New Hampshire Adds 24-Hour Hotline, Expands Drug Courts To Fight Drug Epidemic

By Paul Gaita 05/16/16

The 24-hour crisis hotline announcement came a day before the New Hampshire House voted to expand drug court programs across the state.

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New Hampshire Adds 24-Hour Hotline, Expands Drug Courts To Fight Drug Epidemic

In an attempt to stem the tide of overdoses on heroin, fentanyl and other drugs that claimed more than 400 lives in New Hampshire in 2015, national and state officials convened last week with educators, law enforcement and health care workers to discuss prevention and treatment as a means of combating the epidemic in the Granite State.

On Tuesday, May 10, Gov. Maggie Hassan, whose office organized the Summit on Substance Misuse with other state agencies, announced that the state is rolling out a new 24-hour crisis hotline to provide help to individuals struggling with addiction. The hotline (1-844-711-HELP) is the newest of several 24-hour hotlines that link callers to counselors throughout New Hampshire, including the state-run 211 hotline and Hope for New Hampshire Recovery, which operates several peer recovery community centers. People seeking help can also reach out via email at [email protected].

“This new hotline is an important step forward in connecting individuals struggling with addiction, as well as their families and friends, with vital information and services to help them get on the path to recovery,” said Hassan in a news release.

The announcement came one day before the New Hampshire House voted to approve the expansion of drug court programs across the state. A new grant will provide $2.23 million in assistance to new or existing drug courts in New Hampshire counties. 

In her speech at the summit on Tuesday, Gov. Hassan announced that state lawmakers must continue to make health care and prevention initiatives for New Hampshire residents with substance abuse issues a priority. “Their bravery needs to be matched by our action,” she said. “Everyone here has an important role to play.”

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack offered a personal perspective on the toll of addiction in his keynote speech at the summit—both his mother and uncle suffered from substance abuse issues—and echoed the governor’s call to action for attendees. “You have to make sure that treatment is available,” he said. “That there is a community of support that will support your recovery, and that we have creative ways to use our criminal justice system to redirect people, once they have made a mistake, to a life that allows them a second chance.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.