Opioid abuse summit
Paul B. Roth, MD, UNM chancellor for health sciences, was among guest speakers invited to address a day-long summit, "Solving the Opioid Abuse Epidemic in Bernalillo County: Why Aren’t We There Yet?” The day-long event was held on Jan. 8, 2015.
Credit: John Arnold

Paul B. Roth, MD, MS, Chancellor for Health Sciences at the University of New Mexico, on Thursday outlined HSC programs aimed at tackling Bernalillo County’s opioid abuse epidemic.

Roth was among guest speakers invited to address a day-long summit, "Solving the Opioid Abuse Epidemic in Bernalillo County: Why Aren’t We There Yet?”  The event, hosted by Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins, was the county’s second opioid abuse accountability summit and brought together leaders and stakeholders from throughout the community.

New Mexico continues to have one of 
the highest rates of substance abuse 
and overdose death in the nation,
 with almost half of those deaths occurring in Bernalillo County. At Thursday's summit, Roth described HSC efforts to address the problem, including telehelath programs that educate primary care providers across the state on how to diagnose and treat opioid abuse. 

"Indeed, the addiction to opioids, in both prescription and street drug form, is one of the most insidious and devastating public health problems we encounter," Roth said. 

Roth joined U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez, Tim Condon, MD, a UNM research professor and former deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Miriam Komaromy, MD, associate director of UNM’s Project ECHO, and Melissa Heinz, MPH, from the New Mexico Department of Health.

The summit updated progress made since the first Bernalillo County Opioid Abuse Accountability Initiative was held in September 2013, identifying successes and unrealized opportunities, as well as barriers that have impeded progress.

Participants from the initiative and the community presented ideas and insights, while interacting with audience members to develop solutions and action plans for moving forward.