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Drug overdose deaths decline statewide; Fatal overdoses rise in Chaves and Eddy counties

September 21, 2016 • Local News

Data released by the New Mexico Department of Health Tuesday shows drug overdose deaths have decreased in 20 of the state’s 33 counties, although not in Chaves or Eddy counties.
There were 10 drug overdose deaths in Chaves County in 2015, up from seven in 2014, according to the county-by-county data released by the Department of Health.
There were 19 overdose deaths in Eddy County in 2015, up from 16 in 2014, and 10 overdose deaths in Lea County in 2015, down from 11 in 2014.
Lincoln County had two overdose deaths in 2015, down from nine in 2014.
Overall, there were 493 drug overdose deaths of New Mexico residents in 2015, compared to a record high of 540 in 2014.
New Mexico’s drug overdose death rate was the second highest in the nation in 2014. National data for 2015 is not yet available.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health reported a 9 percent decrease in statewide overdose deaths.
“We’re working hard with law enforcement, health care professionals and community partners throughout the state to fight the devastating impact of drug abuse,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in a news release Tuesday. “While results like these show important progress, we need to continue fighting this issue with coordinated efforts of education, prevention, treatment and enforcement to help more families protect themselves and their loved ones from the dangers of drug abuse.”
The number of overdose deaths declined by 10 or more in Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Valencia counties in 2015 compared to 2014.
Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Doña Ana counties had the most overdose deaths in 2015.
Bernalillo County had 200 overdose deaths in 2015, up from 197 in 2014.
Santa Fe County had 48 overdose deaths in 2015, up from 45 in 2014.
Doña Ana County had 38 overdose deaths in 2015, up from 36 in 2014.
De Baca, Harding, Hidalgo, Mora and Union counties had no overdose deaths in 2015. Catron, Cibola, Colfax, Guadalupe, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Luna, Roosevelt, Socorro and Torrance counties had between one and three overdose deaths in 2015.
In 2014, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and Rio Arriba counties had the most overdose deaths in the state, respectively.
Overdose deaths in Rio Arriba County declined from 40 deaths in 2014 to 28 deaths in 2015, although Rio Arriba County continues to have the highest drug overdose death rate in the state, at 84.1 persons per 100,000 people.
Other counties with the highest overdose death rates were Quay County at 63.1 deaths per 100,000 people, Grant County at 46.1 per 100,000, and Taos County at 43.6 per 100,000.
According to 2015 state mortality data previously released by the Department of Health, the statewide drug overdose death rate decreased from 2014. The drug overdose death rate fell to 24.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, a 7.5 percent decrease from 26.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2014.
The Department of Health said the prescription opioid death rate declined in 2015 compared to 2014, although the heroin overdose death rate increased over that period.
Deaths involving methamphetamine remained at the high levels seen in 2014. While methamphetamine was involved in a smaller percent of deaths than heroin or prescription opioids, deaths involving methamphetamine have tripled since 2006, the Department of Health said.
“We are working hard to reduce overdose deaths in New Mexico,” Lynn Gallagher, the secretary-designate of the Department of Health, said in Tuesday’s news release. “The recent decrease shows we’re making progress, but we still have a lot more work to do.
“The fact is, our state continues to suffer from drug abuse. One overdose death is one too many. And until we have zero fatalities related to drugs, we’re going to continue to do all that we can to address the issue with our partners.”
The governor signed two pieces of legislation earlier this year intended to take steps to prevent drug misuse and combat overdose deaths.
Senate Bill 263, which passed unanimously in both the New Mexico House of Representatives and Senate, requires practitioners to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database when prescribing opioids. The database allows prescribers and pharmacists to check the prescription histories of their patients.
The governor also signed legislation that increases the availability of naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses. The Department of Health said Medicaid claims for naloxone among outpatient pharmacies in New Mexico increased 83 percent between March and June of 2016.
Additionally, the Department of Health and the Human Services Department recently received more than $11 million in various federal grants to reduce opioid-related deaths, strengthen prevention efforts and improve opioid surveillance data.
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the Human Services Department’s Behavioral Health Services Division $6.8 million over five years in two separate grants to support training on prevention of opioid overdose-related deaths, to aid in the purchase and distribution of naloxone to first responders, and to bring prescription drug misuse prevention activities and education to schools, communities, parents, prescribers and their patients.
The Department of Health’s Epidemiology and Response Division recently received two grants from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention totaling $3.7 million over three years to aid in preventing prescription drug overdoses and to enhance tracking and reporting of overdoses.

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