Series: New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

via UFL.edu

New Hampshire’s medical marijuana program finally got off the ground in April, with the opening of the state’s first cannabis treatment center. Three of the four state-licensed dispensaries are now operating, and more than 1,100 people with serious illnesses are approved to use the drug.

But many, if not most, of the New Hampshire residents who could potentially benefit from medical marijuana won’t be able to legally obtain it.

Hassan, Baker Tout Opioid 'Road Map' For States

Jul 18, 2016
NGA webstream

  Governor Maggie Hassan has joined with governors across the country in a new effort to confront the opioid crisis. 

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. 

Dodgerton Skillhause / Morguefile

Executive Councilors approved two contracts Wednesday that provide the state with more funding to address the opioid crisis.

About $3 million dollars will go into medical training, medication-assisted treatment, and information about substance use disorder.

Councilor Chris Pappas says he thinks these contracts will have an immediate impact in the state’s ability to handle the drug crisis.

“Make sure we get people the treatment they need; make sure that medications are available for people so they can get well and get over their substance use disorder,” he said.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into law a bill to put state dollars into new and existing drug court programs across New Hampshire.

But for the past four years, Belknap County has been running its own drug court program without any financial help from the county, state or federal government.

They call it recovery court and it’s under the direction of a judge who has placed compassion at the heart of the program.

The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill intended to change the way police and health care workers treat people struggling with opioid addictions.

The bill, which had previously passed the House, will now be sent to President Obama. He has indicated that he will sign it, despite concerns that it doesn't provide enough funding.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Most communities across New Hampshire have been touched by the opioid crisis that’s taken the lives of more than 400 Granite Staters last year, a majority from heroin and fentanyl.

But one place in the Lakes Region stands out not for its significantly high overdose numbers but rather how its community is responding.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Senator Jeanne Shaheen says while passing the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act this week will be a step in the right direction, it's ultimately a disappointment because it doesn't include the funding needed to address the crisis.

"While it makes some changes in programs so that it expands what we can do under certain programs, it doesn’t include the funding that is so desperately needed," Shaheen told NHPR's Morning Edition.

  The latest numbers from the New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner show that at least 161 people have fatally overdosed so far in 2016.

Officials are anticipating that those numbers will continue to rise in the months ahead, and the state is projecting at least 494 overdose deaths by the end of the year. 

Physicians licensed to prescribe a medication that reduces cravings and eases withdrawal for people addicted to heroin and other opioids will now be allowed to treat more patients.

 

Under new rules announced Wednesday by the Obama administration, physicians who prescribe Suboxone can treat 275 patients at a time, up from 100.

 

The Obama administration is making it easier for people addicted to opioids to get treatment.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced new rules Wednesday to loosen restrictions on doctors who treat people addicted to heroin and opioid painkillers with the medication buprenorphine.

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

New Hampshire Congresswoman Annie Kuster has introduced a bill that would put labels on opioids to warn users about the addictive nature of narcotics.

Ollie Atkins / Richard Nixon Presidential Library

When politicians talk about drug abuse, ‘tough on crime’ is a phrase that seems to be going out of style as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the "War on Drugs" didn’t solve the problem.

Jason Moon for NHPR

Today lawmakers approved a 1.5 million dollar statewide drug enforcement program known as Granite Hammer.

After a lengthy procedural debate in the House over whether to proceed with the special session, members voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. The legislation, based on a Manchester Police Department initiative, would create a grant program to fund drug enforcement efforts at county and local police departments.

Emily Corwin for NHPR

In Nashua on Wednesday, Republican Ted Gatsas announced his plan to fight opiate addiction across the state. In front of city hall, Gatsas told a small gathering of reporters the heroin crisis needs leadership, saying, "My first act as Governor would be to declare this fentanyl heroin epidemic is a public health emergency." 

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

   

All six New England governors say fighting the social stigma associated with addiction is key to battling the opioid crisis raging across the region, claiming thousands of lives.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker participated at the Harvard Medical School forum Tuesday with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.

What it Takes to Overcome Addiction in N.H.

