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New Mexico Department Of Health Announces Recommended Overdose Prevention Measures

on April 13, 2019 - 11:06am


The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announces 11  recommendations to continue the state’s progress addressing drug overdose rates.

The recommendations come from the New Mexico Overdose Prevention and Pain Management Advisory Council, made up of state agencies such as NMDOH, regulatory bodies, and multiple medical professional associations.

The council is charged with reviewing the status of overdose prevention and pain management standards and education efforts for both consumers and professionals in New Mexico. It is also charged with recommending pain management and clinical guidelines.

NMDOH first reported in December the Improvement in Drug Overdose Death Rankings for the third consecutive year, from the second highest death drug overdose death rate in the United States in 2014 to 17th highest in 2017.

“We are proud of the progress that New Mexico has made with reducing the increase in the drug overdose death rate,” said Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “However, there is still much to be done, not only with opioids, but also other drugs, including benzodiazepines and methamphetamines.”

The council’s recommendations cover three important areas: training, emergency room screenings, and increasing the availability of the medication naloxone, which is used to reverse opioid overdoses.

The council recommends naloxone be required to be made available in opioid treatment programs and to the patients themselves after they complete a treatment program.

It also recommends anyone from a criminal justice setting be provided naloxone upon release and that it be made more widely distributed to law enforcement officers to, in turn, distribute it to people at risk for opioid overdose.

Training recommendations center around ensuring that medical care providers who prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines receive appropriate training.

Recommendations for hospital emergency departments include screen patients for substance use disorder when patients are believed to have this condition, providing increased support for the UNM Health Sciences Center’s ECHO clinic, and that New Mexico’s Medicaid Managed Care organizations be required to pay for pain management by chiropractic and naprapathy physicians.