KUNM

addiction

Ed Williams

New Mexico will receive $4.8 million in federal dollars for opioid treatment and prevention this year. The money comes from the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill signed by President Obama in December that gives states new funding to fight the opioid epidemic. 

Courtesy Project ECHO

In many parts of the world, including rural New Mexico, it's difficult for patients to access specialists in health care. But instead of moving more providers to those areas, what if doctors and other health professionals who already work in those communities could gain the knowledge and expertise they need to help their patients? That's the idea behind Project Extension for Community Healthcare Outcome, or Project ECHO. It launched in 2003 at the University of New Mexico to respond to the growing Hepatitis C crisis around New Mexico.

Ed Williams

When someone addicted to heroin or prescription wants to quit, the first step is to find a detox center where they can safely go through withdrawals from the drug, but people in northern New Mexico who are trying to get help often can’t find it.

Ed Williams / KUNM

When a public health crisis gets out of control, it can overwhelm law enforcement agencies. That’s what’s happened with the Española Police Department as it deals with a decades-old opioid epidemic and all the crime that goes with it. 

KUNM Special 2/2 8a: KUNM has been investigating the impacts of heroin addiction on children and families in Rio Arriba County, N.M. The region's had one of the country’s highest overdose rates for decades. Ed Williams' reporting follows the lives of families and community health leaders, providing an intimate view of the opioid epidemic from the perspective of the people who have been living through it for generations.

Ed Williams/KUNM

Research shows early childhood education is one of the most effective ways to prevent drug use later in life. That’s especially important in Rio Arriba County, where an opioid epidemic has been raging for decades. 

Creative Commons / Pixabay

Española  has had one of the highest rates of heroin addiction in the country for decades. It’s a public health crisis that can create particular challenges for pregnant moms and the doctors that treat them.  

Ed Williams

Rio Arriba County has the country’s highest rate of opioid overdose. That’s partly because a severe shortage of funding for detox and recovery programs has made it almost impossible for people to get life-saving help with their addictions.

Now Congress has passed a broad health measure that includes $1 billion for addiction treatment and prevention services.

KUNM spoke with Senator Martin Heinrich, who voted for the 21st Century Cures Act this week. 

New Mexico Department of Health

Lawmakers are trying to stop the planned closure of a youth detox center in Albuquerque. The Turquoise Lodge detox service was funded by the state three years ago, but now the Department of Health says not enough kids are using it and the money needs to be redirected to services for adults.

Supertheman via Wikipedia / Creative Commons license

Congress is considering legislation that will make it easier to treat people for opioid addiction. And doctors in Rio Arriba County—an area hard-hit by drug addiction—are hoping the new laws will provide relief to patients there.

Diliff via Wikipedia / creative commons license

New Mexico’s Democratic congressional delegation is calling for a federal investigation into the shakeup of the state’s behavioral health system.

Ed Williams

New Mexico’s first long-term addiction recovery center tailored specifically to teenagers and young adults, Serenity Mesa, opened its doors this week.

Up until now, youth in the state who are struggling with addiction could go to detox, short-term rehab, or jail, but then they get released without continuing support. Serenity Mesa founder Jen Weiss says that’s led to a lot of relapses.

PunchingJudy via flickr CC

A drug called naloxone reversed more than 700 overdoses in New Mexico last year. But hurdles remain for making the drug more widely available. 

Naloxone—brand name Narcan—can be prescribed by pharmacists, not just doctors, and Medicaid covers the cost. In 2014, those big policy changes resulted in a spike of overdose reversals. 

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM Public Health Reporter Ed Williams met with Julie Martinez in the courtyard of Holy Cross Hospital in Taos. Martinez manages the hospital’s substance abuse prevention program and works on drug issues with local youth for the non-profit Taos Alive.

Martinez wouldn’t say who she was voting for because of her work. She did explain that the entrenched problems of addiction and substance abuse in her community are shaping her views of candidates this year.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Terry Trujillo’s family has been facing an ordeal that would be familiar to a surprising number of Americans. Holding back tears, she remembers the moment she had to explain to her adopted nephew that his severe learning disabilities, memory problems and behavior issues were the result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

“The little boy would say ‘Well what’s that, what do you mean?’ And it’s hard to sit there and tell a child it means that your mother drank alcohol while you were in her stomach, and to see their face. Because they know it’s wrong,” Trujillo said.

Judge Rules Health Audit Can Remain Secret

Aug 14, 2014
Yuri Yu. Samoilov via Flickr / Creative Commons License

A state agency can continue to keep secret most of an audit it used last year to suspend funding for 15 health organizations and spark criminal investigations into potential Medicaid fraud, a judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling marks the second time in nine months that Douglas R. Driggers, a district judge in Doña Ana County, has agreed with the state’s Human Services Department (HSD) and Attorney General’s Office (AG) that protecting an ongoing criminal investigation trumps the public’s right to information.