Prescription Drugs: New Mexico’s Crisis

Prescription drug abuse has taken the nation by storm in recent years. In 2015, 2 million people had a substance use disorder related to prescription opioid painkillers in the United States.1 image of prescription pills in hand

In addition, the “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse is costing the country $78.5 billion a year (when you factor in health care, addiction treatment and more).

 In New Mexico, the recent Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (YRRS), shed light on how the opioid epidemic is affecting the state’s young people. In 2015, painkillers (used to get high, not for treatment) had the second highest prevalence of all 30-day drug use measures. The counties with the highest painkiller use rate among high schoolers that year were Mora (14.2%), Grant (13.2%) and McKinley (12.3%).2 

Many people become addicted to painkillers after they were prescribed by a legitimate doctor. Unfortunately, between 21 to 29 percent of people in the U.S. prescribed opioids for pain misuse them; between 8 to 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder).1

In an effort to prevent the prescription opioids from being overprescribed by doctors, the New Mexico Prescription Monitoring Program was established in 2005. This program, operated by the New Mexico Board of Pharmacy, attempts to regulate prescriptions by requiring pharmacies to report all controlled substance prescriptions filled by pharmacies within seven days.3

1 Source: "Opioid Crisis." National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed July 2017.
2 Source: New Mexico Substance Abuse State Epidemiology Profile 2017. New Mexico Department of Health. Accessed July 2017.

3 Source: Prescription Monitoring Program.