Reena Szczepanski at (505) 699-0798 or Julie Roberts at (505) 310-4592
(Santa Fe) – Legislation promoting drug-related overdose prevention was introduced this week by Representative Sandra Jeff (D-Crownpoint) and Senator Richard Martinez (D-Rio Arriba). The memorials will be heard today and will establish February 3, 2010 as “Overdose Awareness Day” at the legislature.
“New Mexico is already seen as a national leader for our statewide overdose prevention policies such as distribution of naloxone and the 2007 911 Good Samaritan Act,” said Reena Szczepanski, director of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico. “These policies are a step in the right direction, but we must continue to raise awareness in order to prevent this needless loss of life.”
In 2001 the state passed the Overdose Prevention and Response Initiative, which allows the Department of Health to provide overdose prevention trainings and the prescription drug, naloxone, to people at high risk of overdose from heroin or opioid prescription drugs.
According to the Department of Health, since 2001 approximately 7518 individuals were trained in overdose prevention techniques and over 2478 people reported successfully reversing an overdose using naloxone, an opioid antagonist.
Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico advocated for the passage of the 911 Good Samaritan Act in 2007, sponsored by Senator Martinez, that protects witnesses from drug possession charges if they call 911 to save the life of an overdose victim. New Mexico is the first state in the nation to implement such a law, and lawmakers around the country are now introducing similar legislation in their states.
The memorials commemorate the lives lost to drug-related overdose in New Mexico and promote awareness of New Mexico’s life saving overdose prevention policies. Despite these innovative policies, New Mexico continues to lead the nation in drug-related accidental overdose rates; almost 400 people died in 2008 of a drug-related overdose.