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ORN Works With New Mexico Tribal Community on Opioid Summit

Image of Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos,Inc.

In 2019, Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, Inc., contacted the Opioid Response Network (ORN) requesting help for its first tribal-based opioid summit, scheduled for April 2020. Five Sandoval provides a variety of services, including behavioral health services, to members of Cochiti, Jemez, Sandia, Santa Ana and Zia and its surrounding tribal and non-tribal communities.

ORN Technology Transfer Specialist Benjamin Nguyen, MSW, ASW, CPH contacted ORN consultants and clinical experts who would qualify as speakers while addressing Five Sandoval’s cultural considerations. With the onset of the pandemic, it became clear the summit would have to be postponed and re-imagined as a virtual event later in the year. The Five Sandoval team, including Executive Director Joshua Madalena, reconvened to develop plans to ensure the summit would still occur. The team had a solid base to start from since the initial planning done with ORN could be reimagined in a virtual platform.

The idea of the summit came about when Tyson Coriz, Five Sandoval prevention coordinator, attended an Albuquerque opioid conference and happened to stop by the ORN exhibit. “I was so inspired, I wanted to bring this to New Mexico but at a tribal community level,” Coriz said.

The mission of the summit was to bring New Mexico tribal communities together inclusive of all age groups from youth to elders to provide culturally appropriate awareness and education on opioids including stigma, use, misuse and prevention.

On Oct 26 - 28, nearly 200 attendees from throughout the state participated in the three-day virtual summit, which provided culturally based information on combatting the opioid epidemic. The summit included such topics as:

Many presentations are still available to view here.

“It was a great event with participants stating they gained a lot from it,” said Veronica Sanchez, DSW, LISW, LCSW, a consultant for Five Sandoval. “People haven’t had many educational opportunities to participate in something that’s so culturally based since the COVID pandemic.”

“What was really helpful is that we were working with ORN,” Dr. Sanchez said, referring to the switch to a virtual event. “We knew we had amazing presenters. We were able to get people who were experienced in tribal communities.”

While ORN technical assistance helped create the framework and assisted in articulating ideas for the conference, it remained a locally driven event. “I think what makes this cool and unique is that it was still so locally led,” Dr. Sanchez said. “Even with all that assistance that ORN provided, it was still so locally driven. And I think that’s important. We had this backbone, this full support, but at the same time there was so much that was done at the community level.”

Five Sandoval hopes to have a live event next year that will draw more youth participation, said Gabrielle Manchego-Sanchez, prevention specialist, who also organized much of the event. “We had some school principals come in who said we’ll make sure we have more kids participate next year, we just wanted to see what this was all about.”

Five Sandoval is excited for next year’s event, which has not yet been scheduled.

If your organization needs help finding speakers on opioids and/or stimulants, please submit a request at