If you or a loved one is battling drug or alcohol abuse in New Mexico, you may have struggled to find help. A drug hotline can connect you to top-rated rehabs in your area and make it easier to start recovery. As you may know, it’s important to get addiction treatment at New Mexico drug rehabilitation facilities without delay, because the consequences of substance abuse are severe, often leading to death.

Drugs and alcohol are a huge problem in New Mexico. The state is often at the bottom of the table in rankings for drug addiction, overdose deaths, and other drug-related issues.

In the following paragraphs, to better understand the scale of the drug and alcohol problem in New Mexico, we will take a look at some statistics about various illicit substances, prescription drugs, and alcohol.

Overview of Drug and Alcohol Use in New Mexico

In 2015, the top 10 leading causes of death in New Mexico were all diseases that are associated with alcohol use, tobacco use, and illicit drug use. In the past three decades, New Mexico has always ranked among the states with the highest number of alcohol-related deaths in the country. New Mexico was also the eighth highest in the nation in drug overdose deaths in 2015, with prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, cocaine, and methamphetamines accounting for the majority of the deaths. [1]

Drug and alcohol abuse in New Mexico has serious consequences besides overdose deaths. Suicide and mental health are persistent public health problems in the state. Starting in the 1980s and up to 2010, the suicide rate in New Mexico was nearly two times higher than the national average. The association between substance abuse and mental illness / suicidal ideation is well understood.

If you or a loved one is battling drug or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help before tragedy strikes. A drug hotline or suicide helpline can provide information, guidance, and support in times of crisis or when you are ready to start recovery.

Alcohol Abuse in New Mexico

New Mexico has had the highest alcohol-related death rate in the United States since the mid-1990s. Besides deaths, alcohol abuse in New Mexico is, like anywhere else, associated with domestic violence, poverty, unemployment, motor vehicle accidents, high crime rates, and health problems like chronic liver disease and mental illness.

In 2010, the cost of excessive alcohol consumption in New Mexico was estimated to be over $2 billion (more than $1,000 per person).

One in six deaths in the working-age population of adults in New Mexico can be attributed to alcohol, with American Indians having some of the highest death rates. New Mexico’s alcohol-related chronic diseases death rate is more than twice the national average.

The high death rates attributed to alcohol are a reflection of the state’s alcohol use patterns. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that in 2018–2019 nearly 1 in 2 adults in New Mexico reported alcohol use in the past month. Also, nearly 1 in 4 adults admitted to binge drinking. Binge drinking is a problematic pattern of drinking associated with serious health risks. If you notice regular binge drinking in a loved one, it’s important to get help. An alcohol hotline can help you find resources in your community to overcome alcohol addiction.

New Mexico has one of the worst drunk driving rates in the nation and regularly ranks in the top 10. Based on a 2016 survey, 1% of adults over the age of 18 reported drinking and driving in the past 30 days, with men being three times more likely to drink and drive compared to women. However, heavy drinking (more than 2 drinks a day in males, and more than 1 drink a day in females) was lower in New Mexico (5.2%) than the US overall value (6.5%).

Opioid Abuse in New Mexico

Between 2010 and 2016, the rate of emergency department visits related to opioid overdoses increased by almost 60% in New Mexico. The rate for men was 28% higher than women. Among both men and women, White people had the highest rates compared to other ethnic groups, followed by Hispanics. For both sexes, the 25–64 age group had the maximum ED visits for opioid overdoses. Here are some more opioid abuse statistics for New Mexico that demonstrate the scale of the opioid crisis in the state. [2]

  • In 2018, approximately 6 out of 10 drug overdose deaths in New Mexico involved opioids.
  • There were more than 300 deaths from opioid overdoses in 2018 in New Mexico.
  • Among opioid-related deaths, fentanyl and fentanyl analogs accounted for approximately 5.5%, heroin for 6.5%, and prescription opioids for 8% of deaths.
  • Providers in New Mexico wrote 49 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons in 2018, which was lower than the US national average of 51.
  • Roughly 8% of all new HIV diagnoses in the US in 2017 occurred in New Mexico. New HIV diagnoses in NM were attributed to injection drug use in 5% of males and 33% of females.

Heroin Addiction in New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a trans-shipment point for brown powdered and black tar heroin originating in Mexico. Given its strategic location, New Mexico unfortunately was at the top of the table nationwide in heroin-related deaths per capita. Rio Arriba County is the most affected, with the highest heroin-related death rates in the US (there were 19 heroin overdose deaths in this county alone in the year 2000). Heroin abuse is particularly concerning among the state’s youth. Also, more than 1 in 10 adult males arrested in Albuquerque in the year 2000 tested positive for heroin. [3]

More recently, in 2012, heroin was listed as the primary drug of abuse at state-funded treatment centers in New Mexico in 5.7% of admissions, a decrease from 7.3% in 2010. The 21–25 age group, males, and Whites constituted the highest number of primary heroin admissions.

