Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that 100,000 people in the U.S. died in 2021 from a drug overdose. The New Mexico Integrative Wellness Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has taken steps to combat the opioid epidemic in their community. The unit, comprised of about 20 acupuncturists and behavioral health therapists, is cross-trained to work in critical incidents across New Mexico and Region 6. Most of their work is in the northern part of the state.
The unit has been teaching Acudetox, an auricular acupuncture for the prevention and treatment of drug use for more than two years. They heard from local partner Barrios Unidos, a community center in Chimayo, NM, that, in addition to the community experiencing a high incidence of overdose deaths, local drug users were not getting the care they needed. To help divert trips to the emergency room and prevent deaths from Sepsis, the unit developed a wound kit and accompanying Wound Care Zine.
Development of the zine was a collaboration of many local people. So too was a workshop on harm reduction and wound cleaning which included volunteers from other MRC units and staff from a local hospital.
The wound kit includes dressings, antibiotic cream, normal saline, wraps, and two doses of naloxone. Naloxone for the kits is provided free of charge from the Statewide Overdose Prevention Education Coordinator. An initial distribution of over 100 kits was conducted through community centers, behavioral health clinics, and the local COVID hotel.
This spring the unit will begin distributing kits and zines through Fire and EMS in Sandoval County—partners who “know the community well and can easily drop off a kit, clean a wound, and save a life,” said Eleni Fredlund, LMHC, L.Ac. EMT-I, NM Integrative Wellness MRC Unit Coordinator.
The unit is also looking to distribute kits through high schools—making contact through school counselors.