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Mayor Forms Working Group to Explore Solutions to Decrease Heroin Use Among Youth

Mayor Richard J. Berry formed a working group to find solutions to problem facing New Mexico's youth.

Albuquerque—Mayor Richard J. Berry has formed a working group to explore a variety of solutions to combat a serious problem facing New Mexico's youth: opioid use and overdose.  The formation of the working group comes after the City of Albuquerque paid for an Opioid Needs Assessment.

"Opioid use among youth is becoming more prevalent around the country and our state, and Albuquerque is not immune," Mayor Berry said.  "The study reveals we have challenges and we must work together as a community and with families to educate and support our younger generations. This is a problem we cannot ignore, we cannot be afraid to address the issue, we owe it to our youth."

The working group met for the first time in the Office of the Mayor on September 6, 2011 and plans to meet regularly for months to come.  The "Opioid Needs Assessment" was contracted by the City's Family and Community Services Department and revealed the following facts:

  • New Mexico consistently has high rates of drug-induced deaths
  • Opioid-related treatment admissions have been steadily increasing over the last two decades
  • 4.7 percent of New Mexico high schoolers reported lifetime use of heroin, compared to the national average of 2.5 percent of U.S. high schoolers.
  • 3.6 percent of New Mexico high schoolers reported lifetime injection drug use, compared to the national average of 2.0 percent of U.S. high schoolers.
  • Drug-induced death rates per capita are higher in New Mexico than almost any other state in the country, second only to Utah.
  • Bernalillo County had the highest number of unintentional deaths in the state from 2003-2007.
  • With nearly a ratio of 2-to-1, males represented the primary gender to have overdosed during 2003-2007.
  • Heroin, cocaine, and oxycodone rank the top three leading causes of drug-induced deaths in 2009 in New Mexico.
  • Of the 1,929 deaths due to drug overdoses from 2003-2007 in New Mexico, 44 percent were Whites, 49 percent were Hispanics, and 4 percent were Native Americans.