Survey finds most New Mexicans know someone addicted to opioids

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Posted 4/18/19

A majority of New Mexicans surveyed recently report knowing someone who is or has been addicted to opioids, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.Of 1,607 New Mexicans surveyed by …

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Survey finds most New Mexicans know someone addicted to opioids

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A majority of New Mexicans surveyed recently report knowing someone who is or has been addicted to opioids, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

Of 1,607 New Mexicans surveyed by cellphone and landline, nearly two-thirds of those said they knew someone who had been addicted and 85 percent of adults said they recognize prescription opioid abuse to be an extremely serious public health problem in our state, according to a statement from the Department of Health.

Opioids are a class of drugs such as oxycodone, codeine, morphine, heroin and fentanyl, all of which can cause addiction.

The survey, implemented by Research & Polling, Inc., was supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The survey represented a range of ages, race/ethnic backgrounds, education levels and income levels.

Among the survey findings:

Thirty-nine percent say they know someone who is or has been addicted to both prescription opioids and heroin together.

New Mexicans were divided on whether someone addicted to prescription opioids has an illness (39 percent) or a personal weakness (35 percent). This split is similar to findings from national surveys. Nearly one in five New Mexicans (19 percent) answered "Both."

Although New Mexico was the first state to approve naloxone for use by laypeople and has statewide standing orders for law enforcement to carry and pharmacists to dispense without a prescription, continued outreach is essential. Less than half the respondents said they knew where they could get naloxone in their community if they needed it.

Along with opioids, methamphetamine and alcohol use were rated as primary concerns by respondents.

"We know the strain that addictions and overdoses put on families and communities statewide," said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. "Our health department is one of many in the state committed to continuing to support policies and programs that prevent drug overdose and help connect people to evidence-based treatment."

Both the state Department of Health and the New Mexico Human Services Department Behavioral Health Services Division's Office of Substance Abuse Prevention are working with community groups, law enforcement and health care providers to reduce drug overdose deaths as "opioid use disorder."

Current activities include trainings on naloxone - the drug which reverses an opioid overdose - for public safety officers and community members, encouraging hospital emergency rooms to refer patients for addiction treatment.

If you are concerned about someone's substance use (drugs and/or alcohol), or their mental well-being, you can always reach a counselor at the 24-hour New Mexico Crisis and Access Line. Call toll free anytime at 1-855-NMCRISIS (662-7474).

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