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Bill aims to reduce overdoses in Bernalillo County

salazar_martin_sigGov. Susana Martinez signed a bill last week requiring local and state law enforcement officers to carry the anti-overdose drug naloxone, but Bernalillo County is going even further in its quest to combat overdose deaths.

Commissioners have signed off on an initiative to provide naloxone to individuals leaving the Metropolitan Detention Center and those being discharged from the Department of Addiction Treatment Services who have received training on use of the drug.

Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins says it’s an important initiative because in the first two weeks after a drug user is released from jail, the risk of a fatal overdose is much higher than at any other time in his or her addiction.

Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a drug that blocks the effects of opioids like heroin. Officers with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office have been carrying naloxone for the past year, while the county fire department has been administering it for the last 10 years.

A dose of naloxone hydrochloride can revive a person who may have overdosed on heroin. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

A dose of naloxone hydrochloride can revive a person who may have overdosed on heroin. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

The county is also expanding its medication-assisted treatment program at MDC and DATS to include induction and maintenance of methadone. Methadone induction – initiating synthetic-opioid medication treatment – suppresses opioid withdrawal symptoms, extinguishes opioid-drug cravings and blocks the reinforcing effects of illicit opioids.

Hart Stebbins says the use of pharmacological medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies is an established best practice for treatment of substance abuse disorders and has been endorsed by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.

The county also has moved forward with establishing an eight-member Addiction Treatment Advisory Board. Appointed to that advisory board were medical professionals and addiction specialists who will make policy recommendations to the county.

County commissioners voted unanimously to approve the three initiatives during their meeting late last month. Officials say no additional county funding is required for the initiatives.

“Every single one of these is focused on addressing a significant root cause of crime and incarceration in our community: substance use disorders,” Hart Stebbins says.

“It’s been demonstrated over and over that investing in prevention and treatment for individuals suffering from behavioral health disorders is more humane, more cost effective and more effective in stopping addiction driven crime than arrest and incarceration.”

Two memorials

Bernalillo County is also moving forward with construction of two public safety memorials, awarding contracts for both projects to Vigil Contracting Service Inc.

One of the memorials will be built across from the James McGrane Jr. Public Safety Complex in Tijeras at a cost of $410,943.

The centerpiece will be a 20-foot diameter tile mosaic, with adjacent seating, landscaping, a walking path and lighting. The half-acre site requires significant site preparation and landscaping, according to the county.

The second memorial will be erected within an existing city park, just east of the Albuquerque Police Department’s John Carrillo Memorial Substation on Osuna Road NE.

The centerpiece of that memorial will be an 18-foot-high granite obelisk with adjacent seating, landscaping and lighting. The pricetag for that project is $238,133.

Both memorials will include the installation of granite memorial tablets with the names of public safety officers in Bernalillo County who have died in the line of duty.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the memorials, which were championed by Commissioner Wayne Johnson.

Martin Salazar: