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Overdose Rates Fall In NM

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Intropin via Creative Commons
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The New Mexico Department of Health is reporting a nine percent drop in drug overdoses in 2015.

A nine percent drop means about 50 fewer people died from overdoses in 2015 than the year before.

That’s good news, especially since New Mexico leads the country in overdose rates.

"The challenge though, is to make sure this is a sustained drop, to make this a trend," said Dr. Michael Landen, state epidemiologist for the New Mexico Department of Health. He added that the recent drop comes after years of overdose rates remaining steady.

"We’re essentially at a plateau right now, and so we’re hoping to break out of that plateau with lower rates," he said.

The health department’s data is still preliminary at this point, but Landen says tightening of laws around prescription opioids at the federal level could be behind the recent decline in overdoses here. And the DOH is hoping state laws, including one making the opioid overdose-reversing drug Naloxone more available, will mean the rates will fall again next year.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the decline in overdose rates includes overdoses from all drugs, not just opioids. We apologize for the error. 

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.
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