KUNM

Rio Arriba County

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Congress is spending billions more than it ever has to fight the opioid epidemic affecting the nation. Some of that money is going to rural areas, and there was some concern that the rural communities being targeted were almost entirely white.

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New Mexico’s been fighting the opioid epidemic for decades, but it wasn’t until last year that the federal government declared it a public health emergency. Congress just pumped up the budget for fighting the epidemic by billions, including $100 million for rural areas. But none of the rural counties in our state were targeted for that money. Now that’s changing.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Rio Arriba County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution on Thursday, May 24, protesting federal public health grants that are supposed to focus on white rural counties in the U.S.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Congress boosted the budget for the battle against the opioid epidemic this year, and a chunk of it—$100 million—is slated for treatment and prevention in rural communities. But something about how lawmakers chose to prioritize that money caught a New Mexico health official by surprise: the funding is focused on counties that are mostly white.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The federal government is distributing grant money to counties to fight opioid addiction. But Española and the surrounding area might not get any of it, even though communities there have struggled for years with some of the highest overdose death rates in the country.

What Does NM Need To Beat The Opioid Epidemic?

Oct 2, 2017
Ed Williams

Let’s Talk New Mexico 10/5 8a: The opioid epidemic—and what to do about it—has become a national conversation in recent years. Congress has passed bills trying to help, President Trump appointed a task force to outline solutions to the epidemic, and the New Mexico legislature has passed several bills aimed at reducing the death toll from overdoses.

But have those efforts gotten help to the people that need it? What do New Mexico’s communities need to win their fight with opioid addiction?

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The Senate released a revised GOP health care bill on Thursday, June 22, with major cuts to Medicaid, reproductive health, and mental health programs widely used by people in New Mexico. Advocates are saying the changes could have long-lasting negative impacts.

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. 

NM Counties Lose Years To Poverty And Drugs

Mar 31, 2017
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A new report breaks down potential years of life lost when people die before the age of 75 and younger people are dying earlier.  

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.

Police Chief: Families Crying Out For Help

Feb 1, 2017
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. 

Española Preschool Addresses Trauma, Addiction

Jan 30, 2017
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. 

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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. 

Opioid Bill Clears U.S. House

Dec 1, 2016
Ed Williams

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that could bring new money to fight the nation’s opioid epidemic. It’s a measure that could have big impacts in New Mexico.

The opioid epidemic is a national crisis, and in Northern New Mexico it’s a problem that’s been around for decades.

For the latest in our Voices Behind the Vote series, KUNM visited the home of an addiction counselor in Rio Arriba County to hear about her thoughts on substance abuse and the presidential race.

Rio Arriba Detox Center Gets Funding

Jul 14, 2016
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A Rio Arriba County detox center is getting $45,000 from a state-funded grant. The county’s Community Health Council voted to award the funds Wednesday.

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Rio Arriba County’s Health and Human Services Department is helping law enforcement there stock the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

Rio Arriba County has the highest rate of opioid overdoses in New Mexico, but police and sheriff’s departments haven’t been able to get a reliable supply of naloxone—also known as Narcan—to use on the streets.

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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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 2/18 8a: 

  

The state’s attorney general cleared just about all of the providers accused of Medicaid fraud a couple of years ago—but the news didn’t come soon enough to keep many of their doors open.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

    

The rate of drug overdose deaths—nationally and statewide—is racing up the charts, echoing HIV trends of 30 years ago, according to the CDC. That’s why demonstrators in Santa Fe on Saturday asked legislators not to erode resources that fight substance abuse.