August 31, 2023

Ending Stigma Around Substance Use Disorder and Overdoses

Carol Furlong, LCMHC, MAC, MBA, Interim Director of Substance Use Disorders Department

At the beginning of the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire in 2015, Elliot Hospital recognized the importance of addressing the rapid rise of death and illness surrounding addiction. Sadly, the epidemic has not lessened today. Throughout it all, The Elliot has delivered on its commitment to support people in our community impacted by this disease. In July of 2023, New Hampshire saw the highest overdose rate since the beginning of the epidemic. People who are struggling with addiction are not intentionally overdosing. Frequently, people do not know what is truly in the substances that they use and that is one of the main causes of the high rate of overdoses we see.

Programs in Place to Fight Substance Use Disorder and Overdose; Supporting People in Need

The Elliot has been working to both combat the epidemic and provide support to those who are in need. Our programs include:

  • Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient Program addressing both substance use and mental health needs
  • Medications for Opioid Use Disorder, MOUD, program in primary care settings
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Master’s level Licensed Addiction Counselor in the Emergency Department and on medical units
  • Maternal Opioid Misuse, MOM, grant – dedicated to treating pregnant and postpartum mothers who have an opioid addiction.  The Elliot also distributes Narcan to all patients who have experienced an overdose, and every new mother who delivers in the Elliot Maternity Unit is sent home with Narcan, regardless of past or current drug use history
  • $2.25 million Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA, grant to work collaboratively with both our Emergency Department and the Department of Corrections to ensure that individuals who request MOUD services are immediately scheduled with a prescriber. Additionally, six months prior to release from jail, inmates will begin to receive care coordination, so that once released, they will have benefits, a residence, and appointments with primary providers, among other services.

Along with The Elliot, people in our community can help those struggling with Substance Use Disorder, SUD, by understanding that addiction is a disease and not a choice; it can happen to anyone. We never know what led people to where they are now. Live life using the quote, “Don’t judge my book based on the chapter that you walked in on.”

While it is always helpful for those dealing with addiction to have support from family and loved ones, those who care must be supportive and non-judgmental. If you are interested in learning about addiction or are actively supporting someone who is struggling, most 12-step programs are open to the public, and meetings such as Al-Anon are open for loved ones to discuss their experiences.

To learn more about SUD and resources through The Elliot, visit

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