New Mexico has the highest alcohol-related death rate in the country. The leading cause is liver disease. And the rate of folks who are dying from alcohol-related liver disease rose by 35 percent over the last five years.
State epidemiologist Michael Landen said we need to apply the same efforts to alcoholism as we have to overdose deaths. The state used to be number one in the country for that, but now we’re 17th.
"We have shown we can work together to make substantial changes to substance use-related death issues," Landen said. "We just haven’t been able to effectively deal with the alcohol-related death."
State Department of Health data show alcohol plays a role in one out of every five deaths among working-age adults here. Landen said the solution is to reduce alcohol consumption.
DOH recommendations include increasing alcohol taxes and limiting when folks can buy liquor.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, however, recently signed a bill that lowers alcohol taxes for some local producers and expands liquor vending hours.
Support for KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project comes from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and from KUNM listeners like you.