Opiate Fight: $75K For Beds At HOY, Rep. Ben Lujan Hosts HCF
By ROBERT NARANJO
Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, D-NM, held a Healthy Communities Forum (HCF) at Northern NM College in Espanola on Saturday, July 23, with on-site assistance provided by Terry Mulert, Northern Foundation, who helped organize the event working with Congressman Lujan’s staff. The opening plenary was held at Northern’s Fine Arts Department auditorium.
Mary Vivian Maestas, a board member with the Espanola Fiber Arts Center, said her organization, the Espanola Fiber Arts Center, was invited to attend the Healthy Communities Forum. Maestas said she is concerned with mental health issues facing citizens and with the opiate epidemic inundating the community. Photo by Robert A. Naranjo/valleydailypost.com
Local non-profits, like the Espanola Fiber Arts Center, were invited to attend the HCF according to board member, Mary Vivian Maestas, who told the Valley Daily Post after the opening plenary, that she and many others know that we must work together as a community because “this work is very important for people with mental health and drug abuse issues.” Maestas then joined the rest of the HCF attendees that were filing out of the auditorium and making their way to eight different break-out sessions, and picking up their lunch in the foyer area to work straight through the lunch hour. The HCF sessions were held in the college’s classrooms that were nearby.
Stephen Gerardo, CEO of Intuitive Consulting based in Santa Fe, was the speaker for the opening plenary with all attendees gathered in Northern’s Fine Arts auditorium. He told the assembled audience, “This is important stuff, this is your community’s stuff.”
Gerardo ended the plenary session saying, “Let’s get the twain to meet” meaning to get leaders, organizations, professionals, families, etc. to help end this opiate epidemic that is devastating this community and communities all over the country.
Congressman Lujan addressed the HCF in the afternoon and said that he “wants to help.” He added that “we need do something,” to help the community address the issues of heroin addiction that is adversely affecting so many families in the area.
Senator Martin Heinrich’s Unedited Press Release On CARA
Washington D.C.- U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) voted for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which passed the Senate last night by a vote of 92-2. He co-sponsored the legislation to provide a series of incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat and treat prescription opioid abuse and heroin addiction. The legislation now goes to the President to be signed into law.
Senator Heinrich co-sponsored an amendment to CARA to provide $600 million in emergency funding for law enforcement and public health efforts and treatment and recovery programs. However, Senate Republicans blocked the inclusion of the amendment in the final bill.
“I remain deeply concerned about the opioid addiction epidemic in New Mexico and across the country. This bill creates new programs, but unfortunately fails to provide the real dollars needed to deliver life-saving prevention and treatment services. We need substantial resources to combat this crisis and end this epidemic in New Mexico,” said Sen. Heinrich. “I’ve met with far too many families who have been affected by the opioid crisis. Far too many New Mexico families have lost loved ones and many more are struggling to find treatment and recovery resources. For years, without adequate treatment resources, New Mexico’s communities have suffered through some of the highest rates of opioid and heroin addiction in the nation. We urgently need more resources for better prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement programs specifically designed to help people struggling with addiction and give local communities the tools they need to tackle this issue head on. I will continue fighting to provide emergency funding for drug prevention and treatment programs nationwide. By taking a comprehensive approach to combat this epidemic, we can ensure people have the opportunity to get on the road to recovery.”
–U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
In February, Senator Heinrich convened a roundtable in Rio Arriba County to highlight ongoing efforts and ways to better address the heroin and prescription drug crisis. In a floor speech in March, Senator Heinrich shared stories of New Mexicans he met from the Espanola Valley who have battled through addiction and addressed how the opioid epidemic has impacted the state.
Behavior Health Investment Zone-Opiate Use Reduction Network Provides $75 Thousand For Beds At HOY
Lauren Reichelt, Director of the Health and Human Services for Rio Arriba County told the Valley Daily Post that the Behavior Health Investment Zone Opiate Use Reduction Network (BHIZOURN) at their July meeting of the Network voted to allocate $75 thousand dollars to HOY, a treatment center in Rio Arriba County, that is contracted by the county to provide treatment services. This funding is specifically for the purpose of providing beds to people seeking to recover from addiction. The availability of beds for those seeking treatment has been mentioned by many recovering from addiction.
A drug addiction recovery counselor at “Inside Out,” a local non-profit that helps people recover from opiate and other drug use, addressed the Rio Arriba County Commission at a meeting held at the County Annex a few months ago. He said that when he had his mind made up to quit, after spending a difficult time in a Gallup Detention Center, suffering withdrawals with little medical treatment, and came back to Rio Arriba County to seek help, a bed was not immediately available. “Alex” a counselor with Inside Out at the time, now in Santa Fe, was able to find a bed at HOY but in a week’s time. The disillusioned gentleman, seeking help, went away disappointed and straight to using again. Ultimately, this former user quit and now is helping others as a counselor.
He told the County Commissioners, “straight up,” that a detox center is desperately needed and beds after detox service is completed to make a dent in the problem. That is what the funding from BHIZOURN is intended for, with Espanola’s Presbyterian Hospital providing the detox services and clearance from medical staff to send the person seeking recovery to HOY.