Money well spent in opioid battle

New Hampshire has caught been in a well-documented opioid struggle for several years now, and officials have been throwing any and all possible solutions against the wall to see what sticks.

Nashua, which has not been immune to the heroin crisis, has found a model that provides assistance to addicts hoping to find treatment.

The Safe Stations program, a facsimile of a project in Manchester, gives those suffering from opioid misuse the opportunity to get to any municipal fire station. Officials will then connect the individual in recovery to treatment options near them; in Nashua, that means the Partnership For Successful Living and its social service agencies.

More than 700 people have taken advantage of this program in New Hampshire’s largest city.

We have heard this week that nearly 30 people have sought treatment in less than two weeks since the program was launched in Nashua. Thirteen people went directly to one of the Gate City’s fire stations for assistance. Add that to the other 15 who have entered a recovery program since the Safe Stations began on Nov. 17.

But no good program is free, and Nashua will have to decide how the city will cover the cost of Safe Stations for the rest of the fiscal year.

Currently, individuals seeking assistance are immediately examined by Nashua’s ambulance services before they are transported to sites operated by Harbor Homes, a member in the Partnership For Successful Living. As part of Safe Stations, the city pays the transportation costs to bring people to one of the Harbor Homes facilities. Mayor Jim Donchess estimates that the program could require $20,000 until the next fiscal year begins on July 1.

The city is facing a tough budget season coming up, with a $2 million hike in the payment to the New Hampshire Retirement System playing havoc on all city department budgets. A lot of city departments are facing cuts, and a lot of those cuts will be painful. That said, the city needs to find a way to pay its cost for the Safe Stations program. We are looking at 30 lives that may have been saved in the first 10 days of the program, perhaps hundreds in the first year. We can pay this.

Whatever we can do to fight the ongoing addiction concerns in Greater Nashua, and New Hampshire in general, is worth the cost. This is money well spent in the most challenging public health epidemic the Granite State has faced in generations.