DOVER – Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., renewed her call for opioid crisis funding Tuesday during a visit to the Triangle Club, a Dover meetinghouse that offers support to Granite Staters recovering from substance use disorders.
Shaheen heard more about the recovery services the organization offers and discussed her efforts to combat the substance use disorder epidemic, which, she said, has been "exacerbated" by the coronavirus pandemic. The visit came the same day Dover police reported two suspected overdose deaths, which raised the city's total to 11 this year.
Shaheen last month sent a letter with the New Hampshire congressional delegation to prioritize additional funding for substance use disorder services in the next COVID-19 relief package. In May, Shaheen and 18 of her Senate colleagues urged House and Senate leadership to increase the federal investment for state, local and tribal governments and treatment providers responding to the opioid and substance use epidemic.
"The COVID-19 public health emergency has exacerbated the substance use disorder epidemic in our communities," Shaheen said. "Struggling Granite Staters are experiencing increased social isolation and stress, which has resulted in a heartbreaking surge in overdose deaths in our state over the course of this crisis."
Triangle Club Executive Director Michelle Murch hoped Shaheen's visit will raise awareness of her organization.
"Without the support of the community, we couldn’t do what we do," Murch said. "It’s so important to have the community involved in recovery because it affects everybody. I’d like to get more exposure and put us on the map, so to speak, and let people know we’re here so they can seek recovery. And that it’s free of charge and that our doors are open. We are open 15 hours a day for everyone. When your family has said no and your boss has fired you and you have no place to turn, we welcome you home."
Shaheen praised the work Murch, a retired Dover police officer, and the organization is doing.
"Thankfully, organizations like the Triangle Club in Dover continue to work tirelessly to support recovering patients," Shaheen said. "However, as Triangle Club staff made clear to me this afternoon: New Hampshire treatment and recovery providers urgently need help to keep their doors open. Any upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation must include assistance for recovery organizations to meet the needs of Granite Staters, and I’ll be using the feedback I received today to help secure this priority."