Drug overdose deaths increase slightly in New Mexico


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – New Mexico health officials say drug overdose deaths increased to 497 in 2016 from 493 the previous year in a state on the front lines of the nation’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.

The state Department of Health announced Wednesday that the overdose death rate remained unchanged during 2016 at 24.8 deaths per 1,000 residents, considering slight population growth.

The rate of unintentional fatal drug overdoses not linked to suicides has increased. Drug deaths involving all opioids, including prescription pain medication, increased slightly, as did deaths specifically involving heroin.

State Epidemiologist Michael Landen says the plateau in the overdose death rate is unsatisfactory but runs counter to a worsening national trend.

State health officials hope that decreases in opioid prescriptions in early 2017 will limit addiction and overdose deaths.

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