Last night during the first 2018 New Mexico gubernatorial debate, Republican nominee Steve Pearce made some truly bizarre comments about the substance abuse crisis in our community, catching the attention of experts and advocates all over the state. The comments not only offend every family struggling with addiction, but are also just ludicrous and completely false.
“Steve Pearce has no idea what he’s talking about. Yes, methamphetamine is a highly dangerous drug that shatters lives, but between the suspect numbers on relapses and downplaying the devastating impact that heroin and opioids have had on New Mexico communities because it ‘calms them down,’ Pearce’s comments were some of the most ignorant and egregious things I’ve ever heard about this public health disaster.” – Jennifer Manzanares, Overdose prevention educator, trauma informed trainer, and opiate policy coordinator
“As someone working on the front lines combating addiction in northern New Mexico, I am horrified by Steve Pearce’s ignorance of the heroin and opioid epidemic ravaging our communities. The fact that he would wish heroin addiction on anyone is unimaginable and not becoming of a governor.” – Yolanda Cruz, co-lead for Local Collaborative 4, behavioral health local collaborative in Las Vegas, NM
“Steve Pearce offended every family struggling with opioid and heroin addiction, and clearly he has no understanding of the horrific physical and psychological effects of opioid withdrawal. Pearce should be ashamed of himself for suggesting New Mexicans should be on heroin over methamphetamine.” – Hermano Pedro Herrera, Crusade for Aid
PEARCE: “So, if you use a different example, fine, we can talk about it. But meth is extraordinary dangerous and it is very hard to get off of—if you get on heroin you probably have a 40% chance to get off. You get to methamphetamines, maybe 10% chance to get off. And people who have gotten off meth said it will cause you to do crazy things.”
MODERATOR: “So what do you do with this repeat offender. Let’s make it heroin, then. Someone who’s addicted to opioids, who’s committing crimes in our community—“
PEARCE: “You should be getting treatment for them. Again, I like the heroin, uh, suggestion better. It—heroin calms them down. Methamphetamines, that should be a question on its own. But the heroin? Absolutely. I think we should be looking at more treatment programs. We should be having those in our, in the jail system itself and when people are out we should be identifying them sooner. We should be offering people a way to get out there. There are a lot of faith-based programs in the South Valley that really people are just trying to help their neighbors get out of problems. And I think the government should be there. I think we have a moral responsibility as a government to help people reclaim lives.”