Rockingham County: Opioid settlement funds to expand treatment for addicts

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Rockingham County Corrections facility

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A Rockingham County government subcommittee is working to determine the best way to maximize opioid settlement funds it will receive over the next 18 years.

Rockingham County is projected to receive at least $2.87 million from various settlements with pharmaceutical companies and distributors.

Some of the money will likely go toward continuing the Rockingham County Corrections facility’s medication-assisted treatment, County Commissioner Chairman Brian Chirichiello said.

“We are going to utilize that money to help the most people we possibly can,” Chirichiello said.

Chirichiello envisions funds working to grow the already established program at the corrections facility, located in Brentwood.

The jail currently treats inmates with opioid and substance misuse disorders with medications such as buprenorphine and methadone.

This treatment combines prescribing and administering medications to treat substance abuse along with counseling and other services, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ website.

The jail became the second facility in the country to supervise and dispense methadone in-house as part of the treatment program in 2020.

Methadone reduces opioid cravings and withdrawals.

The county uses a third-party vendor to prescribe methadone, but the drug is administered on-site.

Chirichiello said administering methadone is unique to Rockingham County. He noted other New Hampshire counties have separate methadone clinics for inmates, but do not administer the drug within its facility.

The county commissioner has already seen the benefits of the on-site treatment of methadone. He said settlement money could go a long way to help hire more staff and aid treatment.

“We aren’t moving people around because we have the in-house clearance and certification,” Chirichiello said. “We get people (who are) already on it and need it.”

He equated administering methadone like providing a diabetic inmate with insulin – which is required at the county jail. If they don’t have access to the medication, the situation is going to worsen behind bars and the problem doesn’t get addressed.

“If people come to the jail and need it, we are able to deliver that there to help with withdrawals right away,” said Chirichiello.

While medication-assisted treatment has been an effective method in Rockingham County, Chirichiello said the county is approaching the opioid crisis by also addressing law enforcement efforts and mental health service needs — at the jail and county as a whole.

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About this Author

Angelina Berube

Angelina Berube is a reporter for the Eagle Tribune.