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David Morgan
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Improvement in National Ranking for Drug Overdose Deaths

December 28, 2017 - Harm Reduction - Information

New Mexico drops out of top 10 nationally for the first time

Today, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced that the state’s drug overdose death rate improved from 8th highest in the nation in 2015 to 12th highest in 2016. This is the second year that New Mexico’s ranking has improved substantially according to new data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is also the first time that New Mexico has not ranked among the top 10 states in drug overdose death rate since the CDC started reporting drug overdose death data in 1999.

“While we are encouraged by this news, we still see the tragic impacts of the drug epidemic on our families and communities,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “We must stay focused on reducing overdose deaths and continue our fight to prevent and treat substance misuse in our state.”

New Mexico was one of only ten states whose rates decreased or stayed the same between 2015 and 2016. This was in part due to a significant increase in fentanyl overdoses, particularly in eastern states. The national drug overdose death rate increased 21% from 2015 to 2016.

Drug overdose death remains the leading cause of injury death in New Mexico. Nearly half of all overdose deaths in New Mexico result from prescription opioid drug use. Opioids include painkillers such as morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.

Governor Susana Martinez has made drug overdose prevention a major priority of her administration and has implemented comprehensive solutions to fight drug abuse in New Mexico. Under her administration, New Mexico:

  • strengthened Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) laws to require health care providers to check the database when prescribing opioids, leading to fewer opportunities for someone addicted to opioids to go from doctor to doctor for drugs;
  • became the first state to require all local and state law enforcement agencies to provide officers with naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses;
  • expanded legislation allowing both pharmacists and law enforcement to dispense naloxone without a prescription -- expanding access to the life-saving drug;
  • and removed prior authorization for Suboxone, expanded the number of methadone clinics, and the number of these clinics accepting Medicaid.

To learn more, visit the CDC’s recent report on Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2016.

Additionally, the NMDOH site has more information on Prescription Opioid Safety, Harm Reduction, and Substance Abuse Epidemiology.


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