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Luján Convenes Roundtable in Rio Arriba County on Opioids Epidemic

Luján Convenes Roundtable in Rio Arriba County on Opioids Epidemic

Last week, Congressman Ben Ray Luján(D-NM) convened a roundtable with health care providers, local law enforcement, community leaders, and stakeholders to discuss a path forward to continue the fight against the opioid epidemic in New Mexico.

Congress recently passed an opioids package that included ten of Congressman Luján’s pieces of legislation. Attendees at the roundtable in Española discussed how this legislative package is a step forward in what needs to be a sustained effort to combat the opioid epidemic in local communities.

“The community and generational pride of the people of New Mexico is strong,” said Congressman Luján. “We have a major challenge ahead of us as we work toward our long term goal of creating a health care system and economic system that provides the full spectrum of care that our community needs to combat this crisis. I know that, together, we can build a future that creates a healthy, prosperous environment for our neighbors, brothers, daughters, friends, and loved ones.”

Specifically, participants discussed how to provide children and adolescents who have experienced trauma because of the opioids crisis with greater access to systems of support, the importance of coordinating with local law enforcement, and the need to improve treatment options and systems of recovery at the community level.

“We all know someone who is struggling with addiction and we can’t move forward without bringing them with us,” said attendee Lupe Salazar, Barrios Unidos Board President. 

“We need to work on response mechanisms to address the immediate needs of victims of substance abuse, but also undertake efforts to address underlying root causes in a thoughtful, community-based systematic way. We are now engaging in the study, prevention, and treatment of childhood and family trauma, which can be big contributors to substance abuse and other social and economic challenges. I truly appreciate Congressman Luján's leadership in this area, and thank him for convening this important forum. He has been one of the most important national voices on this issue, and I look forward to continuing to work with him and other community partners to eradicate this epidemic in our community,” said attendee Dr. Rick Bailey, President, Northern New Mexico College.

Attendees also discussed the importance of peer support specialists in combatting the epidemic. “Sometimes I offer patients hope that they don’t have,” said attendee Bernadette Gutierrez, Certified Peer Support Worker and Operations Manager for the Española office with Inside Out Recovery.

Attendees at Congressman Luján’s forum included:Jennifer Manzanares, Opioid Policy Coordinator & Overdose Prevention and Trauma informed Educator for the Santa Fe Prevention Alliance, Michelle Peixinho, Rio Arriba County Project L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) and Special Projects Coordinator for Rio Arriba Health and Human Services, Dr. Rick Bailey, Northern New Mexico College President, Nikki Bustos, Program Manager for the V.O.I.C.E.S. Program (Valuing Our Integrity with Courage, Empowerment and Support) with Tewa Women United, Labriana Belmontes, Rio Arriba/Espanola District Supervisor for the Adult Probation and Parole Office, Ambrose Baros, Executive Director for Hoy Recovery Program, Inc., Dr. Leslie Hayes, MD., Family Practitioner for El Centro Family Health, Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan, Thedra Martinez, Rio Arriba County Substance, Treatment, Outreach and Prevention (S.T.O.P) C.R.A.F.T. Facilitator (Community Reinforcement for Families Training), Dr. Lana Landrum, Rio Arriba County Substance, Treatment, Outreach and Prevention (STOP) C.R.A.F.T. Facilitator (Community Reinforcement for Families Training) , Ashley Montoya, Project RACE Coordinator/ Manager, Dr. Katherine Courtney, Co-Author of the Book Anna Age Eight and Advocate for the Prevention of Childhood and Family Trauma, Dominic Cappello, Co-Author of the Book Anna Age Eight and Advocate for the Prevention of Childhood and Family Trauma , Kathy Sutherland- Bruaw, Executive Director and Founder of Inside Out Recovery, Bernadette Gutierrez, CPSW and Operations Manager for the Espanola office with Inside Out Recovery, Lupe Salazar, Barrios Unidos Board President.

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