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New Mexico debuts effort against drug overdoses
Posted in Advocacy, Medicine, Substance Abuse - 0 Comments


Although New Mexico’s rate of fatal drug overdoses dropped in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported the state still ranked eighth in the U.S.

In response, State Attorney General Hector Balderas, law enforcement officials and district attorneys have created the Opioid Prevention and Education Network (OPEN), a new statewide initiative program, which consists of five elements: Prevention and education, treatment, law enforcement, re-entry into society and strategic planning.

“We can no longer allow opioid abuse and addiction to destroy New Mexico families and the future of our youth. I created Project OPEN in order to combat the opioid crisis in our state, and our first action will be training New Mexicans who are on the frontlines of this fight at our free Opioid Abuse Training [program],” said Balderas in a press release. “I encourage advocates, law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals and policy makers from all corners of New Mexico to attend this training so we can work together to make our families safer and healthier.”

Drug addiction has been an issue in the state for several years; in 2014, the state had the second-highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation. Additionally, some state employers have reported difficulties finding new employees who could pass drug tests.

Drug overdoses: A wider picture

According to the CDC, overdose deaths climbed nationwide in 2015, the most recent year analyzed. During 2015, more than 52,000 people died from drug overdoses, 33,091 of them from opioid drugs.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports opioids are depressant drugs. Depressants, which include alcohol and tranquilizers such as Xanax, slow the central nervous system. Overdoses can occur from taking too large of a dose, using opioid drugs, which are altered with other drugs, or mixing opioids with other drugs – including alcohol. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) advises calling 911 if a person has any of the following symptoms, particularly after he or she has used opioids:

  • Clammy and/or very pale face
  • Limp body
  • Blue or purple fingernails or lips
  • Vomiting or making gurgling noises in the throat
  • Can’t be awakened or can’t speak when awakened
  • Slowed breathing and/or heartbeat

Although overdoses are a medical emergency, SAMHSA also reports that they can be reversed if drugs such as naloxone are administered in time.

The CDC has referred to opioid use as a “crisis,” and the number of overdose deaths reflects that. It’s a crisis in which Sovereign Health has been on the frontlines. Our treatment center for women in Chandler, Arizona, provides the women of the Southwest with a comfortable and safe place to move past their challenges. Specializing in treating the survivors of abuse and trauma, our facility utilizes the latest evidence-backed treatment methods to ensure every patient has the best chance at a full recovery.

A healthier life can start today. Please call our 24/7 helpline.

About the author

Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for Sovereign Health. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at

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