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Executive council approves more than $1.2 million to fight drug crisis

Union Leader Correspondent

August 23. 2017 3:22PM

New Hampshire Health and Human Services Commissioner is Jeffrey A. Meyers talks about funding for the state's opioid crisis at a Executive Councilor meeting with Gov. Chris Sununu at Keene State College Wednesday. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

KEENE — The Governor and Executive Council approved more than $1.2 million in state grants Wednesday to fight opioid addiction.

"We passed a lot of contracts today that are going to go a long way to help a lot of people dealing with the opioid crisis," Gov. Chris Sununu said after the meeting at Keene State College. "My budget doubled the alcohol fund in the state of New Hampshire to make sure that we're putting resources to treatment, to recovery. We're focusing money where it needs to be focused. We're doing it better than anybody in the country when it comes to getting the biggest bang for our buck."

The funds include $200,000 for Serenity Place in Manchester and $200,000 for Harbor Homes in Nashua to keep the Safe Station programs operating in Manchester and Nashua, the state's two largest cities.

Manchester Alcoholism Rehabilitation Center also received up to $200,000 for intensive outpatient and hospitalization for people struggling with substance use disorders.

Another $395,892 was approved to fund agreements with vendors for substance misuse prevention direct services to youth and their parents or caregivers.

Also approved was an agreement with North Country Health Consortium in Littleton to fund up to $250,000 in services to bridge the transition from Tri-County Community Action Programs/Division of Alcohol and Other Drug Services to the North County Health Consortium.

During the meeting, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, commended the Safe Station program, which transforms fire stations into intake centers where addicts can get help without fear of being arrested.

But in light of the recent rise in overdoses in Manchester, Pappas asked if the state was doing enough and if the state needs more resources to fight the opioid crisis.

"The problem's not going away. I heard this past weekend there were two overdoses in Manchester alone," Pappas said.

New Hampshire Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey A. Meyers said the funding proposal was put together over the past few weeks while overdoses were spiking.

Meyers said the opioid problem should be monitored to see if it requires additional funds. "We have to reassess how these funds are allocated as we head into the next fiscal year," Meyers said.

Pappas also asked if any of these deaths could be linked to fentanyl or other substances being added to heroin.

Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice said toxicology tests will take up to five weeks to determine that.

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