June 22, 2012
Concord, NH – A group of state government, healthcare, community, education, law enforcement and business leaders gathered in Concord, New Hampshire today to develop a five year plan to improve state and community efforts to address alcohol and other drug problems.
The Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention and Treatment convened the one-day summit as part of their work to develop a statewide strategic plan to combat a problem that brings significant harm and other negative consequences to individuals, families and communities in New Hampshire.
According to the 2011 New Hampshire Youth Risk Behavior Survey about 24% of High School students (almost 30% of seniors) are engaged in binge drinking (defined as 5 or more drinks in 1 day), 28% are using marijuana and 21% involved with the non-medical use of prescription drugs on a regular basis. Results from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey can be found on the New Hampshire Department of Education web site at: www.education.nh.gov. For more New Hampshire data please see NH Center for Excellence web site at: www.nhcenterforexcellence.org.
“Although we have made progress in reducing alcohol and other drug problems over the past decade, we still have a long way to go to alleviate the damage and destruction caused by substance abuse,” says Joseph Harding, Director of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services and Executive Director of the Commission. “So many of our state agencies and community sectors are impacted by this issue. It will take the collective efforts of many to turn the tide. But coming together, sharing ideas, and working on a coordinated strategy, will over time, improve health of our citizens, make our communities safer, and reduce overall healthcare costs.”
This summit builds upon other efforts already underway including the state’s regionalization of community-based alcohol and drug prevention through the Bureau’s Regional Network System, recent efforts to expand addiction treatment and recovery support to vulnerable populations including individuals re-entering communities from correctional facilities, a recently launched set of strategies to combat the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse, and improved access to services for New Hampshire’s military families.
“We’re fortunate in New Hampshire to have many local and state leaders aware of the damage alcohol and drug abuse causes in our communities,” states Tym Rourke, Chair of the Commission. “The Commission felt that convening some of the state’s most committed leaders to help craft a comprehensive plan to move the state forward on this issue was critical. This is not one organization’s problem. We need to work collectively on this and consider best practices together and set specific goals to move the needle on a problem that carries with it significant health, safety, and economic burdens.”
When completed, the Commission’s five-year alcohol and drug strategy will provide a comprehensive guide for the state and communities to improve outcomes across a wide range of measures, from more widespread early screening for alcohol and drug problems in health care settings and effective law enforcement to reduced recidivism and increased access to recovery support services.
The state strategy will be produced based on outcomes of the summit. It’s expected to be released by the end of the year. The Commissioner will use the strategy to guide its work over the next five years.