Elias was a joker and a prankster. He loved getting a "rise" out of people by playing practical jokes. He had an intellectual curiosity that could be both a blessing and a curse. Like most kids, if he wasn’t being challenged in school, he could easily turn the classroom into his personal performance space. He definitely knew how to command a room.
However, things dramatically changed for Elias the very first time he tried opioids. “He referred to the sensation he felt as ‘the affinity affect,’ says Steve Lucero, Elias’ father and long-time health care professional. “Once he experienced this sensation, his whole life revolved around his next high.”
After an extended struggle that included multiple stints in treatment and recovery, Elias passed away at the age of 19 from opioid overdose. His story reveals the stigma associated with addiction and some of the major challenges with access to treatment services, at the time of his death, that could have potentially saved his life.
In this episode, we share Elias’ story and talk about some of the challenges associated with accessing care, harm reduction as a treatment strategy, and addressing other social determinants of health in the treatment and recovery process. My guests include Steve Lucero, Christine Mintz, and Pelatia Trujillo from the Bernalillo County Community Health Council (BCCHC) and Anjali Taneja from Casa de Salud.
If you live in the Albuquerque area and need help finding addiction treatment services, contact the Bernalillo County Community Health Council at http://www.bchealthcouncil.org/ or by phone at 505-246-1638.