ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – According to a 2021 CDC report, New Mexico had the sixth-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country. Two state senators are trying to pass legislation that would expand access to treatment for opioid addiction across the state.

Senate Bill 213 would allow registered nurses and licensed practical nurses who are employed by opioid treatment programs to dispense methadone for take-home treatment.

“It’s going to make it more accessible across especially the rural parts of New Mexico, and I think the quality of care is actually going to increase ’cause you’re going to have more folks engaged in it, more folks talking about it regularly, having Roundtable discussions in terms of how to be more effective in doing this,” said Senator Michael Padilla (D-Albuquerque), Senate Majority Whip and co-sponsor of the bill.

According to Senator Padilla, as it stands right now, methadone must be dispensed from a pharmacy where you have a pharmacist on site. Padilla said this bill will make methadone clinics a lot more accessible, especially across rural New Mexico. Methadone is a substance that helps people gradually ween themselves off of opioid addiction.

“Opioid addiction is something you’re in the middle of it before you even realize it, and so, this is going to be one way to help New Mexicans take themselves off of it,” Padilla said.

This bill was debated in the Senate Health and Public Affairs Committee Friday. It passed on a unanimous vote. It now heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A Fiscal Impact Report for this bill stated, as of June 2022, there were 21 opioid treatment programs in New Mexico with more than 7,000 patients undergoing Methadone treatment.