Drug Overdose Prevention Legislation Introduced

Press Release February 16, 2009
Media Contact

Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798 or Gil Archibeque at (505) 833-3376

Legislation promoting drug treatment and overdose prevention has been introduced by Representative Sandra Jeff (D-Crownpoint). House Memorial 38 remembers Amber Archibeque, a young woman who tragically died of a drug-related overdose just hours following her release from jail last December. Amber had a history of drug addiction but was dropped off in downtown Albuquerque by a jail bus at 2:00AM following a five-month jail stay.

The Memorial calls for increased partnership between public health officials and country detention centers to ensure people with a history of drug addiction get access to overdose prevention information, naloxone (a medication that reverses opioid overdoses) and substance abuse treatment. “We must ensure that public health and drug treatment services are available for people with drug addictions in jail,” said Representative Jeff, “If we work together, we can prevent more deaths in our communities.”

“It makes no sense for any detainees to be dropped off like Amber was, in the middle of the night, with no support, telephone, or transportation, especially if they have a history of addiction and very vulnerable,” said Mr. Gil Archibeque, grandfather of Amber, “We need some assurance that all are treated with respect and human dignity. What we need is a law that assures treatment for all those who are incarcerated with a history of drug abuse.” The Memorial also calls for all jail detainees to be released in safe locations, during daylight hours, with adequate access to transportation and telephone.

“New Mexico is already seen as a leader for our statewide overdose prevention policies such as distribution of naloxone and the 2007 911 Good Samaritan Act,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. “These policies are a step in the right direction, but we must do more to prevent this needless loss of life.”

Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico advocated for the passage of the 911 Good Samaritan Act in 2007 that protects witnesses from drug possession charges who call 911 to save the life of an overdose victim. New Mexico is the first state in the nation to implement the law, and lawmakers around the country are now introducing similar legislation in their states. New Mexico continues to have high drug-related overdose rates compared to other states; over 360 people died in 2007 of a drug-related overdose.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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