Drug money


For nearly two years, New Hampshire has been focused on opioid-use disorders, funneling millions of dollars into combating the epidemic.

But with each dollar that came to treatment centers through the State Opioid Response grant programs, there was no equivalent funding received to help those with other substance-use disorders.

To help, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., announced Monday a provision in new funding legislation being voted on this week for fiscal year 2020, allowing treatment providers to also use these federal grants for people suffering from cocaine and methamphetamine dependencies.

During a news teleconference Monday afternoon, staff members of Shaheen’s office noted treatment centers had been asking for this flexibility in funding.

“It’s a very smart move for her to broaden the availability of funding for additional substances,” said Jocelyn Goldblatt, executive director of the Keene Serenity Center, a recovery community that offers treatment referrals, recovery coaches and support groups. “I’m not sure why we fund by substance anyway, since addiction is not always substance specific [with] changes with the market and environment.”

Data from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show 25,000 New Hampshire residents reported cocaine use between 2016 and 2017, the latest data available, and 8,000 said they had used meth in that time period.

For 2018, which had 471 fatal overdoses confirmed statewide, cocaine was involved in 65 and methamphetamine in 22, according to data from the N.H. Office of the Medical Examiner.

While opioids remain dominant in the region — and most cases involving cocaine and meth in 2018 involved opioids, too — meth use has been growing statewide and locally.

Data from the N.H. medical examiner’s office show 2018 was the highest year for meth-related deaths since 2012, the last year available in the office’s report. For cocaine, last year’s number of fatal overdoses is the second-highest, compared to 2016 with 66 reported deaths.

Grant funding

The two-year State Opioid Response grant program — administered by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — gives state governments funding for prevention, treatment and recovery programs.

New Hampshire received the first allotment of the grant and supplemental funding, totaling more than $34 million, in September 2018 and May 2019, respectively.

The first round of money went toward establishing The Doorway programs, a statewide effort to create a “hub and spoke” system for referrals and recovery services. Funding also was used to further relationships with local providers and increase medication-assisted treatment, N.H. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Jake Leon said previously.

The state was awarded nearly $23 million for its second installment of the grant in September, which the department received around October, Leon said Monday.

The grant program’s new flexibility ties into Shaheen’s bill, the “Turn the Tide Act,” which was introduced in July. The bill would increase the program’s funding from $1.5 billion per year to $5.5 billion per year, in addition to raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate for medical professionals treating substance-use disorders.

“The substance use disorder epidemic we’re facing today isn’t the same one we were fighting a few years ago, so as this crisis evolves so should our response,” Shaheen said in a news release.

Those seeking recovery resources in Cheshire County can visit the The Doorway at 640 Marlboro Road in Keene (the Curran Building on Route 101) Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or seek support through the state’s 24/7 hotline at 211.

This article has been changed to add data on methamphetamine and cocaine use in New Hampshire provided by Sen. Shaheen's office after this story was published.

Olivia Belanger can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or obelanger@keenesentinel.com.