New Mexico Human Services Department launches Spanish language campaign and telenovela series to combat opioid overdose

New Mexico Human Services Department launches Spanish language campaign and telenovela series to combat opioid overdose

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Human Services Department’s (HSD) Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) and Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP) today announced the launch of a new Spanish language campaign to combat opioid misuse in Hispanic communities.

An expansion of the state’s successful “Dose of Reality” campaign, “¡El Opio Drama!” includes a six-part series of animated 30-second telenovela-style programming aimed at bridging multi-generational gaps within Spanish speaking households.

The effort to provide culturally and linguistically relevant outreach to Hispanic communities also includes paid advertising on Spanish language television networks such as Telemundo and Univision, websites, social media and community-focused outlets in areas with large Spanish speaking populations. 

In addition to increasing public awareness about the dangers of opioid abuse and providing information in Spanish on the safe use, storage and disposal of opioids, the campaign aims to reduce stigmas and myths associated with opioid addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 75 percent of people addicted to opioids began taking the drugs with a prescription.

“Si, se puede. We are committed to helping New Mexico’s richly diverse Hispanic and Latino communities understand who may be at risk for unintentional overdose and how they can prevent it,” said Dr. Neal Bowen, director of the Behavioral Health Services Division at the New Mexico Human Services Department. “We must embrace making information accessible in a culturally and visual way,” said Bowen. “No community is immune from opioid use disorder and this positive telenovela story is a powerful medium that mirror the lives of real people facing this public health issue.”

Unintentional drug overdoses accounted for almost 86 percent of drug overdose deaths from 2015 to 2019 in New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). Forty-five percent of those accidental overdoses were caused by prescription opioids, and 33 percent by heroin. Of those preventable deaths, nearly 40 percent were of Hispanic males and 18 percent were Hispanic females.

One of the most cited barriers to prevention, treatment and recovery from opioid abuse in Hispanic and Latino communities has been the lack of effective bilingual educational resources.

“¡El Opio Drama!” will emphasize opioid overdose prevention tactics, including talking to doctors about the risks associated with opioids, practicing safe medication use, taking medications only as prescribed, having up-to-date medical information, keeping opioids in a safe and secure location, not mixing opioids with other substances and properly disposing of expired prescriptions.

Since the video series launched on YouTube, it has been viewed 629,972 times with 1. 3,224,770 impressions.

For more information and to view the series, visit ¡El Opio Drama! and follow us on YouTube at: @doseofreality.

The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to 1,112,495 New Mexicans through several programs including: the Medicaid Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Support Program, and several Behavioral Health Services.