New Hampshire opens 'doorway' to treatment for addicts

LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) New Hampshire's addiction recovery program, similar to Vermont's hub-and-spoke model, has officially started taking clients. The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is one of nine hubs around the state. Our Adam Sullivan attended a forum to introduce you to the new model.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock's president kicked off the forum, which included health care providers, law enforcement, social workers and members of the public. The hospital has had a treatment program in place for more than a decade. But that program is now part of a statewide effort to curb substance use disorders.

"Making it really easy for people to know where to go to get help when they have substance use disorders," said Dr. Sally Kraft, the vice president of Population Health.

It's called the Doorway-NH, a model similar to Vermont's hub-and-spoke system that focuses on medication-assisted treatment, complemented by outpatient support services in more rural areas of the state.

Those working on the front lines of addiction recovery call it a work in progress.

"A system that goes beyond the health systems but also incorporates the community and the partners in the communities," Kraft said.

"I'm glad the door is there and I'm glad the treatment is there," said Tanya McIntire of Grantham.

McIntire showed up Tuesday simply out of interest. She's a mom and says she's concerned about how kids are educated about the dangers of addiction.

"How is one to help prevent this disease and how is one to tell your kids that maybe taking prescription drugs is not necessarily the best thing to do," she said.

Alex Annunziata knows substance use disorder all too well.

"At 15 years old, I was prescribed Percocets for a broken arm," he said.

Now 21 months sober, Annunziata works as a recovery coach and spoke about the need to expand access to treatment.

"The gap between people wanting to get help and them getting help," he said.

Dialing 211 anywhere in New Hampshire will now begin that process. But event organizers say it's just the beginning of a long road to recovery that everybody has a stake in.

"We are eager to be good partners in the community. To spread the expertise and the knowledge of the addiction treatment program and to do our best to make a difference," Kraft said.

Similar forums are taking place at the nine doorways across the state of New Hampshire, ensuring that anyone seeking treatment is, at the most, an hour's drive away.