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Opioid Epidemic: New Mexico

HomeOpioid Epidemic: New Mexico

New Mexico recently became the first state in the nation to require that all police officers carry naloxone, also known as Narcan, as an effort to reduce death by opioid overdose. New Mexico has had one of the highest rates of opioid-related deaths in the country, second only to West Virginia, and rates are just beginning to fall. Thanks to this new legislation and other improvements, the death rates will continue to fall. Naloxone is, in many ways, an opiate antidote. When a person is overdosing, their breathing can slow down or even stop, and it can be difficult to wake them up in their near-death state. To revive them, Naloxone can be given which blocks the effects of the opioid and reverses the overdose, allowing them to breathe more normally and wake up. Although usually a prescription medicine, pharmacists in New Mexico are now allowed to dispense naloxone without a prescription so that addicts, their friends, and their families can seek help quickly.
Practices such as these have prevented the number of overdose deaths in New Mexico from spiking, even while the number of overdose deaths continue to increase across the nation. In 2015, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reported that almost two-thirds of New Mexico counties experienced a decline in overdose deaths. Currently, many people are still struggling to get New Mexico’s opioid epidemic under control. In an effort to continue making progress, Attorney General Hector Balderas formed Project OPEN to educate New Mexico residents about the national opioid epidemic, and provide training to prevent and treat addiction. Furthermore, a new system has been implemented which trains physicians on how to prescribe painkillers and track prescriptions. According to the U.S. News, the number of patients receiving opioid prescriptions has gradually declined since this system was put into place.
New Mexico has been on the front line of the opioid epidemic for almost a decade, reports U.S. News. In 2015, the drug overdose death rate in New Mexico was 24.8 people per 100,000 while the national average was 16.3. According to the NMDOH, New Mexico drug overdose deaths from opioids has nearly quadrupled since 1999. Although overdose deaths remain high, many are recognizing that they need to take control of the opioid epidemic and are beginning to educate themselves on how to avoid opiate addiction, and what to do if they are already addicted. Along with this new energy and focus, better access to treatment and more medical assistance in breaking addictions needs to be expanded across New Mexico, and the nation.