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Home News Decrease in Drug Overdose Death Rate in New Mexico
Kenny Vigil
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Decrease in Drug Overdose Death Rate in New Mexico

September 3, 2014 - Harm Reduction - Information

Overdose death rate falls 16% in just two years

New data reveal the rate of drug overdose deaths among New Mexico residents has fallen by 16% from 2011 to 2013. According to the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics of the New Mexico Department of Health, in 2011 the drug overdose death rate was 25.9 per 100,000 population, representing 521 deaths. In 2013 the rate was 21.8 per 100,000 population, representing 449 deaths. This is the lowest drug overdose death rate since 2009.

“This is the first time since 1990 that the rate of drug overdose deaths has decreased for two years in a row,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “The Department has worked with many partners in addressing the problem of drug overdose death, and this shows that those efforts are beginning to pay off.”

Efforts to decrease the number of overdose deaths include work to reduce excessive prescribing of opioid pain relievers, and new numbers show the reduction in deaths parallels the reduction in opioid dispensing.

“We still have a long way to go in addressing this problem, but this shows that progress is being made,” Secretary Ward said. “The Department of Health will continue to work with partners to reduce the burden of substance abuse on New Mexico families.”

New Mexico has one of the highest total drug overdose death rates in the United States. In 2011 the drug overdose death rate in the United States was 13.2 per 100,000 population (more recent national data are not available). New Mexico’s rate was almost twice as high.

Drug overdose deaths have increased dramatically over the last 20 years. Drug overdose is now the largest category of unintentional injury death in New Mexico, exceeding both falls and motor vehicle crashes. Since 2006, deaths involving prescription opioids have been the largest category of total drug overdose deaths. The total quantity of prescription opioid pain relievers dispensed fell by 12% from 2011 to 2013, after rising steadily from 2006 to 2011.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend prevention steps including the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs; educating health care providers and the public about prescription drug misuse, abuse and suicide; and increasing access to substance abuse treatment.

Another critical public health effort to reduce deaths from opioid abuse, whether from heroin or pharmaceutical opioids, has been expanded use of the drug naloxone (Narcan) to reverse overdoses. New Mexico has been working on all of these areas.


Learn More

Please visit the Prescription Opioid Safety and Harm Reduction Program sections of our website for more information. You can also find New Mexico substance abuse data and statistics in the Substance Abuse Epidemiology section of our website.


Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Kenny Vigil at 505-827-2619 (Office) or 505-470-2290 (Mobile) with your questions.


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Tasa de Mortalidad por Sobredosis de Drogas en Nuevo México