Articles, Blog

Episode 1032 | KUNM Public Health Report: Opioid Epidemic

December 23, 2019


>>UP NEXT, OPIATE ADDICTION
IS NOW A CONCERN IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE NATION
BUT HEROIN AND OPIATE ADDICTION HAS LONG BEEN AN
ISSUE IN THE NORTHERN NEW MEXICO COMMUNITY OF ESPANOLA. KUNM PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTER,
ED WILLIAMS, SPENT SEVERAL MONTHS IN RIO ARRIBA COUNTY,
LAST YEAR, GETTING TO KNOW INDIVIDUALS, FAMILY, AND
COMMUNITY LEADERS WHO DEALT WITH THE OPIATE EPIDEMIC FOR
GENERATIONS. HE SAT DOWN THIS WEEK WITH
PRODUCER SARAH GUSTAVUS TO TALK ABOUT HIS SERIES,
ENDURING ADDITION, THAT AIRS THIS WEEK ON KUNM.>>THANKS FOR STOPPING BY.>>THANKS SARAH.>>LAST YEAR, NEW MEXICO
OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED THERE WAS A REDUCTION IN OPIATE OVERDOSE
DEATHS IN THE STATE, BUT YOU FOUND IN YOUR REPORTING ON
THIS ISSUE, THE NUMBERS DON’T EXACTLY TELL THE WHOLE STORY. WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE
SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THAT?>>IT IS TRUE OVERDOSE NUMBERS
ARE DECREASING, DEFINITELY A GOOD THING, BUT JUST FOCUSING
ON THE DECREASE, I THINK, IS A LITTLE BIT MISLEADING. WHEN THE CDC FIRST STARTED
KEEPING TRACK OF THESE NUMBERS IN THE LATE 90’S, ESPANOLA WAS
THE HIGHEST OVERDOSE RATE IN AMERICA. BALTIMORE WAS
SECOND. NOW THE NUMBER IS STILL 50%
HIGHER THAN IT WAS BACK THEN. SO, THE ISSUE IS JUST THAT
COMPARED TO PLACES LIKE WEST VIRGINIA, I MEAN WE ARE
STARTING TO LOOK BETTER ON THE NUMBERS, BUT I THINK JUST
TALKING ABOUT THE EPIDEMIC IN TERMS OF NUMBERS OF OVERDOSES
BY ITSELF IS KIND OF JUST MAYBE NOT THE RIGHT WAY TO
FRAME IT. IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT DRUG USE
IS DOWN, JUST THAT FEWER PEOPLE ARE DYING FROM TAKING
TOO MUCH HEROIN.>>ONE OF THE REASONS WHY IS
NALOXONE, THIS DRUG THAT IS AVAILABLE THAT HELPS REVERSE
AN OVERDOSE DEATH AND SAVE LIVES, HOW HAS THAT CHANGED
THE FIGHT IN RIO ARRIBA COUNTY?>>A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE GETTING
NALOXONE WHICH IS WHERE MOST OF THE FEDERAL MONEY HAS BEEN
GOING AND STATE MONEY AS WELL, WHICH IS KIND OF A MIRACLE
DRUG YOU SPRAY IN THE NOSE AND CAN SAVE SOMEONE’S LIFE. AND I DON’T WANT TO UNDERPLAY
HOW IMPORTANT IT IS, BECAUSE ALMOST EVERYONE I TALK TO FOR
THIS STORY HAS HAD AN OVERDOSE REVERSED BY NALOXONE, WHICH IS
STAGGERING TO ME. BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, I MEAN,
DETOX IS BEING STARVED. THERE IS HARDLY ANYWHERE TO
GET HELP. SO, WE ARE TURNING PEOPLE AWAY
FROM BE BEING HELPED AND THEN THEY ARE OVERDOSING AND THAT
IS WHERE WE INVEST OUR MONEY. THAT IS WHERE WE ARE PUTTING
OUR FINANCES AND EFFORTS HERE. SO, NALOXONE IS AVAILABLE, IT
IS REALLY IMPORTANT. POLICE ARE CARRYING IT. IT IS SAVING LIVES, BUT THE
ROOT CAUSES OF THE SITUATION ARE STILL VERY MUCH THERE. NALOXONE DOESN’T HELP YOUR
HEPATITIS C. IT DOESN’T HELP YOUR
CARDIOVASCULAR PROBLEMS, ALL THE EMERGENCY ROOMS VISITS
TAKE PLACE FROM COMPLICATIONS, SO IT IS STILL A SERIOUS
ISSUE.>>YOU MENTIONED TREATMENT. FOR FOLKS LIVING IN ESPANOLA
OR RIO ARRIBA COUNTY, IF THEY DECIDE THEY WANT TO GO FOR
TREATMENT, IS IT AVAILABLE?>>SHORT ANSWER IS NO. THIS IS BOTTOM LINE FOR A LOT
OF PEOPLE HERE, IS THAT I TALKED TO SOME COUNSELORS
INSIDE OUT. THEY ARE THE ONES WHO TRY TO
PLACE PEOPLE IN TREATMENT PROGRAMS. THEY TELL ME NINE TIMES OUT OF
