A national advocacy organization is honoring more than a dozen New Hampshire “innovators” who are making a difference in the deadly opioid epidemic.

The Addiction Policy Forum will recognize leaders of 11 organizations, including Manchester’s Safe Station and Rochester’s Hope on Haven Hill, that are “transforming” addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services. Gov. Chris Sununu will be the keynote speaker at the noontime event today at the Bedford Village Inn.

The nonprofit Addiction Policy Forum gets most of its funding from pharmaceutical companies. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) announced a partnership in late 2017 with the APF to fund state and local programs to address addiction. According to tax documents, the Addiction Policy Partnership received $3.8 million from PhRMA in 2017. It funds the online Addiction Resource Center and a national helpline.

Kimberly Clapp, executive vice president of community engagement for the Addiction Policy Forum, said its “Innovation Now” reports focus on the 15 states that have been hit hardest by the opioid crisis. And New Hampshire, she said, has been “ground zero.”

“New Hampshire was one of the first states to be hit hard, but we also feel like New Hampshire’s leading the way in responding to the crisis,” she said.

Individuals and organizations being honored today are:

• Fire Chief Dan Goonan and Chris Hickey from Manchester Fire Department, for the Safe Stations program;

• Manchester Police Sgt. Peter Marr and Lara Quinoga from Manchester Community Health Center, founders of Adverse Childhood Experiences Response Team (ACERT);

• Matt Eacott and Stephen Randazzo, Aware Recovery Care;

• Eric Spofford, founder of Granite Recovery Centers;

• Keith Howard, executive director, Hope for New Hampshire Recovery;

• Kerry Norton, Hope on Haven Hill, Rochester;

• Tilton Police Chief Robert Cormier and Winnisquam Regional School District Superintendent Robert Seaward, for Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD);

• Doug Griffin, founder of Mercy Street in Plaistow;

• Dr. Julie Frew and Dr. Daisy Goodman, creators of Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Moms in Recovery;

• Annette Escalante and Jill Burke, New Hampshire Student Assistance Program; and

• Grace Rosado, founder of New Life Home for Women and Children, Manchester.

Clapp said the Addiction Policy Forum has three criteria for choosing those to honor in each state; the first is an innovative approach to addiction. Secondly, she said, “Are they having an impact in such a way that they could be a model for the nation?”

And finally, she said, “Are the people behind the initiatives or the programs passionate about changing the way we respond to addiction?”

Clapp, a recent transplant to Hanover, said many New Hampshire programs have grown out of the pain of individuals who have lost loved ones to addiction; one example is Mercy Street, a support program created by a father whose 20-year-old daughter died from an overdose. “They feel they have to dedicate their lives to saving the next family’s child,” she said.

And some programs are already being replicated in other states, Clapp said.

“Part of this is re-imagining the response to addiction,” she said. “No one ever imagined that firefighters or police officers would be in a role where they would knock on people’s doors and offer them a warm hand-off to treatment, but that’s what we’re seeing now.”

“And that’s the kind of innovation and creative responses that we want to highlight and showcase, so it can be replicated and we can bring hope to try to tackle this massive crisis,” she said.

Beyond the Stigma, a series exploring solutions to the state’s addiction and mental health challenges, is sponsored by the New Hampshire Solutions Journalism Lab at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications and funded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, NAMI New Hampshire, and private individuals. Contact reporter Shawne K. Wickham at swickham@unionleader.com. To read previous stories in this series, visit: unionleader.com/stigma.

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