NH Plan to Fight Opioid Addiction Gets High Marks
CONCORD, N.H. – Health and wellness advocates say the plan to combat substance abuse in New Hampshire is an important step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
Governor Chris Sununu and Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers released details of the plan this week.
According to Jake Berry, vice president of policy with the nonprofit group New Futures, the plan for how to use a potential $45 million federal grant takes a holistic approach to addiction treatment and recovery, targeting areas where people have limited access to care by establishing regional hubs.
"One-stop shops where people can receive an assessment, be connected to treatment services,” says Berry. “These will be placed strategically throughout the state, with the goal that no one would have to travel more than 60 minutes to receive this kind of attention and care."
He says New Hampshire has the third-highest rate of opioid overdose deaths per capita in the nation, but has lagged behind other states in providing addiction services.
Berry adds the new plan also targets specific populations in need of support, including people in the criminal justice system and pregnant women.
"We really need to make sure that women, when they are expecting, that they are being treated for their addiction,” says Berry. “Otherwise, we'll be looking at another generation of kids who are facing the same struggles. So, we're really glad to see that this plan takes these groups into consideration."
But Berry adds the state still needs to step up its drug-abuse prevention efforts, especially education – making sure that children understand the risks of opioid drug use, and that adults know what to do with unwanted or outdated opioid medications.
"A lot of these are the more traditional prescription painkillers that need to be disposed of in a safe way, and people just aren't always clear on how to do that,” says Berry.
Still, he says the plan released this week can make a real difference in the efforts to combat addiction in the Granite State.