10, THEY HAVE TO TURN SOMEONE AWAY WHO IS TRYING TO GET
HELP, TRYING TO GET CLEAN. REMEMBER, THIS ISN’T A DRUG
YOU CAN JUST QUIT. AND, BECAUSE THE DETOX IS
ALMOST ALWAYS FULL, THERE IS NO MEDICAL DETOX IN ESPANOLA. PEOPLE HAVE TO DRIVE TO BUSY
PARTS OF THE STATE LIKE HERE IN ALBUQUERQUE. THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO GET INTO
TREATMENT PROGRAMS.>>WHAT IS MEDICAL DETOX? WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?>>THAT IS A GOOD QUESTION. MEDICAL DETOX IS FOR PEOPLE
WHO HAVE SEVERE WITHDRAWALS SYMPTOMS OR ARE AT KIND OF A
MEDICAL RISK FOR A TREATMENT PROGRAM. YOU HAVE GOT TO MAKE SURE
SOMEONE IS NOT GOING TO DIE IN THE BATHROOM, YOU KNOW WHAT I
MEAN, WHILE TRYING TO GET HELP. YOU NEED A HOSPITAL CLEARANCE. SOCIAL DETOX IS THE OTHER ONE. THERE IS ONE IN RIO ARRIBA
COUNTY, BUT THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO TAKE PEOPLE WHO ARE HIGH
RISK. SO, MEDICAL DETOX TAKES PLACE
IN A HOSPITAL AND IT IS FUNDED BY MEDICAID, WHICH IS A BIG
MONEY SAVER FOR THE STATE. AND THE PROBLEM IS, THERE ARE
NO SUCH MEDICAL DETOX CENTERS IN RIO ARRIBA COUNTY, THE PART
OF THE STATE AND COUNTRY, REALLY, WITH THE HIGHEST RATE
OF OPIOID ADDICTION DOESN’T HAVE ANYWHERE TO GO NOW FOR
TREATMENT, FOR DETOX, WHICH IS STEP 1 IF YOU WANT TO GET
BETTER.>>THE STATE CONTINUES TO
STRUGGLE FINANCIALLY. THERE IS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT
FUTURE OF MEDICAID INCLUDING HERE IN NEW MEXICO. WHAT IS AT RISK OR AT STAKE
HERE WHEN IT COMES TO DRUG TREATMENT?>>THAT IS A REALLY BIG OPEN
QUESTION. WE HAVE MEDICAID SOLVENCY
ISSUES WITH THE STATE AND NOW THERE IS A QUESTION OF IS
MEDICAID EXPANSION IN JEOPARDY? IS THERE GOING TO BE A STATE
BLOCK GRANT? I DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER WHAT
THAT WOULD MEAN, BUT WHAT PEOPLE GENERALLY SEEM TO THINK
IS IT WOULD MEAN LESS MONEY AND FOR — THAT IS HOW A LOT
OF PEOPLE PAY FOR RECOVERY IS MEDICAID. I MEAN THIS IS ONE OF THE
POOREST AREAS OF THE STATE SO PEOPLE DON’T HAVE A WAY ON
THEIR OWN TO PAY FOR TREATMENT. SO, HOPEFULLY, IT WON’T BE A
HUGE IMPACT, I MEAN, I DON’T KNOW, PEOPLE ARE WORRIED ABOUT
IT, BUT NO ONE SEEMS TO KNOW THE ANSWER AT THIS POINT.>>I THINK MOST NEW MEXICANS
KNOW THERE IS A LOT OF HEROIN AND OPIATE ADDICTION IN RIO
ARRIBA COUNTY. WE HAVE BEEN HEARING ABOUT IT
FOR YEARS. WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE WILL
LEARN FROM THE SERIES? I AM HEARING FROM PEOPLE
DEALING WITH THIS FOR GENERATIONS.>>FIRST, I MEAN, I THINK THIS
IS A STORY THAT IS A PROFOUNDLY HUMAN STORY. THESE ARE WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO
ARE GOING THROUGH THESE REALLY PROFOUND STRUGGLES. WHAT IS UNDERLYING ALL OF
THIS, NOT JUST AN ISSUE OF ADDICTION OF ADDICTION,
CHEMICAL DEPENDENCE. THERE IS PROFOUND SOCIAL
VULNERABILITY IN THIS COMMUNITY; CHILD POVERTY,
CHILDHOOD TRAUMA, YOU KNOW, INCARCERATION, ALL THIS
INSTABILITY THAT KIDS AND FAMILY GO THROUGH BECAUSE OF
ADDICTIONS. THESE ARE THINGS THAT REALLY
NEED TO BE LOOKED AT IF THIS EPIDEMIC IS TO END. TREATMENT ALONE, EVEN THOUGH
WE NEED IT NOW, IT DOES NOT SOLVE THE ROOT CAUSES OF THE
PROBLEM. SO, THAT IS ONE THING I THINK
WE CAN BE LOOKING AT RIGHT NOW AS NEW MEXICANS.>>APPRECIATE YOU STOPPING BY. WE ARE GOING TO PUT A LINK TO
YOUR STORIES ONLINE AT NEWMEXICOINFOCUS.ORG.>>THANKS, SARAH.

No Comments

Leave a Reply