- Associated Press - Monday, August 7, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Most of the $9.5 million in federal funding being funneled to New Mexico to help with the fight against opioid and heroin abuse will be used to curb overdose deaths and on training aimed at getting more people into treatment.

Starting this month, the funding will be used to buy more than 13,300 doses of overdose-reversal drugs and to launch training for community workers and medical providers, the Albuquerque Journal reported (https://bit.ly/2veeyBi).

The money is being funneled to New Mexico through the federal government’s Opioid State Targeting Response Grant program.

While other several other states have now surpassed New Mexico when it comes to the rate of overdose deaths, state health officials say the opioid and heroin crisis remains a prominent issue.

Jennifer Weiss-Burke, who launched the Serenity Mesa Youth Recovery Center in 2015 after her son died of a heroin overdose in 2011, said her rehabilitation center has a perpetual waiting list and can serve only 10 clients at a time.

She requested $300,000 to help pay for renovations so she could increase capacity. She got $60,000 to host training on how to use naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug.

While she’s happy to have the money, Weiss-Burke said capacity is the top issue lamented by the drug addiction recovery and treatment community in New Mexico.

Julie Salvador at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is coordinating how the grants are distributed. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has caps on the amounts awarded to various types of organizations, basically restricting the building of new treatment sites, she said.

Only one facility, the Santa Fe Recovery Center, will get $75,000 that can be used in part for renovations. It plans to renovate space for recovering mothers to reside with their children.

Wayne Lindstrom, head of the state’s Behavioral Health Collaborative, said spending money on new centers won’t help if there isn’t a workforce to staff them or money to keep them running once the grant runs out.

“We try to be smart about the use of this money. We’re looking to get the biggest bang for the buck based on this one-time kind of money,” he said.

As for medication-assisted treatment, Salvador is reaching out to clinics and addiction treatment centers around the state to set them up as hubs that will serve as training and resource sites for their communities.

Part of the work focuses on teaching physicians better ways to prescribe drugs so they don’t end up being abused.

“It’s not as simple as giving someone a Band-Aid,” Salvador said. “It also takes community resources, therapy. It’s a comprehensive treatment.”

The state’s child welfare agency also will receive about $161,000 that will be combined with other grant funding to develop counseling programs aimed at healing the trauma that underlies addiction.

“Substance abuse is at the heart of nearly every protective service case we see. From the data and anecdotally, we can see how important it is we get a handle of substance abuse here in New Mexico,” said Monique Jacobson, head of the state Children, Youth and Families Department.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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