If someone in your family is abusing heroin, calling a drug rehab hotline should be your first step toward getting them the help they need to get clean. Heroin is an illegal opioid, and opioid hotlines can put you in touch with leading rehab facilities in your area.

Cocaine Addiction in New Mexico

Mexican drug traffickers transport cocaine into New Mexico, making this drug one of the most significant threats to the state. However, there are some promising trends. Cocaine was the primary substance of abuse in 3.7% of state-funded treatment admissions in New Mexico in 2010. This percentage fell to 1.1% in 2012. Among all treatment admissions, crack cocaine represented a little over half, and other types of cocaine made up the remaining admissions. The highest number of treatment admissions for cocaine abuse were in the 26–30 age group, accounting for 33% of all admissions.

Methamphetamine Use in New Mexico

Methamphetamine was listed in 25% of all drug reports in New Mexico in 2013, compared to 14% nationally. Meth was listed as the primary substance of abuse at state-funded treatment centers in New Mexico in 2012 by 10.9% of all admitted persons, an increase from 9.1% in 2010. The highest percentage of methamphetamine users were in the 31–35 age group, with 51% being male and 87% being White.

Marijuana Use in New Mexico

Marijuana was listed as the primary drug of abuse at state-funded treatment facilities in New Mexico in 2012 by 8.7% of people admitted to these facilities, an increase from 7.7% in 2010. The highest percentage of marijuana users were in the 21–25 age category (28%) and were males (72%) and Hispanic (50%).

drug use in New Mexico

Substance Abuse by Youth in New Mexico

There is bad news and good news. Students in New Mexico have some of the highest rates of drug use among the country’s youth. However, some numbers have shown promising trends.

Alcohol consumption in New Mexico by persons under the age of 21 is common, more so than other drugs and tobacco use. However, in 2019, 28% of high-school students reported drinking within the past 30 days, a significant drop from 43% in 2005.

Past-30-day use of marijuana and methamphetamine by New Mexico youth was higher in 2015 than the national average (25% vs 21%). Roughly 27% of students reported currently using marijuana (within the past 30 days) in 2019, with 14% of the students surveyed reporting that they tried marijuana for the first time before age 13. [5] Marijuana use is more common among American Indians in the state. Also, Asian and Pacific Islander students are more likely to use drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and inhalants compared to other ethnic and racial groups.

Methamphetamine use among New Mexico youth decreased from 7.7% in 2007 to 4.4% in 2015 (lifetime use), mirroring the decrease in the US national rate, but the rate in NM has consistently been higher than the national average. In 2019, 4.2% of high-school students reported lifetime meth use (speed, crystal meth, crank, or ice).

Cocaine use by youth in New Mexico has consistently been higher than the US national average. In 2015, roughly 4.5% of youth reported using cocaine, compared to 3% for the US (latest available figure from 2011). In 2019, 8.4% of high-school students reported they had used cocaine at least once in their lifetime in any form (powder, crack, freebase).

Opioid painkiller misuse to get high among New Mexico youth has the second highest prevalence after marijuana. Misuse of prescription pain pills was highest among 12th graders and was higher in Black, American Indian, and Alaska Native students compared to Hispanic and White students. [1] In 2019, 17% of high-school students reported ever taking an opioid pain medicine without a prescription or differently than advised by a healthcare provider.

Lifetime use of heroin by youth in New Mexico has consistently been higher than the US national average, with a rate of 3.5% in 2015 in NM versus 2.1% for the US overall. Asian, Pacific Islander, and Black students were more likely to be heroin users than Hispanic, American Indian, and White students. In 2019, 3% of high-school students reported lifetime use of heroin.

Smoking by high-school students in New Mexico was estimated at around 11%, higher than the national average. Boys were more likely than girls to smoke, and American Indian students had higher smoking rates than White and Black students.

If you have a teenager at home who is using drugs or alcohol, it’s critical to get help as soon as possible. Delaying addiction treatment can have devastating consequences, including overdose death. An alcohol and drug hotline can put you in touch with leading rehabs in your area that offer special rehab programs for youth.

Last updated: March 8, 2023


1 New Mexico Health. Substance Abuse Epidemiology Profile. Available online. Accessed on June 14, 2021.
2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. New Mexico: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. Available online. Accessed on June 14, 2021.
3 National Drug Intelligence Center. New Mexico Drug Threat Assessment – Heroin. Available online. Accessed on June 14, 2021.