Crossroad

Crossroad: The NH Opioid Reporting Project explores how government, the healthcare system and local communities are responding to New Hamphire’s addiction crisis. We're using data and scientific research, as well as reporting from the front lines to examine how lawmakers and other officials are working to expand treatment, address the causes of addiction and save lives.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions is coming to New Hampshire to speak about the opioid and fentanyl crisis.

Sessions will deliver his remarks Thursday afternoon at the federal building in Concord.

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.

State health officials have released two more audits of local addiction treatment providers as part of an ongoing review of all such organizations receiving state funds. 

The audits highlight concerns with the organizations’ financial and human resource operations, particularly around proper record-keeping.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

One year after New Hampshire moved to expand access to acupuncture for those struggling with addiction and mental health, the new law has yet to be rolled out.

The legislation allows licensed recovery coaches, peer counselors and health care professionals to offer a specific type of acupuncture, what’s known as acu-detox or ear acupuncture, after going through a standard training.

CREDIT SARA PLOURDE / NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu’s advisor on addiction and behavioral health, David Mara, visited with physicians and chiropractors at a Dartmouth-Hitchcock facility in Lebanon Tuesday.

They met to discuss chiropractic care as an alternative to opioids for management of back pain, a common condition.

A recent study found New Hampshire patients who were treated by chiropractors for non-cancer-related back pain were significantly less likely to fill a prescription for an opioid-based medication.

NHPR Staff

State officials have less than two months to detail their plans to spend a major increase in federal opioid dollars.

This is the money Congress made available through the budget deal in March. It's a major boost for New Hampshire -  up to nearly $23 million from just $3 million last year.

Drug Recovery Funds Delayed as N.H. Finalizes Audit

Jun 20, 2018
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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. 

University of New Hampshire's Carsey School of Public Policy

Opioid overdose rates are rising rapidly in rural counties, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy.

Rates remain higher overall in urban areas, but have jumped more quickly outside of city centers, researchers found. They looked at two decades of death data collected by the Centers for Disease Control. 

AP

New Hampshire will soon see a more than seven-fold increase in federal funds aimed at combatting the opioid crisis, up from about $3 million to $23 million for the fiscal year ending September 30.

Overdose deaths in New Hampshire ticked up slightly last year, the vast majority opioid-related, according to new data from the state's medical examiner.

A total of 487 people died from drug use in 2017, up from 485 in 2016.

The uptick is small relative to several years of rapid growth, but still reflects the state's highest figure in well over a decade. 

Per-capita overdose deaths in New Hampshire are among the highest in the nation.

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.

Courtesy of Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine

Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine is launching new research looking at the effectiveness of treatment programs for pregnant women struggling with opioid abuse.

Standard care for this population involves both prenatal care and addiction treatment, including a medication like Suboxone or methadone to stop the symptoms of withdrawal.

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A recent study found that New Hampshire reduced opioid prescriptions by 15% last year, the largest drop in the country.  How have physicians changed how they prescribe opiods in acute, and chronic care settings?

Sara Plourde

Over the past few months, more than a dozen New Hampshire towns, cities and counties have filed lawsuits against major drug makers, accusing the companies of ignoring signs that their products were fueling an epidemic of addiction.

The lawsuits represent the latest turn in a story that has hit New Hampshire harder than much of the rest of the country. Here’s an overview of where things stand, and where they may be headed.

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Gov. Chris Sununu’s top drug policy advisor, Marty Boldin, resigned Wednesday following an investigation by the attorney general’s office into an unspecified personnel issue.

State officials with the attorney general’s office and the governor’s office are staying mum on most of the details around his resignation.

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. 

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Marty Boldin, Gov. Chris Sununu’s top drug policy advisor, has been on paid administrative leave since the end of April.

But at least one month before that, concerns about Boldin’s behavior came to the attention of the state Department of Health and Human Services, according to interviews and an email obtained by NHPR.

Sheryl Rich-Kern / NHPR

Grandparents have always played a meaningful part in their grandchildren’s lives. But in the face of the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire, more are taking on the role of full-time caregivers.  And that means they have to prepare – emotionally and financially – to raise young kids at a time when most of their peers are slowing down.

As part of NHPR's Crossroad series, which examines the impact of substance abuse on the Granite State, NHPR Contributor Sheryl Rich-Kern visited one grand-family in Rochester.

Via LinkedIn

A top advisor to Gov. Chris Sununu has been placed on paid administrative leave and is under review by the attorney general’s office for an unspecified personnel issue.

Marty Boldin — Sununu’s Policy Advisor for Substance Misuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery — will remain on leave until the attorney general’s review is complete, the governor’s Chief of Staff Jayne Millerick said Friday afternoon.

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.

AP

Keene is the latest in a string of New Hampshire cities to sue pharmaceutical giants over their alleged role fueling the opioid crisis. Nashua and Manchester have filed similar lawsuits, as have hundreds of communities across the country.

Britta Greene / New Hampshire Public Radio

The New Hampshire House of Representatives dealt a blow Thursday to one of Governor Chris Sununu’s key priorities on the opioid front, the Recovery Friendly Workplace initiative.

The effort aims to link the private sector to the drug crisis by helping businesses better attract and retain people in recovery.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

It was significant news when Hope for New Hampshire announced in February it was closing four of its five recovery centers around the state. Hope was one of the biggest operators of these facilities, which are widely recognized as a critical support for people in recovery.

Since then, after a scramble to secure more public funds and a big effort in some communities to keep services running, just one of those original four locations remains closed for good. That’s in Concord.

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
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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.  

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.  

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.

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.

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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.

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