SANTA FE -- Drug overdose deaths among New Mexico residents has fallen by 16% from 2011 to 2013.
According to the Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics of the New Mexico Department of Health, in 2011 the drug overdose death rate was 25.9 per 100,000 population, representing 521 deaths. In 2013 the rate was 21.8 per 100,000 population, representing 449 deaths. This is the lowest drug overdose death rate since 2009.
"This is the first time since 1990 that the rate of drug overdose deaths has decreased for two years in a row," said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. "The Department has worked with many partners in addressing the problem of drug overdose death, and this shows that those efforts are beginning to pay off."
Efforts to decrease the number of overdose deaths include work to reduce excessive prescribing of opioid pain relievers, and new numbers show the reduction in deaths parallels the reduction in opioid dispensing.
"We still have a long way to go in addressing this problem, but this shows that progress is being made," Secretary Ward said. "The Department of Health will continue to work with partners to reduce the burden of substance abuse on New Mexico families."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend prevention steps including the use of state prescription drug monitoring programs; educating health care providers and the public about prescription drug misuse, abuse and suicide; and increasing access to substance abuse treatment.
Another critical public health effort to reduce deaths from opioid abuse, whether from heroin or pharmaceutical opioids, has been expanded use of the drug naloxone (Narcan) to reverse overdoses.
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