New Mexico Police Now Required To Carry Narcan
In April, New Mexico became the first state to require all law enforcement agencies to carry naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote.
It’s not the first time New Mexico has led the country in passing pro-naloxone legislation. In 2001, it became the first state to enact a law to expand access to the overdose antidote, as it sought a solution to a rise in heroin and cocaine deaths in early 2000. This first naloxone law came from a recommendation raised by a drug policy advisory panel appointed by former Governor Gary Johnson.
New Mexico was also the first state to make naloxone available at pharmacies without a prescription, according to the Associated Press.
This time, it was Governor Susana Martinez who signed the new bill, continuing the state’s multi-pronged efforts to reverse the rising rate of drug overdose deaths.
In addition to equipping all law enforcement agencies with the life-saving drug, prisons and jails are now required to provide freed inmates at risk of a drug overdose with naloxone kits and training on how to use/administer the drug, plus a prescription for future uses. This requirement also applies to federally-certified addiction treatment centers.
While not everyone is on board with naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, its proponents say it not only saves lives, but has the potential to get more OD survivors to seek help for addiction. Some cities are exploring post-naloxone outreach programs to help facilitate this process.
Governor Martinez says the state’s previous efforts to address its high rate of drug overdose have begun to show some progress.
In 2014, New Mexico was only second to West Virginia, with one of the highest OD death rates in the country. That same year, the state hit a record high of 540 fatal overdoses. In 2015, that number fell to 493.
Now, according to the AP, New Mexico has fallen to 44th in the nation for its OD death rates. Last fall, the state’s department of health announced that almost two-thirds (20 out of 33) counties saw a decrease in fatal overdoses in 2015.
The state had previously implemented policies requiring all licensed clinicians to undergo special training on prescribing opioid painkillers. It also established a prescription drug monitoring database to help physicians keep track of patients’ medication histories and identify questionable prescribing patterns.