City receives new federal grant to fight opioid crisis

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque has a new move to fight the opioid crisis.

The city received a $298,000 grant from the Department of Justice to fund a new program called Albuquerque Peer-to-Peer. The program places peer engagement specialists who have experienced addiction and recovery in emergency rooms to help coach overdose survivors.

“If we let people that have had an overdose situation walk out of the hospital with no support system, nothing other than maybe some Narcan in their pocket, things are not going to get better,” Mayor Richard Berry said.

The grant money will pay for the cost of a program coordinator, educational resources, and one peer engagement specialist.

So far this year in Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico Hospital has reported 2,051 opioid-related encounters. KRQE News 13 asked Mayor Berry if he thought one peer engagement specialist would be enough to handle the caseload.

“So the way these projects start is, you take your grant funding and you start a pilot project. This isn’t really a pilot project because we’re using the DOJ funding. But, you start with one step. We have one peer, that peer becomes the manager, that peer then recruits volunteers,” said Berry.

Berry also says the city will also add opioid incidents to their ‘crime map’ so they can add more resources to the areas that see the most overdoses.

“You can recover from opioid addiction. It is not an easy road, it is not a fast road, but it’s much more difficult if you don’t have someone there to walk you through it,” said Berry.

The Albuquerque Fire Department reported 600 confirmed opioid-related overdoses over a year-and-a-half. UNM Hospital reported more than 2,000 opioid-related encounters at that same time.

Resources and Treatment options for addiction in New Mexico

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