Substance Abuse in New Mexico – Drug and Alcohol Trends
Throughout the United States, a minimum 23 million people admit to struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. Of those, over 500,000 will die from those addictions or related causes each year. Substance abuse is a United States epidemic, one that is notoriously difficult to treat. For each of our 50 states, there are separate drug and alcohol abuse issues, plus thousands of individuals needing treatment designed specifically for them. Eradicating substance abuse is a daunting task, but state-by-state education has helped and will continue to do so.
New Mexico is one of the most notorious states for substance abuse; some current data ranks it second only to West Virginia in the number of addicted residents. According to the New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico also has the second highest overdose death rate in the nation. In its 2016 epidemiology report, the Department of Health said the most common causes of overdose, particularly unintentional overdose, were opioids, heroin, muscle relaxants, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Opioid overdose-related emergency room visits increased almost 100% over a five-year period, with the highest number of visits occurring in Rio Arriba County.
New Mexico’s Struggles Against Addiction
Although most New Mexican high school students don’t drink, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the state; excessive drinking and alcoholism occur even more than prescription drug abuse. Binge drinking among residents over 18 is prominent, and when youth binge drinking does occur, it’s commonly reported among high school upperclassmen.
Heavy drinking occurs most often in adults between ages 18-24. According to the Sage Clinic, New Mexico has the highest alcohol-related death rate recorded in the U.S. since 1997. Alcohol-related deaths are particularly high among Native Americans and Latinos, two groups that make up a large percentage of New Mexico’s population. Alcohol poisoning kills more often than alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents.
An Influx of Opioids in New Mexico
New Mexico has a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), but despite its efforts, opioid and other drug prescriptions have mostly held steady or increased during 2015-16. During several fiscal quarters, much of New Mexico did not turn in reports on patient prescription drug use or how often medications were prescribed. Hundreds of thousands of New Mexican patients still receive and potentially abuse opioids, opiates, and other prescription drugs every year. Thousands of patients are prescribed high-dose opioids and use them with benzodiazepines or other drugs.
Federal drug policymakers agree that New Mexico’s prescription drug abuse epidemic and related deaths are out of hand. The problem has worsened because heroin is becoming more abused across the state, either mixed with prescription drugs or used as a substitute for monitored medications. Of the drug-related deaths most recently reported, 70% were connected to pain reliever or heroin overdoses. Of those, 10% involved both prescription drugs and heroin. High overdose death numbers notwithstanding, only 31% of New Mexicans are familiar with the combating drug Naloxone.
Shortfalls in New Mexico Substance Abuse Care
New Mexico is one of few states with a Good Samaritan Law, which protects addicts who call for medical help in the event of overdose, as well as witnesses to any overdoses. However, recent data shows just over 30% of New Mexicans are familiar with the law. In other words, about 70% of New Mexicans might avoid receiving overdose treatment, or get it for someone else, because they fear legal ramifications. Additionally, the Good Samaritan Law’s immunity does not cover individuals on probation or parole. Potentially, many addicts meet this criterion. If they overdosed and sought help, they would not be protected from arrest and possible charges of serious drug-related crimes. Right now, over 17,000 New Mexican adults and over 1000 juveniles are on parole.
Recent polls from New Mexico drug policymakers show 50% of responders have a friend or family member struggling with a substance abuse problem and 50% oppose arrest and jail time for people caught with small amounts of drugs for personal use. However, arrest and jail time seems to be a continued solution for New Mexican drug offenders. Additionally, most people living in New Mexico don’t know how to begin getting their family members and friends help.
If drug-related education is a problem in New Mexico, avenues to drug abuse are not. Currently, New Mexicans under 18 years old cannot participate in syringe exchange programs that might protect them from using dirty or shared needles to inject heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. Only 43% of New Mexican adults are aware of syringe exchange programs and how to use them. As a result, New Mexico’s young people are more vulnerable than ever to STDS, HIV, AIDs, hepatitis, and other diseases transferred by needles and injectable drugs. Health professionals cannot keep up. If someone does enter a hospital or clinic for treatment, it is unlikely he or she will receive complete aftercare instructions or education on how to prevent needle-borne diseases.
Florida Offers Opportunities for Health
Florida is known as The Recovery State, in part because The Treatment Center and other experts are so familiar with addiction. Our team has seen many kinds of addiction in our state because we are considered “ground zero” for dealers and traffickers. We are prepared to treat dual diagnosis cases, as well as cases involving several addictions at once. Unlike competing centers, our treatment plans are individualized and holistic.
Come to the Treatment Center
Many New Mexicans and other Americans struggling with addiction find relief and recovery at The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches, LLC. Our experts and staff members are highly educated about drug addiction and here to help make a complete recovery. If you already have a needle-borne disease or other condition, we are prepared to incorporate that into your treatment plan. Most treatment centers are unprepared to deal with addiction and other illnesses, but The Treatment Center offers full and partial hospitalization, as well as inpatient and outpatient care. After treatment, you will receive full aftercare instructions.