SANTE FE -- The New Mexico Department of Health announced that drug overdose deaths in New Mexico decreased in 2012. The Department reports 486 New Mexicans died from drug overdoses last year. That is a 7% decrease from 2011.
Even with this one-year decline, 2012 rates for both men and women were much higher than 1990 rates.
"One of the main concerns is that overdose deaths due to prescription drugs are increasing," said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. "The Department is partnering with organizations to increase knowledge and availability of naloxone, which can help reverse an opioid overdose."
New Mexico had the second highest drug overdose death rate in the nation in 2010. In response, the Department of Health and its partners are currently involved in a number of initiatives and rule changes aimed at preventing drug overdose deaths including:
- Mandatory use of the Prescription Monitoring Program to reduce doctor shopping by drug-seeking patients and inappropriate prescribing by medical providers;
- Required pain management provider education; safe drug disposal sites (where people can drop off their left-over prescription drugs);
- Substance abuse treatment, including opioid substitution therapy (suboxone and methadone); and direct distribution of naloxone to persons at risk for opioid overdose as well as naloxone distribution by prescription or samples in clinical settings for patients at risk of opioid overdose from prescribed pain medications. Naloxone (also called Narcan) is formally known as an opioid antagonist - an antidote that reverses an opioid overdose. It works by neutralizing the opioids in the body, thereby allowing the respiratory system to function again.
- Other initiatives include: law enforcement naloxone carry-and-administer programs (Espanola Police Department); Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs (Santa Fe County), in which substance abusers are diverted to drug treatment services and therapies in order to reduce incarceration for non-violent offenders; and community prevention and education initiatives (such as Taos Alive, Santa Fe Opioid Safe, Roswell Prescribe to Prevent, the Sierra County Opiate Overdose Prevention Task Force in Truth or Consequences and the Bernalillo County Community Health Council).
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