Marchers: Don’t Cut Behavioral Health Funds

Demonstrators from Rio Arriba County make their way to the Roundhouse on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. MARISA DEMARCO / KUNM

Demonstrators from Rio Arriba County make their way to the Roundhouse on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016.
MARISA DEMARCO / KUNM

  •  Marisa Demarco
  •  Monday, February 1, 2016

The rate of drug overdose deaths—nationally and statewide—is racing up the charts, echoing HIV trends of 30 years ago, according to the CDC. That’s why demonstrators in Santa Fe on Saturday asked legislators not to erode resources that fight substance abuse.

A possible cut to behavioral health funding drove scores of people from northern New Mexico to march in the capital.

Lauren Reichelt, is the director of Health and Human Services for Rio Arriba County, which has had one of the highest heroin overdose death rates in the United States for years. She said in her county, this has become a multigenerational issue. “It means that people are losing members of their family,” she said. “So it’s not just affecting people who are using drugs. It affects all kinds of people.”

Reichelt said there has to be another way to balance the budget. She’s seen firsthand the widespread devastation rampant addiction has on smaller, more rural communities.

The 2016 legislative session is focused on the budget. Lawmakers will be deciding how to spend the state’s money in the next couple of weeks.

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