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Drug Overdose Deaths

Summary Indicator Report Data View Options

In 2019, New Mexico had the eighteenth highest total drug overdose death rate in the nation, including DC (most recent data available).

Deaths due to Drug Overdose by County, New Mexico, 2017-2021

Deaths due to Drug Overdose by U.S. States, 2021

Drug overdose deaths have been prominent in Rio Arriba County with Hispanics dying of drug overdose, at a rate of almost 105 per 100,000. Whites also have high drug overdose death rates. Many counties have unstable rates for certain race/ethnic groups due to small population sizes.
For all ages combined, Whites and Hispanics have the most deaths due to drug overdose, 24.7 per 100,000 and 26.8 per 100,000, respectively. The highest death rates occur in the 24-64 age groups.

Why Is This Important?

New Mexico's drug overdose death rate has been one of the highest in the nation for most of the last two decades. New Mexico's death rate has more than tripled since 1990. Deaths due to illicit drugs have remained steady during the past decade, particularly deaths due to methamphetamine and fentanyl have increased dramatically. In addition to the high death rates, drug abuse is one of the most costly health problems in the U. S. In 2007, it was estimated that prescription opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse cost New Mexico $890 million. ^1^ [[br]][[br]] ---- {{class .SmallerFont # Based on a national methodology derived by Birnbaum et al. (2011). "Societal costs of opioid abuse, dependence, and misuse in the United States." Pain Medicine, 12(4):657-667. }}


Drug overdose death is defined as the number of deaths caused by drug overdose per 100,000 population, age-adjusted. Drug overdose deaths are those in which drug overdose is the primary cause, whether unintentional or intentional. Includes ICD-10 codes X40-X44, X60-X64, X85, and Y10-Y14 for underlying cause of death.

Data Sources

  • New Mexico Death Data: Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics (BVRHS), Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC WONDER Online Database
  • New Mexico Population Estimates: University of New Mexico, Geospatial and Population Studies (GPS) Program.

How the Measure is Calculated

Numerator:Number of drug overdose deaths in New Mexico
Denominator:New Mexico Population

How Are We Doing?

Drug use can result in overdose death and is also associated with other societal problems including crime, violence, homelessness, loss of productivity and spread of blood-borne disease such as HIV and hepatitis. Unintentional drug overdose is the largest subset of total drug overdose death, accounting for 80-85% of drug overdose deaths in New Mexico. The other substantial cause of drug overdose death is suicide, or intentional self-poisoning, which accounts for 10-15% of all total drug overdose death in New Mexico. Poisoning has been the leading cause of unintentional injury in New Mexico since 2007, surpassing motor vehicle crash deaths, largely as a result of increased unintentional drug overdose deaths associated with prescription drug use. During 2010-2014, 53% of drug overdose deaths were caused by prescription drugs, while 33% were caused by illicit drugs, and 14% involved both types. Medical examiner data indicate that the most common drugs causing unintentional overdose death for the period were prescription opioids (e.g., methadone, oxycodone, morphine 48%), heroin (34%), tranquilizers/muscle relaxants (23%), cocaine (17%), methamphetamine (16%) and antidepressants (12%) (not mutually exclusive). In New Mexico and nationally, overdose death from prescription opioids has become an issue of enormous concern. Interventions are currently being formulated, assessed and implemented in New Mexico and in communities across the country, and may be contributing to decreases in death in the most recent data available. Hispanic men had the highest total drug overdose death rate during 2010-2014. The rates of total drug overdose death and unintentional drug overdose death among men were roughly 1.5 times that of women. Among women, drug overdose death from prescription drugs was more common than from illicit drugs across the age range. Illicit drugs were the predominant drug type causing death among males across the age range, and the rates were highest among males aged 25-54 years.

Other Objectives

Substance Abuse Epidemiology Report Indicator, New Mexico Community Health Status Indicator (CHSI)

Indicator Data Last Updated On 10/11/2022, Published on 10/11/2023
Substance Use Epidemiology, Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health, 1190 S. Saint Francis Drive, Room N-1103, Santa Fe, NM, 87502. Contact Annaliese Mayette, Alcohol Epidemiologist, by telephone at (505) 476-1788 or email to