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Marchers: Don’t Cut Behavioral Health Funds

Marisa Demarco / KUNM
Demonstrators from Rio Arriba County make their way to the Roundhouse on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016.


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. 

A possible cut to behavioral health funding drove scores of people from northern New Mexico to march in the capital.

Lauren Reichelt, is the director of Health and Human Services for Rio Arriba County, which has had one of the highest heroin overdose death rates in the United States for years. She said in her county, this has become a multigenerational issue. "It means that people are losing members of their family," she said. "So it’s not just affecting people who are using drugs. It affects all kinds of people."

Reichelt said there has to be another way to balance the budget. She’s seen firsthand the widespread devastation rampant addiction has on smaller, more rural communities. 

The 2016 legislative session is focused on the budget. Lawmakers will be deciding how to spend the state’s money in the next couple of weeks.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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