SANTA FE (KSMX)- The New Mexico Department of Health reports overall drug overdose deaths among New Mexico residents rose from 491 in 2017 to 537 in 2018, an increase of nine percent. The increase is largely due to methamphetamine overdose deaths.
It comes as some overdose deaths due to other drugs have fallen. Heroin overdose deaths now make up 26 percent of overdose deaths in 2018, down from 30 percent in 2017 and 27 percent in 2012. Drug overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines also fell sharply from 26 percent of the total in 2017 to 18 percent in 2018. Overdose deaths using prescription opioids other than fentanyl decreased to 36 percent of the total last year compared to 37% of the total in 2017 and 40 percent of the total 2012 – however the actual number of these deaths increased from 182 in 2017 to 193 in 2018.
Methamphetamine use is the driver for 2018’s drug overdose death rates.
Thirty-six percent of overdose deaths involved methamphetamine last year, up from 31 percent in 2017 and 12 percent in 2012.
“The Department of Health continues to adapt to the changing nature of drug use in New Mexico,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “We will keep evolving and work closely with agencies statewide to combat the increased illegal uses of methamphetamine while staying focused on our efforts to decrease prescription drug overdose deaths.”
Those efforts have included improving and monitoring prescribing practices by doctors statewide, increasing the availability of medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and increasing access to naloxone – a drug that reverses drug overdoses.
The New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico Human Services Department, and New Mexico Corrections Department have been successfully working together to increase the availability of naloxone.
More than 34 thousand doses of naloxone were dispensed or distributed in 2018. The number of doses of naloxone dispensed or distribute in the first quarter of 2018 was 7,838. This increased to 10,087 in the first quarter of 2019.
For more information about drug overdose deaths and other public health data visit the Epidemiology & Response Division portion of the NMDOH website: https://nmhealth.org/about/erd/.