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Governor Susana Martinez Announces New Drug Awareness Project "No Exceptions"

Press Release

Location: Santa Fe, NM

Today Governor Susana Martinez announced the rollout of a new video project called "No Exceptions" to bring attention to the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and heroin abuse by young people in New Mexico, and to urge parents, community members, and public officials to work together to stop this serious problem. She was joined by Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier, Public Education Department Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera, Department of Health Secretary Catherine Torres, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, Jennifer Weiss of the Heroin Awareness Committee, and families of New Mexico kids who have been affected by prescription drug abuse.

"No Exceptions" is a comprehensive media campaign involving the New Mexico Behavioral Health Collaborative (BHC), the Human Services Department (HSD), the Public Education Department (PED), the Department of Health (DOH), the Heroin Awareness Committee (HAC), and private partners to help parents, educators, and middle and high school students throughout New Mexico understand the dangers of opioids and heroin. This video gives parents a tool they can use for their own education and also to help educate their children and helps teachers communicate to kids how to make the right decision when it comes to drug use. The campaign will utilize a variety of media to reach parents and youth with the information necessary to help keep kids safe.

"With drug-related deaths sadly on the rise in New Mexico, all of our communities -- and state government -- needs to engage to stop this problem during this legislative session," said Governor Martinez. "The face of opioid addiction is becoming younger and younger. We have to take action. Through the „No Exceptions; program, we are actively working to educate kids, parents, teachers, and community members on the dangers of prescription drug and heroin abuse. By providing education on the dangers of drug abuse before it starts, we can save lives, and by expanding and improving prescription drug monitoring and better defining when and how these drugs are prescribed for legitimate reasons, we can take tangible steps to curb prescription drug abuse in New Mexico."

The ongoing media campaign will kick-off with public service announcements (PSAs) paid for by the NMBHC and HSD airing statewide in cooperation with the New Mexico Broadcasters Association (NMBA). The PSAs will begin airing on television and radio this week and will continue throughout the year. In addition, PED will be sending a letter to all school superintendents encouraging them to have their middle and high school health classes show the video and host discussions based on the video in their health classes.

"Opioid addiction is a very serious problem in New Mexico with very serious consequences," said Human Services Department Secretary Sidonie Squier. "I am pleased that we have made this a front burner issue at HSD and with the Behavioral Health Collaborative. We are taking positive steps to educate everyone about this addiction crisis and what they can do to stop the abuse and use of opioids and heroin before it starts."

At 27 overdose deaths for every 100,000 people, New Mexico has the highest drug overdose rate in the United States. This frightening statistic is more than double the United States rate of 11.9 deaths for every 100,000 people and has increased by 242% since 1991. In New Mexico, 40% of these deaths are caused primarily by prescription drugs.

"New Mexico's young people -- our students -- are getting ensnared by this drug abuse, and it has the power to derail their education and threaten their future," said Public Education Secretarydesignate Hanna Skandera. "That is why, in partnership with the Behavioral Health."

Collaborative, I will be sending a letter to all New Mexico School Superintendents urging them to have this video shown in all middle and high school health classes. It is important to educate parents, educators, and students about the dangers of prescription drug and heroin abuse, and stop these problems before they start."

In addition, SafeTeen New Mexico and Christopher Productions have partnered with KOBTV 4 and PBS affiliates throughout the state to broadcast a half hour documentary and a half hour, live, follow up program in prime time which will include web interaction with viewers in August.

Governor Martinez also announced her support for legislation to help reduce prescription drug abuse in New Mexico. Three pieces of legislation -- modifications to the Pain Relief Act, enacting more safeguards for the prescribing of opioids, and an expansion of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Database -- are keys to help combat this problem."In addition to providing information that will help curb opioid addiction, we can also take steps to reduce the availability of opioids to those who are seeking to abuse them," added Governor
Martinez. "Legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernadette Sanchez will enact more safeguards and increase monitoring, making it more difficult for drug abusers to obtain these medications. I'm thankful for her work and I believe this legislation will have strong bipartisan support."

SB 158, SB 159, and SB 215 are being carried by Senator Bernadette Sanchez this legislative session and are based on countless hours of work by the Department of Health, the Heroin Awareness Committee, Senator Bernadette Sanchez, and the Board of Pharmacy. These bills will provide needed revisions to the Pain Relief Act, enacting more safeguards and increased monitoring of opioid medication prescriptions. SB 159 and SB 215 have already received the approval of the Senate Public Affairs

Committee and SB 158 was unanimously passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. SB 158 will expand, improve, and implement the current Prescription Drug Monitoring Database (PDMP) to hold doctors accountable for the opioids prescriptions they write, as well as reduce the amount of opioid drugs that are illegitimately prescribed.

SB 159 seeks to clarify the procedures under which certain opioid medications are obtained by
educating patients, requiring informed consent, and limiting the number of opioids prescribed throughout the state.

SB 215 expands the definition of "pain," to be inclusive of both "acute" and "chronic" pain in order to ensure proper pain management for patients.

"Addiction to opioids such as pain medications and heroin is a major public health concern in New Mexico because the addiction can lead to serious consequences including contracting other infectious diseases, hospitalizations from overdoses and death," said New Mexico Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Catherine Torres, M.D. "The legislation being sponsored by Senator Sanchez will go a long way toward addressing the addiction and overdose death problems we face in New Mexico. More proactive action is needed on this issue, and this is a major step in the right direction. I urge the legislature to support these bills."

"I wish to thank the Governor for making this issue a priority. This package of legislation addresses several components of the addiction and overdose epidemic that is devastating our youth. These bills will help educate health care providers, patients and their families about the dangers of these medications. Access to these medications by our youth will also be substantially reduced. Ultimately, many lives will be saved and addiction to prescription pain medication will be prevented," said Sen. Bernadette Sanchez (D -- Albuquerque)

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