Jun 6, 2016
BFD Lt / flickr/cc

We kick off the Morning Edition series, Hope on the Front Lines, examining the many efforts around the state helping people overcome addiction.  We'll look at the array of approaches available in the state including new medicines that curb drug cravings as well as others that revive overdose victims.  Recovery coaches, counselors and doctors are also involved on the the long road to full recovery. 


Hope on the Front Lines was a week-long series focusing on the people and organizations working to make a difference on the front lines of New Hampshire's opioid crisis. Produced by NHPR's Morning Edition team, host Rick Ganley and producer Michael Brindley traveled the state to meet people on the ground level of a growing epidemic, doing what they can to help in their communities.  

Six police departments in New Hampshire and Maine plan to open their police stations to drug addicts seeking treatment.

Under the Community Access to Recovery program, those suffering from drug addiction may come to the police departments and be referred to treatment.

Police departments in Portsmouth, Dover and Newmarket, New Hampshire, and Eliot, York and Kittery, Maine, are participating.

They plan to announce the program on Wednesday.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

This week lawmakers will have their final say on dozens of bills still left over from this year's legislative session. Wednesday is the last chance any bills have of making it to the Governor’s desk this year.

Carol Robidoux

  A Nashua man is the latest New Hampshire resident to be held criminally liable for the overdose death of another person as part of an aggressive effort by the attorney general's office to hold drug dealers responsible for what they sell.

Twenty-seven-year-old Kevin Manchester is facing a 'death resulting' charge in the January overdose death of Michelle MacLeod. The charge carries up to a life sentence, just like murder. 

NHPR Staff

New Hampshire will spend $100,000 to hire a law firm to investigate whether drug makers have marketed opioids in a deceptive fashion. New Hampshire's Executive Council voted unanimously to allow the Attorney General's office to hire the Washington law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll.

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Lawmakers in Congress appear to be finding some common ground when it comes to dealing with the heroin and opioid addiction crisis.

But how much money will actually be put toward funding treatment and prevention programs remains a sticking point.

When it comes to understanding heroin and opioid deaths, data matters. But across the country, medical examiners and coroners vary widely in just how much information they provide on death certificates.

Courtney Griffin was addicted to heroin and ready to get help. She packed up her things, and her mom drove her to a residential treatment facility about an hour from their home in New Hampshire. There was a bed waiting for her.

Michael Burghardt couldn't sleep. His legs were shaking, his bones ached and he couldn't stop throwing up.

Burghardt was in the Valley Street Jail in Manchester, N.H. This was his 11th stay at the jail in the last 12 years. There had been charges for driving without a license, and arguments where the police were called. This time, Burghardt was in after an arrest for transporting drugs in a motor vehicle.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

This is the first week inmates about to be released from prison in New Hampshire can receive the substance abuse medication Vivitrol.

The program is designed to reduce re-offenses and drug overdoses after release.

DOC deputy commissioner Helen Hanks says the prison will give inmates a single dose of Vivitrol seven days before they return to the community. Then, Hanks says, “We connect them with a primary care provider so that we continue that continuity of care model to help them have the best success they can.”

 New Hampshire residents struggling with heroin addiction and other substance use disorders will soon be able to call a state hotline for help.

Gov. Maggie Hassan announced the hotline Tuesday at the opening of a summit on substance abuse. She says the 24-hour crisis hotline will start up later this week. The number has not been provided yet.

More than 800 people from health care, law enforcement, education and other fields are attending the conference in Manchester devoted to the state's rising drug crisis. More than 400 people died of drug overdoses last year.

Welcome to opioid week in the U.S. House of Representatives.

That’s what House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has dubbed it. Members of Congress received word late last week, as they wrapped up their brief recess, that opiate-related legislation will go to the House floor this week. Details are still emerging; but this week promises to be a major step for the work of New England lawmakers on the issue.

Getty Images

 

Hundreds of New Hampshire professionals from health care, law enforcement, education and other fields are gathering in Manchester for the Governor's Summit on Substance Misuse.

Tuesday's daylong conference is aimed at encouraging participants to reach beyond their professions and learn from their peers in other areas to address a growing crisis of heroin addiction and other substance use disorders in the state.

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