Improving Lives, Helping Families, Lifting Communities
The Mountain Center’s Harm Reduction Program
What is Harm Reduction?
Harm reduction refers to strategies that mitigate the negative impact of high risk activities. It is most commonly associated with interventions and services, such as syringe exchange, targeting people who use substances and/or engage in high risk behaviors related to substance use.
Over the last 30 years, research on harm reduction programs in the U.S. has unequivocally demonstrated that these programs reduce substance-related harm while enhancing individual, family, and community wellness.
The Mountain Center’s Harm Reduction (HR) Program provides syringe exchange and related services such as Naloxone distribution, fentanyl test strips, HIV/HCV testing and food distribution in rural northern Santa Fe, Taos, and Rio Arriba counties. Since 2005, the HR program has grown to be one of the largest syringe exchange and Naloxone provider in New Mexico, and one of the largest programs of its type in the country.
Because harm reduction requires that interventions and policies reflect specific individual and community needs, our program is unique to the needs of northern New Mexico’s rural communities.
It’s being called a “National Emergency.” Fentanyl overdoses were the leading cause of death among U.S. adults between 18 and 45 – more than COVID-19, motor vehicle accidents, cancer, and suicide. States and communities are being pushed to respond with strategies that will save lives, keep families together, and bridge the gap between addiction and recovery.
The Mountain Center’s HR team reports that our MOUD (Medications for Treating Opioid Use Disorder) program finished the second quarter of the current fiscal year having provided 648 encounters with 94 unique individuals. This is almost equal to the total of 795 encounters with 120 unique individuals from the entire previous fiscal year. These encounters include Suboxone and other medications, HIV and HCV testing and services, counseling, and case management.
We recently had one of the patients share with us that they celebrated one year of sobriety with our program! Success comes one life at a time and ripples through our families and communities.
Expanding Our Reach
Another exciting development came about through our work with our partners at the Santa Fe County Fire Department’s COOP (Connection Outreach and Overdose Prevention) Program. They informed us that the community of Edgewood, in the southwestern corner of Santa Fe county, was experiencing a crisis with fentanyl related overdoses. We met with representatives of the county, the community, and the First Choice Community Health Center in Edgewood and successfully applied for funding to begin providing harm reduction services in the East Mountains. We have teamed up with our fellow Prescription Drug Overdose (PDO) grantee and harm reduction provider in Bernalillo county, Dedicated Outreach and Prevention Education Services (D.O.P.E.), and together will be providing on site harm reduction services out of the back of the First Choice clinic five days a week, and roving outreach one day a week in the East Mountain communities of Cerrillos and Madrid.
The Mountain Center’s HR team is excited to be working in these new communities and with these new partners and celebrate our opening day this week.
In the News
If you're interested in learning more about harm reduction strategies in New Mexico, we invite you check out these recent reports by clicking on the links below:
- Santa Fe Reporter – March 9, 2022
- Let's Talk New Mexico Podcast – March 10, 2022
- The Washington Post Magazine – November 30, 2021