CONCORD — A year after the launch of the “Doorways” program that aimed to bring addiction treatment resources to different regions of New Hampshire, the number of people looking for help for themselves or a loved one is on the rise, and referrals to treatment remain steady.
In January, 1,064 individuals sought help through the program, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. The figure includes people seeking treatment, as well as friends and family trying to figure out how to help a loved one.
For the 1,064 individuals served in January, Doorway staff made 520 referrals, including 190 referrals for medication-assisted treatment, and 142 for high-intensity residential treatment. In each of the last four months, more than 1,000 naloxone or Narcan kits were given out.
Gov. Chris Sununu said the large number of individuals who called or walked into “doorways” around the state showed the program was taking off.
“The number of people helped by the Doorways in January demonstrates that as the system takes root in communities throughout our state, more and more people are able to get the connections they need to critical treatment and recovery services,” he said in a statement.
The program was launched in January 2019, with a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health. The program aimed to help people seek drug treatment close to home, at one of nine regional “hubs,” most of which were regional hospitals. From there, people are supposed to get referrals to local treatment providers.
But treatment options remain scarce outside New Hampshire’s largest cities. Christopher Stawasz, regional director for American Medical Response, said in January that more people seemed to be seeking treatment in Manchester and Nashua — which may have contributed to a rising number of overdose deaths in both cities in 2019, where overdose deaths were down for the rest of the state.
On Feb. 4, Sununu announced the contractor that ran the Manchester and Nashua Doorways would be replaced. Commissioner Lori Shibinette of the Department of Health and Human Services said Granite Pathways had failed to build relationships with local treatment providers. In the coming months, Catholic Medical Center in Manchester and Southern New Hampshire Health in Nashua will take on Doorway duties in those two cities.
Granite Pathways also ran the Manchester youth treatment center where there were five overdoses in November, before the center was closed and Sununu ordered the state to reevaluate all contracts with Granite Pathways.