New Hampshire Charitable Foundation offers plan to reduce substance abuse
New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney speaks about drug abuse issues as the governor's commission on alcohol and drug abuse prevention releases its five-year plan to reduce substance abuse in New Hampshire., Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Lisa Mure hands out packets of information as the governor's commission on alcohol and drug abuse prevention releases its five-year plan to reduce substance abuse in New Hampshire., Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Cutting down on alcohol, prescription drug and marijuana abuse in New Hampshire, as well as helping those in need seek treatment are the main goals of a five-year plan to reduce substance abuse, a governor’s leadership commission announced Friday.
At the introduction of the plan, speakers stressed the need for a multidisciplinary approach to combat substance abuse that includes government agencies, policymakers, treatment specialists and the criminal justice system.
“This is our biggest problem of the day,” Attorney General Michael Delaney said. “Through collective action we have the chance to make a collective impact.”
He said many of the initiatives in the plan are already being pursued, such as implementing a prescription drug monitoring program to reduce doctor shopping – patients filling multiple prescriptions with different physicians. The state is also looking to expand drug courts and explore new rehabilitation options.
Richard Ober, president of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, wondered how, despite ranking high in income, education and overall health, New Hampshire still has one of the highest rates of substance abuse in the nation. He said New Hampshire is one of the most livable places in the U.S., but if the state doesn’t tackle the issue, he’s not sure that will be the case in 10 years.
Ober said his organization is ready to back the plan with its time, network and money. The group has committed $12 million over 10 years toward substance abuse prevention strategies.
“Over time we want to know we have a partner in government,” Ober said, “This is an issue that shouldn’t rely so heavily on philanthropy.”
He and others called on the state to take money in the alcohol and drug abuse prevention fund – made up of 5 percent of state liquor store profits and averaging $8.5 million per year – and use it for its designated purpose. The legislature routinely diverts much of that money back into the general fund.
Tym Rourke, chairman of the commission that wrote the five-year plan, acknowledged that some initiatives in the plan would suffer if more money is not placed in the fund.