Some call Dr. Leslie Hayes a saint for treating the opioid addictions of pregnant women.

But the Española physician told an audience at the White House on Friday that the job saved her, too. When she began prescribing buprenorphine, commonly known by the brand name Suboxone, it gave her a tool to help a stream of patients at her clinic suffering from substance use disorders.

“Finally, I had something I could do,” said Hayes, who grew up in Northern New Mexico, a region that long has been wrought by one of the country’s highest rates of fatal drug overdoses — from both heroin and prescription painkillers.

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