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Opioid Safety & Overdose Prevention

Opioid overdose continues to be an urgent public health challenge in the United States and in New Mexico. In 2019, 74% of all overdose deaths involve opioids in New Mexico. Preventable opioid overdose deaths increased 457% since 1999 in the US, which lead public health officials to declare a nationwide opioid overdose epidemic.

Opioids can have adverse reactions and cause harmful and severe reactions that slow or even stop breathing. Because opioids slow or even stop breathing, opioid overdoses can be fatal. Overdose can happen when a person takes too much of the opioid medication, when a person mixes an opioid with another substance, like alcohol or other sedatives, or when a small amount of illicit fentanyl is found in other substances. Opioid overdose death is preventable.

What Are Opioids?

Most opioids are narcotic medications used to treat pain. Opioid medications work by binding to specific opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. In doing so, they minimize the body’s perception of pain. Opioids can also affect parts of the brain and body that regulate mood, blood pressure, and breathing.

Not all opioids are prescription pain relievers. Heroin is also an opioid drug made from morphine and has the same effect on the brain and body as opioid medications used to treat pain. Heroin use is related with many health risks, including overdose and death. It is usually inhaled or injected and quickly enters the brain. Once in the brain, heroin is converted back into morphine. Click here to learn more about opioid medications and their common side effects.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid/pain-relieving drug prescribed for the treatment of extreme pain. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues are now found in many street drugs and only a small amount can cause an overdose. Illicit fentanyl is showing up in pills, heroin, meth, and cocaine and causing overdose deaths. Overdose due to fentanyl has increased dramatically, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic began in the US.

Fentanyl may have a different taste, color, or produce a different feeling than heroin or other substances. Folks who use substances should sample a small amount when uncertain about new drug supplies. Fentanyl test strips work to check a substance for fentanyl before use.

You Can Prevent Overdose

Get More Information Here

  • AnotherWayNM.orgNMDOH Overdose Prevention Program website with more information on overdose prevention
  •– A multi-agency website with many tools about where to get naloxone, medication assisted treatment, and first aid training to reverse overdose
  • New Mexico Opioid Hub– Information hub for community members organized by Human Services Department and University of New Mexico
  • New Mexico Crisis and Access Line- NMCAL is a centralized, single telephone number to get immediate assistance and resources for mental health and substance use issues. The line is free and is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year
  • Prescription Nation 2018: Facing America's Opioid Epidemic– A report by the National Safety Council
  • Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and to improve the lives of individuals living with mental and substance use disorders, and their families

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