ALBUQUERQUE - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced that Albuquerque, N.M., has been selected as the seventh pilot city to be part of the DEA’s comprehensive law enforcement and prevention “360 Strategy” to help cities dealing with the heroin and prescription opioid abuse epidemic and crime associated with drug trafficking and abuse. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sean R. Waite of the DEA Albuquerque District Office made the announcement during a press conference at the Boys and Girls Club of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Acting U.S. Attorney James D. Tierney and Executive Vice Chancellor Richard Larson of the UNM Health Sciences Center, partners in the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative, Bernalillo County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins, City Councilor Diane Gibson, Executive Director Jennifer Weiss-Burke of Healing Addiction in our Community, and representatives of other community stakeholders joined Assistant Special Agent in Charge Waite in launching the DEA 360 Strategy in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
“This comprehensive strategy leverages and expands existing federal, state and local partnerships, including the HOPE Initiative, to address New Mexico’s opioid epidemic on several different fronts – law enforcement, prescription drug control, drug education, prevention and treatment,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Waite.
The DEA 360 Strategy responds to the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic with an innovative three-pronged approach to combating heroin and opioid use through: (1) coordinated law enforcement action targeting all levels of drug trafficking organizations; (2) engaging drug manufacturers, practitioners and pharmacists to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic and encourage responsible prescribing practices throughout the medical community; and (3) community outreach and partnerships to equip and empower communities to fight the opioid epidemic. DEA first rolled out the 360 Strategy in Nov. 2015 in Pittsburgh, Penn. Albuquerque is the seventh city selected to participate in the Strategy.
The first component of the DEA 360 Strategy is premised on DEA’s traditional enforcement model that targets cartels and drug distributors who fuel the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic in our communities. In Albuquerque, DEA will continue to execute the enforcement component by relying and expanding on its many law enforcement partnerships. While law enforcement plays a central role in the 360 Strategy, DEA recognizes that enforcement actions alone are not enough to make lasting changes in our communities.
The second component of the DEA 360 Strategy involves collaboration with healthcare providers and health organizations to facilitate discussions and develop solutions to prevent prescription opioid abuse, which continues to drive our devastating heroin epidemic. National studies reveal that 80% of all new heroin users started their addictions with prescription painkillers and national statistics show that more than 35,000 people die every year as the result of heroin or prescription opioid overdoses. The 360 Strategy focuses on preventing pharmaceutical drug diversion by providing education and training within the medical and pharmaceutical community.
The third component of the Strategy seeks to enable communities to find long-term solutions to their drug problems by expanding and leveraging partnerships, both nationally and locally, in drug education, drug prevention and drug treatment. Drug education and prevention efforts are supremely important because they give us the tools and knowledge to remain drug free. DEA and its community partners will form a community alliance comprised of leaders from law enforcement, prevention and treatment advocates, the judicial system, education, business, government, civic organizations, faith communities, media, social services and others, will help carry the important prevention and treatment messages to the Albuquerque and Bernalillo County community.
DEA and the HOPE Initiative partners will work with the Justice Department’s Violence Reduction Network, U.S. Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Healing Addiction in our Community (HAC), Boys and Girls Club of New Mexico, the National Guard, the City of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, Albuquerque Public Schools, the Elks Club and many other community stakeholders under the DEA 360 Strategy to turn the tide on the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic and the tragedy it brings to Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.
The DEA 360 Strategy augments DEA’s active and continuing participation in the HOPE Initiative, which was launched in Jan. 2015 by the UNM Health Sciences Center and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in response to the national opioid epidemic that has had a disproportionately devastating impact on New Mexico. Opioid addiction has taken a toll on public safety, public health and the economic viability of our communities. Working in partnership with the DEA, Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque, Healing Addiction in our Community and other community stakeholders, HOPE’s principal goals are to protect our communities from the dangers associated with heroin and opioid painkillers and reducing the number of opioid-related deaths in New Mexico. The HOPE Initiative is comprised of five components: (1) prevention and education; (2) treatment; (3) law enforcement; (4) reentry; and (5) strategic planning.
Learn more about the 360 Strategy at https://www.dea.gov/prevention/360-strategy/360-strategy.shtml. Learn more about the New Mexico HOPE Initiative at http://www.HopeInitiativeNM.org.