Series: New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Law enforcement in New Hampshire will soon get some help in fighting the state’s drug epidemic. Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill this week putting $4.5 million towards drug enforcement.

The Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College is planning a series of performances that use theater to get at issues around drug and alcohol addiction. Redfern has received $25,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts, which will be used - in part - toward the effort.


Despite mounting public awareness, New Hampshire, like other states, struggles to contain its opioid epidemic. Part of the problem is a lack of real-time information about who’s using opioids, especially fentanyl, and how government policies can help them stop.

Dreamstime via Flickr CC

The attorney general’s efforts to investigate the role of drug companies in the state's ongoing opioid crisis took a big leap forward last week, thanks to a favorable ruling from the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Chris Jensen for NHPR

An investigation by the attorney general’s office into New Hampshire’s largest provider of drug recovery centers has ended with no criminal activity found.

But attorneys from the state’s justice department will be meeting with leadership at Hope for New Hampshire Recovery soon to offer assistance and guidance in the management of the organization.


The state’s first syringe exchange program has opened its doors.

Earlier this month Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill into law making such programs legal, allowing drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones.

David Kessler via Flickr

During the last 15 years, the number of opioids sold in this country has quadrupled, contributing to an epidemic of addiction and overdose that has ravaged communities in New Hampshire and across the country. 

Paige Sutherland

New Hampshire’s largest drug recovery organization, HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery, won’t be receiving more state funding, at least not for now.

On Wednesday the top official at New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services announced that the state is holding off on a contract with HOPE, pending investigation.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

New Hampshire has joined 36 other states in allowing illicit drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones.

Inmates at the Strafford County Jail will no longer be able to receive personal letters in the mail. The policy change comes just days after multiple inmates overdosed inside the jail.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

At the urging of a New Hampshire family who lost their son to an overdose, Granite Health system is planning a new campaign to encourage people to safely dispose of leftover prescription drugs — its goal, and title, is “Zero Left.”

Since their son, Adam, died from an apparent fentanyl overdose in 2015, Jim and Jeanne Moser of East Kingston have made it their life’s work to educate others about the importance of safely disposing of extra medication.

Chris Jensen

Over the past two years, the nonprofit organization HOPE for New Hampshire Recovery has expanded from a single modest space in Manchester to seven drug recovery centers statewide, making it the largest such organization in New Hampshire.

But Hope for New Hampshire’s growth hasn’t gone smoothly. 


The State's so-called "drug czar" is stepping down. 

James Vara, who held the position for the past year, has been nominated by Gov. Chris Sununu to serve as Chief of Staff for the Attorney General. The Executive Council must approve Vara's new position at next week's meeting.

Flickr Creative Commons / Brave Sir Robin

The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse joined New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster in Hanover Tuesday afternoon. They spoke as part of a discussion on the opioid crisis hosted by Dartmouth College.

Kuster took advantage of the opportunity to criticize President Trump’s proposed cuts to Medicaid. “We all know the importance of access to treatment for addressing this crisis," she said. "I will continue to hold this administration accountable for their actions in addressing the opioid epidemic.”

5.24.17: Spring Picks

May 24, 2017

It's spring picks week on Word of Mouth. We've scoured our playlists to bring you some of the most powerful audio we've heard in recent months. And we start with the story of a community gripped by the opioid epidemic, and how some locals are trying to stop it.

Plus we’ll hear what happens when Terry Gross switches roles and becomes the interviewee.

Links to all of today's picks can be found below.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The state Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed that the potent synthetic opiate Carfentanil has been involved in a total of six deaths in New Hampshire. 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

When recovering from an opioid addiction, one important step is finding safe, drug-free housing.

There are a lot of places in New Hampshire that call themselves 'sober living.' But with no state oversight there’s no real way to check how sober these houses actually are.

Screenshot from D.C. Presser

Democratic U.S. Senators from New Hampshire and other states hit hardest by the opioid crisis spoke out Tuesday about what they see as failures by President Donald Trump to address the epidemic.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen started off the press conference in D.C. quoting President Trump on a promise she says he’s not living up to.

Governor Chris Sununu on The Exchange

May 15, 2017
Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu sits down with The Exchange to discuss the Republican health care overhaul currently in the U.S. Senate -- and implications for the opioid crisis in the Granite State.  

We'll get Sununu's take on the two-year spending plan for the state, after the House failed to come up with its own version of the budget for the first time in recent memory.  And we look at the recent controversy over mental health staffing at the New Hampshire State Hospital.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: May 12, 2017

May 12, 2017

President Trump names N.H. Secretary of State Bill Gardner to a Presidential Commission on Election Integrity. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price visits New Hampshire to hear about the state’s response to the opioid crisis.  And legislative hearings into online postings by two state reps become contentious.  

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway stopped by Manchester’s central firehouse Wednesday, as part of the Trump Administration’s nationwide listening tour focused on the opioid epidemic.

During her visit, Conway had little to say herself. But her presence spurred lots of talk among the locals.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

After visiting Michigan and West Virginia, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price swung through Concord and Manchester Wednesday on a ‘listening tour’ regarding the opioid epidemic. Price spent about an hour at the State House meeting in private with treatment providers, families affected by opioid misuse and first responders.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office says its staff is working around the clock to get the powerful synthetic opioid Carfentanil off the streets.

Cases of Carfentanil in the state have increased from three to roughly a dozen in the past month.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will be in Concord Wednesday as part of a multi-state ‘listening session' on the opioid epidemic.

  U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price is heading to New Hampshire to discuss the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

Gov. Chris Sununu’s office says Price will be in the state Wednesday, but hasn’t provided details on the time or location.

In New Hampshire, authorities say that drug cartels are finding creative ways to get drugs on the street — from fake candy wrapping to hidden compartments in vehicles. A DEA agent says that they've found drugs like heroin and cocaine inside canned foods and car parts.

WMUR-TV reports that cartels have been lacing heroin with fentanyl, and are now creating counterfeit prescription pills. Fentanyl has been a leading cause of drug overdoses in the past year, killing nearly 500 in New Hampshire alone.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A new drug that’s 10,000 times stronger than morphine has hit the streets of New Hampshire. And that’s leaving many first responders scrambling to figure out how to deal with and treat this deadly substance.

Paige Sutherland

On Tuesday, public health officials confirmed the first cases of overdose deaths from carfentanil in New Hampshire. Carfentanil is a synthetic opiod and much more potent than the painkiller fentanyl. It can be mixed with heroin with deadly results. It can also be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled, posing a risk to first responders and health workers. 

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Public health officials announced Tuesday that for the first time in New Hampshire, the synthetic opioid carfentanil was found in the blood of three residents who died from overdoses. The drug is approximately 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and is commonly used as a tranquilizer for large animals, including elephants.

Speaking at a press conference, Governor Chris Sununu said the state’s forensic lab  confirmed the presence of the drug earlier in the day.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Everyone in New Hampshire knows the state is grappling with an opioid crisis. But some advocates are worried we are forgetting about a problem that’s been with us for much longer.