July 21, 1999

The Honorable Laurie Robinson
Assistant Attorney General
U. S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
810 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20531

Dear Ms. Robinson:

I am writing to update you on the activities undertaken by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in conjunction with the Office of Justice programs, in response to our commitment to Senator Pete Domenici to assist the people of New Mexico in addressing the related problems of chemical dependency and crime. We are pleased to participate with you in this important effort.

On April 30, 1999, Ms. Mary Schumacher, Director of the Behavioral Health Services Division, New Mexico Department of Health requested of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) technical assistance for Rio Arriba County. The purpose of the request is related to the widespread illicit drug and alcohol abuse in that County. As you know, heroin use, in particular, has come to the attention of the New Mexico congressional delegation and Federal agencies following a series of articles in the local (Espanola, Santa Fe and Albuquerque) media as well as the national press.

CSAT organized a team of national substance abuse treatment and service delivery experts led by Andrea Barthwell, M.D., President of the Encounter Medical Group, Oak Park, IL. The team met with approximately 50 advocates and providers of substance abuse treatment services in the Espanola County Annex Building on Monday, July 19, 1999, and with staff of the New Mexico Behavioral Health Services Division on Tuesday, July 20, 1999.

The primary objectives of the technical assistance team were to perform: a County-specific needs assessment; identify gaps in alcohol and other drug abuse treatment services; discuss opportunities to enhance community resources; and most importantly, to plan, design and implement a comprehensive continuum of treatment services for the substance abusing/dependent residents of Rio Arriba County. We anticipate that a report of the technical assistance team's work including a practical plan of action should be ready by mid-August. CSAT will continue to work with the New Mexico Department of Health to provide technical assistance to the County in implementing the plan.

I look forward to continuing to work with you on this worthwhile and critical initiative.

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