New Mexico Understands Need for More Drug Classes

by: Mike Miller

The hit television show Breaking Bad on AMC portrays a terminally-ill New Mexico chemistry teacher who turns to making crystal meth in order to provide for his family after his death. With the state’s virtually overwhelming drug problem the show must hit a nervous spot.

New Mexico is facing a widespread drug problem that includes prescription drug abuse, as well as heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. As reported in

Last year New Mexico led the nation in prescription drug overdose death rates. Teen drug use is far above the national average, and there are an estimated 25,000 people addicted to drugs who use needles in the state. More than 50 percent of inmates in state prisons and local jails are arrested for drug-related crimes.

Get this, in 2007, drug overdose was the leading cause of unintentional injury death in New Mexico and accounted for 9.6 percent of lost life due to premature death. That is virtually one in 10 for all of you who are mathematically-challenged.

One reason for the trend is the low price, high purity and easy availability of drugs. One undercover operation found heroin was being sold for $100 per gram, the same price as in 1977. The drug’s purity was three to four times the purity level of heroin sold a decade ago. Heroin is less expensive than prescription painkillers sold on the street.

Young people are not the only ones using drugs. Of the 2,200 drug-induced deaths from 2005 to 2009 in New Mexico, about 1,900 were adults 25 years or older.

The state is taking steps to fight the rise in drug abuse. They are increasing their database for prescription medication to better track users as well as implementing more drug classes. Breaking Bad will film its last season shortly. Let'’ hope New Mexico can reverse the streak of drug abuse in the state.