Woman sues corrections for drugs to treat addiction “Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – A woman who uses methadone to successfully fight heroin addiction is suing the New Mexico Department of Corrections to try to make sure she can continue to receive the drugs when she is transferred in jail next month to serve his sentence.

The woman, identified in the lawsuit only as SB, said she has been addicted to opioids for the past 20 years, has several friends and family who have died of overdoses and overdosed for more than one day. dozen times. For the past two years, she has taken methadone – a drug treatment for opioid use disorder that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to suppress food cravings and treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

“She is working on her recovery every day,” the lawsuit says, adding that the treatment has helped her cope with the loss of her father to COVID-19 and the trauma of being raped. “Methadone and counseling are her lifeline. She wants to continue her doctor-prescribed treatment for OUD, recover and avoid illicit opioids. She wants to break the cycle of incarceration. If she needs it, she will continue this treatment for the rest of her life.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court on April 29 against Alisha Tafoya Lucero, the secretary of the state prison department and Wensceslaus Asonganyi, the agency’s health services administrator. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the law firm of Ryan J. Villa allege that the correctional service will not provide medical treatment to inmates except those who are pregnant or who are are breastfeeding.

The lawsuit calls on the correctional service to provide SB with medical treatment throughout his incarceration and the court to declare that the Ministry’s denial of drugs “amounts to willful indifference to serious medical need (and) is a violation of the law. eighth amendment ban against cruel and unusual punishment. Lawyers filed an emergency motion on Monday asking for a preliminary injunction requiring corrections to provide the drugs and evidentiary hearings on the unfinished issue.

A spokesperson for the Correctional Service did not respond to questions about why prisons do not provide medical treatment.

“Although the department will not comment on the pending litigation, we are aware of the complaint,” Eric Harrison wrote in an email. “This individual is not detained by the NMCD.”

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The trial compares the opioid use disorder to other chronic conditions – such as diabetes and high blood pressure – that can be controlled with medication.

In a press release, lawyer Kate Lowe said the Corrections Department’s policy of refusing the drug is “cruel, discriminatory and dangerous.”

“Opioid overdose deaths in New Mexico continue to rise, and untreated OCD (opioid use disorder) contributes to the rate of recurrence of NMCD. NMCD has a constitutional, legal and moral duty to provide adequate medical care to our client, ”said Lowe.

The lawsuit alleges that since the Corrections Department does not provide methadone to most inmates, SB’s defense attorneys have requested that she be sent to the MDC first so that she can slowly withdraw from it. methadone, rather than being forced to go cold turkey when he arrives in prison. June 9. She is already in pain from gradually reducing her dose.

“Every day my dose is decreasing, I am more and more afraid that if the NMCD does not keep me on methadone while I am there, I will not be able to control my addiction,” SB said in a press release. . “I’m afraid that the cravings are too strong, that I will relapse, that I could overdose and die.”


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Rhonda Lee

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