Series: New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Rhode Island has become the first state to sign on to a new drug recovery initiative that Governor Chris Sununu is promoting on the national scale.

Should N.H. Consider Safe Injection Sites?

Mar 27, 2018
Wikimedia

With New Hampshire struggling in the midst of an opioid crisis, we look at a controversial idea - creating safe places for addicts to inject drugs without fear of infected needles and with access to overdose medication. Several cities in the U.S. and Canada are considering this form of what's called "harm reduction" as a way to address rising overdose rates as well as the public health crisis.  But it is a controversial idea, seen by others as indulging and encouraging addiction.  

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: March 23, 2018

Mar 23, 2018

In a visit to Manchester this week, President Trump discusses efforts to combat the opioid crisis and floats the idea of the death penalty for drug traffickers.  With the deadline for bills in the legislature to "crossover" from one chamber to the other, we look at which bills struggled, which sailed through, and what is still up for debate.  Plus,  a last-minute attempt to change the Granite State’s gun laws.

Paige Sutherland / NHPR

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is cheering a significant increase in federal funds for fighting the opioid epidemic included in the federal spending deal released Wednesday. The draft bill contains an additional $3 billion over 2017 funding levels to fight opioid and mental health crises nationally.

“These federal dollars will deliver the material assistance that is desperately needed for prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement and first responders,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen in a statement Thursday.  

NHPR File Photo

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. 

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

President Trump's speech at Manchester Community College today about the national opioid epidemic included plenty of New Hampshire references.

Trump took time to thank Governor Chris Sununu and Manchester Fire Chief Daniel Goonan for attending.

The speech ranged widely on topics including sanctuary cities, DACA and the border wall with Mexico, but the President did not make any specific announcement of new funding measures to fight the opioid epidemic.

Trump did make it clear that he wants to see tougher penalties for those convicted of drug trafficking.

Opioid Crisis is Taking A Toll on Those On the Frontlines

Mar 19, 2018
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

The drug crisis in New Hampshire has left its mark on thousands of people - those struggling with addiction, their families, friends and co-workers.

But increasing attention is being paid to another group bearing a burden from the epidemic: first responders and those working in the recovery field.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

  President Donald Trump's plan to combat opioid drug addiction calls for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty where it's appropriate under current law.

Administration officials say Trump also wants Congress to pass legislation reducing the amount of drugs necessary to trigger mandatory minimum sentences on traffickers who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids.

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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

President Trump will visit Manchester Monday, where's he's expected to announce a new plan to battle the nationwide opioid crisis.

Manchester Fire Department Chief Daniel Goonan knows first-hand how big his city’s opioid problem is.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

President Donald Trump's planned visit to New Hampshire next week is expected to focus on the opioid epidemic, and some local responses to it.

 

In Manchester on Monday, he will unveil a new plan to battle the national opioid crisis, according to news reports.

 

b / New Hampshire Public Radio

State officials are working on a deal to secure funding for drug recovery services in Sullivan County. That’s after the major provider in the region, Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, announced it was rolling back its offerings last month.

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

More than half a million dollars in new state funding for a major operator of recovery centers is up in the air ahead of a key Executive Council vote Wednesday morning. 

That’s after the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday released an audit of the organization, Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, detailing financial and operational concerns.

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. 

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.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

Craig Perry stopped by the Claremont office of Hope for New Hampshire Recovery on Thursday afternoon. He struggled with addiction for a good chunk of his 20s, but now, at 30 years old, he’s been clean for about a year and a half.

His drug problems started when he took his first job after college, he said. He’d get high on lunch breaks.  “I didn’t know it’d affect me like that,” he said. “More and more, and then I had to go to heavier stuff.”

He’s been coming to the center here for about five months. He has a close relationship with its manager, who's been a bedrock counselor in his recovery.

Paige Sutherland / NHPR

Advocates for the Hope for New Hampshire Recovery center in Berlin are scrambling to save it. The center is one of four slated to close in the next two weeks.

Hope for New Hampshire offers peer-to-peer drug and alcohol recovery services, but the organization announced earlier this week that it’s in a financial bind, and has to close shop everywhere but Manchester.

Robert Garrova for NHPR

Dartmouth-Hitchcock announced a $2.7 million federal grant today that will go toward treating pregnant women struggling with opioid addiction.

 

The non-profit health system says the two-year grant will allow it to help seven maternity care offices throughout the state build out Medication Assisted Treatment programs. The idea is that pregnant women suffering from opioid use disorder will be more likely to seek help in a maternity care environment.

 

Courtesy NH State Police

Law enforcement officials say a massive drug sweep on Thursday resulted in 151 arrests and the seizure of more than 550 grams of heroin and fentanyl.

The Granite Shield operation involved dozens of partner agencies who fanned out across the state, targeting opioid and other drug dealers.

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.”

We talk with Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster about the efforts of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force to increase funding to fight the opioid epidemic.  The new federal budget deal passed last week includes $6 billion in funding for opioid abuse and mental health treatment.  We discuss how much N.H. might receive, who decides, and how it would be spent.

Addiction in the Workplace

Feb 11, 2018
Pexels

In the midst of a drug crisis, New Hampshire is also dealing with a severe labor shortage.  So now, some employers and the state hope to creatively address where the two overlap, promoting so-called "recovery friendly workplaces".  We look at the practical, legal, and financial aspects of this. 

AP

New Hampshire Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan say they have helped to secure an agreement to provide an additional $6 billion to respond to the national opioid epidemic over the next two years.

The Democratic senators said Wednesday they also received assurances that the opioid funding formula will be improved to prioritize states like New Hampshire with high mortality rates from overdoses.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

New Hampshire’s substance abuse crisis is often linked with a single type of drug: opioids. But another illicit drug is rising in use. That’s methamphetamines.

Over the past three years, meth cases have more than doubled each year in the state.

NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reports from one Southern New Hampshire town where meth use is raising particular concern.

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.

A former physician at Valley Regional hospital in Claremont has been charged with sexual assault.

The Claremont Police and Sullivan County Attorney's office announced the arrest of Dr. Eric L. Knight Monday after a months-long investigation.

The New Hampshire Board of Medicine suspended Knight's medical license in September. He was fired from Valley Regional in June.

AP

The obituary, so stark and visceral, captured the public’s attention.

It was for 24-year-old Molly Alice Parks. She died in 2015 of a heroin overdose in the bathroom of her Manchester workplace.

The obit’s final line: “If you have any loved ones who are fighting addiction, Molly’s family asks that you do everything possible to be supportive, and guide them to rehabilitation before it is too late.”

But what if you don’t? What if you’re lucky enough not to have a loved one battling this addiction?

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Merrimack town councilors are set to vote Thursday on whether to create a specialized drug unit within the police force.

The proposal is in response to police reporting an influx of drug use at hotels in town – specifically meth use.

In just two weeks there have been 17 drug arrests, most involving meth.

Police Chief Denise Roy says without a drug unit, the department doesn’t have the time or resources to stop this from getting worse.

Pages