New data from the Centers For Disease Control conclude that nationally, overdose deaths among women have been on the rise since 1999; and that since 2007, more women have died from overdoses than motor vehicle-related injuries.
However, officials in New Mexico say those trends are nothing new in the state.
Michael Landen is an epidemiologist with the New Mexico Department of Health. He says the Southwest generally sees higher rates of motor vehicle deaths, suicide, and drug overdoses which could be linked to high rates of poverty, or greater rates of substance abuse.
“You look at states like Utah and New Mexico,” Landen said. “Big differences in terms of demographics and in terms of approaches to substances. For example, In Utah, very low rates of alcohol-related problems. In New Mexico very high rates of alcohol-related problems. But we both have a similar problem in respect to drug overdose deaths.”
Both states, plus Nevada, have the highest rates of overdose deaths among women in the Southwest. Landen said the wide availability and supply of prescription pain killers are fueling the epidemic.