Federal government gives New Mexico agencies $1 million in new grants to fight opioid abuse

October 13, 2017

New Mexico has received more than $1 million in new federal grant money to help combat some of the nation’s highest rates of opioid dependence and overdose — and much of it will go to Santa Fe County.

U.S. congressional delegates from New Mexico announced in a news release Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice awarded three grants to New Mexico agencies fighting substance abuse in the state. Historically, New Mexico has seen overdose death rates that were among the highest in the nation. In recent years, however, the state overdose rate has fallen from second to eighth highest and is holding steady. Some medical professionals see that as a sign of progress.

According to the news release, the New Mexico Department of Health received $580,247 to work with hospitals in Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties to provide peer support workers and treatment resources for people who survive drug overdoses.

The Santa Fe Opioid Overdose Outreach Project, a collaboration between a multitude of local agencies, won a $298,594 grant to reduce opioid-related deaths through education, dissemination of the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, and other outreach and response programs.

A peer-treatment program that connects overdose survivors with treatment in Albuquerque also won a $294,994 grant.

The new funding comes as PBS NewsHour prepares to feature Rio Arriba County’s response to the opioid epidemic Friday as part of a series called “America Addicted,” according to a news release from the county — whose rate of overdose deaths, at 85.8 deaths per 100,000 residents, is more than three times higher than New Mexico’s and more than five times higher than the national rate.

The county has been battling opioid overdoses and dependence since the 1990s, but in recent years has implemented a number of strategies to combat addiction and overdose, including issuing the anti-overdose medication Naloxone to police officers, sheriff’s deputies and inmates released from jail. As a result, the news release says, the county has seen a 30 percent decline in overdose deaths.

The episode will air at 6 p.m. Friday on KNME Channel 5.