The Accountability Summit on Opioids is the first of four accountability summits to be held over the next two years. I was honored to attend and participate in the panel on medication abuse on September 19, 2013.

The purpose of these summits is to begin working towards an agreement on the course of action needed to address the alarming frequency of overdose deaths and the effect on the community as a result of opioid addiction (both prescription drugs and heroin) in Bernallillo County, New Mexico.

The first of these panel discussions was broken down into four parts. By working with interdisciplinary sections within the community, experts in various fields worked towards a consensus on how to best help and treat those with Opioid addiction.

The first panel dealt with the prevention of opioid addiction and presents solutions such as education and community participation to the control of prescription opioids and alternative treatments for controlling pain without the use of opioids.

This panel featured experts in substance abuse prevention, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

The intent was to examine factors that would reduce risk factors for substance abuse and the specific programs and approaches that are currently in place.

The second panel examined how substance abuse, in particular opioid dependency, affects law enforcement, the criminal justice system and public safety.

This panel discussed:

  • effective measures that could be taken prior to incarceration

  • the programs and actions that are currently in place

  • treatment programs available while the individual is incarcerated

  • effective post incarceration programs that will assist the individual to re-enter society

  • programs aimed to reduce the instances of relapse after release

This panel was made up of members from law enforcement, the judicial system and members from the department of Corrections.

The third panel discussed harm reduction, specifically the use of medication-assisted treatment such as the methadone program. The purpose is to prevent the number of opioid related overdoses and deaths.

This panel included experts from the medical field and experts in treatment facilities. I am honored to have been asked to be a part of this panel. We were able to accomplish a great deal in working toward solutions to these problems in our community.

The final panel examined treatment options and programs available to those with opioid dependency. This panel put forth the recommendation to expand bed capacity of current treatment centers and to implement comprehensive treatment services for Bernalillo County.

The members making up the treatment panel are distinguished members of the medical community, including medical experts with many years of experience treating patients with substance abuse issues.

I am blessed to be part of a community that is so dedicated to bringing experts together to brainstorm and discuss ways to increase the health, well being, and happiness of our citizens. I hope our efforts will prove successful in years to come.