ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Officials in charge of a statewide effort — Operation HOPE — to battle the effects of a national opioid and heroin crisis announced Friday they will be utilizing a new website, billboards, social media, the news media, and community and student education programs to better reach the public with messages of prevention, treatment, public safety, and hope.
To view the website, go to hopeinitiativenm.org. Billboards are located at 15 locations in Bernalillo County, most within the vicinity of high schools.
Few states have been hit harder with overdose deaths than New Mexico and is one reason why Chancellor Paul B. Roth of UNM’s Health Sciences Center and U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez launched the New Mexico HOPE – Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education – Initiative last year.
More people are receiving treatment for addiction, and more criminals are being prosecuted for drug trafficking, and now, those efforts will be more fully supported by a comprehensive education program, the principals said in a news release.
“Drug abuse exacts a terrible toll on our community,” said Roth, a longtime emergency room physician. “This initiative is an important collaboration between our health system and law enforcement to find creative solutions to help people find their way out of the maze of drug addiction.”
Added Martinez: “This epidemic … impacts the lives of the infant born addicted to opioids, and the high school athlete who becomes addicted to opioid painkillers prescribed for an injury and later dies from a heroin overdose, and the grandparent who ends up addicted to opioid painkillers following a medical procedure and doesn’t know where to turn for help.
“Through this Initiative, the medical and law enforcement communities are working together to bring hope to New Mexico by educating our communities about the dangers of prescription painkillers and heroin to prevent more New Mexicans from succumbing to this epidemic, he said.
Expanded education efforts will be aimed at preventing abuse and addiction in our state’s youth, as well as helping those who are currently suffering from addiction, to find help and hope of recovery.
The new effort also will offer support for families struggling to find treatment and other resources for their loved ones who are addicted, according to the news release.
UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s office, in collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bernalillo County Opioid Accountability Initiative and Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), a non-profit organization, are working together on the initiative.