March 20, 2020 In the News

NH to receive $28.1 million in federal funds to fight opioid, meth, cocaine crisis in 2020

By John DiStaso
March 20, 2020

MANCHESTER, N.H. — New Hampshire will receive $28.1 million in federal funding in 2020 to continue its efforts to combat the substance abuse crisis, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan announced Friday.

The funding will come in the form of State Opioid Response grants administered by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, known as SAMHSA.

Shaheen’s office said the state has now received about $92 million in federal funding to fight the crisis since 2016.

Last year, the state received $34.9 million in federal grants; the drop this year was attributed by Shaheen’s office to a slight drop in the number of drug overdose deaths in the state between 2017 and 2018.

According to the formula used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to determine grant levels, New Hampshire had 35.8 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2018, as compared to 37 deaths per 100,000 in 2017. New Hampshire was tied for sixth highest overdose death rate in the nation in 2017 and remained sixth highest in 2018, according to the CDC data used to determine the grants.

In a key new development this year, the permitted use of the funds has been expanded to treat those who have primary diagnoses of meth and cocaine dependency, in addition to opioid use disorder. That provision, authored by Shaheen, was included in a $1.4 trillion overall government funding bill signed into law by President Donald Trump in December.

Shaheen and Hassan’s offices said that New Hampshire has received “a tenfold increase” in substance abuse funding when compared to the 2017 level of only $3.1 million.

In 2018, Shaheen and Hassan were part of a “common sense caucus” that was instrumental in securing more opioid fight dollars in a bipartisan budget deal that ended a government shutdown. That deal increased funding to combat the crisis nationally from $500 million to $3 billion per year for two years.

The deal also led to a new provision that sent higher funding levels to states hardest hit by the opioid crisis by creating a set-aside of 15 percent of annual overall State Opioid Response dollars funding for states with the highest rates of overdose deaths.

Shaheen was also involved as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee in securing funding of an additional $1 billion in grants nationally, including $22.9 million for New Hampshire, in 2018.

Last year, Congress provided $1.5 billion nationally, including $34.9 million for New Hampshire, in State Opioid Response grant funding.

All four members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation applauded the funding.

“Responding to the threat from the coronavirus to protect both public health and the financial stability of Granite Staters has quickly become the most pressing priority in Congress,” Shaheen said.

“Today, however, New Hampshire has received important funding to respond to the substance use disorder crisis that continues to ravage our state – funding that’s a result of longstanding bipartisan cooperation in Congress. Treatment saves lives and helps those suffering with drug dependencies to start anew – that’s why this funding is so vital,” Shaheen said.

“For the last several years, I’ve been working with New Hampshire’s federal delegation and a bipartisan group of senators from hardest-hit states to prioritize treatment funding to our states. This effort has been one of my top priorities in Congress.

“This is also the first year that this grant award can be used to also help those who struggle with meth and cocaine use – a change that came from conversations with treatment providers in New Hampshire. Our state has lost far too many loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers to this crisis and I’ll continue to do everything in my power to help turn the tide.”

Hassan said, “As communities across New Hampshire grapple with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also continue to support those on the front lines of the substance misuse epidemic and individuals across our state struggling with substance use disorder.,

“This additional federal funding will help strengthen our state’s efforts to address the substance misuse crisis and save lives. New Hampshire continues to have among the highest overdose rates in the country, which is why it is so important that hardest-hit states like ours are prioritized in funding allocations.

“Federal funding for public health in New Hampshire – from COVID-19 to the substance misuse epidemic – is more important than ever, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the New Hampshire Congressional Delegation to secure support and resources for our state.”

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, a founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, said, “New Hampshire has made important strides in tackling the opioid and substance misuse epidemic but there is much work that remains.

“While our state responds to the COVID-19 public health crisis, we must continue to support those on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic as well. This funding is critical to ensuring that the state has the resources it needs to take on this challenge. I will continue to work with our delegation to advocate for funding and policies that support New Hampshire’s response to COVID-19 and the substance misuse crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas said, “While we remain focused on addressing the life changing impacts of coronavirus here in New Hampshire, we cannot lose sight of our state’s addiction crisis.

“Now more than ever we must support those who are struggling and need help the most, and these federal funds will allow the Granite State to keep up the fight and save lives.”