their prescribing practices, and many are providing fewer opioid prescriptions, potentially leaving some patients without proper pain management.

Tighter regulations and insurance requirements have reduced overprescribing, but many say this makes it difficult for patients with both acute and chronic pain to find the help they need.

U.S. Air Force

  

A recent study found that New Hampshire reduced opioid prescriptions by 15% last year, the largest drop in the country.  How have physicians changed how they prescribe opiods in acute, and chronic care settings?

Sara Plourde

Over the past few months, more than a dozen New Hampshire towns, cities and counties have filed lawsuits against major drug makers, accusing the companies of ignoring signs that their products were fueling an epidemic of addiction.

The lawsuits represent the latest turn in a story that has hit New Hampshire harder than much of the rest of the country. Here’s an overview of where things stand, and where they may be headed.

via LinkedIn

Gov. Chris Sununu’s top drug policy advisor, Marty Boldin, resigned Wednesday following an investigation by the attorney general’s office into an unspecified personnel issue.

State officials with the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office are staying mum on most of the details around his resignation.

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.

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