NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health says it’s seeing a dramatic increase in fentanyl deaths. Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs and is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Newly released data from the state shows fentanyl-related deaths increased by 129% over a year. Fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 93% in 2019 compared to the year before. The state says it’s using social media to bring awareness as well as handling out fentanyl test strips to known users so they can check for its presence in other drugs.
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“The increasing presence of fentanyl in the illicit substance supply in New Mexico means that people often don’t know exactly what they are using. People can’t use drugs safely if they don’t know that fentanyl is in their supply,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Tracie Collins in a news release. “We can combat this problem with evidence-based harm reduction and overdose prevention strategies.”
NMODH says in addition to fentanyl, the number of overdose deaths attributable to methamphetamine has also increased in 2020 over 2019. Data indicates that deaths increased by 11% in 2020, after having increased by 36% in 2019. NMDOH says the percentage may be higher once 2020 death data are finalized.
NMDOH says beginning in the late 1990s, the U.S. has seen three waves of the opioid overdose crisis: prescription opioids, heroin, and now fentanyl. The fentanyl wave began around 2013 in the eastern U.S.