New Mexico selected for national effort to combat addiction and overdose through trauma-informed approach 

National Governors Association Program Aims to Reduce Impact of Substance Use 

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) proudly announces its selection as one of four states to participate in the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Policy Academy. This pioneering program, titled “Implementing a Trauma-Informed Approach to Reduce Addiction and Overdose,” aims to address the pressing issue of substance use and its impact on children’s development and well-being. 

In New Mexico, the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is notably higher than the national average, with one in four New Mexicans reporting exposure to at least one of the 10 categories of ACEs. This statistic stands in stark contrast to the national average of one in six.  

These experiences can affect how children grow and develop and have long-term implications throughout life. Increased exposure to ACEs, including children’s home environment, may hinder their ability to have a healthy upbringing and adulthood. 

“Given the struggles many New Mexicans have faced with substance use, having an opportunity to learn from leading national experts and other states will position New Mexico at the forefront of addressing these issues and how they connect to our long-term well-being,” said Nick Boukas, Director of Behavioral Health Services for the New Mexico Human Services Department. “This initiative is not just about understanding the problem; it’s about crafting solutions tailored to New Mexicans.” 

Recognizing the significance of ACEs in shaping a child’s life, this Policy Academy seeks to delve into the nexus between childhood trauma, substance use, and long-term health outcomes. By participating in this Policy Academy, New Mexico is positioned to: 

  • Develop state-specific strategies to address the unique challenges faced by our communities. 
  • Enhance collaboration between state agencies, ensuring a more cohesive and effective response to substance misuse. 
  • Improve training for health care providers, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to offer better care. 
  • Increase access to care for New Mexicans, making it easier for those in need to find and receive help. 

The Policy Academy’s work aligns with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s vision of nurturing healthier children and fostering a brighter future for New Mexico. This first-of-its-kind initiative in the state is set to make New Mexico a frontrunner in addressing generational issues and improving the development of New Mexico children. 

The six-month program is slated to kick off in February 2024, with ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of substance misuse on the people of New Mexico. 


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The Human Services Department provides services and benefits to 981,259 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.