Press Release

Friday: New Mexico Legislative Committees to Hear About Heroin Assisted Treatment

International Expert Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes and the Drug Policy Alliance to Testify on the Alternative Treatment for Chronic Heroin Addiction

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Contact:</h2>
<p>Emily Kaltenbach, 505-920-5256, ekaltenbach@drugpolicy.org</p>

Santa Fe – On Friday, international expert Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes and Lindsay LaSalle, from the Drug Policy Alliance will testify at a joint meeting of the Interim Legislative Health and Human Services and Courts, Corrections and Justice Committees.  They will present on Heroin Assisted Treatment, an evidenced-based treatment for chronic heroin addiction. Heroin maintenance may be a feasible, effective and cost-effective strategy for reducing drug use and drug-related harm among long-term heroin users in New Mexico for whom other treatment programs have failed.

Heroin-assisted treatment, also known as heroin maintenance, refers to the supervised administration by a doctor of pharmaceutical-grade heroin (diacetylmorphine) to chronic heroin users who have failed more traditional forms of treatment including abstinence-based models and medication such as methadone.

Permanent heroin-assisted treatment programs have been established in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, with additional trial programs having been completed in Spain, Belgium, Luxemburg, and even our neighboring Canada.

The results have been unanimously positive.  Empirical studies have conclusively demonstrated that heroin-assisted treatment is a highly cost-effective intervention that dramatically reduces illicit drug use, crime, disease and overdose while improving health, well-being, social reintegration and treatment retention among heroin-dependent persons who failed prior treatment.

WHAT:  NM Legislative Committee Hearing: Testimony on Heroin Assisted Treatment and Whether this Treatment Alternative Could be an Option for New Mexico
WHEN:  Friday October 28, 2 pm MST
WHERE:  Room 307, State Capitol  
WHO:

  • Dr. Eugenia Oviedo-Joekes was formerly co-investigator of North America’s first heroin-assisted treatment trial, the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI); and current principal investigator of the Study to Assess Long-Term Opioid Maintenance Effectiveness (SALOME), a randomized clinical trial testing innovative treatments for severe, long-term opioid dependency
  • Lindsay LaSalle is a senior staff attorney in Drug Policy Alliance office of legal affairs. LaSalle is particularly active in the areas of harm reduction and overdose prevention, including Good Samaritan and naloxone distribution laws, heroin assisted treatment, expanded access to medication-assisted treatment in both community and criminal justice settings, and supervised injection services, among others.

DPA Heroin Assisted Treatment Fact Sheet: http://www.drugpolicy.org/resource/heroin-assisted-treatment-hat

Under HAT, pharmacological heroin is administered under strict controls in a clinical setting to those who have failed in other treatments like methadone. Every published evaluation of HAT has shown extremely positive outcomes: major reductions in illicit drug use, crime, disease and overdose; and improvements in health, wellbeing, social reintegration and treatment retention. More than a half dozen countries in Europe and Canada have implemented heroin-assisted treatment (HAT) programs.

Drug Replacement and Maintenance Therapy
New Mexico