Bernalillo County leaders host candlelight vigil during Fentanyl Awareness Week

[anvplayer video=”5196698″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Fentanyl Awareness Week started this weekend with a candlelight vigil in the International District.

Recovered addicts, faith leaders, and parents who have lost children to fentanyl gathered to support each other. 

“I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know what to do,” said Elisia Montoya, founder of Elisia’s Care. 

Elisia Montoya hosted the event. Her organization, Elisia’s Care, has brought together some people sharing some similarities. 

“I’d always ask them ‘Do you know anybody who is suffering, or has suffered through fentanyl?’ And I would say at least 80% of the people say ‘Yes,’” said Elisia. 

People like Sarah Nazorek.

“I begged him not to go, but he still went,” said Nazorek. 

She says her teenage son was rebelling and thought that’s just what teenagers do, until she got a call from a detective. 

“When he told me that I have to come to your work, we need to talk to you about what happened to Alex,” said Nazorek. 

She says she lost her son to an accidental fentanyl overdose. It’s not so different from Elisia’s story.

A doctor prescribed opioids to her daughter, Rose Montoya, because of a knee injury. Then, addiction crept in. 

“And when we found out she was addicted to the fentanyl, I started taking her to narcotics anonymous. Which was actually working for her, and then COVID hit,” said Elisia. 

Elisia says she watched her daughter’s life fall apart over a couple of months.

“I had somebody tell me while she was in the grip of her addiction to let her hit rock bottom. But to ask a mother to let their child hit rock bottom when they’re coming to ask you to take a shower, or that they’re hungry, is almost impossible,” Elisia said.

Rose Montoya died in 2021. Elisia is putting on this event to raise money for the group Under His Construction. 

Chris Cleveland is a pastor for Under His Construction and knows a thing or two about helping people get off the street because he was once there. He was arrested dozens of times in Albuquerque.

“But I love our city. This is where I’m from, and so I’ve been clean and sober for 21 years, and we’ve been running a ministry here for 17 years,” said Cleveland. 

Cleveland is doing his work above the Good News Thrift Store on Central, and he says you need only look around his neighborhood to see fentanyl’s impacts taking over our community. 

“That’s our job is to give people hope, and to find places for them to go to, that’s what we want to do,” said Elisia. 

This group of people is determined to help others the way Elisia says Rose would be helping today.

“She would be overjoyed, because this was her dream,” said Elisia. 

There is a lot going on for Fentanyl Awareness Week in Bernalillo County. 

On Sunday, there was a showing at the Hiland Theater of a film inspired by a true story. The New Mexico-based movie was followed up by a discussion focused on adults with recovered addicts and county leaders. 

Keep NM Alive is the relatively new campaign to raise awareness and to help connect people to resources to combat fentanyl addictions.

There are many more opportunities for folks to learn about what fentanyl is doing to our community, and to get help. 

There is another documentary showing Monday. It focuses on a lot of stories out of Texas, but has some truly disturbing data applying to all Americans.

The film “Fentanyl Unlimited” is showing at Flix Brewhouse Monday at 7 p.m. 

There’s also a huge candlelight vigil is happening at Civic Plaza next Sunday. 

For more information on events during Fentanyl Awareness Week in Albuquerque, click here.