DERRY — Substance abuse has morphed into something new —substance misuse.
That, according to experts, is a better term and is much less of a stigma for those battling addiction.
“Substance Misuse Treatment and Trends” was the theme of a conference May 20 at the Stockbridge Theatre at Pinkerton Academy. Center for Life Management was the host.
More than 200 teachers, mental health specialists, guidance counselors, law enforcement personnel and medical professionals attended.
Vic Topo, Center for Life Management president and CEO, said it could be the first of many forums dealing with mental health issues, drug and alcohol misuse, and other behavioral issues.
“I am heartened by the number of professionals coming forward to be part of the solution for this challenge,” Topo said.
Gov. Maggie Hassan started the morning with words of support and information on the state’s role in helping fight the growing problem.
Program speakers in addition to the governor were Joseph Harding, director of the N.H. Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services; Thomas Andrew, the state medical examiner; and Nick Pfeifer of Center for Life Management’s substance misuse services.
The forum topic was important, Hassan said, as the state ranks high on national lists for substance and alcohol abuse. That includes an “unprecedented” spike in heroin use.
Hassan gave updates on state plans to help improve those statistics, including the N.H. Health Protection Program, offering expanded healthcare coverage for more people and more substance misuse treatment.
“This will help thousands,” she said.
Hassan also stressed the state’s commitment to youth prevention campaigns, prescription drug monitoring programs and other ways to address the rising rates of substance abuse among young people.
She said there are programs to train emergency personnel in the use of narcan, or nasal naloxone, that can reverse the effects of any opioid drug overdose. Those drugs include heroin, methadone, morphine and fentanyl.