On October 19th, 2015, one hundred and forty medical practitioners and other participants gathered in Concord, NH to gather insights, tools and best practice information to equip the medical community to help turn the tide on NH’s substance misuse epidemic. Nationally respected speakers came to lend their expertise on a myriad of topics, from the nuts and bolts of SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment) implementation protocols, to strategies for increasing capacity to offer medication assisted treatment for those struggling with opioid addiction. Speakers included Tym Rourke of the NH Charitable Foundation and Chair of the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Other Drugs; Dr. Sharon Levy, the Director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital; Dr. Sarah Akerman of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth; Pat Aussem of Partnership for Drug-Free Kids; and other practitioners from Dartmouth Hitchcock, Goodwin Community Health Center, Mid-State Health Center, and other SBIRT implementing NH practice sites willing to share their experiences and lessons learned.
The themes of the day underscored the efficacy of screening as a primary prevention strategy for youth; the urgency NH providers feel to develop better approaches to patient screening, care and referral in the substance use arena; and the willingness of so many New Hampshire providers to move forward with SBIRT as routine practice. Speakers underscored that every time a screen is completed or a primary care provider shares advice and encouragement to make healthy choices, it is a victory. Every time a patient talks about their substance use without feeling isolated or stigmatized, and receives a warm hand-off to a behavioral health provider where needed, it is a victory. While there is a lot of work to do, momentum is growing in NH to truly stop substance misuse before it starts.
For more information on the NH Youth SBIRT Initiative funding opportunities or to submit an application, please visit the NH Charitable Foundation website.