Hundreds Seek Addiction Help in First Month of New State 'Doorway' Program

Feb 4, 2019

Nine regional "hubs" form the backbone of the state's new addiction treatment system, offering an open door for those seeking help.
Credit Sara Plourde / New Hampshire Public Radio

More than 350 people connected with services through the Doorway – the state’s new addiction treatment system – in the program’s first month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

That figure includes individuals who appeared in person at one of nine regional offices, also called “hubs,” as well as those who called the statewide 2-1-1 hotline for help.

Predicting demand for Doorway services has been a challenge for public health officials. 

While the need for addiction care clearly exists – New Hampshire's overdose rate remains one of the highest in the nation – it's unclear how well the new system addresses longstanding barriers to treatment. 

Many regional hubs are keeping normal business hours and, particularly in rural areas, can be up to an hour's drive from a patient's home. That leaves transportation as a major hurdle, and often takes an immediate, in-person consultation – which public health officials say can be critical in breaking the cycle of drug use – off the table. 

The Doorway is funded by a large federal grant aimed at the opioid crisis, and is largely structured around treating opioid use disorders. But in its first month, many are also turning to the program for help with a different substance altogether – alcohol.

At the Concord hub, for example, about a third of individuals received a primary diagnosis of alcohol use disorder in January, according to Sarah Gagnon, Vice President of Clinical Operations at Riverbend Community Mental Health Center.

In the Lakes Region, about a quarter of calls have been alcohol related, said Corey Gately, who is overseeing the hub in Laconia.  

Alcoholism remains a more common disease than opioid use disorder, despite recent attention on the drug crisis. Health Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers has directed hubs to treat anyone who walks in the door, regardless of the specific addiction at play.