Series: New Hampshire's Opioid Crisis

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The Governor has called an emergency Executive Council meeting Friday morning to address a key drug treatment provider in Manchester that recently went under due to financial problems.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan says a bill she co-sponsored to help stop the flow of illegal fentanyl into the United States is on its way to the president's desk.

Hassan, a Democrat, says the bipartisan bill will provide scanning devices and other technology to Customs and Border Protection workers, and will boost funding for staff such as scientists to interpret screening results. Senate passage of the bill comes as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report finding that for the first time, fentanyl rather than heroin is now the deadliest opioid drug.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As the state continues to grapple with a drug problem, top state lawmakers are hoping to get businesses to be a part of the solution.

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Overdose deaths remain high, as 2017 comes to a close and state lawmakers are looking to secure more resources for the crisis when they return to the State House in January.

Flickr | frankieleon

Nashua is now the second New Hampshire city to sue pharmaceutical giants over their alleged role fueling the community’s opioid crisis. The city’s complaint is almost identical to one filed on behalf of the city of Manchester in September.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that New Hampshire had one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the country last year.

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A key player in the state’s fight against drug addiction has gone under financially, after running a deficit of more than half a million dollars.

A new report from UNH's Carsey School of Public Policy is sounding alarm over the growing number of New Hampshire infants born dependent on opioids.

Britta Greene / NHPR

NHPR News covered hundreds of stories in 2017. They ranged from the sublime (see Todd Bookman's story about an amateur synchronized swimming team in Hancock), to the tragic - such as Jack Rodolico's Heroin Diaries, in which a wife of an overdose victim discovers his videos chronicling his struggle.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

New Hampshire Democrats are backing a bill that would allow money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to be used to combat the opioid crisis.

The “RESCUE Act” would permit the governor or the state legislature to declare a public health emergency, triggering the release of 10 percent of the Rainy Day Fund, which currently totals around $100 million.

Senate Democrats say the money is needed to address the opioid crisis, and make up for a lack of funding from Washington.  

The state medical examiner’s office is dealing with a heavy workload amid the opioid crisis and staffing shortages. Its case load has nearly doubled in the last two decades due to population growth and the drug crisis. Former chief medical examiner Dr. Andrew Thomas retired this year, and Dr. Jennie Duval took his place.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Duval about how the office is coping with these challenges.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

NHPR File

With New Hampshire still in opioid crisis mode, Chris Hickey says part of the challenge continues to be fighting the stigma around drug addiction.

Hickey is the firefighter behind the Manchester Fire Department's "Safe Station," a program that welcomes addicts and directs them to available drug and substance abuse treatment and recovery services.

ThorPorre / Wikimedia Commons

The FDA announced last week that it plans to block U.S. shipments of a dietary supplement that's popular in New Hampshire.

The administration has issued an urgent warning about the herbal supplement kratom, saying it can be addictive and deadly. But former opioid users have said it’s helped them with recovery.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark about kratom and its use in New Hampshire.

(Editor's note: this transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.)

N.H. Businesses Step Up to Help Tackle State's Drug Crisis

Nov 16, 2017
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Addressing the state’s drug crisis has been an all hands on deck approach from the medical community, law enforcement to social workers.

But advocates are saying one missing player in all this – has been employers. And how they can be a part of the solution. Whether that’s offering jobs to those in recovery or simply changing how addiction is addressed and talked about at work.

FILE

On Friday businesses in New Hampshire will come together for a job fair in Portsmouth targeted at hiring people in the drug recovery community.

The U.S. senators from New Hampshire and West Virginia have introduced a bill to prioritize federal funding for states that have been hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.

It would require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to take into account mortality rates and lack of access to treatment and services when allocating grants to states, rather than making determinations based on population size.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

About 10 patients of a New London doctor traveled to Concord Friday to observe her first appearance in court. Dr. Anna Konopka, who is 84, is challenging the New Hampshire Board of Medicine, saying she was forced to surrender her license and close her practice last month. The board argues instead that Konopka, aware of the allegations against her, chose to settle and surrender her license voluntarily.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

In September Manchester saw record breaking numbers in both drug fatalities and overdoses. So for many voters heading to the polls next week for local elections - this crisis remains their number one issue.

Mark Colomb; Wikimedia Commons

A recent anonymous $3 million donation to help pregnant women and their babies fight addiction highlights the challenges, and costs, of caring for this population. Mothers and their newborns face specific hurdles when it comes to addiction, and hospitals and care centers have struggled to adapt to meet those needs.  


AP

A week of New Hampshire headlines included yet another big one about the opioid epidemic. 

Elected leaders continue to call attention to the opioid, heroin, and fentanyl epidemic, which President Trump officially labeled a national public health emergency. He singled out Manchester's "Safe Station" program, and Fire Chief Dan Goonan, in his speech.

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: October 27, 2017

Oct 27, 2017

N.H. officials are among those at the White House for President Trump's announcement that he will declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.  New data show that New Hampshire's public colleges have the highest cost for in-state students anywhere in the country.  A task force looking at the future of the Manchester VA loses a controversial co-chair.  And Bernie Sanders rallies Granite State Democrats.


www.massfiretrucks.com

When President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency on Thursday, he tipped his hat to a program in New Hampshire that aims to help those on the front lines.

President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday, freeing up resources to deal with the epidemic.

Last year, more than 64,000 people died from drug overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics. Many of those overdoses were from heroin, prescription painkillers, fentanyl and other opioids.

Sununu Heads to Washington For Opioid Related Event

Oct 25, 2017
Allegra Boverman

Governor Chris Sununu will be back in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, this time to talk about the opioid crisis. Sununu was at the White House earlier this month for a summit on regulation.

Courtesy of Keene State College

New Hampshire police chiefs overwhelmingly cite drug abuse as the most serious problem facing their communities, according to a new survey from Keene State College.

“Police chiefs are confronting these problems every day,” said Keene State Professor Angela Barlow, who directed the survey. “And they’re having very little success at reducing the opioid crisis and addiction issues within their communities.”

The survey went out to all full-time police chiefs in New Hampshire last year. About half, including those from the largest cities, responded, Barlow said.

Courtesy Jennifer Couzins

Almost two years ago, a woman called the NHPR newsroom to share the kind of story we, unfortunately, were all too familiar with. It was the story of her husband, Daniel Couzins, who had recently died of a fentanyl overdose at the age of 31.

(Courtesy of Jennifer Couzins)

An intimate story of addiction, grief, and a couple in crisis will air on New Hampshire Public Radio and via a nationally distributed podcast focusing on the ongoing public health threat posed by opioid use.

Sara Plourde

We talk to NHPR reporter Paige Sutherland about two topics in her series, "Alternatives - N.H. Gets Creative to Curb Ongoing Opioid Crisis": an acupuncture detoxification treatment and involuntary commitment. 


PAIGE SUTHERLAND/NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu announced Tuesday that the state will be investing in Manchester’s Safe Station Program. The program has transformed the city's fire stations into access points for struggling addicts. 

New Hampshire police say they've arrested seven people in an ongoing effort to break up the drug trade in Nashua.

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