Opioid settlement means more funds for expansion of programs for mental health, addiction issues

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso County was awarded $6.8 million by Johnson and Johnson where they were found guilty for taking part in the opioid crisis in the Borderland.

County Judge Ricardo Samaniego wanted the public to know that the money will be used to expand existing programs to help those in need, rather than beginning new programs for drug addiction or mental health issues.

“We’re matching that with things we already do with mental health, we do a lot of things, the UMC, the sheriffs office were always working on that and so these are funds that are attributing to some of our own initiatives were not just going to rely on that kind of money.”

Samaniego also understands that there is a connection between mental health issues and opioid addictions.

He wants to focus on prevention instead as a first step while also helping those out of addiction.

“Were very conscientious that when we have mental health challenges the first thing that happens is the abuse of drugs so were putting a lot of attention on this idea of prevention especially coming out of the pandemic, we know there was going to be a huge aftermath of mental health issues.”

el paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego

For his part, the Judge said that opioid addictions are a common occurrence and that rather than demonize the person going through it, they should be helped and this settlement will do just that.

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