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Home News Overdose Deaths Decline in Nearly Two-Thirds of New Mexico’s 33 Counties
David Morgan
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Overdose Deaths Decline in Nearly Two-Thirds of New Mexico’s 33 Counties

September 20, 2016 - Opioid Safety - Information

2015 County-Level Drug Overdose Data Follows 9 Percent Decrease in Overdose Fatalities Statewide

Today, the New Mexico Department of Health announced that nearly two-thirds of New Mexico counties saw a decline in overdose deaths last year. The department released county-by-county data, which shows overdose deaths decreased in 20 of 33 counties. Earlier this year, the Department of Health reported a 9 percent decrease in statewide overdose deaths.

“We’re working hard with law enforcement, health care professionals, and community partners throughout the state to fight the devastating impact of drug abuse,” Governor Susana Martinez said. “While results like these show important progress, we need to continue fighting this issue with coordinated efforts of education, prevention, treatment, and enforcement to help more families protect themselves and their loved ones from the dangers of drug abuse.”

The number of overdose deaths declined by 10 or more deaths in Sandoval, Valencia and Rio Arriba counties in 2015 compared to 2014.

Overdose deaths in Rio Arriba County declined by 30 percent; from 40 deaths in 2014 to 28 deaths in 2015; however, Rio Arriba County has the highest drug overdose death rate in the state. Other counties with high overdose death rates included Quay at 63.1 deaths per 100,000, Grant at 46.1 per 100,000, and Taos at 43.6 per 100,000.

According to 2015 state mortality data previously released by NMDOH, New Mexico’s statewide drug overdose death rate decreased from 2014. The drug overdose death rate fell to 24.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, a 7.5 percent decrease from 26.8 in 2014.

There were 493 total drug overdose deaths of New Mexico residents in 2015 compared to a record high of 540 in 2014. National data for 2015 is not yet available. However, New Mexico’s drug overdose death rate was the second highest in the nation in 2014.

Although the prescription opioid death rate declined in 2015 compared to 2014, the heroin overdose death rate increased over that period. Deaths involving methamphetamine remained at the high levels seen in 2014. While methamphetamine was involved in a smaller percent of deaths than heroin or prescription opioids, deaths involving methamphetamine have tripled since 2006.

“We are working hard to reduce overdose deaths in New Mexico. The recent decrease shows we’re making progress, but we still have a lot more work to do,” said Department of Health Secretary Designate Lynn Gallagher. “The fact is, our state continues to suffer from drug abuse. One overdose death is one too many. And until we have zero fatalities related to drugs, we’re going to continue to do all that we can to address the issue with our partners.”

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed two pieces of legislation earlier this year, which take important steps to prevent drug misuse and combat overdose death:

  • SB 263 requires practitioners to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database when prescribing opioids. The database allows prescribers and pharmacists to check the prescription history of their patients.
  • The Governor also signed legislation which increases the availability of naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses.  Medicaid claims for naloxone among outpatient pharmacies in New Mexico increased 83 percent between the first three months (January-March) and the second three months (April-June) of 2016.

Additionally, the Department of Health and the Human Services Department recently secured more than $11 million in various grants to reduce opioid-related deaths, strengthen prevention efforts, and improve opioid surveillance data. Following successful grant applications by the state, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded HSD’s Behavioral Health Services Division $6.8 million over five years in two separate grants to support training on prevention of opioid overdose-related deaths; aid in the purchase and distribution of naloxone to first responders; and bring prescription drug misuse prevention activities and education to schools, communities, parents, prescribers and their patients. The NMDOH Epidemiology and Response Division just received two grants from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention totaling $3.7 million over three years to aid in preventing prescription drug overdoses and to enhance tracking and reporting of overdoses; this is in addition to $3.4 million received in September 2015 over 4 years for preventing prescription drug overdoses.

For information, please visit the Opioid Safety & Overdose Prevention and Harm Reduction sections of our website.

Drug Overdose Deaths and Death Rate by County, NM 2014 - 2015

County Name 2015 Deaths 2015 Death Rate 2014 Deaths 2014 Death Rate
Bernalillo 200 29.8 197 28.4
Catron 1 75.6 2 61.1
Chaves 10 18.7 7 9.6
Cibola 2 6.4 5 17.2
Colfax 2 18.1 3 26.3
Curry 7 15.3 8 15.5
De Baca 0 0.0 1 99.6
Dona Ana 38 18.5 36 19.3
Eddy 19 37.1 16 29.8
Grant 9 46.1 9 40.3
Guadalupe 2 41.8 1 20.3
Harding 0 0.0 0 0.0
Hidalgo 0 0.0 4 115.4
Lea 10 15.6 11 17.1
Lincoln 2 13.7 9 48.3
Los Alamos 3 12.2 2 14.9
Luna 2 11.7 3 18.2
McKinley 8 12.1 9 14.8
Mora 0 0.0 1 30.0
Otero 14 22.1 16 24.6
Quay 5 63.1 2 22.0
Rio Arriba 28 81.4 40 110.2
Roosevelt 3 22.8 2 10.2
Sandoval 23 17.8 33 26.0
San Juan 17 13.0 22 19.8
San Miguel 8 34.0 12 49.6
Santa Fe 48 33.9 45 31.0
Sierra 4 22.4 3 30.4
Socorro 3 17.6 5 33.2
Taos 12 43.6 9 26.3
Torrance 3 21.2 6 33.8
Union 0 0.0 1 22.1
Valencia 10 13.1 20 26.3
New Mexico 493 24.8 540 26.8

SOURCE: Bureau of Vital Records NMDOH; UNM/GPS population estimates. Death rate is per 100,000 population, age adjusted to the US 2000 standard population

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