New Mexico has led the nation in drug overdose deaths for the past few decades. With rates around twice the national average, overdoses here account for more deaths than car accidents. But the state health department announced some good news this week: New Mexico’s overdose rate has dropped to the lowest level since 2009.
Overdoses in New Mexico fell 16 percent between 2011-2013. That’s the first time in over 20 years that overdoses have fallen two years in a row.
New data from the Centers For Disease Control conclude that nationally, overdose deaths among women have been on the rise since 1999; and that since 2007, more women have died from overdoses than motor vehicle-related injuries.
However, officials in New Mexico say those trends are nothing new in the state.
The New Mexico Department of Health reports that the distribution of Narcan is yielding promising results.
Often distributed through syringe exchange programs, Narcan works by causing the body to begin immediate withdrawal from heroin or prescription opioids, essentially reversing an overdose.
Brad Wharton, a drug epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health, says in 2010 and 2011, with Narcan, Santa Fe County saw 12 overdose reversals and 19 heroin deaths; Bernalillo County, 96 overdose reversals and 77 heroin deaths; while in Rio Arriba County: