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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Opiate Addiction In New Hampshire

Tyler, 22, who recently got out of a rehab program for heroin addiction, shows his prescription for Suboxone, a maintenance treatment for opioid dependence, on February 5, 2014 in Burlington, Vermont. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Tyler, 22, who recently got out of a rehab program for heroin addiction, shows his prescription for Suboxone, a maintenance treatment for opioid dependence, on February 5, 2014 in Burlington, Vermont. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In New Hampshire, more people now die of drug overdoses than car accidents, according to state statistics. As part of Here & Now’s Election Road Trip, host Robin Young visited an addiction center called Recover Together, in Manchester.

It is a private clinic that does not take insurance, and charges patients $65 a week. For that, patients can see a doctor, get a prescription for the maintenance drug Suboxone and participate in group therapy sessions.

The group serves 500 people across New Hampshire and Maine, and was founded by Jeff DeFlavio when he was a medical student at Dartmouth. Robin Young speaks with Brian Cressy, a counselor for the center, and with Paul, who is in recovery.

Interview Highlights: Brian Cressy

On the presidential candidates talking about the addiction problem

“Everybody bangs the drum and then when the song’s over they forget about it. It’s great to talk about. My job is to encourage the client to understand one thing: the behavior that they’ve ingrained into their lifestyle needs to be completely wiped out and started over again.”

On the overprescribing problem

“Prescribers are one of the main problems, of course, with overprescribing. I heard from Massachusetts one of the things they were thinking about doing is allowing that, if somebody came into an emergency room on Friday night with an injury, that they would give a three or four day dose with a non-refillable prescription where they would have to go to primary care afterwards and get reevaluated for their injury, so that way there would be some monitoring not carte-blanche, whip a quick prescription out of the emergency room that would cause the problem.”

On the extent people go to to get their hands on pills

“I’ve had people who’ve had teeth pulled because they wanted the pain medication. I’ve had people have cosmetic surgery because they wanted the pain medication. It’s just ridiculous. I can tell you stories. How about people taking their dying mothers’ cancer medication? Their dying fathers’ medication? Breaking into their neighbors’ house and stealing their pain pills?”

On Recover Together’s success

“We have an unbelievable success rate here at this clinic. Over 80 percent. It’s people who haven’t worked in three years because of their heroin addiction now are holding two jobs. It’s a person that’s just getting their daughter back after three years of being in foster care. It’s something to be able to take the people and sit them down and say you are now worth something and let’s move on from there. Instead of just being classified as useless, or no good, or an addict. I’d rather tell a person that they have a problem and I don’t classify them and I work with them to get rid of the problem.”

Guests

  • Brian Cressy, a counselor at Recover Together.
  • Paul, a patient in recovery at Recover Together.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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