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The New Mexico Department of Health reports prescription opioid overdose deaths went down last year, but illicit substance overdose deaths went up.
Overdose deaths caused by prescription opioids other than fentanyl decreased from 193 to 177 in 2019. However, total overdose deaths among New Mexicans rose 13 percent from 537 in 2018 to 605 in 2019. This exceeds the previous high of 540 deaths in 2014.
The increase last year is attributed to the use of illicit substances including methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin. Methamphetamine was involved in 44 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2019. The percentage of overdose deaths that involved fentanyl was 21 percent in 2019, up from 13 percent in 2018.
“The battle to fight drug misuse in New Mexico remains a priority,” said Department of Health Acting Secretary Billy Jimenez. “The numbers are disheartening. The department will continue to work closely with our partners to decrease death by overdose and will adapt to the changing nature of the drug epidemic to address the threat of illegal street drugs including methamphetamine, fentanyl, and heroin, but more education, awareness and treatment needs to be done.”
The increased use of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) by prescribers and the adoption of prescription guidelines correlates with the decline in prescription opioid overdose deaths, other than fentanyl. It also reflects the push to use naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug.
The New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico Human Services Department have been working together to increase the availability of naloxone. More than 94,000 doses of naloxone were dispensed or distributed in 2019, representing an increase of 95 percent from 2018. In addition, there were more than 4,000 overdose reversals reported throughout the state.
For information on this and other New Mexico health data visit, https://www.nmhealth.org/.