Commentary: U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján, Deb Haaland, and Xochitl Torres Small, announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded three grants totaling $600,000 to rural communities across New Mexico and Indian Country in order to help combat the opioid epidemic. The funding, which was championed by the New Mexico delegation, comes through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and will support treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts in Santa Fe County, San Juan County, and the rural southern counties of Catron, Chaves, Cibola, De Baca, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Luna, Otero, Roosevelt, Sierra, and Socorro, as well as the rural-designated regions of Torrance and Valencia.
“The opioid crisis is a public health crisis, and it’s long past time we start treating it like one. In New Mexico and across Indian Country, too many Tribal and rural communities have been among the hardest hit by this epidemic, and too many families have been devastated by the consequences. When we strengthen services and invest in these areas, we save lives,” said Udall, a senior member of the Appropriations committee. “This badly-needed funding will help bolster prevention efforts and support treatment options to connect people with the help they deserve. I’m proud to have fought to make sure these frontline communities in Santa Fe and San Juan counties and southern New Mexico receive this funding, but much more needs to be done to provide sustained resources towards building the health care infrastructure needed to combat this epidemic in New Mexico and across Indian Country.”
“I’m pleased this much-needed funding is going to rural communities across New Mexico and Indian Country to support those on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. Too many families have lost loved ones to this epidemic and many more are struggling to find treatment and recovery resources,” said Heinrich. “We know that evidence-based treatment works, but it is only possible when we invest in treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts. When provided with an opportunity to receive comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation, people who have suffered through the trials of opioid addiction can turn their lives around and help their communities heal in the process. I will do everything I can to fight for the funding, resources, and policies we need to help New Mexicans find the treatment and lifesaving care they need.”
“Communities across New Mexico – especially rural and Tribal communities – have carried the brunt of the opioid addiction for too long. This critical funding will help ensure that communities have the tools they need to robustly address opioid addiction and focus on life-saving prevention and recovery efforts. While this funding is a step in the right direction, we must continue our efforts to bring forward solutions to save lives and end the opioid epidemic,” said Assistant Speaker Luján.
“Addressing the opioid crisis and other substance abuse disorders in our communities will help our communities thrive. Unfortunately, addiction issues our state has faced didn’t get much attention until the rest of the country experienced it. Now, we’re seeing more funding available to communities to help those struggling with addiction. This funding is a start to ensuring compassionate and persistent treatment is available to those who need it, ” said Haaland.
“Across New Mexico, and especially in rural and Native communities, the opioid epidemic has claimed too many lives and devasted countless families. These federal grants are an important step to improving access to treatment and recovery services for New Mexicans struggling with addiction but we have much more work to do. In order to turn back the tide against the opioid epidemic, it is imperative we make major investments in local treatment, recovery, and prevention efforts. This public health crisis is not a partisan issue and I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Torres Small.
The New Mexico organizations receiving awards are:
- Santa Fe Recovery Center, Inc., Santa Fe, N.M. -- $200,000. “The Santa Fe Recovery Center works with individuals to sustain lifelong recovery from alcoholism, addictions and related mental illness, by providing culturally relevant evidence-based treatment and education in partnership with other community organizations.”
- Southwest Center for Health Innovation, Silver City, N.M. -- $200,000. A nonprofit organization focused on community health issues. Its mission is “to work with communities to advance health and social justice through innovative and effective policies and programs.”
- Capacity Builders, Inc., Farmington, N.M. -- $200,000. “Since 1995, Capacity Builders Inc. has been diligently serving the resource development needs of tribal nonprofits and federally recognized tribes of the US Four Corner’s community.”
Last year, Udall, Heinrich, and Luján successfully fought to include New Mexico counties in the list of rural counties to be prioritized for federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic. In May 2018, the lawmakers wrote to HRSA after it released a priority list of counties considered ‘at the highest risk for substance use disorder,’ which did not include any New Mexico counties, and called on HRSA to prioritize New Mexico communities as well. In response, HRSA clarified that counties that were not included on the list could still apply for and receive funding.