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Albuquerque forum to focus on opioid addiction

The Albuquerque Journal and KANW radio are sponsoring a forum June 15 to examine what law enforcement officials call an “epidemic” in opioid-related deaths in New Mexico.

U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez and University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Chancellor Dr. Paul B. Roth will be among the speakers to attend the forum, which will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Journal auditorium. The forum will be broadcast live by KANW, 89.1 FM, a nonprofit, noncommercial public radio station owned and operated by Albuquerque Public Schools.

The purpose of the forum, Martinez said, is to educate New Mexicans about the dangers of opioids and help prevent them from succumbing to the epidemic. More than 20 experts have been invited to attend the forum and answer questions submitted by the public.

Roughly 90 percent of the 540 drug overdose deaths in New Mexico during 2014 involved heroin or prescription painkillers, making the state No. 2 in the nation for overdose deaths per capita.

Last year, Martinez and Roth formed the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative, which aims to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths in the state through education, prevention and law enforcement.

Many of the organizations providing expertise for the forum are members of the HOPE Initiative.

The public can submit questions for the forum by email to The deadline for submitting them is June 5.

The Journal will sort the questions and distribute them to the experts, who will research and then answer the questions during the live broadcast.

Journal editor Kent Walz and investigative reporter Mike Gallagher will serve as moderators.

The forum’s experts will be drawn from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the UNM School of Pharmacy, Generation RX, the New Mexico Poison Center, Bernalillo County’s MATS program, Albuquerque Public Schools, UNM School of Medicine Milagro Program, Greater Albuquerque Medical Association, Healing Addiction in our Community and others.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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