SANTA FE: As part of the Department of Health’s (NMDOH) commitment to raise awareness and address increased rates of overdose and potential negative health consequences associated with substance use, the department has released videos of community members and providers describing how substance use and overdose have impacted them (see links below). This comes as state law makers and the Department of Health propose House Bill 52, which will modernize the state’s Harm Reduction Act.
New Mexico has not been spared in a nationwide trend of increased fatal drug overdose, with an increase of 32% in the overdose rate in 2020 and a 1,594% increase in synthetic opioid adulterant-related overdoses since 2015. Many of these deaths involved fentanyl, a highly potent opioid, which started becoming widely present in New Mexico in 2019. With an increase in overdose related deaths and other harms associated with substance use, additional flexibility is needed to address the needs of our community.
As synthetic opioid adulterants are already one of the most common substances involved in unintentional overdose death in New Mexico, HB 52 will allow the department to respond to the increased presence of fentanyl and any future dangerous adulterants appearing in the drug supply. It is vital for the health of our communities to provide drug checking devices because research has shown people will use drugs in a safer manner when they are aware of dangerous adulterants present in the supply they are using.
Currently the NMDOH Harm Reduction Program provides services primarily to people who inject substances; however, research has shown injecting substances is only done by a small fraction of the people who use substances. As most people do not begin using substances by injecting them, early intervention by harm reduction programs could allow for better health outcomes for people who use substances. HB 52 will allow the department to engage with people who use substances but do not inject, providing expanded access to overdose prevention education, naloxone (a drug that reverses overdose), linkage to substance use treatment services like medication assisted treatment, and other vital healthcare services.
vital healthcare services.
NMDOH is committed to addressing overdose and negative health outcomes associated with substance use. HB 52 will allow the department and community organizations across the state to better serve their communities, improve the health of New Mexicans, and provide life saving overdose reversal education and medication to those in need.
For more information on how the Harm Reduction Program works to reduce substance-related harm while enhancing individual, family, and community wellness, please visit nmhealth.org . To learn more about HB 52 or other inquires related to the Harm Reduction Program, please contact Program Director Aryan Showers: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Carmack-Altwies – First Judicial District Attorney
Explains the positive impact of HB 52 to the legal system, and the value in not treating addiction as a strictly criminal designation.
David Burke – Director of Serenity Mesa Treatment Center
Shares his own experience with addiction and the desire of those he works with for a tool to help avoid contaminates such as synthetic opioid adulterants.
Tara Lujan – House Representative, District 48
Talks about the legislative benefits of HB 52 to the Harm Reduction Act.
David R. Scrase, MD – Secretary Department of Human Services and Acting Secretary Department of Health
Dr. Scrase describes how HB 52 will expand the Department of Health’s ability to react to emerging health risks.