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

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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. }}

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

Rio Arriba County had the highest total drug overdose death rate (83.6 deaths per 100,000) among all New Mexico counties during 2015-2019. However, the problem of drug overdose is by no means limited to Rio Arriba County. Bernalillo County had the largest number of drug overdose deaths and many New Mexico counties had total drug overdose death rates more than twice the U.S. rate.
  • #This count or rate is statistically unstable (RSE >0.30), and may fluctuate widely across time periods due to random variation (chance). Please use caution in interpreting this value, or combine years, areas, or age groups to increase the population size.
  • ##The estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and does not meet standards for reliability. A count or rate such as this should not be used to inform decisions. Try combining years, areas, or age groups to increase the population size.


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 Notes

Rates have been age-adjusted using the direct method and the 2000 U.S. standard population.

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

Data Issues

  • Death Certificate Data

    Death certificate information is submitted electronically by funeral directors, who obtain demographic information from an informant, a close family member of the decedent. The NMDOH Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics (BVRHS) does annual trainings for funeral directors and local registrars and the death certificate information goes through extensive scrutiny for completeness and consistency. The cause of death is certified by the decedent's physician or the physician that attended the death. Accidental and suspicious deaths are certified by the Office of the Medical Investigator. When death certificates are received the cause of death literals are keyed into software locally by the BVRHS, then shipped to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) where they are machine coded into ICD-10 cause-of-death codes. NCHS returns the ICD-10 codes to BVRHS where the death records are updated.

  • New Mexico Population Estimates

    All population estimates apply to July 1 of the selected year. These estimates are considered the most accurate estimates for the state of New Mexico and should match those found on the University of New Mexico Geospatial and Population Studies website. Estimates include decimal fractions. Census tract population estimates were summed to produce County and Small Area population estimates. Population estimate totals may vary due to rounding. Population estimates for previous years are occasionally revised as new information becomes available. When publishing trend data, always be sure that your rates for earlier years match current rates on NM-IBIS that have been calculated with the most up-to-date population estimates.

Health Topic Pages Related to: Drug Overdose Deaths

Community Health Resources and Links

Medical literature can be queried at the PubMed website.

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