Historical trauma and opiate abuse in Northern New Mexico

I’ve been invited to present on what is probably one of my favorite research and discussion topics because it is both important and intensely personal to me. Southwestern College has asked that I present about historical trauma and opiate abuse in Northern New Mexico at their 2015 Transformation and Healing Conference and I have GLADLY accepted the invitation. The theme of this year’s conference is “Diversity, Healing, and Consciousness.”

My family has been in Northern New Mexico for literally hundreds of years but it wasn’t until I was in grad school and completed a genogram for my family that I realized just how traumatic the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was for the Spanish-speaking and Pueblo people who had learned to live side by side. When the American Government claimed our land, they also took our culture and language. The genogram showed a long history of alcohol and substance abuse and, worse, suicide in my family. I have suspected and attributed this history to the loss of language and culture.

In my research, I have come to believe that this same history of trauma is at the core of Northern New Mexico’s struggle with heroin and other opiates (Rio Arriba County has the HIGHEST opiate-related death rate, per capita, in the entire US!). On August 26th, from 2-5PM, I will present my position and provide enough evidence that if I don’t convince attendees of my suspicion, then I will at least open doors for discussing the possibility that there’s something to my suspicion. I hope to approach this topic from a sociolinguistic and clinical perspective and cover subtopics such as:

  • The development of trauma in Northern New Mexico
  • How the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is still impacting our community
    • Loss of culture and language = loss of identity
    • The intergenerational transference of PTSD
  • The development of Opiate Addiction
  • The relationship between PTSD and opiate use disorders and Addiction
  • Reclaiming all personal narratives to overcome opiate addiction

I will be sharing tidbits of my research and preparation over the next three (3) months and I do hope to convince people about the importance of regaining their identity within the greater context of American life. So, be advised: This topic is coming and I hope to see a packed place!! As a note: I will provide more details about registration, etc., as I learn them….

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