Addiction

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

New Hampshire is one step closer to overhauling its infrastructure for combatting the opioid epidemic.

State lawmakers on Friday approved nearly $20 million in federal money to bolster treatment and recovery programs over the next 10 months.

The funding was announced last month, and becomes official this week. The state must start spending it within 90 days.

Nearly $9 million will go toward developing a hub-and-spoke model with hospitals serving as the go-to spot for someone seeking help for addiction.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/accoster/2264295876/">adam coster</a> / flickr

Churches across New Hampshire will say prayers on Sunday for those who are struggling with addiction. It's one way they're observing Overdose Awareness Day later in the week.

Richard Davenport is the priest and pastor at the Trinity Episcopal Church & Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Claremont.

His congregation isn't a stranger to the opioid crisis that's hit New Hampshire hard. Some have lost loved ones, and others struggle with addiction.

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New Hampshire has until mid-August to submit a plan for how to spend $23 million in response to the opioid epidemic.

There is so much interest that a public input session scheduled for tonight in Concord was booked to capacity before it began.

 

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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. 

The Rochester City Council rejected a community petition on Tuesday to relocate a private drug recovery center.

The council said it doesn't have the legal authority to force a relocation unless the center is breaking the law or violating a zoning ordinance.

Sixty-five people have signed the petition. In it, community members say they’ve have seen an increase in drug activity in their neighborhood around the SOS Recovery Community Organization.

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.

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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. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, a chief architect of the state's new Medicaid expansion program, is pushing back against financial concerns raised by mental health and substance abuse treatment providers.

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. 

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

 

Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie of New Hampshire is traveling this week to the U.S.-Mexico border to evaluate efforts underway to combat the trafficking of illicit drugs.

Hassan is a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has oversight on a number of border functions.

She will receive briefings from Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and discuss how Congress can better support their efforts to detect, intercept, and halt the trafficking of fentanyl and other illicit drugs.

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.

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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

A bill meant to bolster Republican Gov. Chris Sununu's recovery friendly workplaces initiative faces an uphill battle in the House.

Sununu recently launched a program to provide training and resources to businesses that commit to hiring and working with people in recovery from drug addiction.

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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. 

N.H. Program Launched to Treat Pregnant Substance Abusers

Mar 19, 2018
AP

  Experts from the University of New Hampshire are teaming up with several New England health care providers to offer education and support in rural areas for pregnant women with substance abuse disorders.

Health care providers from Aroostook County in Maine, northern and central New Hampshire and southern Vermont will get access to behavioral health experts through a telehealth system.

The experts will work to identify clinical strategies, screening tools and available resources.

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A new non-profit organization wants to open an addiction recovery center in Concord–in space that was only recently occupied by a different drug abuse recovery group.

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery announced last month that it would be closing its Concord office, along with three other locations around the state.

Since then, the state and others have come forward with funding for all the other centers, at least in the short-term, but not for the Concord center. Its Concord location closed its doors March 2. 

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

The Executive Council unanimously approved $600,000 for Manchester-based Hope for New Hampshire Recovery Wednesday, despite a recent audit finding the organization has failed to comply with state contracts in the past.

Paige Sutherland / NHPR

A state audit of one of the largest operators of drug recovery centers in New Hampshire has pointed to multiple problems with the organization's financial and operational policies, as well as failure to meet certain billing and reporting requirements. 

Robert Garrova for NHPR

The Merrimack County Department of Corrections opened the Edna McKenna Community Corrections Center Monday. It's an almost $7 million renovation and expansion project, re-purposing a 1983-built jail that was left vacant for a decade.

 

Officials hope the 68-bed site will decrease recidivism rates in the county by offering classes on things like life skills, parenting, and workforce readiness.

 

But the McKenna facility will also offer drug treatment programs.

 

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

When you think about New Hampshire’s opioid crisis, Manchester and Nashua tend to come to mind. That’s because they’ve been getting most of the attention…and resources.

But as NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reports, smaller towns in the Northern part of the state are battling this crisis too…and struggling to do so.

NHPR File Photo

New Hampshire's largest operator of drug recovery centers is closing all but one of its locations, citing financial struggles.

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery offers support services for people struggling with drug addiction. But the organization announced Tuesday it'll close four centers: in Franklin, Concord, Claremont, and Berlin.

Those centers will close by the end of the month. It'll keep its doors open only in Manchester. That's its original -- and largest -- location.  

N.H. Senate Rejects Tapping Rainy Day Fund for Drug Crisis

Feb 18, 2018
NHPR File Photo

  New Hampshire won't be tapping into its Rainy Day Fund to fight the opioid crisis.

The state Senate on Thursday voted down legislation that would have allowed the governor or Legislature to declare a public health emergency and tap into 10 percent of the state's Rainy Day Fund.

The fund currently stands at $100 million.

Democrats argued that the bill made sense given the scope of the problem — the state ranks third in overdose deaths.

AP

Congresswoman Annie Kuster says $6 billion in a new budget deal to fight the opioid epidemic is a good start. But she says a longer-term commitment is still missing - and she wants to ensure the funding formula treats smaller states fairly.

 

"It’s certainly more than is in the pipeline right now,” she says. “I think everyone agrees it’s critical that we get funding out on the front line to expand access to treatment and help people in their long-term recovery. We’ve got to get over the hump and save lives and get people back to work.”

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New Hampshire’s "drug czar" says the recent collapse of Manchester’s Safe Station treatment provider has revealed gaps in the state's care.

Ellen Grimm/NHPR

New Hampshire "drug czar" David Mara discusses the state's efforts to address the on-going addiction crisis.  Is the Granite state spending enough to prevent and treat addiction?  What's the right balance between law enforcement and treatment?  And is there adequate oversight of the state's drug treatment infrastructure? We also look at lessons learned from the closure of Serenity Place, Manchester's addiction treatment center associated with the Safe Station program. 

Also, we hear from NHPR's Paige Sutherland on her extensive reporting on the opioid crisis in New Hampshire. 


N.H. Reps: Trump Must Do More for Opioid Epidemic

Jan 31, 2018
Getty

  New Hampshire's Democratic congressional delegation reacting to President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech appreciate his efforts to take on the opioid epidemic, but say he hasn't done enough to get funding.

Rep. Annie Kuster says declaring the opioid epidemic a national health emergency was the right thing for Trump to do, but without the funding, it's a meaningless gesture. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen says he must finally begin fulfilling his promise to deliver treatment resources.

N.H.'s 2nd Needle Exchange Program to Open in Nashua

Jan 25, 2018
FILE

Nashua will soon have its first syringe exchange program for injection drug users.

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