Series: New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

Casey McDermott, NHPR

New Hampshire Public Radio has spent two years exploring the opioid crisis, examining everything from how it began to how state officials and the treatment community have responded. In that time, nearly 1,000 Granite Staters have died from drug overdoses — and many, many more have struggled with addiction.

We want to continue our reporting on this important issue in the year ahead, and we need your help. We want to hear how heroin and opioid use has affected your life, whether you've personally experienced addiction or whether you've dealt with the issue secondhand — as a friend, family member, treatment provider or otherwise.

Our hope is that by listening to people who've been touched by the epidemic, we'll better understand the disease of addiction and its impact on our community. 

A bill in the New Hampshire legislature could make it legal to hospitalize someone against their will because of a drug addiction. The bill would amend the state law that allows authorities to involuntarily commit people suffering from a serious mental illness who pose a threat to themselves.

Republic Senator Jeb Bradley says he proposed the bill after he spoke with the family of someone who died of an overdose.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: December 23, 2016

Dec 22, 2016

It’s our year-end review of the top 2016 news stories in New Hampshire, from politics to precipitation. It was a year in which PFOA. became a household term in many communities, the First In the Nation presidential primary seemed to last forever, and fentanyl made its mark, causing a steep increase in overdose deaths.  We'll also discuss this week's alarming report on the state's child protective services agency.


Weekly N.H. News Roundup: December 16, 2016

Dec 15, 2016

Join us for the top Granite State headlines this week, including N.H. political races caught up in revelations about Russian hacking.  Another grim record set as drug deaths in the state reach nearly 400.  And the state seeks to have a suit against DCYF dismissed in a child abuse case.

GUESTS:

  • Casey McDermott, NHPR digital reporter.
  • Ella Nilsen, Concord Monitor reporter.
  • Dave Solomon, Union Leader reporter.

Brian Wallstin/NHPR

A physician assistant sanctioned a year ago for improperly prescribing narcotic painkillers has been ordered to surrender his license permanently. 

Chris Clough, a long-time employee of the state's largest chain of pain clinics, failed to abide by restrictions placed on his license two years ago, according to the New Hampshire Board of Medicine.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

  At least 369 people have fatally overdosed in New Hampshire this year, according to an update released Tuesday by the state medical examiner.

But the state says another 78 cases are still under review, so the actual number could be even higher. 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A new peer recovery center for addiction has opened its doors in Manchester. In the past week, the nonprofit Hope for New Hampshire Recovery has seen roughly 230 people a day. 

FILE

Federal legislation aimed at helping states struggling with the opioid epidemic is headed to President Obama’s desk. That’s after the U.S. Senate Wednesday passed the proposal 94 to 5.

Michael Brindley

  Pregnant women battling substance abuse addiction in New Hampshire have a new place for treatment.

Hope on Haven Hill opens its doors in Rochester on Thursday. The residential program will provide treatment for up to eight pregnant women in recovery as they prepare for birth.

And new mothers will be able to continue living at the home for up to a year with their babies as their treatment continues postpartum.

Getty Images

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.

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.

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. 

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