08 Feb New Mexico’s drug epidemic
New Mexico’s drug epidemic
New Mexico’s reputation as one of the leading states for drug and alcohol abuse remains unchallenged as policy-makers grapple with how to solve what appears an intractable problem with cultural, systemic and even political causes. The statistics are alarming and put New Mexico at or near the top of many measures of addiction and drug-related deaths.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDH), the state is ranked second in the country for drug overdoses, with heroin and synthetic opioids among the leading culprits. Opioids are opiate-based analgesic pain medications. The Department’s latest figures also show an increase in opioid overdose-related emergency department visits of almost 100%.
A 2015 survey found that New Mexico’s youths were also falling into the trap of illegal drug use. Among students, the state ranked second highest for the use of ecstasy and cocaine, fifth for methamphetamine, and eighth for heroin.
There are a number of unique contributing conditions to the opioid crisis in New Mexico and the drug epidemic more generally, including:
- Mexico’s drug cartels funneling heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana into New Mexico as both a local market and a supply corridor for the rest of the country.
- Fiscal underreporting of prescription drug use and the frequency of prescriptions, allowing patients to abuse high-dose opioids and combine them with other drugs and tranquilizers such the benzodiazepines.
- Generational acceptance of heroin use, meaning youths are introduced to the drug in their homes and the drug does not carry the same stigma as elsewhere in the country.
New Mexico has been ranked first in the nationwide alcohol-related death rate since 1997, and alcohol and drugs have been implicated in the top 10 leading causes of death.
Higher injury-related deaths due to the effects of alcohol have been reported among young people aged up to 24 in New Mexico, while chronic disease and injury related to alcohol accounted for the deaths of those aged 25 to 64. The consequences of alcohol abuse extend beyond what even these figures suggest, however, with poverty, domestic violence, crime, and unemployment all feeding a vicious cycle.
Although the prevalence of alcohol abuse among teens, and binge-drinking in particular, continued to decrease, they remain vulnerable to the abundance of illegal drugs available in the state.
The prevalence of alcohol abuse and drug addiction is more pronounced in some regions of the state, where multi-generational drug use is passing on an inheritance of early death, mental health issues, and ruined lives. With the rate of drug-overdose deaths continuing to rise nationwide (the figure of 21.7 deaths per 100,000 was 3.6 times the rate in 1999, according to the National Center for Health Statistics), the city of Española, for instance, recorded a rate of 42.5 deaths per 100,000.
The New Mexico Attorney General’s office says that between 2008-2012, almost every county in the state had a higher drug overdose death rate than the national average, and in some counties, the rates were more than five times the national rate. Of those, 70% were related to pain reliever or heroin, and 10%t involved both prescription drugs and heroin. This follows a trend of heroin being mixed with prescription drugs or used as a substitute for medications that are monitored.
Opioids crisis in New Mexico
The NMDH noted that “overdose death from prescription opioids has become an issue of enormous concern”, with unintentional overdoses accounting for nearly 88% of drug overdose deaths – 36% caused by prescription drugs, and 22 caused by both prescription and illegal drugs. The most common drugs causing these unintentional overdose deaths were prescription opioids (methadone, oxycodone, morphine, 57%), heroin (40%), benzodiazepines (24%) and cocaine (13%).
The Attorney General even filed a complaint against companies who manufacture or distribute opioids to pharmacies to recover money spent by the state on opioid prescriptions that it claimed were not medically necessary.
New Mexico drug rehab
The statistics paint a picture of a state groaning under the weight of a serious, long-term drug problem. There’s an overwhelming need for New Mexico drug rehab programs offering a way out of the culturally conditioned cycle of abuse. ViewPoint Rehabilitation Center offers a range of successful programs in New Mexico for people suffering from addiction to drugs and alcohol. We have therapists and experts who help clients and their families reclaim their lives from the insidious impact of this state-wide epidemic.